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SF Chowhound has one night in NY - help me choose between...

Will be in NY on a Friday night. Our host has suggested Gramercy Tavern or Gotham Bar and Grill; I suggested Cru or Gusto (Prune, a first choice, will be closed).

Any thoughts on the above? I tend to like more intimate, chef-driven places with rustic fare, as opposed to corporate-stuffy tasting menu-type spots (though I know Cru is more on the formal tasting menu end of the spectrum, I've heard the food is fantastic, so it would be worth it).

Basically, what I'm trying to avoid is generic fancy food with no sense of place.

Can anyone offer advice?

Thanks so much.

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  1. They are all good choices (though I am not familiar with gusto) but for a more intimate, rustic place I recomend Blue Hill.

    BTW, most of the better restaurants in NY aviod being corporate, stuffy or generic.

    1. I loved the tasting menu/wine pairing and Cru.... i enjoyed Gramercy Tavern as well, but I would have to choose Cru. I have not been to Gotham or Gusto.

      6 Replies
      1. re: kesues

        id avoid gramercy and go for veritas across the street...expertly cooked, and very comfortable, yet very professional environment.

        gotham is good but a bit too stuffy judging by yr comments.

        1. re: sam1

          I completely agree. Go for Veritas.

          1. re: sed231

            i found veritas somewhat stuffy and corporate. although, it was a great meal...

            1. re: ceeceee

              Really? It is sleek and modern, but the service is so relaxed and friendly that I don't find it corporate or stuffy at all.

              1. re: sed231

                i don't know...it has been awhile, but i seem to recall it being a bit austere. the food was great though...and i'd go back.

                1. re: ceeceee

                  Veritas is one of our favorites. I think of the decor as elegant minimalist and find it exceedingly soothing. To me, the overall ambiance is anything but stuffy. More like very pleasant and civilized.

      2. I think you'd prefer Blue Hill based on your criteria.

        My current favorite in town is Momofuku Ssam but that's a tasting-menu type place (although it's very chef-driven, and intimate, and small and friendly!). LOTS of sense of place!

        I know other folks won't agree that it's the same caliber, but Red Cat on the far west side / Chelsea might also fit your criteria ... as would AOC Bedford, which I think is one of the most underrated restaurants in town.

        1. As an SF chowhound temporarily living in Manhattan, I would actually say that while Blue Hill is a great restaurant, it's actually going to be pretty similar to a lot of what you can find in the Bay Area -- grown-on-the-farm food is great, but not all that novel for someone from SF. I'd go for something that you wouldn't be able to get in SF -- Momofuku is certainly a good recommendation. Fatty Crab would be something pretty unique as well, as would WD-50.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mjp

            Another Bay Area CH - my rec is for Degustation, Definitely not rustic - it's a very chic interior, all dark and minimalist - but definitely intimate (16 seats in a bar configuration around the open kitchen). On a slow night, you can chat with the shockingly young and stunningly gifted chef (Wesley Genovart).

            Food looks fancy (judicious use of foams and gels) but tastes rustic and soulful. Example - asparagus crusted in panko, topped with a slow poached (immersion cooker) egg and smoked cheese foam. Invisible chorizo gel at the bottom of the bowl. The yolk, the foam, and the gel combine to make the Best. Sauce. Ever. Multiple avant-garde cooking techniques, but grounded in classic flavors. Deeply satisfying experience overall, and completely different from anything we have in the Bay Area.

            1. re: mjp

              That was my impression with all of the OP's restaurant choices. They all are similar to a lot of restaurants in SF. Of course, that's just my impression, but I lived in SF and stil return often and continue to make the restaurant rounds in the Bay Area. But, those are the OPs choices. In any case, just to get a more of NYC-institution restaurant, I would suggest Gramercy Tavern.

            2. Based on your description of intimate, chef-driven with rustic fare, I would strongly recommend Hearth - make sure you sit at the tall chairs that face directly into the open kitchen. You can order a la carte or tasting menu and their wine list is phenomenal. Pylos is another good one - even smaller and more off the beaten path - great greek with modern twists.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jessfood

                Yes, Hearth is chef-driven. However, considering the cavernous space, I would hardly describe it as an intimate restaurant. As regards where to sit, there are only 4 seats at The Pass, and it's first-come-first-served. Also, there's a very good chance Chef Marco Canora may not be there since he is spending quite a bit of time these days at his new restaurant, Insieme.

              2. Thanks all, for the suggestions. Especially Blue Hill - that was one I was trying to remember - though good point, it seems very SF-style. I think I get trapped in a Bay Area food mindset. Off that path, Degustation sounds really interesting.

                I'll run them by my host and post back once we eat!

                1. I cast my vote for Gotham Bar & Grill. The chef is in the kitchen, unlike all the other places. Great food, great value & chef-driven. Enjoy NYC...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Fallon

                    Not quite true re: your comment about chefs. Michael Anthony is in Gramercy Tavern's kitchen as is Scott Bryan at Veritas. And, if I'm not mistaken, the same goes for Shea Galante at Cru.

                    1. re: Fallon

                      I think the food at Gotham is good, but out of all the downtown restaurants I actually think it's one of the most corporate.

                    2. I agree with others - Blue Hill or maybe Peasant. Of your options, Gotham is the place to go.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: NYprof

                        AT THE MOMENT, I WOULD GO TO "11 MADISON PARK." IT'S ONE OF THE BEST PLACES GOING AT THE MOMENT. REALLY THIS IS A PLACE FOR RIGHT NOW! GOTHAM IS GREAT BUT IT'S HEY DAY WAS OVER 10 YEARS AGO, SAME GOES WITH THE TAVERN, BUT MADISON PARK IS REALLY COOKING AT THE MOMENT AND IT'S DINING ROOM IS REALLY SPACIOUS WITH 20FT CEILINGS. YES IT'S FORMAL BUT THE FOOD IS SO GOOD.

                        1. re: Sambossanova

                          Gotham!! I can honestly say one of the best meals of my life there.