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Eleven Madison Park vs Bouley Dinner Pre-Fixe

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I'm looking to go to either EMP or Bouley for a anniversary dinner and am planning on getting either the 4-course pre-fixe at EMP or the 5-course tasting menu at Bouley (well, really 4-course if you take out the grapefruit soup). Any comparisons between the two would be appreciated. I think things we care about are how good the food tastes (over how fancy it is), ambience (I've heard Bouley service is more stuffy but EMP feels more corporate), and to some extent variety in what the food tastes like (ie we'd definitely want to get two complete different set of food to share, and rather not have a menu that is all-heavy, all-seafood etc). Price-wise Bouley seems like a better deal, since it's $95 vs $102 for EMP (and the extras you have to shell out for getting lobster and foie gras at EMP), but maybe I'm missing some part of the equation here. Oh, and lastly, my fiance really loves good dessert too (we were wowed by JG desserts last year), so that's a consideration as well.

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  1. If you want to do lobster and foie gras, I will go with EMP instead of Bouley. While I really like both restaurants and their food is overall top-notch, the lobster and particular foie gras preparations at EMP are better than Bouley. I generally enjoy the fish courses at Bouley more and I like to order their a la carte as it provides more fish options.

    The big plus about Bouley though is that they give you so many "freebies" before, in-between, and after the courses (particularly before desserts) that you feel like you have 10 courses rather than 5.

    I think desserts are not the strong points of both restaurants (certainly not as good as JG). I will give my vote to EMP.

    1. You have picked two of my favorite restaurants, so it is very hard to choose, but my vote is for Bouley. I actually prefer the sauteed foie gras at Bouley better than the EMP foie gras preparation. No matter which one you choose, you are going to have an outstanding dinner.

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      1. re: ellenost

        I ended up trying both restaurants (3 months apart), and liked EMP a lot better than Bouley. The food was better overall (loved the foie gras terrine at EMP), the sommelier at EMP was great, and the service felt a lot more personal at EMP.