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My Culinary Fantasy Trip Next Week and I STILL need help :(

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Yes I'm sure everyone is sick of me now but I leave next week for my Culinary Adventure but I'm still hesitate on one day.

Friday- Lunch at Per Se
Saturday- Brunch at Prune, Dinner at Le Bernardin
Sunday-Breakfast at Bouchon Bakery, Dinner at WD-50
Monday- Lunch at Jean George, Dinner at Eleven Madison Park
Tuesday-Lunch at Sushi Yasuda, Dinner at Eithier Veritas or Adour or Gilt
Wednesday- Lunch at Gramery Tavern.

Now Tuesday is my biggest decision. I keep reading nothing but amazing reviews about Veritas and Gilt and I've always wanted to try Alain Ducasse cooking. One option I have is to skip EMP since I've already got GT on my list and do Adour Monday and Veritas Tuesday. Please help chowhounds!

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  1. Hey, cgervais45,

    No way would be ever be tired of helping a fellow Hound out! :-)

    I'll admit right up front that it's hard for me to be objective about Eleven Madison Park. Because it is our favorite NYC restaurant, I think if you jettison it, you will be missing out on a stellar dining experience.

    To be further honest, I would never go to wd-50 because I don't care to dine on science projects.

    So, if it were me, I'd leave EMP where it is and substitute Veritas (which serves dinner on Sunday) for wd-50. We had a superb dinner at Veritas during the summer, and I think Chef Pugin is putting out truly fine French cuisine.

    We've not been to Gilt, but the chef left recently, so I, personally, wouldn't feel too comfortable going there right now. We haven't been to Adour either, but I have been thinking of going there, so I would choose that for your Tuesday dinner.

    Here's another possible configuration. Jean Georges is now serving lunch on Saturday. So, if you can snag a reservation (which would mean dropping brunch at Prune), you could do lunch at EMP on Monday, dinner at Adour on Monday and dinner at Veritas on Tuesday. This would allow you to keep wd-50 if it's important to you.

    Note: Presuming you are arriving here on Friday, the 16th, I just checked OpenTable and there is availability at Jean Georges for Sat. lunch on the 17th. If the time does not suit you, I suggest calling the restaurant directly because they don't put all their reservations on O.T.

    1. I would definitely keep Eleven Madison Park (not the same as GT even though both are owned by Danny Meyer). If you were choosing Gilt for Chef Chris Lee, RGR is correct that he has just left. He has moved over to my favorite restaurant, Aureole (I'm looking forward to trying his new menu!). Adour has also recently undergone a change in chef (I haven't read anything yet about the new chef).

      13 Replies
      1. re: ellenost

        RGR Thanks you just made my day. Snagged a lunch reservation at JG at 1:45 and had to move my dinner reservation at Le Bernardin at 10:15 which kinda sucks but will give me a good lapse between meals I suppose. Snagged a lunch reservation at EMP at 12:00 and now deciding between Adour and Veritas for dinner. I was able to get a reservation at Gordon Ramsay for Tuesday but out of GR and Veritas which would be your pick? WD for some reason draws me and I am still a little mixed with that one.

        1. re: cgervais45

          I've not been to WD, and I think have not really helped you with sorting out your reservations generally, but, given your interest in food, and what I've read about WD, I think you should try it.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Thanks I think it would be something "Different" and there current tasting menu looks exciting.

            1. re: cgervais45

              That is my thought - you've got lots of traditional places on your list. Did you see the Bourdain piece at WD?

              1. re: MMRuth

                No but I've heard he enjoyed very much....

              2. re: cgervais45

                Wow, quite a line-up, I'm very impressed. We just went to Veritas on New Years Eve and it was terrific. Here's my report- http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/579582

                I haven't been to Gordon Ramsey but I've heard mixed reviews, so I'd be inclined to go with Veritas though obviously you should defer to someone who's been there. Other than that, I would definitely keep EMP and JG as they are our second and third favorite restaurants in NY behind Per Se. It will be very interesting to see what you think!

                1. re: cgervais45

                  I agree with MMRuth about trying WD-50 just based on your interests. My experiences with molecular gastronomy are very limited, but I have to say that I wasn't a huge fan of WD-50. But the best meal I've ever had was at Pierre Gagnaire where molecular gastronomy is used quite a bit. Many of the more modern restaurants in NYC (eg. Per Se, Eleven Madison Park) do use elements of molecular gastronomy in some of their dishes. But WD-50 does take it to another level.

                  And Eleven Madison Park and Gramercy Tavern are really different types of restaurants though they have the same owner.

                  Sounds like you're going to get good use out of your new suit. ; )

              3. re: cgervais45

                cgervais45,

                I saw that 1:45 at JG on OpenTable. 10:15 at Le Bernardin might be late in some backwaters, but in NYC on a Saturday night, it's the shank of the evening.

                We haven't been to GR proper, but we recently had dinner at his more casual restaurant Maze, and the food was excellent. We are planning to go to GR's formal dining room but without having tried it yet, I don't fee I can do a proper comparison between it and Veritas. Tough to choose, though I'm sure you can't go wrong with either. I guess this doesn't help.... As the expression goes, so many restaurants, so little time!

                1. re: RGR

                  Well now it between Veritas for Adour for Monday night. Have you been to Adour?

                  1. re: cgervais45

                    I am a regular at Adour and have had nothing but extraordinary meals there in the last year. There has been absolutely no change since Chef Esnault left in terms of what comes out of the kitchen.

                    1. re: sethd

                      Thanks. I've always wanted to try one of Alain Ducasse and since I missed Mix in Las Vegas maybe I should hit up Adour!

                      1. re: cgervais45

                        Adour is closed and doesn't open until either January 14th or 15th.

                        1. re: sethd

                          WellI don't leave until Jan.16th...so I think I will be ok.

            2. Nothing to contribute here, except to wish you the best with some of the best restaurant choices in NYC.

              You'll be living it and I'll be rooting for you during that week!

              Enjoy.

              15 Replies
              1. re: RCC

                Ran into a slight probelm with EMP. There fully booked due to Restaurant week. But the lady said I could do the tasting menu at the bar. Has anyone have any experience with dining at the bar? Would it take away from the experience?

                1. re: cgervais45

                  I think there have been some very positive posts about doing RW at EMP at the bar.

                  1. re: cgervais45

                    Brian S did one year ago and really enjoyed it.

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/482558

                    1. re: scoopG

                      Wow thanks that helps a lot. I will arrice right at 12:00 for a bar seat. I don't care for Restaurant Week Menus, nor did I know it was Restaurant Week until today, so I will straight for the tasting menu. I just hope my GT won't be a let down due to RW.

                      1. re: cgervais45

                        All of Danny Meyer's places take RW seriously, he is one of the exceptions...its worthwhile to consider it, however, given your itinerary you probabaly want to go full bore.....i wonder if the rest of the food suffers a bit if you dont order from the RW menu? probably not but you never know....love the bar at EMP btw, great bartenders,....

                        1. re: Cpalms

                          and if your meal sucks at EMP.. go to Shake Shack in the park across the street...lol

                          1. re: Cpalms

                            I've been to both regular lunch at GT and RW lunch at GT and found no difference in quality.

                        2. re: scoopG

                          Thanks - that was what I was thinking of.

                        3. re: cgervais45

                          Interesting that you can get the tasting menu at the EMP bar for lunch. I've been told you can't for dinner.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            I asked the lady I talked to on the phone and she said I would be able to so hopefully so...if not a la carte here I come!!!!!! Kathryn I'm intertested on hearing your thoughts on my Monday reservation between Veritas or Adour or maybe you have a better pick for me.You seemed to know the NY dining seem VERY WELL and would love your input on where I should dine that night.

                            1. re: cgervais45

                              I know that you could also probably add on courses to the RW lunch at EMP, as well. They already allow diners to add on courses to their regular prix fixe lunch (2 courses for $28).

                              As for Veritas vs. Adour, I've never been to either so I can't comment as to which is better! Unfortunately.

                              You do, however, have a lot of fine dining in your schedule already...Bouchon Bakery seems to be your only casual meal, and I see a single, non-Western cuisine meal (Sushi Yasuda). Don't you need to take a break at some point? I thought you were in search of boldness and spiciness?

                              1. re: kathryn

                                Yeah I want to try and get Koi on there and also been thinkin about Degustation for my Monday night. I do LOVE spice and spice and spice!!! Recs? I've also thought about skipping GT and going to Ssam Bar....what do you think???

                                1. re: cgervais45

                                  If you like spicy, you might want to consider Devi.

                                  http://www.devinyc.com

                                  1. re: cgervais45

                                    Koi? I think you mean Ko?

                                    I love GT and I love Ssam Bar, so that's a rough choice. Do you already have a GT reservation?

                                    1. re: cgervais45

                                      Despite your comment above, I think you should skip Bouchon Bakery and go to Ssam bar.

                          2. Hi cgervais,

                            if you like to have something different (as kathryn suggested) from the almost all French, all fine-dining line up, how about substituting Bourchon Bakery breakfast to a brunch / lunch at Ssam Bar (as you seem to show interest?) Afterall, you are already hitting the best of Thomas Keller's restaurants Per Se, so why bother with Bouchon Bakery? I think it will make more sense to hit up a totally different restaurant/ chef like Momofuku.
                            Or if you want to go all out, you can try to reserve Momofuku Ko, either lunch or dinner whenever it fits your line up (which now seems confusing due to the multiple changes you made - you may want to rewrite it here).

                            For RGR: Is JG's main dining room now open for Saturday as well? I know the Nougatine room is always open for weekend, but didn't know that they have changed the schedule for the main dining room.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: kobetobiko

                              Good idea but I fell in love in Bouchon Bakery in Las Vegas. To my surprise, Jean George is now serving lunch in the main dining room on SAT. even though its not on there website nor on opentable yet.

                              1. re: kobetobiko

                                Hey, kobe,

                                As cgervaise said, it is the main dining room (Jean Georges) that is serving lunch on Saturdays. And you can reserve via OpenTable. To test it, I plugged in a Saturday date, and a reservation time appeared.

                                1. re: kobetobiko

                                  Yes - Jean Georges' formal room being open on Saturdays is a recent change. It is not reflected on their web site but it is reflected on OpenTable.

                                2. Well I snagged a reservation for KO on a saturday night at 10:00pm so that should be fun. Had to move my Le Bernardin Reservation for Monday at 9:30, kinda late but o well, and decided against Gordon Ramsay and I think I'm gonna go with Cafe Boulud since they are now doing a tasting menu. Does this sound good or should I stick for Gordon Ramsay or Adour instead of Cafe Boulud?

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: cgervais45

                                    Awesome! I think you'll have a great experience at Ko.

                                    1. re: cgervais45

                                      I would go to Adour: Two of my worst dining experiences in New York over the past 7 years were at Cafe Boulud (service was so terrible, I didn't leave a tip) and at Gordon Ramsay( my meal there in June had poorly prepared food, miniscule portions, and horrific service. You mentioned that you would like to experience a Ducasse restaurant. Although, Adour isn't as formal as ADNY, ADPA, or Louis XV, it will give you a wonderful introduction to the philosophy of one of the truly great French chefs.

                                      1. re: sethd

                                        Have you been since the new chef has been there. He was recently awarded 08 Rising star chef award which is what drew me there.

                                        1. re: cgervais45

                                          Cafe Boulud? No I haven't returned since my meal where I was so disgusted I left without a tip. What was worse, the captain picked up my bill and then commented that I didn't leave a tip. My response, I left just what you deserved. For me, lousy service at a restaurant of the reputation of either Cafe Boulud or Gordon Ramsey is unacceptable and means I will never return, regardless of change in chef or re-review by the NY Times.

                                          1. re: sethd

                                            oh my. i have experienced nothing but the best service in nyc at boulud restaurants. i am really surprised to hear this. what happened?

                                          2. re: cgervais45

                                            Cafe Boulud is one of our favs. We've been there many times for lunch and dinner, including three times since JBA '08 Rising Star winner Gavin Kaysem became executive chef. We have always had cordial, attentive and polished service, and Chef Kaysem's cuisine is superb.

                                            Note: While sethd does praise the service at various upscale restaurants, it's odd to me that he has run into serious service problems at restaurants where we have had nothing but stellar service. First, it's Eleven Madison Park and now Cafe Boulud. As for Gordon Ramsay, while we have not eaten in the formal dining room, we have had dinner at the more casual Maze, and service was faultless.

                                            Of course, any restaurant can fall down in this regard. However, it has rarely happened to us in the many upscale restaurants we've visited, while it seems to happen to sethd more often than I would have thought likely.

                                            1. re: RGR

                                              I must agree that Cafe Boulud is one of the great dining experiences in my opinion. The food is fabulous, and beautifully presented, starting with the best homemade bread and rolls I've ever had. The service is attentive without being overly friendly and professional without being haughty -- just the right balance. I guess the OP hit it on a bad day. We have left feeling simply delighted with the entire experience. I should add that at least one of these visits was a RW lunch and we were still treated like royalty!

                                              1. re: City Kid

                                                I will have to join the camp with RGR and City Kid. I have been to EMP, Cafe Boulud, Gordon Ramsay (main dining room and Maze) , and Adour. To me, the food and service were exceptional at all restaurants except for Adour. Foodwise, Adour is also the least interesting to me. In fact the best service I got (and not just one time, I do mean more than 5 times) was always at Gordon Ramsay.

                                                1. re: kobetobiko

                                                  Thanks. I enjoyed my meal VERY much at Maze last time I was in NY and have heard great things about Cafe Boulud and Veritas. Chef at Gordon Ramsay was awarded 08 Rising Hotel Chef and Cafe Boulud chef was awarded 08 Rising Chef and I know Chef Pugin will be granted next for sure so its a hard decision. I won't be back in NY for awhile so I want to catch the best....

                                                  1. re: cgervais45

                                                    I think you are relying on those Starchefs awards a bit to much...Something doesnt smell right with Starchefs, there are many conspicious absentees....Cafe Boulud is a fine place, a bit sleepy... you could do better....

                                                    1. re: Cpalms

                                                      Hi Cpalms,

                                                      I do agree with you that I don't really rely on those awards or accolates. To me, personal dining experiences are the only way to prove whether a restaurant/chef is indeed worthy.

                                                      Cafe Boulud is indeed a bit - uh, boring. The food is delicious but it is a bit for the older crowds in my view. Satisfying but not exciting so to speak. I personally prefer Bar Boulud to Cafe boulud.

                                                      1. re: kobetobiko

                                                        I prefer to describe the atmospherics at Cafe Boulud as civilized. So, if you're looking for hip with booming music, this is certainly not the place to find it. As for the clientele, a lot of the patrons are from the UES (they consider it their "neighborhood" cafe), but it is also a destination restaurant. Whenever we've been there, the crowd has been of mixed ages.

                                                        While the food at Bar Boulud is very good, it's more rustic in nature and, in my view, not on the same level as the superb cuisine at Cafe Boulud.

                                                        1. re: RGR

                                                          Hi RGR,

                                                          Not to aruge with you about the civilized part of Cafe Boulud. However, I do feel that there are restaurants that are civilized with energy (like Gordon Ramsay) which Cafe Boulud seems to be lacking. I guess may be because most of the time when I dine there, the diners are mostly 50 or 60+ elderly with a few younger couples usually with kids. Your description of neighborhood cafe is very much accurate, though in my experience it seems to attract mostly the older (and more wealthy) residents of the neighborhood.

                                                          As for food, I guess my preference to Bar Boulud is due to the fact that there is harder a restaurant than provides better charcuterie, whereas there are quite a few restaurants that provide the same types (if not better) of fine dining experiences as Cafe Boulud.

                                                          1. re: kobetobiko

                                                            Hey, kobe,

                                                            I'm not sure what exactly you mean by "civilized with energy." Perhaps, for you, it has something to do with the age of the clientele, i,e., the younger the crowd, the more energy? I can't disagree that the UES patrons who regularly dine at Cafe Boulud are those with deeper pockets, i.e., older. But, as I said, because it's also a destination restaurant, at least when we've been there, the ages have been more mixed than you've encountered.

                                                            We haven't been to the formal dining room at Gordon Ramsay yet. When we get there, I'll be interested to see how the ambiance compares with Cafe Boulud.

                                                            I agree that charcuterie puts Bar Boulud a cut above in that category. But from the standpoint of overall cuisine, service, comfort, and vibe, I prefer Cafe Boulud.

                                                        2. re: kobetobiko

                                                          I am 33 and love cafe boulud, but i totally agree with your post.

                                          3. re: cgervais45

                                            Bravo on your Ko dinner reservation! There's a recent post on eGullet that lists the dinner courses. I just had another fabulous lunch at Ko on Saturday. If by chance a lunch reservation should open up, I would strongly urge you to rearrange your alreay wonderful schedule to get the Ko lunch. Ko does lunch Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I wouldn't change your Per Se lunch reservation though.

                                          4. I have been to Veritas and loved it. It ranks as one of my best meals ever. It was several years ago but I think it still would hold up. The one negative is that it is a smaller dinning room and you do not have a lot of personal space. To me I prefer a smaller restaurant but I think it could bother some people given the price. My recommendation would be to keep Veritas on your list.

                                            1. After all of the suggestions and changes, what does your final itinerary look like?

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: michaelstl

                                                Everything is the same except tuesday is my complication. I have reservations at Gordan Ramsay, Adour, Cafe Boulud and Gilt....lol I know. Need some recs yall! Getting the Ko reservations mean I had to knock someone out.

                                                1. re: cgervais45

                                                  Me personally, I would keep Gordon Ramsay. Adour and Gilt have brand new chefs. I have always had poor service experiences at Daniel Boulud's restaurants (both DB Bistro Moderne and Daniel when it was at Cafe Boulud's current location). I had a wonderful lunch at GR about a year ago; the food was excellent, the room is beautiful, and the service was very attentive and friendly. I was hoping to go back for lunch, but they now serve only dinner in the main dining room.

                                                  1. re: ellenost

                                                    The chef at Adour is not new. He was the assistant chef de cuisine for at least the last six months. I have eaten at Adour since Chef Dennis took over the reins of the kitchen and there was absolutely NO difference in the quality of what came out of the kitchen. In addition, the pastry chef, Sandro, is superb. I would go to Adour every day and twice on Sunday's before I would return to GR. (granted, I am a lover of Ducasse's food and have eaten at Adour at least 20 times since it opened a year ago).