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Feb 8, 2009 02:36 PM

EMP, Gotham Bar and Grill, or Cafe Boulud?

Going out next week for a splurge dinner and wanted to know which I should choose. I am dying to try to duck at EMP and have been wanting to hit up Gotham and Cafe Boulud for quite awhile now. Price is obviously not a problem. What about dress code? Are jackets required or is it somewhat dressy casual (button down shirt and jeans?) or are slacks more like it. Looking for the best food and would also like to know which offers the best portion sizes, bang for your buck so to speak.

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  1. dressy casual is good at all. Jacket not required . Ive gone to Gotham with jeans and had no problem. Gotham looked a bit run down last time i was there compared to a few years ago. The venison is the best I've had in a restaurant. EMP I find to be more formal than Gotham.

    1. Hi steakrules,

      While I will say I like the food at EMP the most among the 3 and the duck is something that I order everytime when I go for a la carte, I don't think EMP is likely to satisfy due to the smaller portion size. Unless you are going to get the tasting menu, I imagine you will have the same complaint as you did on portion size. Same applies to Cafe Boulud.

      Among the three Gotham has the most generous portion, but at the time it is my least favorite as the food is pretty boring IMHO.

      14 Replies
      1. re: kobetobiko

        Really thats surprising. Everyone says GBG is awesome.

        1. re: steakrules85

          Not exactly "everyone," steakrules. :-)) We haven't been to GB&G in a very long time, but I would definitely not describe the food we had as "awesome." It was good but not memorable. Imo, it is not in the same league as EMP and Cafe Boulud.

          I have always found portions at EMP and Cafe Boulud to be more than adequate and have never gone away hungry. However, I think kobe is right that if you are looking for *outsized* portions, à la steakhouses, then neither place will satisfy you.

          1. re: RGR

            I am not looking for "outsized" portions. However, I would like for the entree to be somewhat substantial. Most of you who have read my reviews/ posts know my opinion of Del Posto lol (RGR).

            1. re: steakrules85

              I completely agree with RGR. Just because Gotham has fresh ingredients and food is cooked up to standard doesn't equal to "awesome", at least not in Manhattan when there are so many restaurants that can deliver just about that. I found that the food at Gotham might be considered great a few years ago but if you don't improve and stay at the same stage with the rest of the food industry changing and imrpoving, I couldn't help but to feel that the food is boring now (that said, my last visit was a lunch a year ago)

              Well, if babbo and Craft are what you considered as "substantial", then again EMP and Cafe Boulud are not going to be "substantial" enough for you.

              1. re: kobetobiko

                Really? I found the EMP tasting menu more than enough food -- you'll want to try all of the bread (more than once!)! I've never been overwhelmed by Gotham -- though my last dinner there was a few years ago. Last time I was at Cafe Boulud was over 5 years ago so can't compare.

                1. re: mcporkbun


                  Please read the entire thread. I stated above that the food may not be enough unless OP choose the tasting menu at EMP.

          2. re: steakrules85

            Gotham is not what it once was. And many years ago it was "awesome". Again , it was the best venison ive had in a restaurant. However, even the decor is run down, and the food is alot duller than it once was . EMP has interesting dishes, especially the tasting menu. I do think EMP is overrated though. I wish Lutece was still in business , Andre Soltner was a Grand Chef. not too many of them around.

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              I think that since great new restaurants seem to be popping up in New York more so now than ever, a lot of these old standybys like Gotham and such lose their glamour and accolades. Mainly because they have more competition. But also because people tend to jump on the bandwagon when newer places come out. They get tired of the restaurants that have been around forever and have basically the same kind of menu over that span. I still want to try GB because it is a classic and as a foodie and as a New Yorker I just think it is one of those places we should all try to experience at least once.

              In any event what would everyone suggest instead if you believe there is better out there that GB? You kno- a restaurant that is on the same level as far as cuisine, atmosphere, price etc.

              1. re: steakrules85

                The above comments are correct: Gotham is a huge step down in ambition and quality from EMP and Cafe Boulud. There are many restaurants which are better than GB in a comparable price bracket - dinner entrees in high 30s to 40s. In addition to EMP, there's Corton, Blue Hill, Adour, Picholine, Veritas, etc, etc.

                1. re: Wilfrid

                  Thanks- See this is exactly my point. Most or all of the restaurants you mentioned are fairly new. I think a lot of GBG's "fall from grace" is due to more competition and a lot of these newer spots popping up.

                  1. re: steakrules85

                    I don't consider EMP, Blue Hill, Picholine, and Veritas to be "fairly new." Granted, two of them have had executive chef changes in recent times, i.e., Chef Humm arriving at EMP two years ago and Chef Pugin taking over at Veritas this past summer. But, for example, Picholine just celebrated its 15th anniversary, and the others have been around for 10 years or more.

                2. re: steakrules85

                  Why such a staunch defense of Gotham. Honestly, it was never that good. I went there twice, party of 4, party 8, people who mostly knew food well, we ate out together, decently often. EVERYONE thought the same thing. Food is fine, not bad, definitely not great. Better places for the same money, so why would I go back? Yes, the dishes might have been a bit staid but that is not why I didn't care for it. I rather have something completely simple that is great than some creative dish that is just that for its own sake. This was many years ago and I am certain the place has not improved.
                  Even though I was underwhelmed at 11 Mad, I would certainly take it over Gotham and I was a huge Boulud fan though I have only eaten there once with the new chef so I do not to go so crazy with kudos. For that single meal, I thought it was just a tad under what I had come to expect from Cafe Boulud but that could have happened for a single meal even under Chemel. And it was a very slight drop, no punishment.

                  So, if you are asking the masses which choice and then they all agree that Gotham is not on the level, why are you arguing so vehemently? Just go if you want to. Also note, I am not a believer in ALL OPINIONS ARE CORRECT but the case against Gotham has been laid out clearly and concisely by multiple people.

                  1. re: dietndesire

                    Hi dietndesire,

                    While we may not have the same opinions all the time, I very much agree with your assessments this time :)

                    1. re: dietndesire

                      Wow, no need to go off all crazy like that> i was just merely adding another side to the debate. I have never been to GBG and therefore wasn't defending it just adding the the thread. RELAX!