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December Restaurant Splurge - Part II

For the second year in a row, instead of leaving the city for the holidays, my boyfriend and I are planning to "vacation" in NYC during the last week of December -- by using our vacation budget to try some great restaurants...

Last year, we went to Le Bernadin, Daniel, Gramercy Tavern, 15 East, Mesa Grill, Eleven Madison Park, Del Posto, Stanton Social, Bar Americain.

We are working on plans for this year and would love some feedback on our preliminary list: Jean George, Sushi Yasuda, Per Se (we already have reservations - and we are DEFINITELY going!), Milos, Asiate, and maybe Garden cafe in Bklyn?

Any thoughts? which are keepers? which should we change for a different choice?

Looking forward to your thoughts...


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  1. Jean Georges is definitely a keeper. I don't eat sushi, but my daughter and her husband do, and Yasuda is their #1 pick, so I'd say keep it as well. I haven't been to the others you have in mind. Here are additional ones you should consider: Fleur de Sel, Tocqueville (15 East's parent restaurant), Picholine, and Convivio.

    1. Hi cutebee,

      Looks like you will have a fantastic vacation! How many meals are you planning in total? I think you can skip Asiate. If you are already having JG which is French with some Asian influence, then Asiate is not necessary (and not as good anyway).

      You should try to get a reservation at Momofuku Ko! Since a lot of people may be away, it may be easier for you to score a reservation. Even if you can't, hit up Momofuku Ssam Bar for a fantastic meal!

      Since you don't have any Italian in the mix, perhaps either Babbo or Scarpetta?

      2 Replies
      1. re: kobetobiko

        Thanks, RGR and Kobetobiko...

        I don't eat meat or shellfish (just regular fish) - is there anything for me at Momofuku Ko???

        1. re: cutebee

          No meat, no shellfish would mean a very difficult time at Momofuku Ko, unfortunately.

          If you are a pescatarian sans shellfish you can probably do OK at Ssam Bar though.

          I agree with the Italian recommendation. Babbo might actually be easy to get in to during the holidays...on second thought, maybe not.

      2. What a GREAT vacation you're gonna have - again...haha
        JG is a great choice. For different and wonderful, how about WD_50? or Blue Ribbon Sushi in Brooklyn, and I don't know if it's expensive enough for you, but how about Prune? WOW are there possibilities .... But, I have to say and although a lot of people in my family think the world of it - and after being there a couple of times, I don't think all that crazy much for Milos - especially considering the Greek seafood that's available for a whole lot less money in Queens. Have fun!

        2 Replies
        1. re: EmoryJ

          Blue Ribbon Sushi is definitely a skip if they are already going to Yasuda.

          1. re: kathryn

            oops right...I just wanted to put in a pitch for an out-of-borough experience..and Yasuda
            will be great! Thanks Kathryn

        2. If you are willing to go to Brooklyn you definitely should consider Al Di La - consistently rated as oneof the city's best Italians. Al Di La's Venetian food is terrific- I've been going since they opened and they never disappoint.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Ann900

            Thanks, Everyone, for your responses so far!

            Great point about Babbo - silly oversight leaving that off the list! As for out-of-borough and cheap(er) eats..we're all for it! We care much more for the food than the price or the hype. I will be sure to look into the other suggestions above - and if there are any more suggestions, I'd love to hear from you (who knows, maybe we'll be able to use them for a December Splurge 2009 :-)!)

            1. re: cutebee

              Im doing this with my sister in lieu of presents this Christmas. We're thinking of Blue Hill at Stone Farms, because itll be a dinner and a cute day out.
              Though, not sure if its seasonal or opened in the winter.

              1. re: ConOrama


                Blue Hill Stone Barns is open all year round.

            2. re: Ann900

              I was unimpressed with Al Di La when I went, plus it is always loud and crowded when I walk by and they don't take reservations. A better Brooklyn option is Tempo. Beautiful and quiet and amazing food.

            3. I would do Avra instead of Milos and if you can get into Masa over Yasuda. I ate at the regular Blue Ribbon in Brooklyn and it was yummy.

              3 Replies
              1. re: taboo

                Isn't Masa unbelievably more expensive than Yasuda? I seem to recall Zagat saying that a meal there is five hundred dollars .... Haven't been though.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Their site says it's a chef's tasting menu that's $400-$600 per person!

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Yes, Masa is super expensive, but a one time indulgence. Also, I might suggest Le Bernardin for a wonderful meal.

                2. Hi there cutebee,

                  Wow, how'd you pull the Per Se reservations? You're gonna love it!! I'm going to be surprising my girlfriend (soon to be fiance!) with Per Se next month. She doesn't know a thing! A couple of places that haven't been mentioned. First, Citrus on the upper east side has some great relatively cheap meals, maybe good for a brunch. Aja at 1st and 58th is also quite good. A new restaurant on the upper east side, Taige, just opened. Taige serves an eclectic mix. The servers at Taige were a bit shy for some reason when I was there, but the atmosphere is great and very romantic. Finally, there's a great Korean place midtown that was surprisingly good (with an amazing wine list), but I've forgotten the name. Good luck! I'm so jealous.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: A Snaffese

                    Thanks, A Snaffese. It wasn't easy getting the Per Se reservations...In fact my boyfriend enlisted 3 of his colleagues to call in at the same time. Thankfully, one of them got thru - and now I can't wait! Thanks for the other suggestions....

                    P.S. He was also planning it as a surprise and then slipped and told me -- so be careful!!!

                  2. I'd like to add Bouley to the list of possibilities. I think it was my favorite tasting menu and dinner I've had all year. I know many would disagree but I, to my surprise, enjoyed it more Jean George.