As Gastropoda points out, October 12, 2011 is the day the music died, at least around these parts. Sifton's leaving the dining beat for bad coffee in Manchester NH, and greasy cheeseburgers in Spartanburg, SC. Before he goes, he stops off at this midtown joint a fellow from out West opened up. Turns out it's pretty good. One imagines that Sifton, like a convict, got to pick his last meal, a way of putting a bow on his tenure as the most important restaurant critic in America. Sifton's ambit was considerably broader and less Kissingery than Bruni's, and it's a bit disappointing that he uses the opportunity of his final review to remind us that Thomas Keller runs nice restaurants. On the other hand, had he used the final review to anoint an artisanal lo mein spot in Canarsie as the future of NY dining, not hard to imagine the place crushed under the weight of that expectation.
Instead, Sifton confirms that a grand will get you a nice meal, even in Midtown, and there are not many of the Siftonian flourishes we will miss in the weeks and years to come. The week when Occupy fill in the blank is blowing up like Stephen Garcia's Facebook wall is likely not the best week to review a place this fancy, an unpleasantness Sifton recognizes:
Nor is Per Se a restaurant for those who do not understand that such pleasure comes at a cost. The menu has a set price of $295 a person, excluding wine. Nine or more courses are prepared, along with canapés to start and mignardises to finish. A conversation with a sommelier can easily double the cost of the buy-in. Dinner for two can scratch at $1,000 — or about the same as the median weekly household income in New York State.
However, even last night, there were those objecting to the choice. The Cod is not mad at going out with a review of a high-end restaurant -- the lead DI/DO critic's job is not to ID the best dining values in the city, after all. At risk of sounding like Hipster Ariel, I do wish that Sifton had gone a little further out on a limb for his final review.
Sticking w/ Keller does make identifying the final Soundtrack much easier. Did you know that Thomas Keller was the original bassist for the Misfits? Play us, and Sifton, off, and best of luck in the new gig.