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Tasting Menu Recommendations?

zack Dec 20, 2006 02:17 AM

I am looking for awesome tasting menu + wine pairing in NYC. I will be in Manhattan 1/4-8, coming from L.A (so no sushi).

Per Se and Masa are cost prohibitive so those 2 are out. Anything else is fair game. I prefer less formal places (formal = Jean-Georges, Daniel Boulud) and definitely nowhere that requires a jacket.

I've already got Babbo res on 1/6 so I need 2 other dinner rec's.

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  1. s
    Sean Dell RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 02:29 AM

    Bouley is it. Informal, in a beautiful and romantic room, their tasting menu is sublime.

    There's a funny post elsewhere on this board about the sommelier not knowing his onions, so to speak, but I've always found the wine pairings to be wonderfully good.

    As for dress code, shirt and jeans are fine. I ate there on Monday, in shirt and jeans.

    - Sean

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sean Dell
      zack RE: Sean Dell Dec 20, 2006 03:44 AM

      I ruled out Bouley due to what I saw on OpenTable:

      Dress Code: Jacket Required

      Now I'll reconsider...

    2. e
      eve RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 04:28 AM

      more options--gramercy tavern, eleven madison park too. other chowhounders--what about veritas? cru?

      1 Reply
      1. re: eve
        RGR RE: eve Dec 20, 2006 05:09 PM

        Veritas does not regularly offer a tasting menu though I have heard they will do one upon request.

        The tasting menu we had at Eleven Madison was out-of-this-world sensational. It's not the current Gourmand menu, but I can't imagine this one wouldn't be as sublime.

      2. t
        tsb2001 RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 11:10 AM

        I definitely wouldn't characterize Bouley as informal. I've never seen anyone dine there in jeans, but that doesn't mean it's prohibited. The jacket is requested but not required. Bouley's tasting menu is terrific. It's also quite reasonable at $85. I believe they also have a 7-course Degustation menu, which I've been tempted to try (you might consider asking). I know Danube has one.

        I'd pass on Veritas. The wine is the star there. If you're a wine person, I'd consider Cru or Veritas, but in terms of food I'd stick with Bouley (Danube is excellent, too).

        Also, WD-50's tasting menu is a lot of fun. The restaurant has its ardent followers and equally loud critics, but it's very casual and, at the very least, an interesting dining experience.

        1. s
          Sean Dell RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 12:04 PM

          Bouley won't throw you out if you don't have a jacket! At least they don't throw me out. It doesn't meant they encourage slobs.

          LA cool is just fine.

          - Sean

          1. Senor Popusa RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 02:16 PM

            Eleven Madison Park is a good option. Most people dress nicely, some with and some without jackets. Menu is wonderful.

            It is more low key, but have you looked into Mas in the West Village? They have a delicious menu that is a good value (not inexpensive but a good deal nonetheless).

            1. Porthos RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 03:55 PM

              For tasting menus without jackets:

              Jean-Georges in the Nougatine. You can get the tasting menu in the more casual room. The wine pairing is excellent and the service is attentive, professional, and tailored to your tastes.

              L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. I'll be giving this place a try a week after you hit NYC. The dress code is listed as "casual". The reviews here have been mixed but the online tasting menu looks good.

              Bouley is good the first time around, but as someone has noted, very little has changed with the tasting menu over the past few years. Jackets were not required.

              Cru. Haven't been yet but it's a board favorite.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Porthos
                zack RE: Porthos Dec 20, 2006 04:22 PM

                I've been to L'Atelier in Las Vegas so I'm gonna pass on that one. I thought the food was excellent and creative, presentation on each course was great. No wine pairing option. The service was mixed due to the bar/counter seating in front of the open kitchen. Ultimately though, I found it overpriced.

                1. re: zack
                  Porthos RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 10:13 PM

                  Supposedly, the NY version is even more overpriced than the Vegas outpost. Guess EMP or Cru would be your best bet. Aquavit is something different that you wouldn't be able to get in LA. I like Samuelson's style and creativity. The foie gras ganache is excellent. Unfortunately, they moved from their previously gorgeous location (with indoor waterfall). I haven't been since they moved into their new digs.


                  1. re: Porthos
                    dbird RE: Porthos Dec 20, 2006 10:50 PM

                    I have been to the new location several times and love it. Aquavit is a great idea. I did have a kind of yucky lunch there yesterday (in the cafe) but I think it was my fault for ordering as I did. Have only been delighted in the restaurant, and especially approve of their habit of arriving immediately upon seating with a bottle of champagne. Would you like to start with a glass of champagne? How could you say no?

                    Do be aware that that glass will be charged to your bill, however.

              2. p
                pieman RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 04:11 PM

                cru is a solid tasting menu spot the chef was the chef at bouley for a while and before that cooked with lidia bastianich,owner felidia

                1. d
                  dbird RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 06:24 PM

                  I am not a fan of Bouley but agree that Eleven Madison and Nougatine are good options. That said, while I think the food at Nougatine is really excellent, I have been there when the service was not what it should be and a few large boisterous parties made conversation impossible. You might also consider Hearth.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dbird
                    dbird RE: dbird Dec 20, 2006 06:50 PM

                    oh, and you might also consider Tabla. I never think of Tabla but am always amazed by how good it is, both food and service.

                  2. j
                    JoLi RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 06:49 PM

                    I really like Fleur De Sel in addition to the ones listead above.

                    1. seal RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 11:19 PM

                      I have to agree on the EMP suggestion. I will be going there for the tasting menu for my birthday this Feb as well. Daniel Humm is a master and we are lucky to have him nearby.

                      Also, the service and the room make the experience even better.

                      1. n
                        Nehna RE: zack Dec 20, 2006 11:28 PM

                        I think Cru's a great idea, though I wouldn't call it 'informal' (certainly not as formal though as Daniel/Per Se/etc).

                        Another idea would be Hearth. I love Hearth and plan to do the tasting menu on new year's eve for the first time....many have raved about the tasting menu experience there.

                        Blue Hill could work too. I enjoyed the tasting menu there.

                        1. m
                          Mazzer RE: zack Dec 21, 2006 04:19 AM

                          I'd suggest Annisa. Informal and delightful. I've had tasting menus at Babbo, Blue Hill, Bouley, Cru, and WD-50, and Annisa's is the one I still think about often. (I should clarify that ... I really enjoyed Babbo's pasta tasting menu, too.)

                          1. r
                            Rodrigo RE: zack Dec 21, 2006 07:36 PM

                            Cafe Gray, situated in the Time Warner Center (cafegray.com), serves up a uniqe blend of Asian and Central European cuisine.

                            When I had the tasting menu, it was prepared with skill and conviction.

                            It's a memorable meal.

                            1. hreisig RE: zack Dec 21, 2006 07:43 PM

                              I'd also highly recommend Perry St. Its a wonderful and informal way to experiance Jean-George, . I haven't been to Nougatine, but had the prix fixe (available all year long) and fell in love. The prix fixre is only 24 for lunch or 35 for dinner, and if you go with someone else, you can try a lot of their menu. Its easier to get reservations there as well. The service was dead on, attentive and friendly but not at all obtrusive.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: hreisig
                                Lucia RE: hreisig Dec 21, 2006 08:06 PM

                                I really like Perry Street, but it doesn't have a tasting menu. Also, the pf dinner is only available 5:30-6 (according to opentable).

                              2. agraham RE: zack Dec 21, 2006 08:31 PM

                                My tasting-menu experiences at Il Buco have been outstanding. They offer a 7-course menu for $85/person (or thereabouts). The chef will sometimes come right to your table and talk about what you like or don't like, the ambience is sort of upscale rustic Italian, you'd swear you're in a tiny trattoria in an Italian farming village (which means casual dress, if you like).

                                Really great locally-sourced meats, artisan olive oils and salts are featured throughout the meal. If you like to watch the action in the kitchen, ask for a seat in the back room, where you can see your meal being constructed and the chef with pen-in-hand doing real-time menu creation.

                                1. z
                                  zack RE: zack Jan 11, 2007 07:13 PM

                                  As a followup to my original post, I ended up dining at Bouley, Babbo, Eleven Madison Park (in that order).

                                  Babbo was the least favorite of the 3. However, if price was a factor, it would definitely be held in higher regard. I ended up doing the pasta tasting menu. Highlight dish must be Garganelli with “Funghi Trifolati”. Wine pairings were great. None of the dishes wowed me but I'll definitely return to order a la carte.

                                  Bouley came out in the middle, both in quality and price. Ordered the tasting menu but in my mind it was really a 4 course meal. Maybe the degustation menu is the way to go here. The highlight dish has to be the suckling pig. I can't find it on any online menu but it was offered as an entree the night I went. The server accomodated my request to order that instead of the tasting menu "meat" section choices. Also good was appetizer of Phyllo Crusted Florida Shrimp, Cape Cod Baby Squid, Scuba Dived Sea Scallop, sweet Maryland Crabmeat. Wine pairings were good.

                                  Last but certainly not least ($$$$), Eleven Madison Park. I ordered the gourmand tasting and it was awesome. No question on the highlight dish, Four Story Hill Poularde "Piquée aux Truffes Noires" and "La Ratte" Potato Mousseline. Wine pairings were excellent. The burgundy with chicken and barolo with short ribs were standouts. I highly recommend the wine pairings with tasting menu. Dish after dish, glass after glass, nothing disappointed. If I had to find fault, it would be with the desserts.

                                  1. f
                                    FoodieNY RE: zack Jan 13, 2007 07:30 PM

                                    I love Aureole! The food is out of this world and so is the service. I got the vegetarian tasting menu (I am not one, but picky with meat, fish) and the food was incredible. My husband got the regular tasting menu and both were presented beautifully and with great wines.

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