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Nov 3, 2008 11:12 AM

My Upcoming Foodie NY Trip!

Ok so I know this might be a little to soon but I've heard you had to make reservations for some of these restaurants MONTHS in advance which is why I'm asking for advice now. I will be heading to NY in the first week of March, is this a good time or is the first week of Feb. better?, and will be going all out. I will most likely stay 4 to 5 nights and what to dine at the best. Per Se is already a must no matter what. A few others I'm leaning towards are:
-Le Bernardin
-Gordan Ramsays at the London (went there for last year and enjoyed it much but I've heard they have had some Chef changes??)
-Bar Masa

I like BOLD flavors and a Chef that isn't afraid of a little heat! I will be most likely going solo as well. Also I will be seeing a lot of shows and wanted to know is lunch a better way to go at some of these restaurants when going to see a show? Also I want to do mostly tasting menus but do not want restaurants whos tasting menus leave me overly stuffed and can't walk out the restaurant. I like smaller portions more tastes! Thanks and I can't wait to hear yalls suggestions!

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  1. Welcome back to NYC! I've enjoyed your LV posts (in the middle of reading about your latest trip). You do need to reserve 2 months to the date ahead at Per Se. As you know it's prixe fix at $275 per person (without wine). You can get an idea of your menu by checking out the website at Another restaurant you might enjoy is Momofuku Ko in the East Village. Ko offers a set menu (no options) at dinner for $100 or lunch (Friday/Saturday/Sunday) for $160. Lunch is one seating and plan on 3 hours (not kidding). I prefer the lunch--it's extremely decadent (about 17 courses). Ko has a website that permits reservations starting at 10:00 a.m. only 7 days in advance and since there are only 12 seats (stools actually), it can be difficult to get a reservation (no phone calls or walk-ins). Sometimes I luck out by checking their website later in the day for cancellations. Ko fits your request of "smaller portions more tastes". You leave full, but happy. You're better off coming to NYC in early March (February still can have bitter cold and snowy days--unless you like that). Some of the top restaurants do not offer lunch (or lunch is more limited than the dinner menu). If you are planning to see a lot of shows, pre-theater dinner may feel rushed for a tasting menu. You couldn't go to either Per Se or Ko for dinner and go to a show at 8:00.

    Have a great time!

    4 Replies
    1. re: ellenost

      I had a superb meal at Per Se yesterday and Le Bernardin last weekend. Unfortunately, my meal at Gordan Ramsay in June was marked by lousy food and extremely poor service.

      1. re: sethd

        I had a great meal at Ramsay in May. Josh Emmett is the chef there now, and is really talented.

        1. re: BW212

          I still to this day had the best Risotto of my life there which makes me want to try them again.

      2. re: ellenost

        For Ko, the booking grid shows 7 days, including today. You are really booking SIX days in advance. However, lunch is much easier to score than dinner, especially if you can make it for Friday lunch (most people are at work, lots won't want to drop that kind of coin, it's quite a lot of food for midday).

      3. i think you'll like per se. flavors are more innovative than bold but the overall experience is worth it. i like the place.

        le bernardin is a solid destination. flavors are sophisticated. bold? not really. i like it.

        i'm surprised you haven't asked about sushi yasuda. sit at his station. let him call the shots. he's a charming guy so feel free to chat him up.

        maybe throw prune into the mix. peasant makes sense this time of year.

        just my $0.02.

        1 Reply
        1. re: steve h.

          Agreed. Le Bernardin is not about big bold flavors. If you want that, I'd head elsewhere... the saucing and flavors at Le B are meant to not overwhelm the extraordinarily fresh seafood.

        2. If you like bold flavors, you'll probably be disappointed with Le Bernardin -- it's the opposite of bold. Their flavor profiles are more on the subtle side. You'd probably appreciate something more in the vein of Babbo or Casa Mono.

          And I agree with Steve H that Per Se's flavors aren't very bold as well. It's good, but not bold.

          More casual than what you're looking for, but Spotted Pig has a lot of food that's pretty bold. And Szechuan Gourmet's food is pretty bold and spicy.

          15 Replies
          1. re: Miss Needle

            I would definitely do a Batali place if you want bold flavors, maybe also a Momofuku restaurant...Ssam Bar if you can't get into Ko. Szechuan Gourmet is a good call for unapologetically spicy, as is Grand Sichuan. There are also delicious spicy dishes at Thai spots. I'd also look into Sripraphai in Queens (Outer Boroughs board) or Rhong-Tiam in Greenwich Village.

            1. re: kathryn

              Thanks for all the suggestions so far. Per Se is something I've been dreaming about as I have HUGE respect for Thomas Keller. On Per Se website it states $275.00 pp with service. Does than mean tip and all or how does that work? I may take in Batali's place since I liked his restaurant in LV. What type of cuisine is Momofuku Ko? As far as Le Bernardin, I do like seafood and heard there's is as fresh as they come but also heard there tasting menu can leave you overly stuffed. Has anyone heard anything good about Gilt? It looks beautiful and have read some great reviews.

              1. re: cgervais45

                For Per Se, "with service" = gratuity is included, although many choose to tip on top of that included fee because of the high level of service.

                Momofuku Ko is Southern-Japanese-Korean fusion with some French influences.

                For all Batali places, they start taking reservations one month in advance to the numerical date. So tomorrow, on November 4th they start taking reservations for December 4th. For Babbo, the lines open at 10am. Have your redial finger ready!

                For Le Bernardin, when I had the chef's tasting, it was satisfying but my stomach didn't feel like it was going to bust open, like it has at Babbo or Eleven Madison Park. It is just the right amount of food, it might even be too little if you are a big eater!

                1. re: kathryn

                  Thanks for the info! Wow after looking reading about Momofuku Ko it sounds like a experience but would Lunch or Dinner be a better time to go? I didn't see anywhere what time the Lunch sitting is? Does anyone know the times?

                  1. re: cgervais45

                    If you go to and put in your party number and lunch or dinner, and you'll see the possible seating times.

                    1. re: cgervais45

                      The lunch (Friday/Saturday/Sunday) have set times startin at 12 non, 12:10, 12:20, 12:25, 12:40 and 12:45. I prefer the 12:20 (12 noon is usually kept for the 4-top). Since there are only 12 seats, Ko has the service in 3 groups for timing purposes for the chefs. The 12:10 service might seem a bit slow at first, the 12:20 seems fine, and the 12:25 seems a bit rushed at first (in order to bring this group to the same eventual pace for service). I think the 12:40 and 12:45 are okay, but they are the final group. My experience is that for the 12 seats they are divided as follows: 1 4-top, 2 2-tops and 4 1-tops. I prefer the lunch even if it is more expensive ($160) since there is only one service at lunch, no one is trying to turn the seat as with the dinner where there are two services. Figure 3 hours for lunch and 2 hours for dinner. Unfortunately unless you register at the website (by giving them your credit card info) you can't see the availability for lunch or dinner.

                      1. re: ellenost

                        Thanks. It seems like a must and for a nice long lunch and a good show afterwards. Since I will be doing mostly tasting menu's I will mostly like do one meal a day so I can fully enjoy, or fully fit I should say, the experience. While Per Se is already on my list and Momofuku Ko seems like must for my Itinerary as well, I want a restaurant with one of a kind ambiance like a view of some sort or something unique I can't get back here is Georgia! As I said before I will most likely be dining solo and I've heard Daniel treats solo diners like royalty so I'm really starting to consider them as well. I'm leaning towards Hilton Garden Inn Time Square for my stay and I will be taking the taxi most of the time to my restaurants so I don't want anything thats gonna cost me a arm and an leg getting there since I'm already spending that at the restaurant!

                        1. re: cgervais45

                          There are some good "offbeat for foodies" recommendations here:

                          1. re: cgervais45

                            Degustation is a restaurant that's full of bold flavors and definitely something you can't get in Georgia. It's only bar seating (perfect for a solo diner) and you can view the kitchen make your food. Cuisine would probably be best described as Spanish-French. Do a search on this board -- you'll find a few reports. They've got a 10 course tasting menu with relatively small portions.

                            Just wanted to make sure that you have a back-up for Ko. It's really not very easy to get into and reservations. They go in literally seconds. You may have an easier time getting into lunch and getting some cancellations. But still it would be wise to have a Plan B.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              After doing a little research that to sounds like a wonderful place and will defently use it as a backup. Thanks!

                              1. re: cgervais45

                                Ok here is my lineup. I think I'm leaning towards Feb. 22nd-27th as it was a little cheaper that than the first of March.
                                -Per Se
                                -Babbo (Going e-mail the restaurant on doing a custom pasta tasting menu because there are certain pastas I want to try. B&B in Las Vegas was more than happy to do my request so I'm hoping Babbo will be to.)
                                -Bouley (Tasting menu here looks really good. Anyone have experience with it?)
                                -Gramercy Tavern (Main Dining Room)
                                -I'm gonna try Ko but it not then I may go with the 7 course at Le Bernardin or Degustation!

                                I think this is a pretty good lineup but would like some input. I'm a little worried that I picked to many touristy places and I know a lot of times restaurants like those are not as good as they once were and just riding on reputation. I want to be blown away with both food and ambiance and also wouldn't mine trying some "New" restaurants that have something to prove! Now are there any really good restaurants with live jazz or piano? Also maybe a restaurants that have a beautiful view of the city or central park. I'm still interested in Bar Masa but do they have any type of tasting menu?or perhaps Nobu?? Thanks for everyones help and I know this is early but I want to get my internary knocked out so I'm not making last minute choices.

                                1. re: cgervais45

                                  You have a great lineup of restaurants (not touristy at all). Bouley has a great tasting menu; they've just moved locations, so by February, everything should be perfect. None of the restaurants you've picked have been "riding on their reputation". You'll have a great time!

                                  1. re: cgervais45

                                    We just did Gramercy Tavern and Babbo a few weeks ago. We loved Gramercy Tavern - both the service and food. We were very underwhelmed with Babbo and it was the one place we were so looking forward to. The only standout dish was the goose liver ravioli. Also, check prior posts if you do go to Babbo. I remember reading that the pasta tasting menu wasn't that great. We were only in town for three dinners and our third was at Balthazar which turned out to be our favorite. Have a great time and enjoy your trip. NYC is the best!!!!

                          2. re: cgervais45

                            Don't think they do lunch. Had the pleasure of dining there on a foodie trip as well. I have to say it was an amazing experience. I did love the food. My husband enjoyed it a little more than me but I guess for the price it didn't live up to my expectations. Don't get me wrong, it was amazing food. Just a few of the dishes I did not favor. The downfall of the pre fixe menu I guess. Very great experience. If you can get it in, do it for sure.

                  2. Ok yall I have ran into a bump while making my reservations for my foodie trip next month. I snagged reservations for Per Se and Le Bernardin already but went to make a reservation for Babbo and they told me they do not accept reservations for one and I'm only wanted at the bar. To me this is unacceptable so I'm taking my money elsewhere. I have three places in mind and want my fellow chowhounders to pick which one they would dine at. It between Adour, GR at the London, or Daniel. Here is my trip so far:

                    Friday: Dinner (actually more like lunch) at Per Se
                    Saturday: Brunch at Mesa Grill, Dinner at Le Bernardin
                    Sunday: Brunch at Prune, Dinner at ???????????
                    Monday: Lunch at JG (Going to try getting a lunch tasting menu), Dinner at Gramercy Tavern or Gilt or Veritas????????
                    Tuesday: Lunch (Omakase) at Nobu, Dinner at WD 50
                    Wednesday: Lunch at Eleven Madison Park and then I'm on a flight back reality.

                    I'm lookin for a nice range of tastes. I love wine and cheese and a more private and intimate dining experience which is why I was leaning towards Adour but have read real excellent reviews and poor reviews and the same thing with GR at the London. Dropping $275.00 at Per Se is already a lot and with Daniel's tasting being $175.00 thats gonna put a pick whole in my wallet if going to both but would it be worth it? Also since Chris Lee has left Gilt idk if its worth going but there Tasting Menu looks so darn good. Would love to hear advice and tips and experiences so I can decide before its to late! Thanks Yall!

                    19 Replies
                    1. re: cgervais45

                      what's wrong with the bar at babbo? there are two seats at the short end of the bar just as you enter (your back will be toward the window). maybe the best seats in the house! check them out yourself ahead of time.

                      don't bail on bobbo if you can help it.

                      1. re: steve h.

                        Ok here goes:
                        - Saturday Brunch at Mesa Grill - rethink that one, Mesa grill sucks and it is out of place in your list
                        - Sunday Dinner - consider Momofuku Ssam - it's great, important, ties in nicely with Prune and will counterbalance your JG lunch the next day
                        - Monday Dinner - Consider the new place, Corton - my one meal there was enlightening to say the least, Bruni gave it 3 stars, Paul Liebrandt (formerly of Gilt) chef, awesome...GT over veritas by a mile
                        - Tuesday Lunch - consider Yasuda or Soto (check on their lunch times) for far more serious sushi, Nobu's composed dishes are good if you never had had them before but now they seem tired, love that creamy spicy shrimp however...and you can get Nobu in Vegas
                        - WD-50 - if you are really into that moleculargastronomy hocus pocus it's fine, although I liked Tailor better (momofuku ssam would also fit in nicely here, if you don't do it sometime else) - Degustation would also fit nicely here...

                        I would also reconsider sitting at the Bar at Babbo, it is one if the great unique dinning experiences that NYC has to offer....Also, Convivio is a good alternative to Babbo...Momo Ko, if you get a reservation, I would drop any reservation you have, but your Per SE ressie, to go there....Of those three you ask CHer's to chose from, I wouldn't go to any of them...GR and Adour (ducasse just does get NYC) are imposters, and Daniel is boring and snooty, you already have Per Se, JG and Le B, you don't need any of three you asked us to choose from, the best food in NYC is coming from guys like David Chang not Gordon Ramsey...

                        1. re: Cpalms

                          Thanks for the input! Maybe I will reconsider Babbo but is it hard to get a seat at the bar?

                          1. re: cgervais45

                            do a search, it has been discussed endlessly here...the short version is..not really, particularly if you go early or late, in mid february (i think thats when you are coming to nyc) is usually a slow time, particularly in this economy....

                            1. re: Cpalms

                              Yeah I'm thinking at 4:30 on Sunday I would easily be able to get a seat and it not be to loud. Have you been to WD-50? There currently menu looks interesting and it seems like a unique experience you can't get anywhere in the US. I'm actually leaving Jan.16th! Thanks for the tip on lunch at Yasuda. I was wanting to go there but had no idea they did lunch and I will hit that up for sure. As far as Ko. I'm gonna try my hardest to get a sit so we will see. What about this:
                              Friday: Per Se
                              Saturday: Brunch at Prune, Le Bernardin for Dinner
                              Sunday: Breakfast at Bouchon Bakery (Love this place), Dinner at Babbo
                              Monday: Lunch and JG, Dinner at GT
                              Tuesday: Lunch at Yasuda, Dinner at WD-50
                              Wednesday: Lunch at EMP

                              Does this sound like a better fit?

                              1. re: cgervais45

                                I've eaten at a few "molecular gastronomy" restaurants and there are a handful in the USA, with the epicenter being in Chicago. NYC has a much less vibrant scene.

                                I actually have liked WD-50 less than Tailor or Alinea (in Chicago) (Sorry, Wylie). Haven't been to Corton yet, but it's a bit less whimsical than WD-50, etc. but it looks amazing.

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Thanks for your input. I'm really lookin for something "different". As I love food I'm always looking for that restaurant and chef that isn't like all the others. Any recs. for something like that in NY?

                                  1. re: cgervais45

                                    If you can't get into Momofuku Ko, why not try a dinner at Momofuku Ssam Bar? I'm also wondering if you'd do a more casual restaurant (either here or in the Outer Boroughs) or at least some more variety in your choices.

                                    Aside from Yasuda, it's pretty American and French-centric. Perhaps a Spanish restaurant? Not sure how much of that you have in Atlanta.

                                    I'm a huge fan of Momofuku Ssam Bar and I think we probably have similar taste given that I also enjoy Prune, Babbo, GT, Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, EMP....

                                  1. re: Pan

                                    FYI, It says there Wine Bar opens at 4:30. I'll look into Momofuku Ssam Bar!

                                    1. re: cgervais45

                                      I see. I hadn't noticed that about the wine bar before.

                            2. re: Cpalms

                              "GT over veritas [sic] by a mile."


                              Have you been to Veritas since Gregory Pugin took over the kitchen during the summer?

                              1. re: RGR

                                I've heard VERY good things since he took over and with one of the best wine lists in NY, I've been very intrigued to skip over all talked about restaurants and try somehwhere that doesn't get a lot of attention. Have u had a good experience here?

                                1. re: cgervais45

                                  The reason I asked Cpalms if he/she had been to Veritas *recently* is that it sounded very much to me as though he/she had not.

                                  We've only been to the Tavern Room since Michael Anthony took over; however, I can't imagine the food in Gramercy Tavern's dining room being better "by a mile" than the cuisine being served by Chef Gregory Pugin at Veritas. In fact, I can't imagine it being better. Period. Definitely different since the cuisine at Gramercy Tavern is Contemporary American while Pugin's is French. But, then, it's also a complete change from the Contemporary American cuisine of Scott Bryan, Veritas's original chef.

                                  We've always been fans of Veritas and liked Bryan's cuisine a lot. (We never went during the Ed Cotton period because of the negative reports.) Our one dinner at Veritas not long after Chef Pugin arrived was sensational! And I've heard glowing reports from others who have been there more recently.

                                  Veritas seems to be traveling very much under the usual culinary radar right now. That's unfortunate because those who are ignoring it -- or who still think it's only all about the wine -- are missing out on Pugin's truly stellar French cuisine.


                                  1. re: RGR

                                    Perhaps "by a mile" was an overstatement, pardon me...I have not been to Veritas since the new chef took over, who knew, sounds good, But I will say that Danny Meyer's (the best restauranteur in the country IMO) Gramercy Tavern has always been a very special place and is firing on all cylinders both front and back room) with their new chef...It also might be a good idea given your itinerary to go to Veritas, seeing that you are already going to another Danny Meyer place, EMP.

                                    RGR...."We've only been to the Tavern Room since Michael Anthony took over; however, I can't imagine the food in Gramercy Tavern's dining room being better....In fact, I can't imagine it being better. Period."

                                    If you have not eaten at Gramercy Tavern's proper restaurant, what are you basing this opinion on? there is not one dish that is shared by the tavern and the restaurant...

                                    Bruni's glowing review of GT:


                                    1. re: Cpalms

                                      Out of EMP and GT which would you recommend?

                                      1. re: cgervais45

                                        well, you said that you liked Bold flavors... therefore, I would pick EMP over GT for reality, they are both very good, beautiful rooms, and service that sets the standard.....

                                        1. re: cgervais45

                                          Having dined at the GT formal room and EMP a handful of times in the last 1-2 years, I find it a really difficult comparison. Right now I might give the edge to GT simply because your itinerary doesn't really have that much farm-to-table/New American cuisine.

                                          My thoughts on GT vs EMP:

                                        2. re: Cpalms


                                          Frankly, I don't care what Bruni has to say about Gramercy Tavern or, for that matter, any other restaurant, especially since instead of giving EMP its own full review, -- as he did with G.T. -- he gave it half a review, pairing it with The Modern's Bar Room. Ridiculous!

                                          Although I have not eaten in Gramercy Tavern's proper restaurant, I do think I can judge Michael Anthony's prowess to some degree based on his food in the Tavern Room. Plus, we have also had his food when he was still associated with Blue Hill, and I'm sure it was very much like what he is serving in G.T.'s dining room. In my view, although he is a fine chef, he isn't in the same league as Daniel Humm. In fact, the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group has just awarded EMP Relais Gourmand status, a category which includes per se, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, and Daniel.

                            3. Mad 11, modern and Grammercy are three of my favorites, The whole experience is tops. Le B is also fab, Per Se left me cold and if it weren't for the bread we would have been hungry after dinner. You can't go wrong with a Danny Meyer experience, Very good service, extremely fair wine list and the chefs really know their craft.