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Mom's 50th- Which TOP restaurant to wow her?

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Hey all my mother's 50th birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I really want to treat her to an amazing meal and experience. I have booked Del Posto but am rethinking it since I don't know if it is great bang for the buck. Money really is no issue but I don't want to plop down 500 bucks on a dinner I don't absolutely LOVE. My mother loved Babbo as did my entire family, so I figured Del Posto would be a great choice and you get that added atmosphere. However, from what I have seen and read it looks like paltry portion sizes and they recently took the ribeye for two off the menu that I was dying to try after seeing it at Babbo.

Other restaurants that get tons of press that I am considering are Daniel (mainly because I think it looks like one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city), Gotham Bar and Grill, Cafe Boulud, and Felidia (she loves Italian and Lidia in particular, however wasn't too impressed with the menu).

For Daniel- Do they offer specials or do you have to choose from the prix fixe menu for $105pp? How does the food stackup and are the portions decent for what you pay? I know Gayot gave it a 19/20 rating. Seems like one of those "you have to try it at least once in your lifetime" experiences.

Would love thoughts about the other places as well. Should I just keep my Del Posto reservation??

Out of these which would be the best based on food, atmosphere, bang for your buck, and really overall experience? Any other recommendations are welcome as well but I am really concentrating on these.

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  1. I think you're right about Del Posto--besides, it's overrated, in my opinion. The Gayot 19/20 for Daniel is deserved. You really have to go at least once I think your mom would love it. But also consider Per Se, which Gayot also gave a 19 to.

    1 Reply
    1. re: electrosnack

      A dinner "in a few weeks" isn't much lead time for Per Se, but I suppose you could always try for the wait list.

    2. I am a huge fan of both Daniel and Cafe Boulud, and actually prefer Cafe Boulud. Last year I treated my mother to a dinner at Jean Georges for her 55th birthday and she loved it. Also, Blue HIll is a great choice I think. If you are big seafood eaters, then I would hands down recommend Le Bernardin. Great atmosphere and food.

      1. Hi SR85,

        I know this notion of "bang for your buck" is important for you, and hence in my previous post I mentioned Del Posto may not be the right choice for you as you will find it overpriced. I think going to another restaurant will indeed improve your dinner experience based on your criteria.

        Have you ever considered Craft? The dishes at Craft are meant to be shared and are very generously sized. There are also a huge variety of dishes to choose from (which may trigger you to post another post : what should I order at Craft? ;D), so there will be something for everyone. The steak / beef there is awesome, so it will be a bonus for steaklover like you.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kobetobiko

          I am actually taking my father to Craft for his 50th lol! I have narrowed it down to Daniel, Del Posto, and Gotham Bar and Grill.

          Like I said money really isn't the issue. I do not mind spending tons of money at Del Posto or anywhere for that matter as I love and appreciate great food. I just want to get the best experience possible.

          Called Daniel and I can score a reservation for around 5:45 on a Saturday. I am thinking about going for it since it is a $105 prix fixe which is about the same I'd spend at Del Posto. How has everyone's experience went at Daniel?

        2. Have you considered the tasting menu at WD-50? Mom probably will have never eaten anything like it and it might be more memorable in the end. Plus the food is so interesting that it makes for great conversation.
          Bruni's recent review:
          http://events.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/...

          1. I just went to Daniel a couple of weeks ago - here's a VERY long, detailed review of the current menu:

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/517924

            As you'll read, we did the 6-course tasting (for $175), and it was plenty of food. Portion sizes were well controlled, though - I certainly wasn't overstuffed at the end. Several tables around us were only doing 3-courses and the portion sizes looked reasonable. There were a couple of specials in addition to the menu you can view on line. It is an absolutely GORGEOUS restaurant so if your mother is into that, I'm sure she will love it. I can't comment on your other options, though I've heard many less than stellar things about Felidia.

            I also had the good fortune to visit Jean-Georges, Degustation and Aquavit recently, and quite honestly I was more impressed with the food at all 3 of these than I was at Daniel (not that Daniel was bad, it just didn't wow me the way I was expecting it to). If it's just going to be the two of you, Degustation delivers AMAZING bang for your buck, fantastic, creative food and a unique atmosphere. Unfortunately, due to the setup of the restaurant it's probably best for parties of 2, unless you don't care to talk to your dining companions, LOL! Jean Georges is a beautiful, more cool/modern setting with fantastic food (French, but with a little more punch and wow-factor than Daniel IMHO). Aquavit is also more modern, and the food is excellent across the board - I would say it's more Scandinavian-influenced than true Swedish cuisine. I reviewed all three of these recently as well:

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/511075
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/517193
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/518318

            1. Hey, steakrules85,

              Daniel does have a specials menu. Also, in addition to the 3-course prix-fixe, there's a 6-course tasting menu and an unadvertised 8-course tasting (though I'm not sure they serve that on Friday and Saturday evenings). The cuisine is superb, and portions are far from stingy -- though certainly not in the falling-off-the-plate category found in steakhouses. The dining room is very fancy/schmancy, and the vibe is surprisingly lively. We had some serious service issues when we were there in October; however, I would consider that experience an outlyer since on our previous visits, it has been exemplary.

              We're big fans of Cafe Boulud. Very different from Daniel in terms of ambiance in that it is way smaller (Daniel was originally located in that space), and the decor, while stylish, has none of Daniel's glitz. Tables are a bit close, but they aren't exactly miles apart at Daniel either. Service is cordial and polished. (We've never experience even the hint of a glitch.) The overall ambiance is comfortable and civilized. As for the cuisine, though it is Chef Boulud's second-tier restaurant, the food has always been first-rate! The current Executive Chef, Gavin Kasen, who arrived in December, is extremely talented, and his cuisine is creative, yet very accessible, and truly delicious.

              So, if you want something big and ostentatious, go for Daniel; for something more intimate and reserved, Cafe Boulud fills the bill very nicely.

              Best wishes to your mom on her 50th birthday and Bon Appetit!

              1. Great food is, of course, important but a beautiful place is important too. Therefore I think she would love Daniel, La Grenouille, River Cafe.