please don't judge me because i'm from LA :(
i love food. all day, every day. but i'm only an LA foodie. so my boyfriend and i are making our way out to new york for the holidays [where he's originally from] and i'm giving him 12 gifts for the 12 days of christmas. since we're both mutual foodies, i wanted my 12th gift to him to be a really great christmas dinner at either LE BERNARDIN or MORIMOTO.
before you judge me, let me just say that i want the meal to be an experience from a standpoint that we can both refer to. eric ripert is always on "top chef" which is a show we love, morimoto is always on "iron chef" which we also love. so taking into account the idea of experience, christmas, romance, tasting/omakase menu, etc ...
also, for clarification, i've already checked and YES, both of these restaurants are open for christmas evening. thanks! please, chowhounders, don't fail me now.
well, by choosing your two top contending restaurants because their chefs were on tv shows, you are setting yourself up to fall right into the LA stereotype which you claim to want to avoid...*smiles*
i've never been to Morimoto, but it's gotten very mixed reviews (at best) on here and elsewhere...
Le Bernardin has extremely good seafood and elegant, formal service...but because of it's setting (in essentially a converted office building lobby) i don't think of it as being particularly romantic...but it would be an tasty and special Christmas dinner: so between those two, i'd say definitely go w/ LB...
Any of the restaurants in this discussion will be fun and you two will definitely be made to feel special. Especially if you end up at a place run by Danny Meyer like EMP, which is all about the service.
If being on TV matters...Both Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Johnny Iuzzini (pastry chef) have been on Top Chef, as have a bunch of other NYC chefs. Wylie Dufresne, April Bloomfield, Dan Barber, Anthony Bourdain, Scott Conant, Daniel Bouloud. And of course there's Tom Colicchio, as a permanent member of the judging team.
Le Bernardin... best high-end restaurant specializing in seafood in the country. Nice wine list too.
agreed that most everyone is going to give a better all-round food review of le bernardin than of morimoto. le bern is quite flawless. that being said, i agree with the assessment of simon that it isn't particularly romantic, but that's really what you make of it. also i did have an eric ripert sighting when i was there. i was so excited, it might as well have been brad pitt.
if you're expanding your search beyond tv chefs, you could consider yasuda for omakase, eleven madison park, jean-georges, bouley or daniel for a flawless and very romantic meal as well.
In terms of reputation among NY Foodies and Critics, Eric Ripert hands down takes the cake. If it were down to those two for me, Le Bernardin is where I'd go. The food is sophisticated, subtle, and sublime. Definitely do not go to Morimoto for I've heard of many friends who have returned disappointed.
If you're considering eating in the elite league of restuarants like Le Bernardin, allow me to suggest a few others to look into.
Per Se is definitely, definitely worth trying to get a table it. It is in my mind, and in the minds of many, the best total restaurant experience you can have New York. 3 Michellin Stars, 4 Stars NY Times. It is also has a more romantic feel than Le Bernardin. It has a view of Central Park from the 4th floor of the Time Warner Building; you may be so lucky to have a white christmas overlooking central park. The service is flawless and down to earth. They serve two tasting menus that change everyday, one for vegetarians. $250 per person. I just checked and they're fully booked, but if you're interested there's a waitlist as a backup.
Sushi Yasuda, for the omakase route, is my and many on this board's top sushi pick in new york. Sit at the counter for the real deal experience, and try and make a reservation to sit in front of Mr Yasuda himself! (He's a sweet, funny ol' man). They're always a top pick in Zagat for Japanese and is usually top 5 in rating for food. The sushi is, sigh, beautiful.
some more to look into:
Masa (Japanese cuisine, if you're willing to spend a fortune)
You might want to consider making your reservations now as Le Bernardin will surely fill up fast.