Recs for Special Anniversary Dinner Sept Sat Night
My husband and I are coming to the city from DC for a special weekend to celebrate our 5th anniversary. Please recommend your top choice for a special meal... no price limitations but we don't need to have the most expensive meal in town (ie, if we can get the same for less we'll take it, if not, fine). We're up for traditional or modern... old stand-by or newest hot-spot. Tasting with wine pairings a plus... for under $200 even better but not necessary. I've been looking at La Grenouille, Jean-Georges, Daniel, Bouley, Chanterelle, Eleven Madison Park, Asiate.
I did the summer tasting menu with wine parings at Jean-George last month and just had the tasting menu with wine pairings at Bouley Saturday night (under $200). Jean- George was fantastic- food, service, the pairings, every was amazing except I was disappointed with the desserts. The atmosphere was very formal. Bouley was excellent and I enjoyed my meal more. You have several options for each course at Bouley and I love fish so I was able to have an almost exclusively seafood dinner. The phyllo shrimp was amazing. The wine pairings were very good as well. Above all the more comfortable setting always lets me enjoy the evening more. Our waiter Mathew was phenomenal and gave my husband several complimentary glasses of wine ( I was the one who got the pairing, but for the last two courses he poured us both the same wine.) I would say Bouley
There is not one place on your current list that will disappoint. Each one is excellent and will be a great place to celebrate your anniversary. Just to add some observations on each:
La Grenouille - The epitome of the 'old guard' french restaurant. The service is over-the top - my wife likes to tell the story that as she was navigating tables on her way to the restroom, every single server between her and the restroom (she counted 10) immediately stopped - regardless of what they were doing/carrrying, and made a space for her to get by. The food is classic french cuisine. The only drawback is there is a high "pretentious" element to the clientele.
EMP & Bouley & Chanterelle are on the opposite end of that "pretentious" spectrum. Everything about these three is focused on the best eating experience possible - and staff are very down-to-earth, and bend-over-backwards helpful. Decor at EMP & Bouley slightly edge out that of Chaterelle, but all are great for a romantic meal.
Daniel and Jean Georges are the cream of the crop as it comes to Manhattan dining, and it's hard to bestow a better recommendation on these, because the rest of your list is so strong. But for the meal of the year, it's hard to look past these two. Service, food, everything is just beyond reproach.
If it were me, and money were no object, I'd probably recommend the following order first to last - but keep in mind that this list (like all lists) is very subjective to my own personal tastes:
1. Jean Georges
4. Eleven Madison park
5. La Genouille
FYI -I've only been to Asiate once, and want to try it again before offering any recommendations.
You may also want to consider: Alto, or The Bar Room at the Modern. But that could just further complicate things for you.
re: Spends Rent on Food
Great post and advice. I think you alluded to this, but I'd add that with respect to the service at Grenouille, I've not found it pretentious (it's been a while since I've been - just as a disclosure). Great article in this month's Vanity Fair about it. I think it remains one of the most beautiful dining rooms in Manhattan.
Thanks MMRuth - yes, sorry if I muddied two points: the service at La Genouille is not pretentious - it's probably the most attentive and helpful service we've ever experienced.
We've found that the clientele does tend to be pretentious, compared with everywhere else on the list. There are those who would never notice/care about the dispositions of the other diners - but our experiences at La Grenouille have usually ended up in at least one story about the actions/ comments of another diner.
- Apologies if that comes off as catty, but it's just our observation.