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NYC itinerary--Need advice from hounds on the ground

Hi,
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. The original comment has been removed
              1. 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.