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One Night - 1st timer - HELP!

azhotdish Mar 6, 2007 02:20 PM

My girlfriend and I are going to the Dominican Republic in September and flying through Newark - we're planning on going into Manhattan for dinner/drinks on a Saturday night as our plane returns to PHX early Sunday morning. So my question...

Neither of us have ever been to NYC, so I'm looking for a memorable meal that isn't too formal (thinking Per Se, Le Bernadin as examples) in a central part of the city. We're probably going to try to see Times Square and the Empire State Bldg (no stone-throwing please, I'm not the touristy type AT ALL but I think the occasion calls for it) . Price doesn't matter, so I welcome suggestions from all ranges. We're in our mid-20s, but food is the most important. Thanks in advance.

  1. k
    kiworan79 Mar 6, 2007 03:52 PM

    Are you interested in a trendy, lively atmosphere with beautiful people and pretty good food or are you more interested in fine food and a more refined atmosphere? My SO and I are in our mid to late 20s, and frequent both types of dining destinations -- so knowing exactly what you are looking for will help me give you some advice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kiworan79
      azhotdish Mar 6, 2007 04:50 PM

      I think I get enough trendy here in Scottsdale...I'd say more refined with better food. My girlfriend even mentioned Lombardi's the other day...so I'm up for anything.

    2. r
      RGR Mar 6, 2007 07:04 PM

      Eleven Madison Park would be my recommendation. It's a little south of midtown, on the corner of Madison Av. & 24th St. Chef Daniel Humm's French-inspired cuisine is sensational! There is an excellent wine list. The staff provides service that is both cordial and polished. The space is gorgeous! You can dress casually and feel very comfortable. In short, if you are looking for memorable, this is the place to find it.

      http://www.elevenmadisonpark.com

      Enjoy your short first visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

      1 Reply
      1. re: RGR
        k
        kiworan79 Mar 6, 2007 07:07 PM

        Yep. RGR beat me to it. EMP is definitely the way to go. If you don't have four hours to do the tasting menu, make sure that you get the suckling pig entree and the foie gras en torchon app. Lombardi's is always another viable option though, albeit in a completely different league.

      2. k
        kobetobiko Mar 6, 2007 07:28 PM

        Did your girlfriend mention Lombardi's because she wants to try Italian food in NYC? If so, I would recommend Babbo by Mario Batali. It is definitely the best Italian restaurant in NYC IMO, and the atmosphere is very causal (though the price is "high-end"). Even jeans will be perfectly fine. The only catch is that it is very hard to get a reservation, so you will need to do some homework (meaning CALL! ).

        Lupa and Otto, both by Batali, are serves great Italian food in causal environment. They are also less expensive, but I think Babbo's food is the best of all three.

        For French dining, completely agree with RGR on Eleven Madison Park. Great food!

        1 Reply
        1. re: kobetobiko
          azhotdish Mar 6, 2007 07:43 PM

          Yes, I was reading an earlier post about the hassle to get a reservation at Babbo. I really wouldn't mind the trouble if it's worth it. On the Lombardi's comment, that's her style, I'm the gourmet. I think I'd like to hit them all, unfortunately I have to choose one.

        2. c
          cimui Mar 6, 2007 07:44 PM

          It'd be hard to get reservations at Babbo on such short notice, I think. I would try a good sushi joint (like Yasuda), Cafe Gray, or, if you like Italian, Centolire (UES) or Po (W. Village) in addition to Lupa. I'm also partial to Ouest (UWS), Tabla (midtown east ), and Craft (LES).

          For really, really memorable (odd), look into WD-50 (LES).

          1 Reply
          1. re: cimui
            k
            kiworan79 Mar 7, 2007 05:48 AM

            The OP is coming in September ... so there is plenty of time to get a reservation at Babbo. Just make sure that you call one month in advance and early. You will probably get a busy signal, but with a little effort, reservations will be no problem. And yes, Babbo IS worth it. Slightly less fancy than EMP (and less expensive too), and the pasta tasting menu is fantastic.

          2. steve h. Mar 6, 2007 08:10 PM

            hmmm: flying into newark from the dominican and then taking a limo to manhattan. my take is i would be pretty tired and in no mood for a formal, three-plus-hour meal in a restaurant where jackets and ties are everywhere. so much for per se.

            fish. i love fish. le bernardin knows fish better than any other high-end, european-style restaurant in manhattan. still, they have a dress code and maybe strapping on a jacket and tie after your long flight is low on your priority list.

            modest thought. book a room at the ritz carlton in battery park for saturday night. take the water taxi to the river cafe (in the shadow of the brooklyn bridge). watch the sun go down on the greatest city in the world. food's good there, the view of the battery is spectacular. you'll still have to wear a jacket. toast lady liberty, ground zero, whatever. hell, walk the bridge back to manhattan if you have the energy.

            1. m
              mtksmith Mar 7, 2007 06:16 AM

              How about DB bistro moderne? It is on 44th, an easy walk from Times Square. It is owned by an iconic New York chef, but has a more relaxed atmosphere than Daniel or the other restaurants you mentioned as being perhaps too formal.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mtksmith
                k
                kobetobiko Mar 7, 2007 08:54 AM

                I will respectfully disagree with DB bistro moderne. It is average food, decent if you live around the area and drop by for a meal, but not worth going way out (in this case all the way from the airport) to have their food. It is mediocre at best. There are too many great reataurants in NYC to spend your dinner at for a one-time visit!

                1. re: kobetobiko
                  r
                  RGR Mar 7, 2007 09:01 AM

                  I disagree with your assessment of the food at dbBistro. In my view, the food -- at least what we've had there -- is very good though I wouldn't call our meals there a "wow." So, it's one of those places that I would only go to if I were already in that vicinity, for example, seeing a play in the Theater District. Therefore, I do agree with you about not going out of one's way to eat there.

              2. p
                psawce Mar 7, 2007 09:44 AM

                Regarding Lombardi's: since they expanded (a couple times over the past few years) I've found the pizzas to be pretty inconsistent. My last trip there was just not good at all. If your girlfriend is looking for great pizza, you could do better.

                1 Reply
                1. re: psawce
                  azhotdish Mar 7, 2007 10:26 AM

                  I'm all ears then, psawce.

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