HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >



I am taking my mom and I out for her birthday/my graduation dinner and was wondering which might be the better choice. I have reservations Daniel and am on the wait list for per se...but in the case of getting off the wait list I was wondering which might be the better choice? The reviews I have read are totally varied and I am just lookin for some more insight.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Tell us more about what your Mom enjoys. I like the room better at Daniel, but Per Se is hard to beat for pretty much everything else.

    3 Replies
    1. re: BW212

      my mom and I both love food and this is definitely the nicest meal either of us have had in a while. The only thing im worried about at Daniel is that it will be too formal. I like formal but both of us are from new mexico and are more laid back than probably the majority of Daniel's guests...I heard per se was slightly more relaxed in the ambiance?
      the ultimate question is what restaurant has better food/most consistent

      1. re: sara1213

        Hey, Sara,

        Even though the decor at Daniel is very fancy-schmancy, the overall feel is not super-duper-formal or stuffy. The staff is quite cordial, and there's a relatively high energy level in the dining room, i.e. it's hardly tomb-like. So, I wouldn't let fear of formality stop you from going there.

        We haven't been to Per Se yet (that's coming up in June), so I can't make any comparisons at this point. But having been to Daniel several times, I can say that the cuisine is consistently superb!

        1. re: RGR

          I feel Daniel is a little stuffy. I haven't been to Per Se, but I have been to French Laundry, where the service is younger and more laid back than Daniel. Honestly, though, you really can't go wrong with either of these choices...

    2. per se is also twice the cost as daniel. i personally love both relative to their prices. if you're BIG eaters the per se is probably worth it for their 9 courses. if not then daniel is a better choice at $98 for 3 courses.

      1 Reply
      1. They are both wonderful, but you may want to take into consideration that there is only one menu at Per Se. If you are allergic or really dislike something, they'll make a substitution. At Daniel, there is a tasting menu as well. However, you can do a prix fixe of 3 course where you and your mom can pick out the three courses that sound the most scrumptious to you if you choose.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Miss Needle

          Yes Per Se has one menu: meat and vegetarian, both 9 courses. While my SO and I found The French Laundry experience divine, Per Se was just not on the same cloud level. Maybe it has to do with the dining choices available in Yountville vs. Manhattan. We've never been disappointed at Daniel. I just feel on a cost-benefit-pleasure analysis Per Se comes up a bit short. We felt $900 spent at The French Laundry was well worth it but at Per Se we left feeling underwhelmed.

          1. re: scoopG

            I've actually heard this now from a few people who went to both.

            1. re: scoopG

              I've really wanted to do French Laundry for some time and thinking about doing it this summer if we can get a reservation. Perhaps a reason that you found FL better was that Northern California is a better source of fresh produce than New York. Having grown up with a vegetable and herb garden, I'm sometimes dismayed by the quality of vegetables and herbs that I get here, even though they're considered fresh.

              And I see that there are some people who found Daniel to be stuffy. Compared to Per Se -- yes, it's stuffier but by no means uncomfortable.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Maybe that's it Miss Needle. Also we ate at TFL first! Keller also has Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and a new family-style restaurant not far away that recently opened. We found we could never get a table at TFL ahead of time - either by telephone or Open Table. The phone line was always busy or Open Table always displayed 'unavailable.' Lucked out while we were in Yountville by calling, managing to get through. I asked to be put on a wait list and they replied, well how about dinner tomorrow night at 5:45 p.m.?

                1. re: scoopG

                  Yeah, I've heard FL reservations are really hard to score. I found a couple of articles about getting a reservation and am going to attempt to try these methods. It's actually ridiculous if you really think about it -- going through these lengths for a meal. But what a great meal it shall be (or should be)...


                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    It's just like Ko...but with better food. I rather waste my time getting a rezzie there than Ko.

                  2. re: scoopG

                    Tried calling while I was outside the restaurant too last Thurs, but alas failed. Coming to the conclusion that I'm not destined to eat at TFL or PerSe....

                    1. re: Sgee

                      You may want to try calling on a weekend as I've heard people are less apt to make a reservation if it's a Saturday or Sunday -- kind of how like these boards are dead on the weekends.

                      DH and I tried calling on a Sunday -- got through by using four phone lines. It took over an hour though. Tried calling on Monday -- I called using two lines for 2 hours only getting busy signals. I had to go back to work and called sporadically throughout the day getting busy signals. Finally got through five hours later only to be told that I can be put on the waiting list.

                      1. re: Sgee


                        Forget about calling. I used OpenTable to secure a reservation for Sunday lunch in June, and it couldn't have been easier.

                        1. re: Sgee

                          So sorry to hear that! I got lucky at TFL I guess by calling mid-afternoon while I was in Yountville. But before I got through I faced numerous busy signals over a period of weeks.

                2. I have dined at both of these, and if I could only go back to one, I would probably choose Daniel. This is in no way a reflection of the food, service or quality of either restaurant, but rather the kind of warm and fuzzy memories attached to my experience at Daniel that I do not associate with Per Se. Daniel has a warm, pretty decor that is both grand and romantic, while Per Se is more modern and simple, with neutral colors in a clam, peaceful setting. I was giddy by the time I left both restaurants, and both are well-suited to celebratory meals, though I recommend that you consider whether your taste leans more toward traditional (in both food and surroundings) or more avant garde. I think they are both excellent restaurants in the true sense of the world, and you will have a memorable dinner either way. I also think that it bears repeating that Per Se will cost at least 2x per person as Daniel will. Good luck and congrats :)

                  1 Reply
                  1. I've been to both, albeit as a vegetarian (both have vegetarian tasting menus), and thought that while Daniel was nice, Per Se was amazing -- it had a more memorable decor and much more memorable food.

                    The Vegetarian New Yorker: http://vegny.blogspot.com/

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: shivohum

                      Funny how you said Per Se had a more memorable decor. I thought Per Se's decor was very understated and nonmemorable -- kind of like the focus should be on the food, not your surroundings kind of deal. Daniel, on the other hand, was opulent and regal in feel, which made it more memorable in my eyes.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        Haha - interesting point. Yes, Daniel is more regal, but Per Se's darker atmosphere seems somehow more exclusive, powerful, mind-altering -- like it's not even a restaurant, it's a different world you're entering...

                        1. re: shivohum

                          Like those exclusive-looking doors that open up automatically? Before I went to Per Se, I would sometimes stop by when I was at the Time Warner Center just to look at their menu. I would look at the door and wonder how people got in. Was it a special code? Did you have to ring a bell? Is there a secret door handle? Didn't know until I got a reservation that it opened automatically like supermarket doors. : )

                    2. I've dined at both, and think Per Se is on a level far above Daniel. But, i did not have a great experience at Daniel (bad and stuffy service, just 'good' food). It sounds like others have enjoyed it more than I have, so perhaps I went on an off night- but the service issues were really surprising. I thought Per se was perfection in every way. We are going back in June, and I can't wait! Yes, they only have 2 set menus, but they are more than willing to work with you to make sure you are getting everything that you'd like.

                      1. Per Se we feel is at a much higher level in both food & service. We no longer go to Daniel because of the stuffy service & ambience, standard food as well as the ego of the chef. He just can't stop telling us how great he is... Per Se has missed a few marks here & there but always remains wonderful.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: links42

                          Agree completely! The two times we've eaten at Daniel we felt disappointed in the overall experience.There are many restaurants in New York that give you a very very good meal, however, both times we ate at Daniel we felt that the cost didn't justify it.

                          Our meal at Per Se, though astronomical in cost, was the most fabulous meal we've ever eaten, (including meals in Paris).

                        2. I see so many discussions and debates about Per Se and here is my final take. I have dined at Per Se and feel that it is not simply about going to dinner for a special occasion. Instead, Per Se, in itself, is a food experience. You spend a large amount of time eating 9-10 courses and some things you like and some you don't. I actually do not think that Per Se is for everyone. You have to be willing to a) spend hours eating food (not that it is SO much food, but it is somewhat of a long period of time to spend at a restaurant, especially with only 2 people) and b) try anything that they throw at you, especially given the cost. Wasting a course is throwing quite a bit of money down the drain.

                          If you are looking for a really unbelievable meal that is more traditional and you sit with your mother and relax and not be rushed, then I would recommend Daniel, Cafe Boulud, Gramercy Tavern or Eleven Madison Park.

                          If you are both truly up for a different experience that you will get any place else and have the money to spend, then Per Se can be a really great experience.

                          Like I said, I don't consider Per Se to be a restaurant in the traditional sense. When you go to Per Se, you go out for a night of a food experience not found anywhere else.

                          1. Per Se, hands down. Why is this even a question??? You WILL NOT be disappointed!

                            1. Look if you can get the Per Se reservation and afford it, take it. It's quite the experience. If you can't, you are not suffering. Daniel is a wonderful experience too. And both restaurants get a lot of tourists (Daniel probably gets more) so don't worry about that factor.


                              1. Per Se is generally quite a bit more expensive than Daniel. Daniel gets much closer when you order the super nuclear chefs tasting menu and your dinner is 3+ hours btw...

                                I find Daniel to be slightly better than EMP (food only, valuewise EMP kills Daniel). I find Per Se to be quite a bit better than EMP and Daniel. I love all these places so you can't lose.

                                You should also consider Jean Georges which I like better than EMP but less than Per Se. Jean Georges is in the same price range as Daniel.

                                1. The last time I ate at Per Se the three people I was with all had trouble finishing their food. The first few courses are really rich and my wife (who certainly loves to eat) was done about half way through. Apart from that I think it is great and certainly worth the money. You may want to keep the fact that Per Se is 9 courses of pretty rich food in mind. My dad is getting older and I would definitely think twice about taking him because as he ages his appetite lessens and the amount of calories at Per Se would probably knock him out for a few days. I also recommend Jean Georges and think it is simply miles ahead of EMP.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: brooklyndude

                                    I did not make clear that I like Jean Georges better than Daniel as well...

                                  2. Per Se, no question. I just had dinner at Daniel on Friday and was somewhat underwhelmed - I MUCH preferred Per Se. We also went to Jean Georges and Aquavit this week and enjoyed our meals at both much more than at Daniel. Also worth noting, the bill at Aquavit (for dinner) was less than half the bill at Daniel, and since we did lunch at JG, the bill was about 1/5 what it was at Daniel. I realize that Per Se is more expensive, but I think it's worth it.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                      Like for many others, it's hands down Per Se over Daniel for me.

                                      Daniel feels a little old world for the Park Ave. social elite. It's definitely more formal, a bit stiffer. The food was. of course, delicious. It was the atmosphere, setting and more traditional style of food preparation that fell short for me. Glad I went there, but wouldn't return.

                                      Per Se is more open, airy, dramatic and modern. I went at lunch where the views over Central Park offered a dramatic backdrop. The food, as reported above, is really from a different world. Clean, fresh, inventive and a bit fun.

                                      Between the French Laundry and Per Se, I am one of the minority who prefers Per Se. Why? The requirement that men wear jackets makes some sense in NY. It's a big city environment. That same requirement in Yountville feels stuffy and out of place. Nobody in Napa wears a suit or tie and only very rarely a sports jacket. It feels out of context with Napa Valley and a bit pretentious. Also, the tables are very close together -- creating an almost hushed and reverent atmosphere. The dress code enforces that quiet formality. At Per Se, however, the tables are very well spaced in a high ceilinged, open room --much more comfortable for a relaxed conversation at your table without overhearing your neighbors. The food seems very equal at FL and Per Se. It's Per Se's environment that I prefer.

                                      1. re: cortez

                                        Another one from the minority camp. I also enjoy the "entire dining experience" at Per Se more than FL. I like the modern, chic decor, the space, and the view. Food wise, they also seem pretty similar to me.

                                    2. Daniel..............Don't ever go to Per Se...................

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Littleman

                                        I have had the pleasure of celebrating two major events at both. The night I got engaged we went to Daniel (he sheepishly admited, he couldnt GET a reservation at Per Se). The meal was great, but even with the sheer happiness of just accepting a marriage proposal -- it doesnt stand up to Per Se.

                                      2. I went for the tasting menu at Daniel. I thought the food was good, but it didn't really wow me enough to come back. I got a little ticked off that they served me Chinese Broccoli in one of the dishes on the tasting menu as something exotic.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: designerboy01

                                          He he. I can kind of see being ticked off at that. Got a bit peeved when some high end seafood places were serving geoduck -- ate that quite a bit as a kid.