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Daniel, Aureole, Craft, or L'Atelier de JR for a bday date

Boyfriend's birthday is fast approaching...he narrowed down to these above selections for this year. Aureole and Daniel stick out as the two I've been most interested in. Aureole appears comparable to Picholine - a real favorite of mine- traditional, romantic, cozy, decadent.
I've been to Craftbar numerous times (though admittedly never Craft) and have been underwhelmed each time, but birthday boy enjoys CB and, more importantly, loves Tom C unconditionally. L'Atelier seems to have had more hit or miss reviews in my reading, so I hesitate....

What would you brilliant CHers say would be the pros and cons of each choice, and if you were narrowed down to these four, which would you pick?
Thanks as always!

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  1. I highly recommend Aureole. They have a new chef, Christopher Lee (formerly from Gilt); food is excellent! Service is (as always) flawless. I've been to L'Atelier, and I was underwhelmed and it can be very expensive (I even met Joel Robuchon the night I was there). Never been to Craft (I'm also a big fan of Tom C). Strong dislilke for all of the Daniel restaurants--I've had horrid snooty service at two of them (won't waste my money there anymore).

    1. Except for the style of the room, there's really no comparison between Craftbar and Craft. The former has never been quite the same since Akhtar Nawab left and they moved to Broadway. Craft, OTOH, still dishes out the same hearty, flavor-full, relatively simple fare they've always have. However, aside from the price (and the calories), I've always felt there's not much "luxe" about the Craft experience. It's definitely more of a casual (and less "romantic") evening than, say, Daniel. Ellenost's endorsement of Aureole is intriguing; maybe we'll check them out in their new place. Had a great time at L'Atelier at the counter, but they've had a chef change since then.

      1. Daniel, never had a problem with snooty service. There's a reason it's **** and not any of the others; the total experience from food, service, and decor, is flat out fantastic.

        1. Without having eaten at Aureole or Craft, but having dined at Daniel last week, I simply cannot imagine a better choice than Boulud's flagship. I'm about to post about our experience with the food (flawless), but want to address ellenost's comments about the service. We were treated impeccably: my sister, father, and I had an early reservation before the theatre and service was paced perfectly. The sommelier (French -- and fresh off the boat, by his own admission) and our head waiter (Bosnian) were playful, informative, and appropriate. Of course, there were also legions of waitstaff in supporting roles effortlessly enhancing our experience (A stool for my handbag? Why didn't I think of that! Would I like to try another variety of bread? Goes without saying! Who filled our water glasses?). My mom couldn't attend the dinner and the staff printed and wrapped a special copy of the menu to take to her. The two of you will be delighted by Daniel. Enjoy.

          1. I have been to Aureole (too long ago to be helpful) and L'Atelier . . .Both my experiences were excellent, though I preferred sitting at the bar. I can't remember if we went late last year or early this year, so maybe another hound has a more recent experience to share. I will probably skip dessert the next time I go and a hound's suggestion to order ala carte was the way to go.