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Nov 16, 1998 06:38 PM

A really "good food" restaurant-La Cote Basque, Asia de Cuba, Balthazar, or Obeca-li, or?

  • c

I want a really good food restaurant in NYC for a
pre-theater dinner. We tend to like flavorful foods,
often with french or asina influence. Kind of tired of
italian food. We've eaten at alot of "famous"
restaurants in the past year and have yet to be
impressed with any. We currently have reservations for
Thanksgiving weekend at La Cote Basque, Asia de Cuba,
and Balthazar. Someone just told me that Balthazar is
for atmosphere and not the food. Anyone have any
experience with the above 3 restaurants, or any other
good recommendations? I'm tired of getting so-so
food...(tried Aureole's, Gotham Bar and Grill, Union
Square Cafe, Il Mulino, Le Bernadin, Astro Bar & Grill,
Lespinasse, Chanterelle, Nobu, Vong, Montrachet, Mesa
Grill) Another restaurant I'd like to know about is
Obeca-li, in Tribeca. Anyone? Thanks.

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  1. Well, if you're saying that you were not impressed by
    Il Mulino, Le Bernadin, Lespinasse or Nobu, you're in
    trouble. Those are four of the best restaurants New
    York--and therefore America--has to offer. They are
    certainly far superior to La Cote Basque, Asia de
    Cuba, and Balthazar, so don't expect to find the
    solution to your problem at any of those three. La
    Cote Basque is classic French--no Asian influences or
    anything like that. I agree with the person who told
    you that the food at Balthazar is nothing special. I
    haven't been to Asia de Cuba, but it strikes me as a
    scene place (someone else, who has been there, will
    likely comment).

    I might suggest Gramercy Tavern (because it is one of
    my favorite restaurants) or Union Pacific (for its
    interesting multi-ethnic fusion cuisine) but I get the
    feeling you will not be happy anywhere. Perhaps part
    of the problem is that you're trying to cram these
    meals into a pre-theater time slot. Serious fine
    dining is difficult to accomplish in 90 minutes.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Steven Shaw

      you're right about asia de cuba -- it is a scene. but
      the food is surprisingly good. they have the best
      mashed potatoes i've ever eaten(and i've eaten a lot) -
      - creamy, buttery and loaded with scallions and

      1. re: joelt

        Damn, that sounds good.

        1. re: Steven Shaw
          jonathan gold

          ...and while we're at it, Balthazar is a really
          good place to go after the show. The ``scene''
          tends to be a little less obnoxious after 11,
          the room is truly beautiful and the wine list--
          particularly the Alsatians and the ``country''
          French wines--is great. Plus, it has the
          best moules frites in New York, which is
          no small thing.

      2. re: Steven Shaw

        I've eaten at the above restaurants pre-theater,
        post-theater, or just for a "night out". I think that
        when restaurants become "famous", they often slack off
        on the quality and focus on quantity. They seem to
        expect that you will like the food just because you
        should. I had one of the worst meals I have ever had at
        the Dallas restaurant The Mansion at Turtle Creek-some
        of the food was obviously pre-cooked, and the rest
        severly overcooked, with a staff that was only
        interested in fast service, but not with the quality of

      3. La Cote Basque is great but french, no other
        influences. Balthazar is much better than most scene
        place. Many items are quite good, steak frites. The
        bread is great. Asia de Cuba is horrible. The
        service is friendly, but the food is disastrous. The
        room looks nice, a la California, but the crowd is
        mostly bridge and tunnel and people trying to find the

        But, based on your initial letter, I don't think you
        will find any food that you like if you don't like

        2 Replies
        1. re: scott

          Asia de Cuba is a scene and not a good one. Food is
          okay, but the people have too much attitude.
          Balthazar is fun. The atmosphere is really authentic,
          Food is very good, and not overpriced, and the staff
          is friendly and professional.

          1. re: scott

            Sorry, but I find Le Bernadin unimpressive. Sure, they
            give lots of dessert extras and the setting is nice,
            but the fish wasn't anything that special (the skate
            was even overcooked), and the desserts were definitely
            not a strong point (the caramel dessert was a sorry
            shadow of what it once was...). But thanks for the
            comments on the other restaurants. :)

          2. c
            Charles Troob

            It's hard to know if this is serious...if all those
            restaurants are "so-so" then maybe you just don't like
            restaurants or NY restaurants...Have you had better
            experiences in this life?

            For what it's worth, I had a memorably dreadful meal
            at La Cote Basque. The food was mediocre, and to make
            matters worse, there was a waiter's station
            immediately behind my neck, so I kept worrying about
            getting grease on my soup as they carved up the fish
            or whatever.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Charles Troob

              Nope, it's not a joke. I and my friends did eat at all
              of the above restaurants within the past year and have
              had mediocre experiences. And yes, I've had better food
              in other restaurants, but unfortunately, not recently
              in NY. Thanks for the La Cote Basque comment...another
              friend just told me that she didn't like it either.

              1. re: Claire

                Never bothered with Aureole as I've herad nothing but
                poor reports. However, I have been to Gertrude's,
                right across the street, and have enjoyed several meals
                there. It's a two story restaurant in a townhouse.
                They have two menus - a cafe menu (for lack of a better
                description - it includes pasta, lighter meals) -
                at lunch - with a more formal dining service upstairs.
                I believe at dinner the cafe menu is available
                downstairs but you can order off the main menu as well,
                while the more formal menu only is presented upstairs.
                The food is French, very fresh, well prepared.

                1. re: Barbara S

                  Thanks for the recommendation! I'll give it a try. :)

            2. OK, some of you seem to think that "I" am too picky
              about the food. I usually go out to dinner with 1 or
              more of a group of 7 friends who all love to eat good
              food (some of us can even cook a little as well). When
              we go out to eat and spend money, we want to at least
              get food that tastes as good or better than what we can
              prepare at home. Yes, the above restaurants may have 1
              or 2 dishes that are good, but the overall dining
              experience is incomplete. Nobu has a great house
              specialty of the miso marinated bass, but the rest is
              very ordinary or overcooked. Deserts are terrible. Il
              Mulino piles on the quantity of food, but we all left
              feeling disatisfied with the food. If I'm going to
              spend the money on a fois gras appetizer or order a
              duck breast, I expect the sauce to taste like something
              other than a basic brown sauce. Aureole, which is
              famous for its desserts, had mediocre food with a
              horrendously sweet apple dessert that no one could eat.
              Other desserts looked great but the taste didn't match
              the looks. Gotham Bar & Grill served bread/rolls that
              were so stale they were literally as hard as a rock. It
              was impossible to break the rolls apart. They would
              have been great as missiles. Food was so-so. Never
              got to the desserts because our waiter ignored us for
              40 minutes after the main course was cleared away.
              (Very good water service though... ) In summary,
              we've tried the so called "top" restaurants and spent
              the money because we want to enjoy good food. (Maybe
              it is too much to expect quality in a "top" NYC
              restaurant because they are guaranteed a cutomer flow
              from all of the reviews....)


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