Upper East Side suggestions
Need a rec between 72nd and 92nd for this coming Thursday. I have been to Sfoglia and found the food to be good, but the attitude incredibly snooty. Is this an Upper East Side affliction?
Cuisine nor money a major issue, except no Sushi, even by Gari!
I live near Union Square and the only reason I go to the Upper East Side is to eat at Etats-Unis (81st between 2nd & 3rd Avenues). Zagat gives it a 25 food rating and Michelin gives it one star. While hardly underated anymore, I still think to a large extent it's an undiscovered gem. The food is New American and market fresh (i.e., menu changes frequently). The wine list is reasonably priced and the restaurant charges only $10 to bring your own instead. The date pudding is my favorite dessert in Manhattan (trust me, it tastes better than it sounds).
The one time we ate at Etats-Unis, we were thorougly underwhelmed re: the food. I had read rave upon rave, so it was one of those cases of very high expectations not being met. However, that was a good number of years ago, and as I understand it, the place has changed hands since then, so maybe things are different now? The other thing I disliked about E-U was that the seating was *very* close and *very* uncomfortable.
Since you say budget is not an issue... My first choice in that UES neighborhood is Cafe Boulud. It's on 76th St., b/t 5th & Madison (closer to Madison). Andrew Carmellini may be gone, but the restaurant has not missed a beat with Bertrand Chemel in charge of the kitchen, and the cuisine remains as superb as ever. I have never encountered a problem with snootiness. Rather, all the personnel we have dealt with have been quite pleasant, and service is very polished. I really like the contemporary decor (quite different from the days when the space housed Daniel) and the overall ambiance.
I concur with RGR on Cafe Boulud and also suggest Kai, although it is a few blocks south of your designated territory. The dinners usually do include some sashimi but I am sure you could substitute if your ban on sushi extends to sashimi also. The food is really exquisite, and if they have it, the gomae tofu is transporting. Couple caveats: service can be very slow, and the drinks (including very pedestrian wines) are quite expensive, even for NY.
I was going to recommend Ian on 86th/2nd but realized it closed on June 27. How sad! We had an excellent experience there in the spring.
Cafe D'Alsace 88th/2nd is a solid choice, as is Spigolo on 81st/2nd.
I like Cafe D'Alsace, but as I've posted before, the menu is not "summer friendly" by and large - mostly heavy dishes, which in this heat I prefer to avoid. Will post again if I think of something else.
How about Payard on Lex bet. 73rd & 74th... good, upscale bistro French, and some of the best desserts in the city
Cafe D'Alsace is also a good choice... the best addition to the neighborhood in a long time, with an excellent beer selection.
And don't forget Grey's Papaya on 86th and 3rd!
Thanks folks. Thanks for the reminder of Etats Unis. I used to love that place when I first came to NYC. I'm a little perturbed to think that it has gone down, but I'll give it a try another night.
Our guests are feeling adventurous and are dying to try Itzocan, which we like too. So that's where we'll be, tomorrow night. If any hounds are there too, stop by. We'll be the talkative four-top!