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Jan 5, 2008 08:24 AM

One night.....too many choices!! HELP!!

my husband and I are meeting our best friends for dinner in Feb. we have reservations at the following restaurants......The Orchard, Bouley, Stanton Social and Crispo. out of these 4, can you please comment on which one and why any of these would be your top choice? i have a feeling that we can't go wrong with any of them but having never been to any of these and open for all kinds of food and atmosphere.... making the decision is pretty hard. please help me out fellow chowhounders!! thanks.

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  1. How many in the end are you planning to select?

    Of your list, I recommend Bouley because of its romantic and upscale ambience, as well as experiencing sophisticated French fine dining. Crispo will also be great for it always makes you feel satisfied with the delicious food, cozy atmosphere. It's causal and not stuffy, and you won't need to break your bank account. Depending on what food and ambiance you are looking for, these will be my picks.

    Stanton Social is really for the people who want a scene and have "fun", Food is only so-so. Service sometimes can be horrible. Having that said, I have only tried dinners, and some people said brunch is a lot better.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kobetobiko

      Sorry, just saw that it is for one night. So again, Bouley or Crispo are your best bets.

      1. re: kobetobiko

        From one Philly Girl to another -- Crispo.
        It's consistently good.
        Trust me! :-)

    2. I haven't been to Stanton Social, but you can't go wrong with the others. They're all very different. At Crispo you'll get the most bang for your buck. Consistently good food at reasonable prices. The Orchard is good although a bit overpriced for what it is. Bouley is in a different league than the other 2 in terms of food quality, formality, and prices.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Lucia

        can you comment further on Bouley?? have you been there recently for dinner? would love to know why you think it's in a different wise. thanks!

        1. re: phillygirl

          A few of us (including myself) did the winter tasting menu at Bouley recently. Do a search and you will be about to see a couple of recent reviews.

          1. re: phillygirl

            Hey, phillygirl,

            I have not been to any of the four restaurants you are considering. However, I don't have to have eaten at them in order to answer your question regarding Bouley being in a different league from the others.

            Bouley was for many years one of the very few 4-star restaurants in NYC until Bruni dropped it to 3. He gave The Orchard 2 stars and Stanton Social 1. He has not rated Crispo. Even if one doesn't care what Bruni thinks (and I generally don't), my guess is that most Hounds would agree that the cuisine at Bouley is at a higher level than the others, and some might even say that it is still of 4-star caliber. Overall, it remains one of the city's top restaurants.

            1. re: phillygirl

              I've only been for lunch. The food is much more ambitious with more interesting flavor combinations.

          2. Depends on what you like and/or what you are up for. We've been to all and yours is a diverse list, as far as I can tell.

            Bouley is a classic French restaurant. Menu, wait staff and overall decor and atmosphere are French. Formal and stuffy, but a good celebratory place, imho.

            The Orchard is a newer place in the LES and has that modern touch with the young staff, a lot of young clienteles and good Italian dishes. Their risotto dishes and flatbread appetizers are pretty good. But this is more of a "hey, let's do Orchard for dinner this Friday" type of a place.

            Stanton Social is the more modern decor with mostly young clienteles. They serve food that's more on the fun side, slightly larger than tapas size and have good selection of mixed cocktails. It gets lively as the night drags on.

            Crispo is always busy, good hearty and relatively rustic Italian fare, and you should search for the many posts and adulation that this restaurant gets here (primarily for the good food). This reminds me more of a neighborhood casual place.

            4 Replies
            1. re: RCC

              thanks so much for your comments RCC!! one more to add to my list.....what about Veritas?? so far it sounds like Crispo is the place for us as we are an informal group that wants to hang out and relax and enjoy great food without pretense. for any houndie that cares to.....please comment on Veritas. thanks!

              1. re: phillygirl

                Veritas has always been one of our upscale favorites. Small dining room with soothing minimalist decor. Mixed ages clientele. As for the cuisine, under Chef Scott Bryan, who was there from the start, it was superb. However, he left several months ago, and we have not been there since Chef Ed Cotton took over. There have been very few reports on this or other food forums from people who have tried it recently, and no professional critics' re-reviews yet either, so it's hard to judge the current status of the cuisine's quality.

                1. re: phillygirl

                  Philly Girl:
                  I have been to Veritas since the change of chefs and, subjectively speaking of course, I found it VERY expensive ($284+ for 2 with 3 glasses of wine) and though the food was "decent" there are many better choices out there IMHO. Even the service, which was certainly efficient, was cool.
                  You say you want to "hang out and relax and enjoy great food without pretense". This place doesn't sound like you.
                  Only my 2 cents.

                  1. re: idia

                    your 2 cents are invaluable. thanks mucho!

              2. i would pick bouley for top food experience. Stanton social is fun but not a foodie choice for me.

                2 Replies
                1. re: DarthEater

                  it sounds like there is no question that Bouley will be a food lovers dream. will we be able to relax or is it stiff and fussy start to finish? will we be surrounded by high "pinky out" on the wine glass clientel?

                  1. re: phillygirl

                    phillygirl -

                    GF and I were at Bouley very recently. I had the degustation menu and she had a specially prepared vegetarian degustation menu both with the wine pairing. Bouley is still FANTASTIC from start to finish, atmosphere, service, and of course, the food. We never, and especially this trip, have found a hint of snooty. I genuinely believe it is a place that you get back what you give and if you want a crazy formal evening then be crazy formal but if you want it a little lighter talk to the wait staff, the Captain, the Sommelier. Don't think that you "must" have the tasting menus (it was alot of food), the ala carte' is just as great.

                    In regards to the other places you mentioned I absolutely agree with those that have said they aren't in the same league as Bouley, BUT, I will add that I don't think they allude to being so. If you want a "total package" evening with a focus on food then it's Bouley , if you want good solid food it would be Orchard or Crispo, if you want a scene (but not much else IMO) then it's Stanton.