British Young Ladies Looking for Fabulous Contemporary Dining Experience
My best friend and I are visiting NYC for 4 nights in May to celebrate our 30th birthdays. We're looking to do some memorable eating out and on one night would like to have a bit of a blow out on something special.
Something special to us would probably be contemporary/modern amercian cuisine, probably involving several courses or a tasting menu, but definitely involving a wine supplement.
We've been doing our research but many places look a bit 'traditional' and we would like to cling on to our youths with something a bit cutting edge/young/trendy/uber-cool. By using these adjectives I am probably showing my age......
Budget is quite flexible as it's really the experience that matters.
Hope you can help!
Are you thinking $200 per person or together? And does that include wine?
If yes/yes, then the obvious choice is Momofuku Ko if you can snag a reservation. Go to the Momofuku website ahead of time, set up an account, then log in a few minutes before 3:00pm London time on a Saturday or Sunday 6 days before you want to go, and try to be one of the lucky few who clicks at exactly 10:00 AM (New York time) and snags a reservation. I say Saturday or Sunday because it's far easier to get reservations on those days - New Yorkers are never up that early on weekends.
Anyway, if that doesn't work out, L'atelier de Joel Rubuchon might be your next best bet in terms of atmosphere and cutting edge. Also maybe try the Modern. Ko leans a bit Korean, L'atelier a bit French, all are excellent and contemporary.
But beyond those few (and I'm sure a dozen others that other hounds will soon be posting), a word of advice: much of the best contemporary cuisine in NYC is not necessarily served in $200/person restaurants. If you don't get into Ko, for example, Momofuku Ssam Bar is, frankly, almost as good, and you would be hard pressed to spend more than $100 there. Similarly, Sushi Yasuda is probably the best sushi experience you can have in New York, but costs far, far less than Masa. Many of the best three-figure restaurants here tend toward French (Daniel, Jean Jeorges, Le Bernardin (well, French-leaning seafood)) and not exactly cutting edge as you describe it.
See, and I think the food at the London is surprisingly ordinary, and pretty stodgy. This is why we have Chowhound. I still back Atelier, for what it's worth.
As an inexpensive Momofuku alternative, I'll offer up Degustation. Same general idea of bar service, tasting menu, and a devoted following of young foodies.
The London: hard to impress me with a foie gras preparation (I love a nice piece straight, just seared), but perfectly gentle but peppy ginger, very nice, and a mild curry flavor in a lighter than air dessert souffle? fabulous!
Atelier: Vichyssoise and an Sea Urchin gelee both clearly pulled from a refrigerator and droped in front of me, too cold, flavor-boring, with over chilled gloopy texture problems, completely unacceptable. And costing a fortune. I'll give any place a pass for what seems like an off night, if they are hurried or harried. But this food was disrespectful.
Don't get me wrong, I don't run around recommending The London, it's sort of a stodgy thing I'm not looking for myself, and not particularly in tune with NYC. so I don't send people there. I had to admit, though, they did a nice job with the food.
I didn't go to Atelier till relatively recently, so I judge I probably missed the heyday.
Freeman Alley sounds right up your... er... alley. Or try dell anima.
Perhaps go to Tailor on the late-ish side, not all that pop, but you then move downstairs to their bar which is.
Maybe Blue Ribbon late then head over to Blue Ribbon Wine Bar.
You could go more upscale, but the crowd gets older. Nougatine is upscale and older, but certainly you'll feel like you are in NYC. Corton is older still, but mod and the food rocks.
Try sitting at the bar at Blue Hill.
Ko (if you can get in) is the obvious choice, or Ssam bar, where, as noted elsewhere, the food is nearly as good and the "cool" factor is very high. Telepan has outstanding modern American food with a terrific wine program with a much more sedate (but not old-person) feel; I have not been to Corton but the food is reputed to be terrific, and the wine program definitely is.
Degustation is really really excellent restaurant and a steal. If you choose to eat there, the meal will certainly feel special. I would highly recommend it, plus then you can put the extra money to good use elsewhere. For instance, the feel of Momofuku Ssam is not as special as Degustation, but it is fun/hip and the food is excellent.
I think you should also look into the Spotted Pig, Blue Ribbon, and Balthazar for more casual meals. Buddakan and Morimoto have fabulous hip-feeling dining rooms but are not as good, and Morimoto can get very expensive. You might also really like Sushi Yasuda as I hear sushi is way overpriced in Britain and not all that good. Also check out rec's for wine and cocktail bars.