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The Ladies take Manhattan...again- need suggestions!

My aunt and her two best friends have been coming out for a food-filled long weekend every other year for years- my aunt also comes many times on her own and alas I am beginning to run out of dining options. Some of the highlights over the years have been Babbo, Eleven Madison Park, Danube, Alto, Asiate, Cafe Gray, Jean Georges, Gotham, Gramercy, Bouley, Blue Ribbon, Cookshop, Blue Smoke, Cesca, Ouest- it's been a great run!. They will be here Thursday through Sunday brunch. We will be going up to Blue Hill at Stone Barns on Saturday night. I would like to keep both Thursday and Friday a little more "casual" as my boyfriend and potentially a couple of others will be joining us. I would welcome suggestions for both Thursday and Friday nights as well as brunch on Sunday- I love to try new places so am looking for endorsements! Thanks!

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  1. Gosh--you guys are so fortunate to have all those lovely restuarants under your belt.. how about dining at home for a lovely gourmet meal? Sometimes you just can't beat a good home cooked meal, no matter how simple with a group of friends. Heck, you can drink better wine and lots more of it for the same price!

    But if you are going out, of the places you list-- any particular favorites or dislikes, it could help us give suggestions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: simsum

      Hi acenyc,

      I agree simsum that it will be easier if you tell as your preference of cuisine. From your past list it appears that you are more into fine dining and french/new american/italian. Are you open to other cuisines like ethnics or fusion or Japanese? That will hlep us to suggest some restaurants appropriately.

    2. Per Se seems like a fitting addition to your list of excellent restaurants.


        1. You're short in the hatch.
          David Burke & Donatella is not to be missed by your clan!

          1. Have you tried Balthazar for dinner? Another suggestion would be Mesa Grill for brunch...

            1. Based on what I've seen on this board, I'd try Centro Vinoteca, the new Anne Burrell place. I haven't been yet, but people seem to like it a lot and it sounds like the casual vibe you're looking for. It can be kind of fun to go someplace in the first couple of months that its open, while the exec chef's still in the kitchen and they're trying new things-- which is why I'm in a hurry to get there.

              1. Thanks everyone- we have had some truly great experiences - that is why I seem to have more of a challenge every year! Simsum, as a real foodie chic I love to cook, unfortunately my aunt's friends only come every other year so they like to go out. In terms of our favorites I left out Town- which though I feel it can be hit or miss was right on the night I took them. They also loved Babbo but this was years ago- I am now over it (very disappointing last visit) They also loved Danube - just a fabulous overall experience. In terms of the other cusines- Asian, fusion, etc, we went to Kittichai for our more casual Friday night last time they were here and they loved it- that would be the kind of space/vibe I am looking for Friday dinner. We also went to Asiate - which they enjoyed but was not a favorite of theirs in terms of cuisine. I though about PerSe but with us heading up to Blue Hill at Stone Barn for our big night that might be a little over the top- we need to save some money for shopping! Idia, DBurke and Donatella is a good rec- I have been several times but the last time I went the service was horrible!- have you been recently? Jinet, I have only done brunch at Balthazar - do you think this would be a fun spot for dinner on Friday? Has anyone been to Fleur de Sel- a chef recommended this to me and I walked by the other day but I can't get a sense of the ambience? Willie, thanks for the hot tip- I will definitely check it out- I love to get in when a place is new. Also, what about A Voce- I have heard mixed reviews. Any other tips on new spots that any of you have tried would be appreciated- I don't mind being a guinea pig- but don't want to risk taking the ladies to a place that doesn't have some "hound" endorsements. Thanks again- you are all fabulous!

                3 Replies
                1. re: acenyc

                  How about Ssam Bar or Degustation? Further afield would be Good Fork?

                  1. re: simsum

                    Hi acenyc,

                    I also endorse the idea of Ssam Bar, and if you have a group of people, you can order the Bo Ssam (whole roast pork butt) in advance and share (It seems like I have been recommending this a lot lately). Reviews are plentiful on this board, and pretty much everything there is delicious and inventive. The most amazing dishes there are the offal dishes IMO, but if your aunts and friends are not adventurous diners, you will still have a great time with the Bo Ssam and seasonal vegetables and other dishes.

                    While Degustation has great food and is one of my frequent recommendations to others, I will not recommend it if you are going with a large group. The L shape table makes conversations among a group difficult. I will say 2-3 people is perfect, 4 is a bit of a stretch, and 5 or more you should probably go somewhere else. Not sure if you will have a girl-only night out, but the chef Wesley Genovart is one handsome chef! That may make the dinner more exciting? ;D

                    A Voce is great IMO - Great good, modern decor, a little upscale yet stilll casual. If you search for reviews on this board there are people complaining about the noise level. I never really feel that that is too much, I thought you may want to take it into consideration. Insieme is another restaurant that I recently enjoyed. It is the same chef as Hearth, but I like the menu at Insieme better with more choices that I enjoy. It is also quite causal.

                    If price is not an issue, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon is the best place to get foie gras dishes (small plate style), and the atmosphere is so casual (yet chic) that people walk in in shorts and jeans. The desserts are ethereal!

                    Lastly, Cafe Bouley (more stuffy) and Maze at the London Hotel (Gordon Ramsay) are some restaurants that I have recently visited and enjoy. Maze is more of a bar / small plate restaurant, food is good, and service is amazing!

                    Again, hope you enjoy some wonderful meals with your aunts and friends!

                  2. re: acenyc

                    Oooo! Tell me about their poor service at David Burke & Donatella!
                    We had perfect service -- attentive but not cloying.
                    Our reservation was at 6:15 last Thursday night. Do you think that might have made the difference? We were almost the first ones there and by the time we left, it was full.
                    I guess a place is just as good as the experience one has there but, then again, if you have already been there you'd probably like to try another venue.
                    What about Picholine? And of course if your purses can stand it, Per Se!
                    (Can't wait to hear your report)