Eleven Madison Park or Gramercy?
I am looking for a restaurant to celebrate my birthday in Feb.. I have always wanted to try EMP but am concerned about reviews that say the waiters' fussing detracts from the atmosphere. I have been to Gramercy before, but not with chef Michael Anthony. I like the intimacy of the dining room as well as the food. Looking for great food and preferably not a pretentous atmosphere. While presentation is important, I don't want miniscule portions. Other suggestions are welcome.
When I've dined at EMP, I've noticed that I don't notice the "waiters' fussing" but more the insane number of busboys and the like walking around, filling up water glasses, presenting bread, etc. But I found it to be a very, very minor distraction that I soon forgot about. The food is excellent and I never found it pretentious but I have noticed that some people don't like the room's high ceilings and "lobby"-like architecture. I've never minded it.
As for GT, it definitely skews more rustic. And Chef Anthony's food is great, the atmosphere is unpretentious, and the portions are definitely on the generous size. Note that the formal room books up about 28 days in advance! Whereas EMP is less in demand (and is also more expensive).
My thoughts on EMP vs. GT