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Visiting NYC - Please help me choose one of these restaurant s

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  • Albert Fah Apr 22, 2002 03:07 PM
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Hi, I'll be NYC in May for a business trip. I'm planning to try either Bouley, Le Bernadin, Chanterelle, Lespionase, or Babbo.

Please recommend one restaurant if you only have one choice to make.

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  1. If I could choose only one of those, it would be Le Bernardin - no question.

    1. That's a hard choice, but I'd pick Chanterelle. It's subjective, of course, but it's my favorite restaurant. I love the atmosphere, the room, the superb and friendly service, the flower arrangements - oh, and the food, the food...ahhhh.

      1. the only one i've been to is chanterelle and i wasn't thrilled. i went to dinner early in the evening. the food is very good, but the service is too attentive for me. the servers were watching us the whole time and i felt very uncomfortable. plus the decor is rather boring. there are better $$$$ restaurants.

        1. Been to all but Lespinasse and Babbo, with that said, I was not a fan of either LeBernadin or Chanterelle. The fish at LeBernadin was not to my liking. Three of us all ordered different types of fish, it is their specialty, but we didn't like any of them. Chanterelle has a spartan and sterile room. Food was ok, however, I can't vouch for it since I went for Rest. Wk and was disappointed that I has a one month wait and only for 2:00pm or later and to top it off, no choices on the pre-fixe menu. I did love Bouley. We had a 7 or 9 course taswting dinner and it was heaven, although I'm not a fan of the room, either. Very plain. Le Bernadin's room is nice, very elegant, with wood paneled walls, lots of oil paintings of fish, of course.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Eva L.

            It's so funny how we all differ so much. I love Chanterelle's room. I don't find it sterile, but it's definitely spartan. I love the elegant simplicity of the room, coupled with the warm, professional service. Also, forgot to mention that I have had, consistently, some of the best cheese plates of my life at Chanterelle.

          2. I've found both Bernadin and Lespinasse disappointing and often pretentious. Chanterelle is superb if you want elegant, modern French food. Babbo is terrific --earthy and authentic, with a great atmosphere.

            1. d
              deb-in-billyburg

              Your choice should depend on what you're looking for, as those restaurants provide very different experiences. IMO, Lespinasse is the most "event" oriented of those establishments--the room is really beautiful, the service is of a very high quality, and the flowers are truly impressive; it's my least favorite food of your choices (dishes are not particularly flavorful and are quite small), but if what you want is a grand restaurant experience, it may be a good choice. I'm not crazy about Chanterelle--the peachy room isn't really to my liking, and I don't find the food particularly creative--but it's another gracious restaurant that I doubt you would find yourself complaining about later. I really enjoy the food at Le Bernadin--I'm very focussed on seafood anyway, and I think that the dishes there are flavorful--but the room does have sort of a business dining feel to it in terms of both the service and the decor, which I do think can make the meal seem less special. I really enjoy Babbo and think that the food there is just wonderful, but it's very different than the other restaurants on your list--more casual in terms of atmosphere and service, Italian rather than French in orientation--so, again, it depends on what sort of meal you're looking for.

              As for Bouley, I don't particularly care for it; I don't think that the food is particularly tasty or interesting, the room is fairly blah, and the service is much too quick (I personally don't eat at high-end restaurants sufficiently often to want to be pushed out the door within an hour).

              Enjoy your trip.

              1. From your question, it sounds like you're saying you don't get to NYC often, and want the "big experience". Under that assumption:

                If this were a few years ago, I would have said Bouley. Despite some of the problems others had, every meal ( and there were many ) at the Duane Street Bouley was magical ( although for some bizarre reason, I always had the feeling that we were getting some sort of "special treatment", since we always got invited back into the kitchen to talk to David before leaving...I think he thought we were someone else than we are !!! ). However, with the recent upheaval there, I can't say I would take the chance for your one nite.

                Babbo: I like all the Bastianich/Batali places and Babbo is very good. I just don't get that "wow" feeling there, though.

                Chanterelle: If you are more of a "room" person than a "food" person, and want a "beautiful" experience, I like this place. But it wouldn't be my choice given the alternatives.

                Lespinasse: I wanted to like this place. But the few times I've been there, I've just found myself underwhelmed. It didn't help that I had high expectations, I'm sure; every time I thought it was a lot of money for experiences which I had beter for less $$$.

                Le Bernardin: this would be my choice of the lot. As silly as it sounds at this price level, I actually think it's the bigest "bargain" of the lot, given the prix fixe dinner tends to work out to be less in the long run. Every meal I have had there has been very good to excellent, and of all these places I thought had the best balance of food/decor/service.

                1. I see you've already got a plethora of opinions, but I'll add 2 cents anyway.

                  I've eaten at all but Chanterelle. Bouley can be the best of the lot, but is horribly inconsistent and should be avoided. Babbo has amazing food, but you must go very early and sit at the bar or the service will ruin it for you. Its food is probably the most unique. Le Bernardin is superb, but perhaps not quite worth the hype.
                  For the ultimate in complete experience, though at the highest $, I would have to go with Lespinasse (unless you can afford and get into Alain Ducasse) as the spectacular service, lovely room, and really good food if you order well. (I've had a great time with the tasting menu w/accompanying wines option, and a la carte.)

                  1. assuming that you are not in new york that often, and are probably not eating by yourself, and can write off at least a portion of the bill, and are interested in a special experience...i'd pick chanterelle - hands down.

                    clearly - as you have seen - there are very distinct opinions out there (we do that quite well in ny). suffice it to say that ANY of the choices would qualify nicely for someone's "last meal on earth" catalog. however, i think the combination of factors favors chanterelle: location, small room, generally inovative cooking, great cheese cart (as someone else mentioned) attentive staff and a genuinely exciting dining experience.

                    disclosure: i have been to all except babbo, which i hear is great though some have spoken ill of the service there recently.

                    enjoy the agony of making a decision.