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Aunt and Uncle taking me to dinner...help me choose the place

Once a year my aunt and uncle, well-heeled cooks and foodies who live on the Upper East Side, take me out for a fantastic dinner. Usually they choose the place, but this year I've been given free rein. I'd like to choose a place where the noise level isn't insane (they're getting hard of hearing) and the crowd not too young/trendy (i.e. nowhere in the meatpacking district). I like small cozy locavore-ish places myself (Little Owl and its ilk), but with them we usually do something a little more upscale more spacious. Places I've been with them include Gramercy, Bouley (their all-time favorite), Chanterelle, Montrachet (eons ago), Annisa, and Blue Hill. I'd love some new suggestions along these lines, but nothing as high-end as Per Se, and nothing straightforwardly Asian (not their thing). The neighborhood doesn't matter as long as it's Manhattan.

Please don't suggest any of Mario Batali's restaurants or anything of Jean-George's (or Daniel). They have something against these chefs and their places. I can't explain why, they just do.


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  1. Tocqueville has amazing food and a beautiful room. Picholine also came to mind.

    1. If they like Italian food, you might want to try Alto.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        Yes, I was thinking of Scarpetta, but the noise level and neighborhood would seem to preclude it. Maybe Alto or Convivio? I don't know much about either one.

        1. If Bouley is their all-time fav (one of mine too), I'd recommend Aureole and Eleven Madison Park. Both have great food and service. You'll be able to easily have a conversation.

          1. Montrachet is closed. I got engaged there and my marriage and it ended about the same time :) If budget is not an issue (except for Per Se) what about L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon? We went last night. It's quiet, French, consistent and delicious. We also had a wonderful dining experience at The Modern - Dining Room last year (I think I posted a report if you want to do a search of this site).

            1 Reply
              1. re: misnatalie

                Really? I have not heard good things about Gordon Ramsey.

                I would do Allen and Delancey, but I think it's too dark and also too youthful.

                The Modern, EMP, Alto--all possibilities. Thanks.

                1. re: equilibrist

                  It's unfortunate that Gordon Ramsey has been branded so tastelessly and it's hard for some to get passed that, but I second The London rec. I have been there twice in the past 6 months and have to say....everything was excellent and memorable. The service (from the host to the sommelier) was exceptional and among the best I have experienced in NY. The courses were perfect and paced out as they should. The wine list (mostly french and Italian) is quite extensive (and expensive). However, I strongly suggest the pairing. I don't think you or family would be disappointed. (Can't wait for my anniversary so I can go again :)

                  1. re: malibu

                    I had heard mixed reviews about Gordon Ramsey as well. I was looking for a special place to take my foodie step mom for her 50th. She's done it all Babbo, Daniel, Bouley, Gramercy Tavern, EMP, Le Bernardin, etc, etc. I got the chef's table and it was amazing. She LOVED it and so did everyone else.

                    1. re: misnatalie

                      We really enjoyed Gordon Ramsey at the London. Exec Chef Josh Emett and his staff do a great job. I'd put it on a par with Eleven Madison --maybe even a bit better.

              2. I'd be headed to The Modern or to Scalini Fedeli. You know them, so you'd have to say which atmosphere appeals. Scalini (in the old Bouley space) might remind you of Chanterelle, and The Modern, of course, is white, sleek, and modern. I had great meals at both in the last year.

                1 Reply
                1. re: simetrias

                  Actually, I've eaten with them at Scalini Fedeli (as well as in the old and new Bouley spaces). They used to like it (and I enjoyed it a great deal), but they ate there pretty frequently and I think they tired of it eventually.

                2. I've had two amazing meals at Felidia, which sounds like it might be right up their alley. With any of these choices posted here, I'm not sure you can go wrong, though

                  1. I would not take them to Scarpetta or Allen & Delancey, despite great food. Convivio, Picholine and EMP are all excellent. I would also suggest Olana.

                    1. It sounds to me like you might like EMP, Telepan, or the Modern. (I'm starting to lose faith in Jean-George, as well -- though Mario is still great in my book!)

                      EDIT: oh cripes, I didn't realize this thread was a month old. thanks for tripping me up, financialdistrictirez! ;)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cimui

                        Apologies, cimui. I hate to start a new thread when I can be lazy and post to a previous one :) Montrachet has been re-done as Corton. Another option within walking distance. Libertine and Corton - possible additions on the "to try" list. fdr

                        1. re: financialdistrictresident

                          i was just ribbing you, fdr. appreciate your post and update as always! (had no idea about montrachet before the heads up.)

                      2. Try Perbacco (2 stars in times) 4th between a and b

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tcnakasato

                          Well, I'm glad the thread is reborn, as we haven't had our dinner out yet. I think I subtly suggested EMP and that might be what we do. Perbacco would not be right for them--too experimental in terms of Italian and also the EV probably won't do it for them.

                        2. Les Halles - midtown on Park Ave. South, or John St. downtown. Anthony Bourdain never disappoints. Attentive service too.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: sikakis

                            Huh?....a) A.Bourdain doesn't work there...hasn't worked there for years...b) it's loud...c) crappy service and mediocre-at-best food...

                            1. re: Simon

                              Even though I enjoy an occasional Saturday lunch at Les Halles, ordering a few specific dishes that are good, I agree that this is a pretty bizarre recommendation, as Bourdain has nothing to to with the restaurant and the service is at best passable, certainly not "attentive".

                            2. re: sikakis

                              "Anthony Bourdain never disappoints."

                              Bourdain, himself, made it clear that he never had anything to do with the downtown Les Halles. And he stopped cooking at the original Park Av. S. location a long time ago.

                              I've not made it a secret that I'm not a fan of Les Halles PAS for a number of reasons: food that's mediocre at best, service which leaves a lot to be desired, uncomfortable sardine-tight seating, and a hideously high noise level.

                            3. i commend your Aunt and Uncle on their avoidance of Batali joints!...(with the rare exception of Casa Mono) i don't go near his restaurants...

                              i'd agree with the Picholine recs above, though i've not been there since the remodel/re-boot...but the cheese cart is staggering...

                              while not as creative/high-end as other places you've mentioned, i'm a big fan if Il Giglio if you and they are in the mood for some old-school NY-Italian is a festive, elegant setting...

                              but if it was me, i'd try Gordon Ramsey's, where i haven't been yet...

                              1. Eleven Madison Park. Aureole. Craft.