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Feb 26, 2009 04:08 PM

Feeling spendy (French) and no reservations

(Another question from a previous post of mine.) My best friend is coming to town tomorrow and we're looking to have a rock star meal. Problem is, no reservations. Nor do we actually like to make reservations. (I know, I know - pain in the neck!)

We're going to pass by Le Bernardin on the early side to see if we get lucky with timing for seats at the bar (I didn't realize it was so small). If not, where else should we try? Preferably somewhere high end with a sizable bar or a place that is known to hold a few tables for walk-ins. What about Bar Boulud? Is the bar at the London big? We really just want a bottle of champagne and a couple courses and to enjoy some really great service.

Bonus question: we're going to be in the LES on Saturday, open to recommendations for lunch and/or an early dinner/nosh. Thinking Degustation or maybe the Ssam bar or one of the speakeasy-ish places.

We'll probably do brunch at No. 7 in Fort Greene on Sunday (it's in my 'hood). Though might consider brunch in the city...

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  1. I think Eleven Madison Park would be a good place to do a walk-in tomorrow evening because it is so big and has so many tables. (Out of curiosity, I just checked OpenTable and no sweat getting a reservation for two.) If you prefer to dine at the bar, there is lots of seating there.

    In answer to your questions....

    Bar Boulud has both bar seating and a community table. I think getting a seat without a reservation would depend on when you go. My guess is that if you go after 8 p.m., when the pre-performance diners have departed for Lincoln Center, you'd stand your best chance.

    The bar at the London is fairly long. Maze, Gordon Ramsay's more casual restaurant, is contiguous with the bar area, and you might be able to score a table there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      great tips - these were all places I was thinking about for a backup plan. My friend gets into town at 6:45 and we were going to head out asap and see what works.

      1. re: MB fka MB

        Veritas is another restaurant you should consider. Chef Gregory Pugin is putting out superb French cuisine. If you can't get a table, there is bar dining.

        re: LES on Saturday. Katz's is always a great choice.

    2. Le Grenouille has consistently good French, Jean Georges is my place of choice and if you go early you can get in without reservation. Im pretty sure Degustation is not open for lunch. If you want a French lunch in that area try Lucien on 1st ave. Soba ya has good lunch. Not sure if le Toque ever opened in NY they were supposed to their place in Montreal is great.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodwhisperer

        I must say I agree with everything except I really dislike Lucien. Just subpar food that survives on buzz and a great location IMO. And it may be a little beyond your area of interest but Ippudo should be good for an off-hours nosh. Just avoid goiong at mealtimes cause the waits are ridiculous.

      2. For Degustation, it will be difficult to get in without reservations because it only has 16 seats. Unless you are willing to wait or if you do go early (like 6-ish).

        I am pretty sure you can get into EMP (main dining room) without reservation. By the way, the food at the bar is also amazing, but it's more like small plates and you can't order from the dinner menu there.

        Ssam Bar or Noodle Bar is perfect for lunch.