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Lincoln Center dinner suggestions (again)

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The plans are still in formation but several of us will attend a NYC Ballet performance in June. Regardless of whether we go for a matinee or evening performance, we will be dining early. If it's an evening performance we will need to be sure to have a place close by (one elderly person who walks slowly). If it's a matinee we can, and will, indulge in a nice leisurely pace.

I know the area pretty well but am drawing a blank on good ideas. There will be four of us. 'Cesca could actually work well but I've just been there a few times of late and I guess wouldn't mind going elsewhere. That said, if it's the best choice I would gladly return.

Picholine is a possiblity. The high price doesn't automatically rule it out but it would be nice to keep the dinner tab all-in (drinks, tax, tip - everything) to $100 per person. We won't run up a huge bar bill so just assume maybe a $50 or so bottle of wine for the table and at most an additional cocktail per person. I guess Picholine would run closer to $150, or more, per person.

Compass gets recommended a fair amount on the Board. I haven't been for years but I only thought it was okay on prior visits. I know it's a new chef, etc. but I'm just kind of disinclined at this point.

I'm on the fence about Telepan. I enjoyed my visit, but am hesitant about whether it's the right place for this occasion (maybe not traditional enough, both in atmosphere and food?). If Ouest were closer and didn't have so many flies in the dining room I would consider it more seriously.

Pretty open to most foods except for Asian (though toying with Shun Lee West, although some bad posts worry me). Tables should be well-spaced to allow for easy conversation and I'm looking for a more "grown-up" atmosphere.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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  1. How many years is it since you have been to Compass? It has gone through many chef changes, and in its earlier years got so-so reviews. I started going there about 2 years ago when John Fraser was chef, and have been there since Neil Annis has taken over, and I have never been disappointed. In fact I have always felt I have gotten high-end food at much less than high-end prices. While I would not quite place it at the level of Picholine, I think it is an excellent choice within your desired price range.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rrems

      Agree with Compass.....as good, or better than Ouest, and no flies.

      1. re: rrems

        Just to be accurate, this is Neil Annis's second stint at Compass. He was there during the earlier years, and while I haven't been there since he returned, I always thought his food was first-rate.

        If money is not an issue, I would go with Picholine. Our recent dinner there was outstanding, superior to anything we've ever had at Compass. And while we've never had any service problems at Compass, the faultless, very polished service at Picholine puts that entire experience at an entirely different level. In every respect, very "adult" and civilized.

        1. re: rrems

          It was years ago. Hard to recall exactly but I would guess four years or more. I've been at least twice, maybe three times in total. One time was pretty good but another time was definitely disappointing.

          I'm leaning towards Picholine now, but still have a little time to decide ...

        2. I will leave most of the rest to others better-informed than I, but.... Shun Lee is completely not worth it, and certainly shouldn't be grouped with the other places that you mentioned.... definitely stay away, it's seen better days.

          I think Telepan would be great... enjoyed it recently, and have been there twice since Christmas... I have been at Picholine just once, and really liked it. I remember it being pricey, as you suggest, but I am not sure about the actual menu prices -- you'd have to check.

          I really like Rosa Mexicano.... it's of course a bit less formal than the others you mention, but I really enjoy it, and it's so close to Lincoln Center.

          Also, not sure if this getting to far, or too pricey, but have you considered the restaurants at Time Warner Center? Also, a block closer to Lincoln Center (but still maybe too far, at around 61 and Broadway), is Sapphire... really, really good Indian food... best on the UWS, and can hold its own with the best in other places in Manhattan.