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best nyc dining experience

  • r

for a special birthday celebration, what is the best restaurant? daniel? le bernadin? per se? i want romantic but also excellent food and good service.

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  1. Sometimes the restaurants do the choosing for you -- I have tried to get reservations at Per Se several times, but they take reservations up to 60 days in advance and they book up so quickly!

    I personally would go to one of Danny Meyer's restaurants (with the exception of Eleven Madison Park, which I heard has gone down hill lately) for a special meal. I have eaten at the Modern (in the Dining room, which is more elegant and special than the Bar room) and the food and experience were great.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Ali B

      Eleven Madison Park downhill? You must be joking!! I don't know where you're getting your information from but since the arrival of Chef Daniel Humm earlier this year, the French-inspired cuisine has been sensational. We've eaten there three times and every dish has been superb. I'm not the only one who feels this way. Do a search and you will find raves from many other Hounds (and, I might add, on other food forums as well).


      It's actually Gramercy Tavern, which has never wowed us, that's in need of changes. And they are coming. With the departure of Tom Colicchio, Danny Meyer has hired Michael Anthony, formerly of Blue Hill, to head the kitchen and overhaul the menu. There will also be a new pastry chef. Much as was the case with EMP, this shows Meyer realizes the food at Gramercy has grown tired and needs vast improvement.

      1. re: Ali B

        Eleven Madison Park has gone downhill? FAR from it! EMP is a sensational restaurant with superb service and divine food. Make it your choice, and you won't be disappointed.

        1. re: asdf

          Woah, sorry all. I haven't been to Eleven Madison recently, so I don't know first hand. I got my info from friends, and also a GM at The Modern who happens to be a friend. So it's just hearsay... I guess I will have to go there and see for myself.

          1. re: Ali B

            It's very strange that a GM at The Modern would dis EMP. After all, both are Danny Meyer restaurants. While that GM may not have had an opportunity to dine at EMP since Chef Humm's arrival, it's difficult to believe he is unaware of the reports about Humm's sensational cuisine.

            1. re: RGR

              It could have been a misunderstanding on my part (after a few glasses of wine with dinner) but i believe he said it wasn't as good as before... still haven't been back, so I'll report back when I do.

        2. re: Ali B

          I agree with all of the Eleven Madison defenders. It is by far one of the best dining experiences I've had in the city. I went about four months ago or so, and I still can't stop raving about it.

          I also agree with the Grammercy Tavern comments. Not really that special in comparison.

          1. re: Ali B

            EMP is still amazing-see my detailed review for reference!!!!!!!!!!!

          2. i know many people think Gramercy Tavern is old & tired and prefer 11 Madison Park, but I prefer Gramercy Tavern. We ate at 11 Madison Park over Labor Day weekend and was underimpressed,but we still love Gramercy Tavern for special occasion. We prefer the food, service & atmosphere.

            1 Reply
            1. re: meb903

              I actually agree with meb903. Maybe it's b/c I used to work at Credit Suisse and all I think about when I walk into EMP are all the hours I was overworked and underpaid, but I've never been wowed by their food. Granted I've only been there 3x and only once for dinner and the dinner was downright not tasty, whereas I've been to GT at least 10x. Both my husband and I would take GT over EMP any night of the week. All my CS co-workers who had been to EMP and GT LOTS of times for biz lunches (when times were good and we could charge it to the company) all preferred GT, as well.

            2. La Grenoullie. The prettiest restaurant in NYC. The service rivals that you would find in a Paris ***. The food is classic French, so if you are looking for inventive it is not the place. There is a very recent thread here on Chowhound regarding La Grenoullie, which I would of added to this post if I knew how.

              1. Chanterelle !

                We have been twice and it certainly fits your asking criteria.

                They offer a truly enjoyable ding experience with a very relaxed and down to earth attitude.

                1. If you can get the reservations at Per Se, then hands down, that is the best place in NYC to eat. I was fortunate to get reservations for the day that I was looking for, and had an amazing four-hour experience which has yet to be topped.

                  I would say that tt definitely qualifies as romantic as well. There are only 16 tables, spaced out far enough to give you ample privacy.

                  As Ali B stated, they take reservations two months in advance of the day that you are looking for service. So today, they took reservations for November 19th, tomorrow they will take reservations for November 20th, etc, etc.

                  The reservation line opens at 10 am, and it is constantly busy, so have the number on speed dial.

                  1. All of the above mentioned restaurants are very good. My new high end favorite is Bouley. Not crazy expensive either. Very nice atmosphere, romantic, great menu & service. Can't go wrong eating at Bouley....

                    1. Another vote here for Eleven Madison Park. Chef Humm is doing wonderful work in the kitchen. Some of the best meals we've had this year.

                        1. I do NOT recommend celebrating a romantic occasion at Per Se. It's not a comment on the quality so much as the quantity of the food -- the tasting menus are like a marathon. Friends of mine who have tried this all regretted doing so since it effectively foreclosed any plans of getting romantic later in the evening.

                          1. Bouley- food is great, service is spot on but a little stuffy.
                            Babbo- relaxed atmosphere, loud music but great food and service to match.

                            1. Bouley, Cru, Daniel, Per Se would all be great choices though all extremely different from each other. Cru's my current favorite of the 4 having just gone. Or Per Se when you really want to break the bank and IF you can get a table.

                              1. Here`s another vote for La Grenouille. Order a bottle of champagne, sit among the fresh flowers, let them take care of you.

                                1. as far as I'm concerned it is indisputable that the two greatest dining experiences in NY are Per Se and JG (maybe Masa as well if you have the palate for it).

                                  with that said, you could have a fabulous "romantic" meal at EMP, Perry Street, Daniel and a number of others.

                                  oh, and whoever said that EMP has gone downhill must be joking.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Nathan75

                                    The best dining experience hands down is Per Se. Closely followed by Jean Georges and Le Bernardin.

                                  2. Jean Georges- hands down.

                                    1. Yep I started the La Grenouille post.


                                      It was great, just classic rich indulgent food. And the flowers (which they arrange every morning) are amazing. Service is terrific.

                                      I would also second Chanterelle . . . had an amazing meal their--and really comfortable room.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: mle18

                                        thanks everyone. i am going to make a couple of res--JG and I am thinking Babbo. I have been to Eleven Madison, La Grenouille and had great experiences. but i think i like the babbo room better. and never been to JG--soooo.Thanks so much

                                      2. Le Bernardin easily the best of the four stars.
                                        Babbo a great experience, but more hectic, less of a high end feel.

                                        1. I vote for Eleven Madison Park and Bouley for a romantic dinner. But I also want to throw in The River Cafe as the MOST romantic. There is nothing that can top the view of brooklyn bridge and skyline over sunset. River cafe itself, with all the flower presenations and bouquets, is very romantic by itself (ok, I am judging from a female perspective). It is a little far, but is worth the trip if you want to impress your love one.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: kobetobiko

                                            We eat out a lot throughout NYC. Eleven Mad is our favorite. Food and service are close to perfection.