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Which Restaurant is Best for a Romantic Celebration?

I've posted previously about coming from Philadelphia to stay in NYC for two days in February (15th and 16th). This is a celebration of many things, including 5 years of remission from cancer. Anyhow, I have taken some recommendations and done a lot of research from my Michelin NYC book and decided to go all out for dinner. I have narrowed it down to these 5 restaurants and would like opinions on which would be THE best place to go:

Gotham Bar & Grill

They all get one star from Michelin with the exception of Bouley, which gets two. They all seem to be "relatively" the same price and all have price fixe and/or tasting menu's, with the exception of Gotham, which seems to be a la carte only. They all look beautiful, perhaps Bouley and Aureole the prettiest. I don't want stuffy and/or pretentious. I want a romantic dinner with fantastic food in a lovely setting that will compliment the beauty of my wife. I am leaning toward Bouley, then Aureole, then Gotham but am wide open to suggestions from people who have been to them. Thank you very much AGAIN for helping make this a very special trip. And yes, I will be calling on the 16th (a month in advance) to make a reservation somewhere.

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    1. I don't think Aureole is romantic at all....am I missing something? Food was pretty good, but it is bright and kind of old-school in not a pretty way. Felt like I was in the early 90's there.

      Cru was my favorite. I like that its downtown, so none of that upper-east stuffiness.

      Also had a great meal at Veritas recently, love that place. Also I agree with intrepid on Asiate, great views and very romantic.

      1. I will have to throw my vote to Bouley. The lighting, the decor, just the whole vibe has always said romantic to me, GF seems to think so as well.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Spiritchaser

          Keep the opinions comin'! And remember, where will we get the most memorable FOOD and where the atmosphere is romantic as well. A quick review of Asiate on other websites reveals many who feel the food is mediocre (gorgeous view yes). If I am going to spend this much money the food needs to be fantastic. Thanks again.

          1. re: Schpsychman

            I'm a big fan of Annisa, but it is romantic in a very modern, minimalist sort of way. And while I find the food memorable, others have not. Was a bit "eh" on Aureole, and haven't been to the others. The room at Gotham is beautiful, but it's been too long since I've been there to opine on the food.

            And, I'm not a fan of the Michelin guide generally.

            Edit - I just realized this sounds kind of negative - not meant to be, but to help you rule places out!

            1. re: MMRuth

              I have not been to Annisa but we walked by recently. My feelings are a bit stronger than MMRuth's - I did not find it romantic at all. The atmosphere is sophisticated and modern. I have been to Bouley and Aureole but too long ago to be helpful. That said, we returned to Bouley again but not Aureole. We went to Danube and the room is stunning, very romantic, plush. It's not top for food, IMO though other hounds may have different opinions. I would go back to Danube for cocktails or dessert. What about Degustation? It's not in the same league as Bouley. It's very good, 16 seats (bar seating), dark and intimate with an open kitchen. Chef was just in Food & Wine. I found it romantic. The service is attentive and formal (not like a Bouley, Aureole, Danube) but doesn't feel stuffy or pretentious.

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                I guess I'm not so into the "romance aspect" generally - appreciate your POV - to me, just being w/ my husband is romantic, so I tend to not have a good take on those things. I agree about Danube's atmosphere though.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  MMRuth, I enjoy your posts and agree the WHO is always more important than the WHERE when it comes to romance. And as OP has reminded us all, without our health we can't enjoy all this delicious food!

                  Your take on Annisa is interesting. Like Cru, it's on my go to list. Maybe a reservation at Annisa will be easier to make. I've given up trying to make reservations at Lupa (have gift certificate) and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Just realized Robuchon might also be another option for OP.

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    Thanks! In terms of Lupa - the only times we've gone is on the weekend for lunch - making a last minute reservation the morning of, FWIW. I've always enjoyed my food there, though I think sometimes the service is a bit short of friendly. The Amatriciana (sp?) is amazing.

            2. re: Schpsychman

              The trappings at Bouley are romantic but it's the food you'll fall in love with...

          2. Gotham Bar & Grill gets my vote with Bouley close behind.

            4 Replies
            1. re: idia

              One if by land is VERY over rated , it's touted to be romantic, but it' was nothing special. In my opinion, I found it to not to be at all.

                1. re: GoddessofFood

                  It will be interesting in the next few months though... I thought I just read something about them getting a new chef, revamping their menu, etc. Though apparently the beef wellington will stay.

              1. re: idia

                Gotham Bar & Grill is much better in my opinion, and the service is tops by far

              2. You've picked two of my favorite restaurants: Aureole and Bouley. Both are wonderful and will meet all of your requirements. Congratulations on your 5 years of remission!

                1. I haven't been to any of the other restaurants but I thought Annisa was not only delicious but quite romantic in a not overly done way. Nice candle lit room, subdued tones, well spaced tables etc. Unfortunatly when I was there I was with my mom and sister-in-law but I've always thought about returning with my boyfriend.

                  Plus the food was delicious. In particular the soup dumplings with foie gras was one of the best dishes I had all summer. So full of flavor and creativity.

                  1. Of the ones on your list I would choose Cru, but honestly I think you should throw out the Michelin. I find it very useful in Europe, but here it just doesn't work. I used to be a big fan of Annisa, but so many other better choices have arisen since then, and the menu never changes (though this would not be a problem for you since you haven't been there before). I just don't think it is special enough for what you are looking for.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: rrems

                      Annisa ? = Asiate?
                      Been to the listed restaurants. It depends on your idea of Romance, based on the occasion that you mentioned. I think peering out on the top of Time warner building is probably the most atmospheric. The food may be better else where but the view is stunning and what a great way to celebrate you win over one of life's bum deals.

                      1. re: rolandleung

                        Thanks to everyone who gave me their opinions, they have been very helpful! For those of you keeping score, it appears to have finished as follows:

                        Annisa - 2
                        Bouley - 2
                        Cru - 2
                        Gotham - 1
                        Aureole - 1

                        I am not considering Asiate (even though it got 2 write-in votes) because of what I've read about the food being so-so. Perhaps for a drink. Right now I am leaning toward Bouley for the combination of fantastic food and a lovely, intimately romantic atmosphere. Gotham's menu looks great but I think the room is too large for what I am looking for. Regardless, I'll post after our weekend and let you know our impressions. Thanks again!

                    2. We love Del Posto. The food, especially the lamb, is wonderful. The restaurant is beautiful and very romantic, tables are well spaced for private conversation.
                      The waitstaff is very knowledgeable and polite.

                      1. I bad at following directions.. so instead i'm gonna throw out a few recommendations from places not on your list cause i'm in a persnickity mood.

                        grammercy tavern
                        etas unis

                        from ur list i'd say cru and gotham.. but i have not been to bouley or aniisa, so what do i know?

                        1. i just have to say that I have been to Annisa and it was good, I have heard mixed reviews on Asiate and I have to agree that Aureole is not romantic at all, but a great experience. I did have the luxury of dining at the Carlyle recently and this by far blows any of those away for romance...it is amazing.

                          1. Bouley - and ask for the red room

                            1. Picholine .. recently renovated .. extraordinary tasting menu .. and if you like exquisite cheeses, Picholine is your only choice.

                              (And, often, but the time the Michelin guide is printed, it's already outdated -- due to chef changes, etc.)