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One (and only) time in NYC - Craft, Le Bernardin, or Eleven Madison Park?

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Hello all,
My first post here! Sniff sniff.

My fiance and I are going to be in NYC for 8 days in October. We're in our late-20's and we like good food. We're not afraid to pay, although we have been disappointed lately by some expensive meals (we loved the French Laundry, but didnt care for "Alex" in Vegas).

In any case, this will probably be our one and only time in NYC. We have some restaurants nailed down that we definitely want to hit (namely, Little Owl), but I want to go to at least one "nice" meal.

We've eliminated Babbo (menu is too obscure), and Chanterelle....so we're down to Craft, Le Bernardin, and Eleven Madison Park . How would you rate them?

Right now, I think we have it rated: Craft (although my fiance says the menu isnt too appetizing), Eleven Madison Park, then Le Bernardin. Where would you drop a couple of benjamins?

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  1. Hey there,
    Welcome to the board! Could you be more specific about what you liked and didn't like about the menus you have read so far? What do you mean by Craft not being appetizing and Babbo too obscure? I would urge you to look into Cru, especially if you're at all interested in wine. You have all solid choices here it if you can give a tad bit more info, the advice will be better. Happy trip planning!
    JeremyEG

    2 Replies
    1. re: JeremyEG

      Jeremy,
      Thanks for the feedback.

      I'll look into Cru, but my fiance doesnt drink any alcohol at all. Thus, we really look at the quality of food rather than the quality of the wine list.

      Babbo's menu of tripe and other various internal organs was a bit off-putting. I'm sure it's great tasting and all, but my mouth doesnt necessarily water at the sound of it.

      Regarding Craft, there are such great reviews on it here that I cant help but think it will be great. My fiance didnt see much on the meat portion of the menu that looked good (and reasonable - $125 just for a steak is too much IMHO), so thats troublesome. I guess we like traditional food, just prepared with really fresh ingredients with flavors that really marry together (French Laundry is masterful at doing this).

      Does that give you a better idea of what we are looking for? Basically, we want great, simple food....using really fresh ingredients....served in a romantic restaurant where the food is actually worth it.

      Using that as a criteria, does anybody have an opinion?

      1. re: Johnnyman7

        brah I'm not saying it's worth it nor is it right to buy a cut of beef for 125 bucks except when its Japanese Wagyu Sirloin. If its from the American Wagyu ( and it's not) then i would say no way to 125 plate cost. but craft is a cool place and I like the chef I sell Hawaiian fish to him from Hawaii, and he always knows what im talking about. When i go home ( Connecticut ) I stop in there and eat, I never had a bad meal. the one in Vegas i don't like so much. If you want to see crazy menu look to W-D 50 it's cool or how about Anthony Bourdain's place. dude there is so much to eat in NY it would blow your mind just look for what you want and you will find it some where. When I'm in the city I like to eat out at two places one for an Appitizer and cocktails and the the next for dinner and dessert. Try Nobu's place if you can get in!!!!

    2. Of the three you mentioned, I would suggest Le Bernadin. If you can get in, go to Per Se.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Brooklyn Enthusiast

        I'm in my late 20's as well...out of those...I would pick Craft. Why.... I haven't been yet.....and I worked for Tom for a short stint. Tried CraftSteak when it first opened...but I think I shuold've started with the original ya know -it is next on my list . (gotta budget here in nyc)
        My other suggestion would be Jean Georges....

        1. re: jamielynn

          Jean Georges is spectacular. And, if you're open to other special selections, I love Picholine.

          Craft is not worth going to really... nothing too special.

      2. Listen to your fiance. Even if she's wrong, you want to pick a place you are both excited about. For me, based on your list, EMP is where you want to go.

        My recent review of Eleven Madison Park is here: http://www.chow.com/topics/437924. I thought it was sublime. I would easily choose it over Craft, and while I haven't been to Le Bernadin, a lot of folks here will tell you EMP is doing some of the best cooking in the city right now. Chef Humm is a world class talent.

        A couple other thoughts: if you loved the French Laundry, try for a cancellation at Per Se. For a completely different, slightly more casual, but wonderful, fresh organic experience, Blue Hill is among my faves.

        4 Replies
        1. re: JRinDC

          Blue Hill is sublime.
          Cant wait to try EMP.

          1. re: doona

            eh, craft is very meh for me. definitely not on the scale of the others you mentioned. personally, id do bouley, then le bernardin, and then veritas.

          2. re: JRinDC

            I second Picholine

            1. re: JRinDC

              I second EMP. We were just there (bliss) and have already made a reservation to take a few out-of-towners there in a few weeks.

              It does not matter if you eat only meat, or only fish & seafood; so far all of it has been really delicious. My husband only eats fish & seafood and I have tried both their seafood and their meat dishes and we both have absolutely loved everything that we have eaten there.

              Also, the service is very friendly & professional and the room is gorgeous.
              .
              .
              On the other hand, I -as many people on this board know- am not a fan of Le Bernardin, at all.
              Our experience there was the opposite of what I just said about EMP.

              Le Bernardin is nowhere near the level of Eleven Madison Park (in food, in class -or anything) or per se.

            2. I'd have to go with Le Bernadin. I've been to all three, EMP most recently, and I feel that Le Bernadin is in a different league from the other two restaurants. Craft is nice and a fun idea, and EMP is a special place, but Le Bernadin, for me, was one of the few "WOW" experiences I've had at a restaurant (the other ones, I would say, were at Daniel and Lespinasse).

              I may be beaten down by other chowhounds, but I was not impressed by EMP. Maybe my expectations were set too high by what I've read on here, and I thought it was quite good, but really nowhere near Le Bernadin or Daniel or another 4 star.

              1 Reply
              1. re: uwser

                I've eaten at all three restaurants and Le Bernadin had the best prepared fish I've ever eaten. I kept 'oohing" and "aahing" with every bite.

                Craft has more of a funky younger feel. But given the choice, I'd pick Le Bernadin.

              2. Thank you all for your feedback! Looking at the menu and discussing it with my fiance, we have decided to make reservations at Eleven Madison Park instead of Le Bernardin. Since Le Bernardin is so much about fish, we decided instead to make reservations at Yasuda (we're big sushi eaters). I think that worked out quite nice!

                Now for another question - we arrive in NYC (after a cross-country flight from LA) at 7PM on Sunday evening. We are staying right next to Rockefeller Center...probably arrive there around 9PM. Where should we go eat out very first night in NYC? We want to stay somewhere near our hotel...and keep in mind it's Sunday evening, so I dont know what is closed or not....

                Thank you in advance! I'm showering you all with good karma.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Johnnyman7

                  For Sunday night, I'd suggest The Bar Room at the Modern or Aquavit Cafe (herring!)

                  1. re: David W

                    Aquavit Cafe is a nice idea - I really like it, though it seems to have a lot of detractors here. The herring sampler is v. nice.

                2. Definitely Le Bernardin. Next to it, 11 Mad Park is pedestrian and I'm not wild about Craft. The food at Babbo was good, but it appears that unless you're part of the in crowd, you get stuck in the back by the kitchen and that just annoys me.