Best Graduation Dinner; she's Vegetarian, and Per Se is N/A -Help
There will be 4 of us in Manhattan for my daughter's graduation, and she, a vegetarian, wanted to celebrate with dinner at Per Se. Yes, it is very expensive. But this is, you know, a special occasion, and it accommodates vegetarians, and... Being told two months in advance that the only available reservations for our May 22 dinner are at 5:30 or 10:00, has us sadly looking elsewhere. That is difficult without some help, as we live at the other end of the country. A quick search here turned up names like Bouley, Daniel, Jean Georges, Eleven Madison Park and Le Bernardin, none of which we know anything about, and impressing the vegetarian graduate is my goal. Some background; two of the party are not so adventurous, but were willing to go to Per Se; daughter has Keller's French Laundry Cookbook, which I gave her in pre-veg days, I eat anything, and we all would appreciate the less stuffy atmosphere I read about at Bouley. So, what do you say, hounds? Thanks!
Daniel's vegetarian tasting menu is really wonderful and for the non-vegetarians at the table, the regular tasting menu is sublime. However, the atmosphere and location are a bit on the stuffy side. While the food at Bouley is maybe a tiny notch below Daniel's, the atmosphere and location are much more fun and would feel festive for a graduation dinner. Haven't had the vegetarian menu, but when the regular is wonderful, and they'll also do an all fish menu if your daughter eats fish. Ask for the Red Room...
My GF is a vegetarian (I am not) and as others have mentioned MOST fine dining in NYC will alter their tasting menus (if one is not already available) to be vegetarian.
We have had great success at:
Daniel (they offer a veg tasting) - GF loved it
Aquavit (they offer a Veg tasting) - GF liked it but not as spectacular as others
Eleven Madison Park (will accomodate with 72 hr notice) - a lot were custom dishes and it was pretty incredible
Bouley (will accomodate with advance notice) - excellent
Picholine (will accomodate with advance notice) - excellent, a couple custom made dishes
Cru (will accomodate with advance notice)
Daniel has both a regular and vegetarian tasting menus (you can see on their website), though all of the places you mentioned will be happy to alter the tasting menu to a vegertarian version if you give them advanced notice during your reservation. I
n terms of stuffiness, I found EMP and Jean Georges to be in general more friendly and less formal. You have nailed down the best restaurants in town, so in terms of food I don't think you will be disappointed by any of your selection.