Loved Degustation -- what's next?
I took my girlfriend to Degustation for her birthday, and we both loved it. I'd like to go to a similarly great place for Valentine's Day.
The things we liked about Degustation were
- being able to watch the chefs
- the interesting/unusual food
- sharing a bunch of different small dishes
Any suggestions for a similar place? Location can be anywhere in Manhattan, and in terms of price, I'd like to keep it under $60 per person.
We liked Falai even better. It's also small (bar and table seating) and there is an open kitchen (though you can't see chefs as well as at Degustation). Not sure if you can keep it under $60 pp.
Casa Mono does have an open kitchen, and while the food is great and bolder in flavor than Degustation (more "spanish"), I am partial to its ambiance because it is very crowded and noisy. I have a hard time having conversations both at the bar and at the tables. Not sure if that's what you are looking for on Valentine's day.
Another place with small plates and open kitchen is Dell'Anima. It is more Italian, and the dishes are more simple than Degustation. But they do deliver and the food is quite good. A bit crowded given the small space, though not as bad as Casa Mono.
If you are into Japanese food, Soto offers more contemporary dishes that are not just sushi or sashimi. If you sit at the sushi bar then you can see the chef preparing the food in front of you (though some dishes will come from the kitchen). This will be the a bit more interesting /unusual compared to the usual sushi omakase which you can still watch the chefs. It may be slightly higher than $60, but you can communicate to the chef on how much you want to spend and he will accommodate
Degustation is the best kep secret in Manhattan, for parties of 2 or no more than 4 because of the seating arrangements. But to answer your question: If the budget will allow, L'atelier de Joel Robouchon at the four seasnons hotel. Food is unsurpassed and you can request counter seating and watch the chefs and waiters...It's great!
If watching the chef is no longer a main criteria, then here are some suggestions:
- Momofuku Ssam Bar - definitely unusal ingredients, bold and strong flavors, and the small plates are the highlights (as long as you are not against offals). The vibe is more fun than romantic.
- Suba - along the line of degustation, but more Spainish-focused. The food is more contemporary than its sister restaurant Boqueria, and I actually like this better than the rustic approach of Boqueria. Not exactly romantic, though the decor is quite amazing.
- Allen and Delancey - my recent favorite with exceptional food and a cozy, romantic (IMO) ambiance. It is dim-lit so it should be great for Valentine's Day. Though not small plates, their dishes are easy to be share amony you and your gf.