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Distinctly New York restaurant for 8?

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I have a group of about 8 relatives/in-laws coming into town and have been asked to find a distinctly new york/manhattan high end restaurant for dinner for one of the nights. I did a search on this board and came up with these ideas:

Gilt
Eleven Madison Park
The Modern
Craftsteak (probably too trendy?)
River Cafe (Brooklyn)

Don't really want to travel to Brooklyn though. Price isn't really an issue, but Per Se is probably slightly too expensive for 8 as one person will be footing the bill. Oh, and I should mention that they've enjoyed Gotham, USC, and Gramercy Tavern in the past. I am running out of ideas though and would also like to take them somewhere that isn't on every tourist's list.

Thanks!

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  1. Add to your list Jean Georges and Le Bernardin

    3 Replies
    1. re: idia

      I second Le Bernardin, the site of what is probably the best meal of my life. Yes, it costs, but if you are serious about "high-end", it's hard to do better, and in terms of seafood, I haven't done better anywhere, ever.

      1. re: idia

        Thanks for the suggestions! In your opinion, would you consider these distinctly New York? I've never been but like the poster below said, I'm looking for a little more than just haute cuisine, am looking for New York atmosphere. I know these will be amazing meals, but what about atmosphere? I've haven't been to a lot of really upscale places so am looking for help!

        1. re: sga916

          Well, applying the term "distinctly New York" to what is essentially a very French restaurant, is a bit of a stretch. However, Le Bernardin does have numerous multi-cultural influences in its dishes, from Asian to Peruvian, so I suppose that it may well be 'distinctly New York", at least in terms of some degree of multi-cultural eclecticism. But, at its core, Le Bernardin is French, and that will always be the prevailing influence. I like that.

          If you're looking for really, really distinctly New York, then the deli and steakhouse scenes would probably be more true to form, and yet somehow, although I appreciate them, I don't consider them to be what I would call "high-end". I almost never dine out on steak, considering that I can generally produce a superior result with my own charcoal grill and local prime meat purveyor, and as much as I like the deli scene, my doctor considers it anathema to good health, so I indulge infrequently.

          No matter where you dine, at least in Manhattan, I think it would be difficult to find a top-flight restaurant that didn't have at least a predominance of one particular cultural or ethnic influence or another. I worked in Manhattan for almost thirty years, and I can't say that I ever recall being in a really fine restaurant that I could characterize as distinctly New York, but perhaps I missed something along the way.

          Good luck in your search.

      2. I second Jean Goerges. I think Craftsteak is unjustifiably expensive. EMP would also be a nice choice though too.

        1. Sounds like you should keep your Danny Meyer streak going with Eleven Madison or The Modern.

          Sleeper: Water's Edge across the east river from Midtown. The visual of Gotham is as New Yawk as it gets ... and the menu is surprisingly exquisite. (and nary a tourist to be seen) They have their own ferry service dock to dock from 34th St. so unlike River Cafe, easy to get to. And even more spectacular.

          4 Replies
          1. re: louuuuu

            If you want real "New York", why not go to an institution -- Keen's Steakhouse.

            I think you can find classy upscale or haute cuisine places in most metropolitan areas. But it is really tough to find a place that just oozes atmosphere and history like a century old place like Keens.

            That, to me, is "New York."

            1. re: elecsheep9

              +1 on Keens for a truly NYC experience. Le Bernardin will be a mind-blowing meal in a category of its own, but it doesn't say Manhattan anywhere near as much as Keens and all those pipes on the ceiling.
              Either way I think you can't go wrong... or even better, go to both.

            2. re: louuuuu

              Thanks for the suggestions! Very promising

              1. re: sga916

                I vote for EMP or Del Posto, depending on whether you prefer Art Deco and French menu or over-the-top European grandeur and an Italian menu. Both serve great food with a flair that is very NY, and have proven to be memorable experiences.