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Apr 11, 2008 08:11 AM

best restaurant in brooklyn at any price

need a spot for a birthday dinner, money is no object just looking for the best of the best.

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    1. Applewood in Park Slope
      Al Di La in Park Slope

      6 Replies
      1. re: ginsbera

        Agree with this but I might give a slight edge to Applewood if for no other reason than you can make a reservation, which might be nice for a special occasion.

        1. re: Mandymac

          understandable. Although it's not a bad situation if you have to wait with a few glasses of wine in hand at Al Di La Vino, where I actually prefer to eat.

          Now I'm craving the beet ravioli, spinach gnocchi or tagliattelle al ragu

          1. re: Mandymac

            I just had a really mediocore and strange meal at Applewood. The lobster appetizer, which I've had in different forms in the past was tiny, the meat was dry, no flavor, hum hum. I ordered the roasted Columbia River Sturgeon braised collard greens, which ws served raw in the middle. I pointed this out to the female owner/host, who apoligized but emphasized that that's how they prepare all fish bec its so fresh and such good quality. I asked her if they serve striped bass rare in the middle and she said, yes. Now I like like tuna or even salmon rare but cooking 101 dictates that white fish needs to be cooked through but still juicy. My dish was returned to me, tiny and half the portion of my original but properly cooked.

            what gives?

            1. re: josh L

              Very odd. I had an amazing meal there a few weeks back during restaurant week no less. Everything was spot on from the butter, pate and bread through to the desserts (which were good, not great). Maybe they are just inconsistent since the menu changes so frequently.

              1. re: ginsbera

                Applewood has consistency issues They. tend to either be very good, or not good at all. Sometimes, the difference from experience to experience is so dramatic, I've often wondered if they have different kitchen staff at different times?

        2. Depends on the overall need. Although the food isnt as good as 3-4 other places and the prices are a bit higher, the River Cafe cannot be beat as an overall celebration venue. We are regulars at Henry's End and Tempo, go to al di la whenever we can get in, and like Applewood, Garden Cafe (going tonite) and other known places. But we're heading to River Cafe for our anniversary because the food is still very good, the wine list better than most and the room is drop dead romantic and the classiest in town. There is no better all around venue in Brooklyn.

          If you're a strict "best food" person, then you might wish to investigate Saul (not my favorite, but undeniably seen by most as the best)... a nice enough room. Or al di la, if a crowded room isnt a problem (and no reservations taken). Tempo is my next choice for excellent food in a classy room & Henry's End for excellent food in a loud, friendly venue.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Steve R

            I couldn't say it better than Steve R, with River Café being the overall best choice for a combined food/atmosphere/view/service venue (but not the best value or the best food, if you are going on one consideration only). And, although I am in a minority here I am not a fan of Applewood as being among the best, but it is certainly pretty good. OTOH, I think the Garden Café, while very simple and classic is just very Brooklyn and very special. I trust that Steve R will have a great meal there this evening. Also, he didn't include Peter Luger's, but if the birthday person is in to steak, this is clearly the place to go. I also like Convivium Osteria, a wonderful Portuguese/Italian restaurant.

            In addition, (I have not been, but) lots of people like the food and atmosphere of Dressler's in Williamsburg and if you are willing to stretch your geography into Astoria, Piccola Venetzia and Trattoria L'Incontro are great birthday places

            River Cafe
            1 Water St., Brooklyn, NY 11201

            Garden Cafe
            620 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

            1. re: bobjbkln

              More links:

              Convivium Osteria
              68 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

              149 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

              Piccola Venezia
              42-01 28th Ave, Queens, NY 11103

              Peter Luger Steak House
              178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

              Trattoria L'Incontro
              21-76 31st St, Queens, NY 11105

          2. al di la - best italian
            palo santo - best latin american
            for fine dining
            The grocery

            1. evme
              If you're looking for the best of the best and money is no object, hire a limo to take youi nto the city and go to Per Se..
              Brooklyn has great dining, but nothing like Per Se.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Tay

                Actually Per Se isn't mindblowing. Of the 9 course dinner I had there, I swear that the lobster appetizer at Applewood was at a par with any of those 9 courses. 2 of the courses at Per se were disappointing and the best ones weren't that much better than Dressler, Saul or Applewood to make me go into the antiseptic Time Warner Center and blow an infinite amount of cash. Although the wine pairings there were 2nd to none.

                1. re: doldrums

                  without al di la, you could nuke brooklyn and i'd be ok. not true, but al di la is by far the best. saul, applewood, the grocery, chestnut...good follow ups, but al di la is it...

                  1. re: TBird

                    TBird is on the money. Al Di La is the favorite, by so far it is not even worth talking about. River Cafe is stricktly for show. Their food is good, but certainly nothing I would cross town and mortgage the house for. I think it is an excellent place to take wealthy visiting hicks and inlaws with no taste.

                    1. re: NYJewboy

                      "I think it is an excellent place to take wealthy visiting hicks and inlaws with no taste."<--- i just spit coffee all over my screen!lol

                      but it's true.

                      1. re: TBird

                        But it's not true :-) As a verrrry longtime CH person who doesnt consider himself a "hick" or without taste (gee, if I were thin skinned I would have been insulted, especially since I wrote I was going there for my anniversary), I think the food there is more than "good". The price is higher but, overall, it's worth it. Yes, al di la is very good and well worth the price, but you're comparing apples and oranges if you think that this is the best place for a celebratory birthday dinner (which, by the way, is what was asked for). For one, the "no reservations" policy might make for a problem, dont you think? Otherwise, we should probably just recommend DiFara's. The answer to everyone's question is not, "this is the place I like in Brooklyn the best". Just this hick's opinion. :-)

                        1. re: Steve R

                          "gee, if I were thin skinned I would have been insulted, especially since I wrote I was going there for my anniversary),"

                          Having read your post, I read this and I winced. Although you may recall from an earlier thread that I am not a fan of the River Cafe, I thought it was a litttle (unintentionally, I'm sure) insensitive to post it, You are certainly neither a "Hick" whatever that means, nor anywhere close to being w/o taste.
                          But you already knew that

                          1. re: Tay

                            Just a little board spice among regular posters. I knew what NYJewboy was saying... I just think he was missing the boat this time. Plenty of folks dont think the food at the River Cafe is what it used to be, and it isnt. Hard to argue that David Burke, Charlie Palmer or any of the other famous chefs there weren't running better kitchens than the current one... it's even dropped off the Zagat's top list :-) But, that doesnt mean that it's still not better food than almost every other Bklyn place and, when you take into consideration that the op wanted a special celebration place without money consideration... well, I think that makes it the best choice. Something even I would do :-) Thanks for the note.