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Once-in-lifetime NYC dinner: Four Seasons vs. others

  • k

My Dad and step-Mom are coming to visit NYC for their 25th wedding anniversary. It's also my husband and my 5th wedding anniversary. They would like to have a very "big-deal" dinner to celebrate these events. My Dad has done his research and since his first choice is closed for renovations (The 21 Club), he has selected The Four Seasons Restaurant. I did some of my own research and found mixed reviews of Four Seasons. I think that being legendary is one influential factor in my Dad's selection process, but I want to make sure it's worth the cost -- meaning great food, excellent service, and extraordinary decor. I've been here 13 years but don't have much experience with the fine dining restaurants. What are your suggestions? Thanks.

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  1. VERY STUFFY and pretensious (sp). If they're not afraid of heights, check out the Rainbow Grille Restaurant at the top of 30 Rock. BEAUTIFUL, $$$ and good food.

    1. For a special dinner, I recommend Aureole, Bouley, Eleven Madison Park and Danube. All have great food, excellent service and lovely decor.

      5 Replies
      1. re: ellenost

        Absolutely agree with Eleven Madison Park, terrfic in every single way. Another place I would look at is Veritas. Congrats~

        1. re: jdream

          Agreed, EMP is truly perfect for a special occasion.

          1. re: LeahBaila

            Just as a note, since you did mention decor. EMP is in an old bank with double height ceilings and big windows that look directly onto Madison Park (you see green in NY!). Also, unlike a majority of NY restaurants that tables are nicely spaced. The service is fantastic and they truly seem to understand that people are dining there for "special occasions" and treat it as such.

        2. re: ellenost

          Bouley has lost it's sparkle since its 29-food rating in the mid 90's, that's without a doubt. I object!

          I like to eats.

          1. re: ellenost


            Bouley Bakery & Market
            120 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

          2. My brother loves The View on top of the Marriot Marquis. It's a revolving restaurant that shows the entire view of Manhattan (maybe a little too touristy for somebody who's been here 13 years, but your parents might love it).

            3 Replies
            1. re: foodieforthought

              Don't every go near this place. Sorry foodieforthought, nothing personal, but if you are going to the Marriott in for a big night out in NY you've missed something essential.

              1. re: bombaybeauty

                Absolutely agree - this revolving monstrosity should be avoided.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  Make it three! Skip the restaurant (overpriced and you can do much better in NYC). If you must go it's okay for drinks and the view or coffee and the view. Never on a weekend, long lines and touristy.

            2. How about Daniel? I've never been there, but it is one of my dream restaurants to go to.

              4 Replies
              1. re: pslopian

                Daniel is sublime -- you cannot go wrong here, but I think the food at Jean-Georges is more interesting. Either one would be wonderful -- good service, good food.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  the best meal I ever had in the city was Jean-George and I also love Four Season Restaurant (not the hotel). My recent fave is Perry Street. Very good. 11 madison is wonderful too.

                  1. re: sugakc69

                    I have reservation at Perry St for my birthday in a few wks.....DBF told me to pick anywhere, and I have wanted to eat here for along time. But I just read the 9/26 article in The Times....yikes! now want to cancel. Any other suggestions? Fleur De Sel comes to mind....but I want special, DBF is paying, and Mnahattan--we live in Bklyn but I want to come into city for once to dress nice and eat, not work all day and grab something on way home. THANKS!

                    1. re: lichow

                      I had my 50th birthday "party" at Fleur de Sel in June with my husband and a few friends and it was terrific - the room is simple, as is the food, but carefully prepared and the noise level is such that you can actually talk during dinner. If you really want to spend big, go to per se, where we celebrated our 25th anniversary last year - absolutely fabulous!!

              2. Sounds like your dad likes American. I would love to try Daniel, too, and I do hear that everything (food and service) is great....but if he likes American, how about Grammercy Tavern or Gotham Bar and Grill? I don't think they are stuffy, and I have eaten at both with great service and food. I always find it hard to find a restaurant where the view matches the food, including NYC.

                1 Reply
                1. re: rgfoodie

                  Definitely not The Four Seasons!!!!!!! Thats fpr a different kind of scene. Try 11 Madison, or perhaps L'atelier at the Four Season's HOTEL-not to be confused w Four Season's restaurant.

                2. I agree with some of the other posters--I wouldn't do the Four Seasons. There are so many other amazing restaurants in NYC that have long surpassed the Four Seasons.

                  In addition to the examples already listed, you could try to get a reservation at Per Se. I also love Bouley, Jean Georges, and Daniel--you can't go wrong with any of those. And there is always the great American standby, Union Square Cafe.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: DG14973

                    I think a number of people have had less than fantastic experiences at USC recently (and some actually bad). There have been a number of posts about it. Not to mention, as far a celebratory atomosphere USC is attractive but not special.

                    1. re: jdream

                      Interesting. I haven't eaten at Union Square Cafe in a while, and I haven't heard the most recent news--it's a shame if the place has gone downhill.

                      When I mentioned the restaurant, I was thinking less about the atmosphere and more about the great service and the restaurant's unique ability to please a large cross-section of diners (still?). You're right in that there are certainly more spectacular venues out there, Eleven Madison Park being one of them.

                      1. re: DG14973

                        I hate to join in the USC debate, but-for those of you who love the place: no, it hasn't changed. I was just there for lunch on Saturday-the frascatelli with sweet corn was terrific, and the burger was as fabulous as ever.
                        When I read the negative reviews it's like another restaurant than the one I go to...
                        That said, I would agree it's not a place for a "special" dinner.

                  2. We haven't been to the Rainbow Grill in ages. Even back then, the food was nothing special, and I don't think that's changed. If anything, from what I've heard, since the Cipriani Group took over, the food quality has deteriorated. Here's a thread that begins with a post detailing 10 reasons to avoid going there:


                    I would also avoid The View at the Marriott since I've never heard anything positive about the food there. Note: Rooms that revolve rarely serve fine cuisine.

                    I agree with other Hounds' recommendation of Eleven Madison Park, which is currently our favorite upscale restaurant in NYC. Chef Daniel Humm's French-inspired cuisine is exquisite, the wine list is excellent, service is cordial and professional, and the space is gorgeous! Definitely a wonderful place to celebrate a special occasion and, in your case, two!


                    Best wishes to your parents on their 25th annivesary and to you and your husband on your 5th. Bon Appetit!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: RGR

                      I may be the only one with a not-so-great experience at EMP. When we went on a weeknight, the food was overshadowed by the VERY slow service and difficult to find service. Finally the manager offered us a half bottle of wine for our patience (a 3 person dinner took almost 3 hours). While I appreciated their gesture, it did leave me slightly sour.

                      1. re: rgfoodie

                        If you've ever looked at the exceedingly long "Overrated Restaurants" thread, you will see that just about every major restaurant, including EMP, shows up there. So, while I'm a fan of EMP and have always had excellent service, you would certainly not be the only one who came away with a less-than-stellar experience. After all, restaurants are run by people, not robots, so problems are inevitable. Obviously, the manager became aware of the problem and did his or her best to make amends. However, undestandably, when it happens to you, it leaves a bad taste (pun intended).

                        1. re: RGR

                          I had the same long and excruciating dinner for my own birthday celebration. Agree on the fabulous room but I still think it is cold even after the renovations. And it was during the time period when they didn't have a good pastry chef so the dessert was not good. I had heard such good things about it here that I wanted to try it again with the new chef. But I was extremely tired that night which may have affected my opinion.

                          I would agree on skipping the Four Seasons. If it was my parents in town and my mom were choosing, she would choose La Grenouille. Loves Charles Masson and loves the flowers. my dad likes the old new york atmosphere and the frenchiness of the place.

                    2. I'll dissent re: the negative reviews of The Four Seasons. I haven't been for a few years, but it was a great meal every time I went, and it felt right for special occasions. I'm sure the other suggestions would be good as well--Eleven Madison Park is almost unanimously praised here--but I wouldn't avoid The Four Seasons by any means. Check out menus and see what appeals to you.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: carcrash

                        I too love the Four Seasons and am a big supporter of the old line restaurants. The architecture is very interesting and I've never had a bad meal there. Other than that I would recommend Daniel, La Grenouille, Chanterelle.

                        1. re: bronwen

                          The Four Seasons has an impressive room (I thought it was ok, but people get excited over the pool), however the food for me was just pretty good, not outstanding. I've recently had incredible meals at Veritas and L'Atelier. Would suggest both of those over Four Seasons.

                          1. re: bronwen

                            the 4 seasons is worth trying , if onlty once. the venison there is really good. The food in general is good, not as good as gotham used to be. Gotham needs an overhaul i think. Daniel is good, but maybe Le Bernadin or manhattan ocean club, Or Keene's chops house who has delicious mutton chops and the pipe babe ruth smoked from . That's a NYC landmark. Wolfgangs for steak is also a good choice. Coco Pazzo maybe,,,Le Grenouille is great for French food, But if your dad's choice is 4 seson's , thats where you should go , EMP is too tooo toooo quiet and not as good as chow hounders make it out to be, makes you feel old there also.... JEAN GEORGES is best alternate to 4 seasons

                        2. Certainly sounds like a special occasion. Here are some suggestions based on what's really good right now: Cru, Veritas, Bouley, Per Se, Jean Georges, Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Annisa, Gotham Bar & Grill, Gramercy Tavern, Craft, Asiate. I've been to Four Seasons and it's a lovely room, but I think it's stuffy and the food has gone downhill.

                          1. Just to add my two cents to the above suggestions. I love EMP, one of the best restaurants in the city, but it is a bit laid back and informal. It may be too casual for what the OP is looking for. (perhaps a place you can get dressed up?). I would think Daniel would be perfect, very elegant and special. Gramercy Tavern, and Bouley may also work. Or for a real splurge Per Se, (though I have not been).

                            Have a great time!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: maxine

                              It's true that dress at EMP runs the gamut from very casual to tie & jacket, but whether or not you dress up, I think the room has a celebratory feel.

                              Re: Gramercy Tavern. I think it's quite laid back and informal in both the Tavern Room and the dining room.

                            2. While Jean Georges is my favorite restaurant in the city and EMP is close, on food at least, I wonder if your parents' taste runs a little too conservative for both these places. It's not as if either restaurant is doing highly experimental food, but both restaurants are about really interesting flavors. Sometimes those flavors can be a bit challenging, which is a large part of why I love them. Your parents might not love such things, however. I agree with (almost) everyone else that the 4 Seasons is a terrible (yes, terrible) restaurant, especially for the ludicrous prices it charges, but you might be better off sending them to a place with less interesting food than JG or EMP. If they like seafood, then I would send them to Le Bernardin. If not, Daniel should meet the bill--nice room, good service, well-executed (if a bit dull) food. Daniel, Le Bernardin, and Jean Georges are all 4 star restaurants--you might get the reviews of them from the Times, send them to your dad, and let him choose.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: jasmurph

                                RGR graciously posted my reveiw of the Rainbow Grill. All of the recs by the hounds here are great ones. BUT, avoid both the RG and FS at all costs[legalized robbery!].

                                1. re: jasmurph

                                  We took our 2 teen-aged kids to J-G, and they were blown away. There is nothing weird here, just really great food.

                                  1. re: jasmurph

                                    There is nothing I've ever had at J-G that would repel a conservative palate. They just cook really good ingredients really well -- nothing strange.

                                  2. IMHO, Jean Georges has more mind-blowing food. EMP- I liked the extras they gave with the meal more than what I ordered (hors d'oeurves, macaroons, & brioche to take home). Regarding the ambience, at Jean Georges, I felt like I was on stage. EMP has comfy booths & dim lights- I felt more free to joke around.

                                    1. Thank you so much for the great responses and useful information! I have learned so much about the options out there; I'll discuss with the folks and let you know how it goes (Aug. 25).

                                      1. I agree EMP is great. PERSE is another option. As far as how long the meal takes, thats a individual preference. I like long meals. I've had a 4hr plus dinner at EMP and a 71/2 hour lunch at PERSE. Loved them both.

                                        1. Two suggestions (and I do love EMP but wouldn't do it for this occasion): 1) To be treated like a king and queen - go to Firebird or 2) for a beautiful view, exquisite meal and romantic setting go to The River Cafe in Brooklyn right on the water.

                                          1. Restaurant Daniel is a lovely experience all around
                                            Danube is a stunning room and shouldn't be missed.
                                            But my favorite restaurant upscale restaurant is Picholine. I went pre-renovations so i don't know if anything has changed. but the cheese course alone is worth the price. i found the service fantastic and the food wonderful. A real treat.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jabuon

                                              It's been several years since we last had dinner at Picholine. Obviously, pre-renovation though I have seen photos and I'm not sure the new decor appeals to me. As regards the cuisine, our dinners were hit and miss. Some were excellent; others, not so much. No question the cheese program there is tops. But the trend that started there has taken hold so that now there are excellent cheese courses to be had at many fine restaurants.

                                              1. re: RGR

                                                We have been to Picholine both pre and post renovation. The restaurant is still lovely - calm, quiet and elegant. We have always had good meal there, our general plan is to order two appetizers (or now they are "small dishes") and save ourselves for the cheese - which is out of this world. Lovely place for a special dinner. Will also put in my two cents (or two hundred dollars) for per se. We were taken there by VERY good friends for our 25th anniversary last year and had a most memorable dinner.

                                            2. if dad wants four seasons then so be it. the duck is pretty good.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. I think Per Se is fantastic - not sure how big the group is...2 people alone can come close to $1,000 with wine. Current cost is $250 per person, I think? Just something to keep in mind...not sure any of the other restaurants mentioned hit that range - but can't say because some of them I am still waiting to hit!

                                                  1. My timing is good/bad here, since it seems like I am a follower rather than a leader, but a place where I feel my money has been well spent is Cafe Boulud. Less stuffy than the bigger brother (Daniel), but with a fantastic menu. Trouble is with Bruni renewing three stars, not sure how easy it will be to get in. If I had to book a table with money as absolutely no object I would go to Per Se. I'll be honest and admit I haven't made it, but enough people I repsect have made the effort (and outlay) and been rewarded. Good luck. BB

                                                    P.S. Saw someone else suggest Picholine. This is actually a great take the parents kind of place, and I mean this in the best and worst way. It still feels somewhat dead inside. Old does not equal boring, but you walk out of here willing to give 1 million dollars in favor of 10 years off your age. But the food is good and they treat you well -- just what the parents need. I know that Babo will ellicit mixed (probably negative) reactions on this page, but really it's popular for a reason. Union Square cafe also treats you right, a key when the parents are on hand. Finally one of the Jean Georges is worth thinking about. I find Nougatine a better bet than the big brother, but perhaps that's just me and my budget. But truly I would take Cafe Boulud any day of the week before JG.

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: bombaybeauty

                                                      With all due respect, I think that many people here are posting about where they would enjoy going, but it may not be what your folks would like.

                                                      For example, my husband and I like going to foodie places, but I know my parents would hate most of them. It seems like your Dad is looking into old world New York places (21, 4 Seasons). Also these are places with simpler foods. It sounds like he may be more into having what he sees to be a New York experience vs what we New Yorkers would pick.

                                                      Depending on your budget, you may want to give him the names/menus of a few places (Gotham, Jean-Georges, Le Bernadin etc) and see if those appeal to him. If not, I'm sure you'll have a nice time at The Four Seasons.

                                                      Depending on your budget and the difficulty of getting a reservation, I will tell you that an evening at Per Se will leave an impression on all of you that won't soon be replicated...

                                                      Happy Anniversaries to all of you!

                                                      1. re: BW212

                                                        Agreed. I used to get invited out to dinner with an older couple visiting from Seattle. They stayed at the Carlyle, built the entire Northwest American Indian art collection now in the Seattle Art Museum, but when they came to New York, they had to have dinner at Sardi's--GAHHH...sometimes it's NOT about the food. OP's dad would probably be very happy with the roast duck at the Four Seasons, and with enough champagne, maybe a dip in the pool!

                                                        1. re: BW212

                                                          OMG...this could be one of the best posts I've seen here in awhile. Actually answering a question rather than wax preteniously about places they would like to go. We get it, the duck at EMP is better than The Four Seasons...pat yourself on the back and give yourself a gold star for being so knowledgeable.

                                                          Well done BW - the food at The Four Seasons is fine, the room is nice and if pops will feel special there, then you'll have a great time.

                                                          1. re: hoopsmccan

                                                            I think I'll hold off on patting myself on the back because we've never been to The Four Seasons, so I don't know if the duck served there is better than Daniel Humm's at EMP. And here's the reason we've never been there. Quite a few years ago, we made a dinner reservation in the Pool Room. Just before the appointed date, we received a phone call informing us that we could not sit in the Pool Room and our reservation had been summarily moved to the Grill Room. No, "We're sorry, but for such-and-such a reason, the Pool Room will be unavailable on the date you have reserved and would you be willing to sit in the Grill Room, or would you prefer to reserve for another date." Just, we're moving you. Period. Like it or lump it! Faced with that kind of haughty attitude, we canceled. End of any desire or intention to ever go to The Four Seasons

                                                            1. re: RGR

                                                              The same thing happened to me, only I was actually at the restaurant when they told me...and while it was over 20 years ago, I've never even considered going back (but I don't hold a grudge!)

                                                              1. re: David W

                                                                I gather you stayed, David W? I'm not sure exactly what I would have done if it had happened to us on the spot though I would probably be sorely tempted to tell them to take their table in the Grill Room and stick it where the sun doesn't shine. lol

                                                                1. re: RGR

                                                                  Nope, I left, never to darken their door again.

                                                            2. re: hoopsmccan

                                                              The thing is, none of us actually know enough about the parents' preferences to say whether they would prefer the Four Seasons to the other places mentioned on this thread. It could be that they prefer the old world New York places, and if so, that's great--they'll go to FS and have a terrific experience. On the other hand, they might actually want to go to a place like Per Se or Daniel, but might not know about them because they haven't been to NYC in a while. Who knows?

                                                              In any case, I don't think most of the posters were intending to wax pretentiously or show off their knowledge--they were just trying to be helpful. NYC has so many wonderful places that it's always fun and interesting to share stories about them.

                                                        2. I highly recommend Daniel. The food is amazing and they really know how to help you celebrate a special occasion.

                                                          1. Here for what it's worth is a recent NY Times review of the Four Seasons, which I assume (I havent been in years) captures the ups and downs of eating there. You might show it to your dad and ask if that's what he wants. Me, I'd go somewhere else but he's not me. http://events.nytimes.com/2007/04/04/...

                                                            1. here's the deal: if dad wants four seasons and you re-direct him somewhere else, you must be absolutely positive in your conviction. no margin for error.

                                                              1. Do not waste your time at 4 Seasons. It is resting on its laurels, and should not be considered in the same class as Daniel, Jean-Georges, Bouley or even Blue Hill at Stone Barns or 11 Madison. Especially since your parents are celebrating a special occasion, they would be doubly disappointed.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: joc1234

                                                                  Maybe her Dad isn't familiar with restaurants like those you mentioned. Maybe her Dad wants to go to a legendary place with foods that he is comfortable with, maybe he woudln't be disappointed with the Four Seasons (which you are all making sound like it is one step below McDonalds). ~And maybe I'm wrong!

                                                                  So maybe, just maybe, Kat14 who started this thread, should come back on and post and tell us more about her what her parents do and don't like, now that we've all created our own visions of who her they are and what we think they should be eating! (I'm imagining Dad a bit on the preppy side, myself..) :)

                                                                  I think we could all provide a lot more clarity to her issue if she did.

                                                                  As for Alain Ducasse, yes it did close. Having dined there once, I will say that it was a really fun, over the top pretentious to the point of being goofy, experience:

                                                                  My purse had it's own special purse seat! My mint tea was snipped by gloved hands with silver scissors from potted plants brought to the table! Our water sommelier was pushing brands that you could by in any drugstore in the UK! And they had a box that looked like a book full of rhinestone reading glasses that you could use to read your bill! (My fave part was that my purse had it's own seat).

                                                                  The service was very good and very nice. We had our own private server for most of the meal.

                                                                  As for the food, however, most of the courses were good but not mindblowing.

                                                                  ~But, there was a post dessert - treats cart from which we could take as many delicious items and as much of each as we wanted. Desert after dessert. Oh such a cart. That alone was worth the trip!

                                                                2. If the criteria is ' once -in -lifetime ', how come Alain Ducasse wasn't mentioned?! The food and presentation is a bit less 'psychedelic' than Per Se, which should meet with your parents approval. The name Ducasse will definitely provide the 'legendary' factor. So, if you are looking for the 'total package' ie., Food, Wine. Service, Ambiance, I would give AD serious consideration.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                    deb and i will celebrate our 33rd next june. there's always (or should be) one more.

                                                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                        Hey, Charles,

                                                                        Alain Ducasse has not been mentioned because it closed at the beginning of this year. He is going to be opening another restaurant in the St. Regis. Exactly when, I'm not sure. But from what I've read, it will be a more casual place.

                                                                        1. re: RGR

                                                                          Hello RGR,
                                                                          Thanks for the heads up. Its been a while since I last visited the big apple. Last time I was there, I didn't bother checking up on restaurants since I have already made up my mind to check out Daniel again to see for myself first hand as to why Michelin did not award it three stars. The whole dining experience was spectacular. Better than some Parisian/Burgundy three stars. Daniel Boulud even signed my Michelin guide when he walked pass my table and saw the guide. Ha!

                                                                      2. Jean Georges

                                                                        Or, if everyone is cool with fish,

                                                                        Le Bernardin

                                                                        Or, if you want 9 courses,

                                                                        Per Se

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: whiner

                                                                          Assuming "Mom and Dad" are picking up the tab and dinner at Per Se can easily top $1,500 for 4, making that suggestion would be one hell of a brazen move unless "Mom and Dad" are better known as Mr. and Mrs. Trump (and I don't think The Donald has had any marriages last 25 years).

                                                                          1. re: TonyO

                                                                            Fair enough on the price of Per Se. I wasn't thinking about that. What is it now, something like $250/pp for food?

                                                                            On Bernardin... wow. Not heard a single bad thing about it until this thread. But I've not been, or heard any stories, since the Michelin, so... maybe they are resting on their laurels?

                                                                          2. re: whiner

                                                                            I really do not understand why Le Bernardin's name keep on coming up. The last time I dined there, I was neither impressed by the food nor the service. The only fun part that evening was the amise bouche were actually minute portion of some of the entrees. Other than that, the meal was void of the 'wow' factor. In fact the lobster dish I had was poorly executed. Coming from a Michelin 3 stars kitchen, this is definitely a no! no!

                                                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                              We also had a mediocre experience here -- will not go back. My hopes were high, but the product was not up to snuff. I can get equally good fish here in the mid west. I don't understand the hype.

                                                                          3. If Dad is paying and he wants Four Seasons - than go - the food is more than OK, but not great, but it is one of the most architecturally interesting places in NYC - and that pool has a wonderful history of drunks jumping into it. Where else can you dine in a Landmarked interior designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson? And the art collection in the halls between rooms is equally impressive.

                                                                            1. Yes, this is a great thread! I dunno. I'd ask my parents straight out: are you interested in memorable food or is the Four Seasons just IT and all you are interested in? In other words, do you think it is the epitome of fine dining? Or will you take another suggestion?

                                                                              Then I'd follow their lead. If another suggestion, probably you should not pick a place that serves "exotic" food but rather Blue Hill, EMP, etc. I'd suggest Chanterelle, which is an amazing space and gracious service except my meal there a few months ago was forgetable.

                                                                              1. I don't understand these people saying the Four Seasons was mediocre! The Four Seasons is an excellent excellent parents celebration restaurant. It's beautiful, the food is spectacular and the little touches are wonderful. Last time I was there they served little bowls of heirloom tomatoes instead of bread and an enourmous sculpture of cotton candy with a candle inside for my mother's birthday. The room is very impressive, very old New York, which I find parents love. However, I had an awful experience at the 21 Club. Too snooty for no payoff. Le Bernadin is another good parents place. Every meal there has been a delight. Per se etc. might be a little too modern for what it sounds like your Dad is looking for? 9-11 courses isn't always better than AMAZING a la carte, like at The Four Seasons.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: KarinNO

                                                                                  Excellent parents celebration restaurant doesn't mean good food. Food is average at best. Depends if you want good food or good atmosphere. 20 years ago the 4 seasons was worth it. Not now.

                                                                                  1. re: KarinNO

                                                                                    Little bowls of tomatoes *instead of* bread?!

                                                                                  2. Go to:
                                                                                    Gramercy Tavern...hard to get in...
                                                                                    I took fam to Del Posto and they loved it...it's very masculine too

                                                                                    1. Four Seasons, NO
                                                                                      Aureole tasting menus, YES

                                                                                      Four Seasons (the restaurant) has three key negatives for you:
                                                                                      (-) is a business scene ONLY at lunch time
                                                                                      (-) has good, not great food
                                                                                      (-) will provide cool service if you are not famous

                                                                                      For the same money, have innovative cuisine at Aureole.

                                                                                      1. I'd vote for EMP. Was just there Saturday with the wife, youngest daughter and her BF, and it was quite a stellar dining experience. The only thing that surpasses it in my experience is Cyrus, in Healdsburg, CA, but that's a whole 'nother world. I found the presentation, flavors, imagination, professionalism of service and general ambiance to be one of the finest I've experienced in Manhattan (no, I haven't been to Per Se, Daniel, and others, but hope to one day, when I can splurge a little more).

                                                                                        1. LE BERNARDIN LE BERNARDIN LE BERNARDIN. Seriously. I come from a long line of foodies, and all of our friends are foodies. A lot of them say their favorite restaurant in the world is Le Bernardin. I've probably been there 15 times and have never had a course that has been less than exemplary, and the service is the best in Manhattan. Alain Ducasse was twice as expensive and 1/10th as good; Le Bernardin is worth every penny; probably more. Stay away from the Four Seasons; it's mediocre at best.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: livetoeat

                                                                                            All really good advice, But why not have pre-dinner cocktails at the Four Seasons instead? Their bartenders really know their stuff. And then hop in a cab (how NY) to a really great food place and then back to midtown for a nightcap at the King Cole Room. All very grown up.

                                                                                          2. Thank you all for the input. You were very kind to become personally involved in assuring a wonderful memorable occasion for us. My daughter shared your replies with me, and I considered them carefully. However, when all was said and done, I opted to stay with Four Seasons because for years I have wanted to eat there just once. As it turned out, we had an extraordinary evening. Our principal server was attentive, engaged, came up with extra touches and had a sense of humor. All of the food was excellent and was presented elegantly. Finally, at our request, we were taken to the private dining room to view the artworks on display there. I will now gladly recommend dinner at Four Seasons to anyone.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: MidwestDad

                                                                                              Way to go, Dad! Sounds like a lovely experience.
                                                                                              Even if The Four Seasons would likely not have been near the top of my personal list, I am happy that you stuck to your guns. It is what you really wanted and after all, how terrible could The Four Seasons have been, for gosh sakes?

                                                                                              1. re: MidwestDad

                                                                                                Thanks for posting a followup--not many people do.

                                                                                                1. re: MidwestDad

                                                                                                  very cool. glad you enjoyed the meal. what did you eat?

                                                                                                  1. re: MidwestDad

                                                                                                    Thanks for replying. It's always interesting to hear feedback after someone decides where to go.

                                                                                                    Your post almost makes me want to give 4 Seasons yet one more chance; but I'm a little reluctant to make 3 times the charm. ( Actually, my last 4 visits have been less than mediocre.) I am, however, basing my opinion on comparisons of what 4 Seasons used to be when I first started dining there over 30 years ago!

                                                                                                    So, I wonder if I do end up giving it yet another chance I should mention that I am celebrating a special occasion. Shouldn't have to, but if that's what it takes...

                                                                                                  2. La Bernadin comes to mind... Per Se... ???

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: christinaemcc

                                                                                                      He went to Four Seasons...see MIdwestDad post.

                                                                                                    2. I love The Four Seasons because the room is unique and the experience is very fancy-Manhattan. In fact, in a few weeks my family is celebrating my mom's 70th birthday there- it is my parents' favorite restaurant, and I think a big part of that is the service which is not pretentious AT ALL (I think the waitstaff there is totally unstuffy and lovely). The thing about the food at The Four Seasons is that you have to stick to the basics- duck, rack of lamb, steak, Caesar salad, oysters. If your dad likes to stick to basics like this (which he seems to if 21 was his first choice), I would say go for it.

                                                                                                      1. The answer is simple: Per Se.

                                                                                                        I like to eats.