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Birthday Dilemma (sort of): Bouley, Danube or Gramercy Tavern

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The three choices above have been given to me by my girlfriend to celebrate my birthday. I have not been to any of them but am leaning towards GT. Have heard great things about GT, some type of resurgence with their new chef, Michael Anthony. I like the idea of GT and one of my favorite restaurants in the city is Hearth which I think they share a similar menu/cuisine with. I don't know much about Danube or Bouley other that what I've gleaned from their websites. Would love any feedback. TIA!

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  1. If you want resurgence, go to EMP. Out of the three you mentioned, unquestionaby Bouley. Danube is very meh, and GT, though the chef seems to be doing a good job, is effectively a themed restaurant.

    1. I love Michael Anthony's food.... so GramTav is sure to be spectacular... but so is EMP! It's probably the top table in town right now.

      I didn't know GranTav had anything to do with Hearth. How are they similar?

      4 Replies
      1. re: ChefJune

        Hearth's chef/owner Marco Canora worked at GT and Craft for Tom Colicchio. The menus seem to pay similar attention to a polished, fresh american take on food.

        1. re: chowcito

          I was going to say the same thing before reading the other posts - EMP is where it's at right now ... although i am hearing good things are happening at GT.

          1. re: bdurrett

            I've heard great things about EMP and will absolutely get there. . .unfortunately they are closed for a private event tonight. Of the three above is there any one standout?

            1. re: chowcito

              Bouley :)

      2. I prefer Bouley to Danube. I haven't been to Gramercy Tavern under Michael Anthony.

        1. Having been to all three of the restaurants, I would say Bouley by a longshot.

          1. Danube for the slightly quirky, yet polished Austrian ambiance and inspired dishes. I thought that the wines at Danube are slightly more modern, but are well chosen than those at Bouley.

            Bouley for that more formal, more structured dining and service.

            1. Like everyone else, I think Bouley is better for birthday celebration because it is more romantic and it's an excellent place to bring your girlfriends (bouley is also very popular for anniversary celebrations). The food at Bouley and Gramercy Tavern is both great, but I just think the atmosphere at Bouley is better for your occasion. For me I will Gramercy Tavern any day just for impromptu dinner (of course, given that they have tables for me).

              Oh, and Danube to me less impressive than Bouley and Gramercy Tavern, IMO.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kobetobiko

                Funny ... I picked Bouley just because I think the food is superior. In terms of romantic, I would opt for Danube. I think the room is absolutely stunning.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  The first time I went to Bouley I thought the food was excellent, but then their menu has been the same for so long that I felt unexcited. At least Gramercy Tavern updates their menu every now and then and now has a vegetarian tasting menu with the new chef.

                  I supposed for first timer Bouley's food will be more exciting, but it is hard for me to be a regular to Bouley with such a static menu...(or may be some people prefer that and become regulars because the menu never changes...)

              2. Thanks for the suggestions, after much debate I ultimately decided on Gramercy Tavern. After looking at the websites and reading the reviews I thought that Danube and Bouley sounded a bit too buttoned-up, and after a weekend of revelry I wanted a solid meal with none of the pomp or stodginess of a Bouley restaurant. What we found at Gramercy Tavern was perfect. I had heard that the restaurant was in decline and often boosted only by the questionable Zagat methodology and the droves of tourists that follow. . .but upon finishing a meal there I found that couldn't be further from the truth and I will surely be back.

                We chose the 7-course spring tasting menu all of which was deliciously fresh and satisfying. We debated between wines and finally our server said that he would pair each course with a taste which left us perfectly sated without being (too) drunk. Service was top-notch without being overbearing -- our waiter in particular (David, I believe) did an excellent job and offered what we thought was very thoughtful service. The entire tasting menu was spot-on delicious. . .my only gripe came with the fennel and parsnip puree that accompanied the lamb, the taste was a bit cloying and took away from the savory cut of the lamb. Other than that - the standouts were the black sea bass on a cauliflower puree, and a pheasant cooked to perfection with use of ramps in some way. We also opted for a 3-piece cheese course between dinner and dessert which was fantastic. A Spanish goat cheese (Monte Enebro), French cow (Chalancey) and the third I forget, likely because of the Spanish brandy that came after. The dessert started with coconut tapioca which we both liked. Lastly we had the caramelized pear cake and the milk chocolate praline mousse. This pastry chef has some serious talent. All in all a great night. . .and luckily for us they gave us some muffins for breakfast to carry the experience through morning!

                1. I've been to all 4 and I vote for Bouley(1st) GT(2nd). Much better atmosphere too. EMP feels like a corporate dining room and I think I inhaled most of the foams in my chef tasting menu.