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NYC itinerary--Need advice from hounds on the ground

My Boston-based husband and I are traveling to the city in August for five nights of child-free bliss (first time away since becoming parents 13 years ago). I have browsed and perused here quite a bit but wanted to run our epicureal plans by you.

Here's what we have planned:
Day 1: Del Posto (Babbo not available)
Day 2: Town pre-theater
Day 3: Bouley
Day 4: Sushi bar at Sushi of Gari for pre-theater
Day 5: Chanterelle

Question: My understanding from reading here and Zagat and persuing the menus/web sites is that the overall experience/menu/aesthetic at Bouley and Chanterelle may be similar. I'm wondering if I should swap out one of those (if so, which one??) in favor of more downscale French bistro fare, such as dbBistro Moderne or something else (what??). (I'm slightly worried dear husband is going to blow a gasket at all those prices and wouldn't mind adding in something cheaper...) We like all types of ethnic.

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  1. You might want to try Bar Boulud instead of Bouley or Chanterelle - not as expensive, but you get to try a Daniel Boulud place. Excellent charcuterie, etc. Do you have ideas for lunches? I'd definitely try to get to Momofuku Ssam for lunch one day.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MMRuth

      Momofuku Ssam is an excellent suggestion but I would suggest dinner over lunch. Cafe Boulud or Jean Georges for lunch (cheaper but still elegant) could replace Bouley and/or Chanterelle.

      Personally, I have not been to Degustation but highly reliable sources vouch for it and I would also try to add that to the itinerary.

    2. Bar Boulud has excellent food, but it is standard bistro dishes. Instead of just going for downscale French, why not try something really different? My choice would be Degustation. The $75 ten-course tasting offers unusual dishes and the bar seating gives you the added pleasure of watching the chefs preparing your meal. The service is very professional, there is an interesting wine list (or you can do wine pairings) and the seating is quite comfortable. It is an experience I don't think you will find anywhere else and a very good value.

      5 Replies
      1. re: rrems

        Great suggestions, thanks. I am looking intio Degustation right now. Which should I bag? Chanterelle or Bouley? Thanks.

        1. re: laurenpaul

          I'm not a big fan of either of those, though there are certainly many who disagree with me on that. I would bag both and go to Picholine or Jean-Georges.

          1. re: laurenpaul

            I haven't been to Chanterelle or Bouley in a long time, but preferred Bouley for food and atmosphere. Chanterelle had these huge gorgeous bouquets of flowers but totally interfered in my dining experience as I kept smelling the flowers as I was eating with my food.

          2. re: rrems

            rrems, Degustation is an excellent suggestion. I will have the pleasure of dining there again next week.

            OP, please note the dining room at Chanterelle is formal. I went years ago and the food was outstanding. I have not returned because my preference is for less formal places.

            1. re: rrems

              rrems, we went to Degustation last evening and had another very good experience (food & service). We ordered ala carte vs. the prix fixe. The space works better for two and it was interesting dining with a party of 3. I'll try to remember to post a report when I get back from P.R. PS There may be some redecorating in the works because we saw the chef talking with some designer/construction types seated beside us.

            2. I love both Bouley & Chanterelle, but if I had to choose just one, I'd go to Bouley and ditch chanterelle in favor of Artisanal or Bar Boulud. Although I've not yet been to degustation, so that could be good alternative - but I can't comment from expereince.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                Artisanal can be fun but it's not in the same category with the other class of options being named.

                1. re: sugartoof

                  Artisanal is a lively, fun, French bistro. Can be noisy. I usually end up there at least once or twice a year. I like it better than Balthazar. I don't feel Artisanal is a must. There are so many better places. We are going to Dovetail this weekend for the first time. We also enjoy Falai on the LES. OP, you may want to visit www.opentable.com if you haven't already done so. If you opt for Degustation, you need to make reservations the old fashioned way, they are not on opentable. And please report back on your experiences. Have fun!

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    For what it's worth, I prefer Balthazar to Artisanal in terms of the food. The list of wines by the glass is wonderful at the latter, though the former offers decent and reasonable wines by the carafe.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Ahh, the good old Artisanal/ Balthazar debate.

                      Regardless, either one is a solid, less expensive alternative to Bouley/Chanterelle. Great atmosphere, and very good food and great wine are available at both without breaking the bank.

                      1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                        And I believe Artisanal has a prix fixe dinner :) PS Maybe I should revisit Balthazar because at least I can walk there . . . I think the trend/scene factor is higher at Balthazar, and that influences my preference for Artisanal.

                        1. re: financialdistrictresident

                          I just ignore the trend/scene factor at Balthazar. But I do enjoy Artisanal too and it's nice not to have to worry about a reservation for a last minute weekend lunch.

                          Just got back from lunch at Ssam, btw - we restrained ourselves this time - 2 orders of pork buns, the Virginia ham, a banh mi and a carafe of a quite nice North Fork Chardonnay.

              2. Jean Georges would be preferable to either of those two. Not inexpensive, but a meal won't soon forget. Town is an awesome choice pre-theater.

                1. Del Posto is way overrated and not worth the money, imho. If you want to go to one of Fat Mario s places, go to Esca. Its italian seafood and Dave Pasterneck the chef is one of the best in New York City. As for Sushi of Gari, go to the upper east location, better then the westside one. If you want French bistro, go to Raoul's on Prince St in SoHo. Not as expensive as dbBistro and a better locatation than midtown.

                  1. If it fits into your plans geographically I would also consider Ouest on the Upper West Side. Great food, great vibe and really enjoyable on my recent visit. Probably a little less pricey than some on your list although not exactly cheap.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: keving

                      Thanks so much for all of your recommendations, really appreciate them! I have canceled Chanterelle and booked Artisanal as the fondue really sounds enticing (and I'm a total cheese hound!).

                      We will make sure to go by Katz for a pastrami sandwich and also grab some street vendor food. I'll post how it went when I return. thanks again!

                      1. re: laurenpaul

                        I'm glad you're doing Artisanal. Save room for frites, they're outstanding. Also, you might want to rethink Town, not because of the food, but because you're doing theater after. Unless your theater is within a couple of blocks, or you're finished by 7:30, you might have a mad dash to get to your show. It's just a little ways away from Times Square.

                    2. I would not eliminate Chanterelle. The food is wonderful and so is the experience.
                      I have not been to Bouley in a long time or Jean George either for awhile but do not substitute it for Picholine.

                      1. I just have to say that Del Posto, to me, is completely overrated and I just think it is not the Batali/Bastianich place to go to. But that is just me! I much prefer ESCA or Babbo (brutal that it is not available), but I do totally agree with your other choices.

                        1. is there any particular why you've chosen Gari over all the other sushi places in NY?

                          there are many people here who love Gari, but personally i loathed my one experience there...but regardless of debates about fish quality, you should know that it's a "creative" sushi place, where the omakase includes a fair number of non-traditional (often mayonaissy) sauces...and also that the atmosphere is a bit rushed...personally, i'd go to either Ushi Wakamaru, 15 East, or Yasuda (the latter being the closest to the theatre district)...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Simon

                            There is a Gari in/very near to the theater district now. That said, if I had to choose between Yasuda and Gari, I would choose Yasuda, though I very much like Gari as well.

                          2. Be warned --- I think Sushi of Gari is insanely expensive for what it is --- do not let them talk you into doing an omakase meal or dinner will easily run over $200, more like $250 if you drink.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: susan robin

                              Hmmm, so maybe Del Posto should go....in favor of another Italian for day one...hmmmm. So many possibilities!

                              1. re: susan robin

                                I do think there is a "platter" called the Gari special or something, that gives a decent assortment of the type of sushi he's known for at a not unreasonable price. I also like the tuna platter, but wish it didn't include the roll (not known for rolls, though I like the fried oyster one).

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  Further fine-turning....

                                  Day 1 is now Crispo (kicked out Del Posto for economic and appetite reasons; Babbo and Lupa not avail)

                                  Day 2: Town pre-theater

                                  Day 3: Bouley (blow out!)

                                  Day 4: sushi bar at Sushi of Gari pre-theater

                                  Day 5: Artisanal

                                  Heartfelt thanks for the hounds for advice and counsel! Stay tuned for our reviews!!