I often check up on per se's menu, both because I have an interest in tracking the food they're putting out and because I'm always anticipating my next journey from Philly to eat there (even if it's many months away).
On July 16th the menu for both tastings had only eight courses as opposed to the traditional nine. While the 15th menu, whose course number I did not count, is no longer posted, I recall noticing that it occupied less of the legal sized page than usual. I am certain I've never seen fewer than nine courses when I've dined there, or in any menu previously posted online, and I haven't read anything about a change. The omission would appear to be their typical pre-dessert sorbet/flavored ice/palate freshener, not one of the savories. That said, per se's price point was already quite high, even for food of such inspiration and nearly inimitable quality (keep in mind the Chef's tasting was $135 [albeit sans service] when it opened less than ten years ago). Should eight courses prove to be the new norm, which it very well may not, it would be a disappointing, even cynical, step. It is of course a business interested in maximizing it's profitability. Yet this move would represent another step away from the Kellerian ethos of generosity and magnanimity. The gougeres, canapes, mignardes, and those wonderful intra-meal surprises from the kitchen exemplify Keller's professed desire to make his guests feel as special and contented as possible. And it's hard to believe that, at these prices, dropping a course would result from anything more than profit-squeezing bean counting. It may follow given ownership, with the majority (or at least plurality) owner of per se being a resort group and not individuals with a passion for food.
In any case, we will see if this change proves permanent. Here is the menu link, though it will only display the 16th until a new menu is posted.