Elisabeth Daniel & La Folie
I would definitely go for La Folie over Elisabeth Daniel. The food is very good a both, but at Elisabeth Daniel, it seems a little too self-conscious and self-congratulatory, if that makes sense. The decor and atmosphere are also too sterile, formal and business-like for my taste -- I'd feel more comfortable there at a business dinner than something romantic or celebrating with friends.
Although I haven't been to La Folie in a few years, my experiences there have been much more comfortable. It's not quite casual, but it's much more low-key and relaxed while the food is outstanding. Also, because it's not in the financial district and is more established, it draws more of a local crowd that isn't there to make a show or be seen.
I've been to Elizabeth Daniel twice. The first time was fabulous. I was celebrating an anniversary with my S/O and the entire experience was just perfect for the occasion. The service was superb and the food outstanding. Yes, the portions aren't huge but if they were, one wouldn't be able to have so many dishes. The cuisine, presentation, etc., stood up to other three-star restaurants we have known in Barcelona and in the French Basque region. We ended up completely sated without being uncomfortable. The only criticism we could make was that my S/O was sitting directly under an air vent and she had bare shoulders. We switched chairs and all was well. A memorable evening indeed.
On the second occasion, we had reservations for 10 p.m. (it was the best we could get on short notice). Unfortunately, the seated guests were not anxious to leave and this put the management in a bind. They gave us complementary champagne and various hors d'oeuvres but by 11 p.m. my S/O was fading fast. I explained the situation to the maitre who could not have been more apologetic. He explained that the restaurant would not rush it's guests (a policy which I understood and support) but could not see me leave unsatisfied. He gave me a card that was valid for a dinner or lunch for two. I'm just waiting for the right occasion!
I went to Elisabeth Daniel to celebrate my anniversary last November and while it was very good, I left a little disappointed.
The decor is quite austere and not very romantic. In addition, it was not as quiet as I was expecting. Almost seemed to be more of a business atmosphere. If you aren't going for a romantic celebration than it probably won't be a deterrence.
The service was very attentive and polished, almost a constant presence but not really obtrusive. The portions on the tasting menu were a bit small but by no means did we leave hungry.
The quality of the dishes was high (I particularly remember sweetbread ravioli and the venison chop as being excellent) but to me something just seemed lacking for the price. I also remember there being a $10 or so supplement on the tasting menu for foie gras which I thought was a bit ridiculous given the prices (about $275 for dinner for two with wine).
Overall just seemed a bit sterile to me.