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Pete Wells' Per Se review: How the 2-star restaurant should emulate Senor Frog's

New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells' pretty much panned Thomas Keller's Per Se in his two-star review published Tuesday.

Do you hear ribbiting in the background? That's the gloating of Señor Frog and his friends croaking in laughter at their success with Wells in his December review.

Wells dubbed the Mexico-based chain "Spring Break Forever," asking, "Señor Frog’s, where have you been all my life?" while the highly acclaimed (formerly four-star!) and pricey Per Se "Slips and Stumbles," not "worth the time and money.

Can the $325 prix-fixe menu rival the invaluable memories of a conga line at Señor Frog's?

We have a few suggestions for Per Se to re-gain Wells' and New Yorkers' affections.

More extravagant birthday celebrations

It's unclear if Wells usually says its his
Photo Credit: Senor Frog's NYC

It's unclear if Wells usually says its his birthday when reviewing potential review spots -- if you have a limitless credit card from the New York Times do you really want to make a show of your free dessert? Especially if you're trying to remain anonymous? -- but a birthday celebration did not ensue at Per Se. Well's faux birthday at Frog's, however, involved an ice cream parade, described as such: "Employees began marching across the stage, blowing whistles and waving glowsticks. Others were bearing aloft two ice cream trucks, each the size of a picnic cooler."

Less quail, more bacon

Wells writes,
Photo Credit: kowarski via Flickr

Wells writes, "The kitchen could improve the bacon-wrapped cylinder of quail simply by not placing it on top of a dismal green pulp of cooked Romaine lettuce, crunchy and mushy at once. Draining off the gluey, oily liquid would have helped a mushroom potpie from turning into a swampy mess. I don't know what could have saved limp, dispiriting yam dumplings, but it definitely wasn't a lukewarm matsutake mushroom bouillon as murky and appealing as bong water." Quail tacos are a big no at Senor Frog's -- learn from the experts, Keller!

More conga lines

Fine dining and group dancing go well together!

Fine dining and group dancing go well together! For example, a waltz.

Replace truffle shavers with skateboard plates

Wells raves about his foot-long chili dog served
Photo Credit: kowarski via Flickr

Wells raves about his foot-long chili dog served on a skateboard at Señor Frog's, "Daniel Humm [Eleven Madison Park, four stars] would serve a chili dog on a skateboard if he had thought of it first." Wells, however, was not a fan of the truffle shaving "over somebody else's plate" at Per Se. Maybe caviar arriving on a hoverboard is just what Per Se needs to boost its status.

Splash splash / Peep peep / Mooo

This is how the seafood, poultry and beef
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

This is how the seafood, poultry and beef are organized on Señor Frog's menu. Wells deemed Per Se a "no-fun house" but perhaps if it amped up the menu with more animal sounds, the amuse bouche wouldn't be the only amusing part of the meal.

Add some guac to the menu

Peas in guacamole may be a good move
Photo Credit: Per Se via Facebook

Peas in guacamole may be a good move for Per Se. Wells recommends Señor Frog's guac, stating that many restaurants serve avocado dip that is "far worse." Per Se's couldn't possibly be worse than that.

... and a Reuben

Wells also likes Señor Frog's Reuben,
Photo Credit: Senor Frog's NYC

Wells also likes Señor Frog's Reuben, "The Reuben is good, for some reason." The reason may be that it's not Per Se's salad, which "turned out to be a pale, uncrisp fried eggplant raviolo next to droopy strips of red pepper and carrot, it felt like extortion." Unlike extortion, Señor Frog's offers everything that made Wells "need to stand on the speakers and dance."

Friendlier bartenders, yard-long drinks

Photo Credit: Señor Frog's NYC

"When one of my guests didn't like a sample of a red being offered by the glass, the sommelier decided to argue, defending his choice instead of pouring something new," wrote Wells. On the contrary, Wells enjoyed at least two Frogasms (tequila, melon liqueur, triple sec, orange juice, lime juice, $30 for souvenir cup) during his hours at Times Square's ongoing spring break.

Actual bong water

Wells wasn't a fan of Per Se's
Photo Credit: Señor Frog's

Wells wasn't a fan of Per Se's "limp, dispiriting yam dumplings" served in "a lukewarm matsutake mushroom bouillon as murky and appealing as bong water" but he's established his love of partying. ... If anywhere can incorporate legit bong water into a gourmet meal, it's chef Thomas Keller. Or Wylie Dufresne, but maybe he'll come on board for the conga-fest that is Per Se's future.

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