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I couldn't get into Babbo - now what?

I called for a reservation a day short of the required calender month ahead - and was told they had booked up solid the day before. Grrrr!!!! The snotty reservation drone said "It's only a restaurant!" If that's so, why is so darned hard to get into?

You were kind enough to recommend some places in the Chelsea area where we will be staying, but what do you recommend for a blow-out meal? Location is not an issue, nor is cost. I'm not that interested in formal French dining so let's not consider le Bernardin or any of it's ilk.

We've done most of the really trendy joints already since we are regular visitors to New York. How hard would it be to get into Thomas Keller's restaurant? And is it worth the hassle? I'm not sure how I feel about sous-vide cookery but I'm willing to give it a try.

I have now less than a month to make a reservation. Wonder what would have happened if I'd told them I was famous? (I'm not). Still simmering in Toronto....

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  1. Don't know what you would consider a "blow out meal"...And you say that you have been to many of the trendy places, so my recommendation might not help, but we love dinner at Balthazar....

    1. I have never been but what about something like Eleven Madison Park?

      If you love steak, my first choice would be Peter Luger. You can get a res there if you call fast.

      1. If you are feeling adventurous,why not try eating at the bar at Babbo. If you get there a little before they open you can usually get a spot. They serve the complete menu and the bartenders are really engaging.
        If you want something more civilized, we LOVE Mas on Downing St. ( no relation to Masa) and also Milos on W.55th. Both fab!!
        Enjoy,

        1. Hi Higgette,

          If you are not interested in formal French dining, then Per Se (Thomas Keller) is out as it is a 3 1/2 hour very formal dining experience. Plus it will probably be impossible to get a reservation in less than a month unless someone cancels their reservations.

          I agree with Eleven Madison Park and if price is not a concern, you can always get the gourmand tasting menu with wine pairing. You will have an excellent experience there.
          Another "blow-out" meal suggestion is L'Atelier de Joel Rubuchon at Four Seasons. It is upscale, casual French fine-dining at its best. You don't usually see fine-dining and casual together, but Robuchon, while elegant in decor, is surprisingly causal in atmosphere. You can walk in in jeans as I have seen people done that several times (ok, may be designers' jeans, and I do not recommend flip-flops or sandals). Food is beautifully presented and taste is top-notch, and you like foie gras you will be in heaven. However, price is steep and portion is small, the bill accumulates faster than you can imagine.

          Since you opted for Babbo at first, I supposed you will be interested in Italian (or in Batali =D)? Well, you can still go to Del Posto which is the grand festive theatrical restaurant under Batali. They also have a tasting menu and the pasta there is very much up to Babbo's standard (though I stilll think Babbo is the best - there is something addictive about it...). The atmosphere there though is definitely more formal, but not like Le Bernardain or Per Se. It is only because the place looks like a palace that you feel a bit out of place if you were to wear jeans and t-shirts.

          Other Italian upscale dining include A Voce, L'Impero, and Hearth. I did not think any of these are too formal at all. The food in these 3 restaurants are more contemporary tastewise and in presentation, so quite different from Babbo's food which I consider as very rustic. It will be a different experience from food to service to decor compared to Babbo, but, in a good way.

          I don't think there will be any trouble making a reservation now at these restaurants if you dine in two weeks or so.

          Hope you have a wonderful trip in NYC and let us know where you finally decide to go!

          1 Reply
          1. re: kobetobiko

            Thank you. You are so kind. Sorry I didn't respond sooner but I have had trouble logging in the last two days.

            I'm not a huge fan of Italian; it was more the Batali connection. I confess to having a celebrity chef fixation brought on by too much of the Food channel and from having read "Heat".

            I do like the Eleven Madison Park suggestion and I will follow up on it. I'll let you know what I decide and what I think of it all.

          2. I would try back again, I just booked a reservation a week ahead of time for a table for 4. I'm going to be there over a long weekend, so I asked to see what they had open the time I'm going to be in Manhattan. Had an 11pm opening on Friday, or a 9:45 on Sunday... took the Sunday Reservation!!

            Can't wait!

            1 Reply
            1. re: biotech bob

              They told me they were fully booked right up until closing. Maybe because you have a party of four? Enjoy!