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Best "big name" restaurant

mariadc3 May 9, 2007 10:56 AM

My husband and I are visiting Manhattan for the first time in many years. We live and work in Northern California wine country (I'm a chef, he's a sommelier). We are on a budget for this trip and plan to do a lot of eating at great local joints. But, we want to hear from savvy NY foodies: If you could splurge on only one meal in a "big name" Manhattan restaurant, where would you go? Nobu, Per Se, Il Buco, Esca, a Batali property, Alain Ducasse?

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  1. r
    RGR RE: mariadc3 May 9, 2007 11:13 AM

    Hey, mariadc3, You can scratch Alain Ducasse from that list because it has closed.

    No surprise to board regulars, I would suggest Eleven Madison Park -- but with a caveat. Since Chef Daniel Humm was previously at Campton Pl. in S.F., if you've sampled his cuisine there, then I wouldn't choose it. If not, in addition to his fabulous French-inspired cuisine, EMP has a fine wine list, first-rate service, and a gorgeous space.


    Another of our favorites is Veritas. I think it would be especially interestng for your husband, the sommelier, because Veritas has one of the most extraordinary wine lists around. And as a chef, I think you will truly appreciate Chef Scott Bryan's superb New American cuisine. This is not to say, of course, that both of you won't enjoy both aspects of dining there. Service is cordial and professional, and the small space has very stylish minimalist decor.


    Hope you and your husband have a wonderful visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

    1. erica RE: mariadc3 May 9, 2007 11:45 AM

      Jean Georges should be in the running. Not Nobu. Not Il Buco.

      1 Reply
      1. re: erica
        jsmitty RE: erica May 10, 2007 02:20 PM

        il buco so wildly disappointing...

      2. ellenost RE: mariadc3 May 9, 2007 11:53 AM

        I think you might enjoy Aureole: great food, service, ambiance. The wine director is my favorite; your husband should enjoy comparing "notes" with him.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ellenost
          NAtiveNewYorker RE: ellenost May 10, 2007 12:38 PM

          Get the veggie tasting menu with the wine paring. One of the best meals you'll ever have.

        2. steve h. RE: mariadc3 May 9, 2007 01:44 PM

          your credentials are intimidating. still, i'll take the pepsi challenge and say that babbo has no direct counterpart in the bay area. i'll raise the bar a bit and say that steak and northern california are strangers: keens steakhouse is a solid selection.

          a gentleman from the bay area, he goes by the chowhound handle of porthos, swears by sushi yasuda. his writeup inspired me to to take my family there. porthos knows his stuff.

          1. jmo9 RE: mariadc3 May 9, 2007 02:00 PM

            Gramercy Tavern. Period. Spend your money on the best service, the tastiest food and a gorgeous atmosphere.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jmo9
              jakew8 RE: jmo9 May 9, 2007 05:02 PM

              I like GT but I don't think it wins "period" over all of the others. I agree with jes13 below that Le Bern is a better choice.

            2. s
              Sean Dell RE: mariadc3 May 9, 2007 02:21 PM

              Babbo is unique, and it certainly has a big name. Nor is there anything like it anywhere else, but I don't think it should be your big splurge.

              Both EMP and Gramercy Tavern are fine restaurants, and I particularly like the latter.

              But what about Bouley? What about Daniel? Both have outstanding food and wine.

              Have fun.

              - Sean

              1. b
                brendastarlet RE: mariadc3 May 9, 2007 02:37 PM

                Le Bernardin isn't new or trendy but it has never disappointed me. The service is exquisite. I don't think Esca is "big name" enough for your purposes.

                1 Reply
                1. re: brendastarlet
                  jes13 RE: brendastarlet May 9, 2007 02:43 PM

                  Agreed. Le Bernadin is superb. I've been there 4 times, and each time I come away with a warm glow and spend days dreaming about the meal. Never disappoints. Jean Georges is also very good. Gramercy Tavern (recommended above) is forgettable. Each time I eat there, I find myself, weeks later, trying to recall what I ate.

                2. l
                  lucybobo RE: mariadc3 May 9, 2007 02:45 PM

                  Of the ones you mentioned, I'd do Per Se. Best meal of my life.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: lucybobo
                    ChefJune RE: lucybobo May 10, 2007 06:47 AM

                    They live in Northern CA.. I'm guessing they've already dined at French Laundry, if they care for T Keller. I'd do something more "New York" than Per Se!

                    Maria, wherever you reserve make yourselves known when you call. That way you will be more sure to get the reservation you want.

                    I think I'd eat at the bar at Babbo, and have my big splurge at Le Bernardin. It is class and great food, wine and service ALL the way! (and no loud music!) However you can't come to New York to dine and not "do" a Danny Meyer restaurant! (You might enjoy Tabla, his Indian place in Madison Park.

                    1. re: ChefJune
                      BW212 RE: ChefJune May 10, 2007 07:59 AM

                      I agree to a "no" on Nobu. It's not in the same class as the other places you are considering. One you haven't mentioned is Aquavit. They do (or at least used to do) a 14 course "bite" menu that is out of this world (they have a vegetarian option for it too). Their foie gras ganache (with almond flour in it) is unreal.

                      Have a great trip!

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