Just like he promised, outgoing New York Times food critic Sam Sifton used his final Times review to declare the best restaurant in New York City. And just like most of us figured, it's Thomas Keller's Per Se. Sifton, who hadn't updated the restaurant's four-star ranking since Frank Bruni first delivered it in 2004, said of Keller's East Coast flagship: "I make the argument unreservedly. I have eaten in restaurants five or more nights a week for the last two years, always in search of the best and most delectable, the most interesting and important. And I have come back again and again to Per Se to find it." That's a shift from Bruni's hesitant four-star rating, in which he called the experience "maddening... at moments too intent on culinary adventure or too highfalutin in its presentation and descriptions of dishes." In an odd bit of differentiation between rare four-star reviews (which are given to places that come as close as possible to perfection), Sifton says Per Se is now more perfect than it was. "In recent years, and particularly under the kitchen command of Eli Kaimeh, who has been Per Se’s chef since early 2010, Per Se has matured. Its synthesis of culinary art and exquisite service is now complete. It represents the ideal of an American high-culture luxury restaurant." Of course, you'll have to take his word for it. Not only does he say dinner for two can easily top $1,000, getting a reservation there was difficult enough before this review. Expect it to be close to impossible now.
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