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May 11, 2009 09:46 AM

Hellow NYC Hounds - need some advice.

I'm making a trip back to New York to visit from friends and am trying to decide on dinner options - I don't like re-visiting places I've already been, but I had some wonderful meals on my last trip to NYC including Gramercy Tavern, Babbo, EMP, Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Otto - I've also been to Nobu and Il Mulino in the past. I also had great desserts/pastries at Dessert Truck, the Chelsea Market, and Bouchon.

All told I'll be spending 3.5 days (4 lunches/brunches, 3 breakfasts, and 3 dinners) in the city and I'm absolutely doing Jean-Georges for lunch one day and Le Bernardin for lunch or dinner on another day. I additionally plan to go to Momofuku Ssam for a lunch at some point. I've been unsuccessful in getting Ko reserves as of yet and am holding off on Per Se for a later trip (just did The Laundry in February.)

The primary intent of the trip will be museum/gallery hopping around the major museums and Chelsea galleries, and I'll be on foot/public transport, but am more than willing to travel for great dishes. I've browsed the board and narrowed down some choices, but would appreciate input.

Adour vs. Veritas vs. The Modern Dining Room vs. Daniel?

Gotham vs. Public vs. Blue Hill?

Allen and Delancey's brunch vs alternative brunch?

How does

Del Posto lunch vs. dinner vs. Fiamma

Is Una worth it?

WD-50's dessert tasting - yay or nay compared to Chickalicious?

Any other recs are greatly appreciated.

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    1. Hey, uhockey,

      Glad to here you're returning to NYC!

      Our last visit to Daniel was in the fall of '07, and there were several serious service lapses. So, I cannot recommend it at this time.

      Choosing among Veritas, Adour, and The Modern Dining Room is difficult for me because in the past couple of months, we've had superb meals at all three! One difference among the French cuisines at all three is that The Modern's menu has Alsacian influences which derive from the fact that Chef Gabriel Kreuther comes from Alsace. And, btw, he just won the James Beard Award for Best Chef NY.

      Other factors that might infuence your decision:

      Is wine a major factor for you? If so, Veritas has one of the most extraordinary lists in the city.

      What about ambiance?

      Do you prefer small, intimate dining rooms? Again, Veritas fits that description as opposed to the quite large space at The Modern and the several spaces at Adour. (If you choose Adour, be sure to ask for the main dining room.)

      Both Veritas and The Modern have very sleek, modern decor while Adour is more traditionally sumptuous though not over the top or gaudy.

      Only The Modern has a view, i.e., the museum's Sculpture Garden.

      Here's a suggestion. While Veritas and Adour only serve dinner, The Modern Dining Room is open for lunch, including on Saturday. So, you might consider slotting it in as one of your lunch options. One great thing about lunch at The Modern is that they offer the two dinner tasting menus along with several lunch menu options. Thus, if you are so inclined, you can have "dinner" at lunch.

      Our experiences at Gotham and Blue Hill are too far in the past for them to be relevant. We've not been to any other the others you've mentioned with the exception of ChikaLicious. I have no idea how it compares with with WD-50's desserts, but we've been to to ChikaLicious several times -- in fact, we were just there a few days ago -- and I highly recommend it. If you go, be sure to sit at the counter so that you can watch your desserts being prepared.

      Hope you have another great time in NYC and Bon Appetit!

      3 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        FWIW - Daniel won the James Beard award for best service.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Yes, I know. And I had a giant laugh when I heard about it. Actually, we have had good service at Daniel prior to this last time, so it's not as if they aren't capable of deserving that award. However, I know someone else who suffered with poor service there. And the serious service problems we experienced would be merely annoying at what one would consider an "ordinary" restaurant but were totally unacceptable at a restaurant of Daniel's caliber.

          1. re: RGR

            I know there have been posts by other posters about services issues there as well.

      2. > Allen and Delancey's brunch vs alternative brunch?

        Depends what you like for brunch: lunch vs. breakfast foods, etc. Take a peek at this thread.

        > Is Una worth it?

        If you are saying Una Pizza Napoletana, not sure I would go out of my way there for a special trip, but it is good, however Company aka Co. is neck and neck with it these days. And Company is open for lunch, which UPN is not.

        > WD-50's dessert tasting - yay or nay compared to Chickalicious?

        WD-50 is definitely more ambitious and experimental (and more interesting). Tailor is good also but I'm not sure they'll still be in business by the time you get here. :(

        If you liked Gramercy Tavern, I would look into Craft and Hearth. If you enjoyed Babbo and the Momofukus, I would look into Casa Mono, Degustation...

        See also this topic:

        1. Thanks to all who answered. In general I prefer to do bakeries/cafes in the morning for breakfast (Croissants, Macarons, potentially a croque madame) on days when I know I'll be having a big lunch. I know Payard from my time in Vegas and have been to Bouchon in LV, Yountville, and NYC. I've read Balthazar is excellent and heard good things about Donut Plant, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, and Two Little Red Hens - any others?

          Additionally, how is Bouley these days, for lunch or dinner (or the bakery?) I've not been to Tribeca in about 3 years and have actually never had his food.

          10 Replies
          1. re: uhockey

            I've found the best macarons to be at Payard (they're the closest thing to Laduree in NYC).
            My favorite spot for croque madame/monsieur is at L'Express.

            Bouley recently moved to a new location across the street from the old. I recommend stopping by for a drink at the bar; the space is truly outstanding.


            1. re: uhockey


              Recently, I've had very solid meals at Veritas and The Modern. They're very different experiences. Veritas is more intimate. The Modern is much more grand. If you dine at the Modern, ask to be seated away from one of the two openings to the bar; the poorly-filtered din is quite bothersome. As RGR pointed out, Kreuther's cuisine at The Modern is Asaltian-influenced. Pugin's cuisine at Veritas, on the other hand, has hints of French Basque.

              Fiamma, as others have pointed out, has shuttered.

              re: Del Posto. I had dinner there last year. It's big and splashy. The food is good, but not anywhere near the level of goodness that one expects of a place like Del Posto (especially given its prices). (See here: I would urge you to eat at the enoteca instead. It's in the same space, with its own, less expensive (in fact, the last time I looked, it was very reasonable) and more amiable menu (in my opinion).

              re: Daniel. I have been once. Four years ago. Service was poor. Food was forgettable. But, I know others who have really enjoyed their experiences (RGR, for example), and others who have not (RGR, for example). I guess what I'm trying to say is: it seems inconsistent.

              re: Balthazar. It's a scene. Don't go expecting great food. Go expecting good food. Egg dishes and anything that sounds like it'd contain more than two sticks of butter are good bets. Their caramelized banana ricotta tart is quite fantastic. So are their other baked goods.

              The best macarons in NYC that I've had (retail) are an import: la Maison du Chocolat. There are two locations. (See here:


              re: wd~50. I have been but once - three years ago. I hesitate to give my opinion on the restaurant because (a) my experience was very poor, (b) I have only been once, and, most importantly for your cause, (c) I skipped dessert (mostly because of (a).

              Finally, re: Bouley. I was there in March. To say that it was one of the most disastrous and disappointing meals I've ever had at that level is somewhat of an understatement. To be sure, most our table's whinges are about the service (well-meaning but utterly hapless). The food ranged from good to poor.

              1. re: ulterior epicure

                Your site blows my mind, epicure - I used it to plan a trip to Chicago in the past, actually - so thanks for chiming in.

                I quite like Del Posto's menu, but may consider elsewhere - looking for good Italian and was left luke-warm on my recent california trips.

                As of now, I'm thinking four lunches: Ssam, Le Bernardin, Jean-Georges, and The Modern and three dinners - potentially Del Posto (though Alto looks tempting), Picholine (I like their "Tastes of Picholine mix n' match a great deal) and either Veritas, Public, Adour, or Anthos for dinner.

                Breakfasts will likely be bakery stops - Bouchon, Momofuku Milk Bar. Perhaps Sugar Sweet Sunshine/Donut Plant. Shopsins and Clinton Street also strike me as interesting.

                1. re: uhockey


                  Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad I could help.

                  Italian: what about Babbo or Scarpetta? Or heck, even esca or Lupa?

                  1. re: ulterior epicure

                    Did Babbo last year and loved it - also been to Otto and Mozza since.

                    Lupa seems pretty tame and I've actually not looked into Esca. Scarpetta's menu did not wow me.

                      1. re: RGR

                        Alto impresses me a great deal, actually - but I don't like getting locked into a prix fixe on that menu because I'd prefer do 2-3 antipasti and some pasta/risotto than a main.

                      2. re: uhockey

                        uhockey, I am traveling to NYC and I too am looking for advice on the same exact things.

                        Scarpettas menu did not wow me either. It seems so small, basic and traditional. I asked a few friends and read into it more and it seems that Scarpettas execution is really really good. Anyhow, You should probably look into it a bit more carefully before writing it off based soley on the menu.

                        so far for italian I am looking at L'Artusi, apizz, convivio, and gradisca. All are cheaper than babbo, del posto, and esca.

                        Anyhow. I like Prune for brunch. Its very small and simple.

                    1. re: uhockey

                      Public doesn't belong on your lists. Unless you are interested in the design? I'ts just not in the caiber of your other choices.

                      Gotham vs. Public vs. Blue Hill? Not in the same league.

                      "Veritas, Public, Adour, or Anthos for dinner." Again, one of these things doesn't belong.

                      1. re: chow_gal

                        Public just interests me, that is all - while it seems less "high end" they have some unique items.

                2. Okay - here are my current thoughts. Clearly there will be some "side trips" to places (maison du chocolate, two little red hens, dessert club, payard, others) that may entail sweet breakfasts. The areas are not terribly important as I enjoy a walk, but there are days I'll be eating with friends vs. eating solo and days when I'll want to be close to museums/galleries.

                  Sun: Spotted Pig vs. Allen and Delancey for brunch. Del Posto vs. Casa Mono for dinner.

                  Mon: Le Bernardin for lunch. Alto (if I don't do Del Posto the night before) vs. Casa Mono for dinner.

                  Tue: Jean Georges for lunch. Picholine vs. Adour for dinner (eating w/ a friend)

                  Wed: The Modern for lunch. Momofuku Ssam for dinner.

                  Thoughts? Am I missing something excellent (clearly yes since your city has about 200 places I'd like to try?) Any unique snack places near any of those that I should consider?

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: uhockey

                    You mentioned above that you were hesitating about Alto because the menu is a prix-fixe. I see that you are still considering it. However, did you not find the menu at Convivio appealing? Michael White is the chef there and at Alto. His food at Convivio is a bit more rustic. The menu is a la carte though the best deal is the 4-course prix-fixe for $59, which I think you can probably shape the way you prefer.

                    Re: Alto vs. Casa Mono. These restaurants couldn't be more different, and for me, not even a question that, for dinner, I would choose Alto. Not that I don't like the food at Casa Mono. However, it's a small space, and tables are jammed together, thus making seating uncomfortably sardine-tight. Because of that, I will only go there mid-afternoon when it's much less busy.

                    Alto, on the other hand, has, in addition to delicious food, exactly the kind of civilized ambiance I prefer -- several small dining areas, understated elegant decor, comfortable seating, and a gentle noise level.

                    Re: Picholine vs. Adour. We've had quite a few dinners at Picholine over the years, and the quality of the food has varied from superb to rather disappointing. We were last there about this time a year ago. Happily, the tasting dinner we had fell into the superb category. But there is that question of consistency.

                    We just had dinner at Adour for the first time, and we were *very* impressed with the cuisine. We also had an exceptional server who went out of her way to make our experience truly delightful. There are several dining spaces, so if you decide to go, unless you don't mind where you are seated, you should request the main dining room.

                    1. re: RGR

                      I'm doing Casa Mono either way, the decision is whether to do it Sunday or Monday (and that will depend on whether I go to Del Posto which is open Sunday or Alto which is only open Monday.)

                      My "issue" with Alto is that none of the secondi look great while literally 3 pastas, 3 antipastas, and the risotto look stellar. Convivo looks okay - but if I were to choose a more casual setting like Convivo I think I'd rather the fish-based pastas at Esca.

                      1. re: uhockey

                        We've only been to Esca once, and it was a very disappointing experience,

                        1. re: uhockey

                          And, my meal at esca last year was pretty good, though the service was a bit of a downer. Their crustacea/shellfish-based pastas are excellent.


                          1. re: ulterior epicure

                            You've just made this even more difficult. :-)

                            1. re: uhockey

                              I love Esca. The crudo tasting is always so fresh and innovative. And the salt crusted branzino per due is amazing. Sort of an ugly, corporate-y space, but I like the food a lot.

                              1. re: chow_gal

                                Interesting that you mention the salt-crusted branzino for two. That's what we had for our main course. After the whole fish was presented to us, what was returned to us were two measly little filets, one on each plate. And they didn't have much flavor to speak of. There were several other aspects of that dining experience which were a lot less than thrilling, but that branzino was a major disappointment.

                                1. re: RGR

                                  We split it for three and actually the three of us still talk about it. It was just a beautiful fish, moist and elegant in its simplicity.

                      2. re: uhockey

                        I have not been to Alto, but knowing what I know about the other Italian options on the table, I would say, Alto over Del Posto, and casa mono uber alles, or, in keeping with the Italian theme here, sopra tutti.

                        1. re: ulterior epicure

                          After eating at The Bazaar in LA earlier this year I've wanted to try someone else's take on Tapas and the menu at Casa Mono is right up my ally from start to dessert.

                          1. re: uhockey

                            I haven't been to Bazaar, but if I know anything of Andres or what he is doing out there on the Left Bank, casa mono is NOTHING like Bazaar.


                            1. re: ulterior epicure

                              Actually - many of Jose's dishes out there were more straightforward than expected - the croquetta's, the iberico ham, etc. I wrote a long review here:

                              Ulterior, looking at my list (assuimg I do Casa Mono, Picholine, and Ssam as my dinners) - where would you suggest as a "CAN'T MISS" that is open on Sunday night in Manhattan?

                              RGR and Chow_gal, how about you guys?

                                1. re: uhockey

                                  Unless it's terribly inconvenient for you to do so, would you consider moving ssam bar to Sunday dinner? It's even less crowded there later at night. If so, that would open your possibilities up for your forth dinner considerably.

                                  1. re: uhockey

                                    I'm going to assume that you can't or are unwilling to move ssam bar to Sunday. Off the top of my head, the usual suspects would be (and I'll divide them into two camps):

                                    I have been:
                                    Gramercy Tavern (Tavern Room)
                                    Gramercy Tavern (Dining Room)
                                    Bar Boulud
                                    Perry Street
                                    Cafe Boulud
                                    The Modern Bar Room
                                    l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

                                    I have not been:
                                    Bar Breton
                                    db bistro modern
                                    Gotham Bar & Grill
                                    Blue Hill

                                    I can't speak for the ones I haven't been to (almost 90% of that list is on my top 10 of places I want to try), but of the ones I have been to, only one is a MUST visit: Veritas.

                                    Other than Veritas, of the ones I've been to, the two Gramercy Tavern options, Bar Boulud, and esca are the only ones that approach "interesting" as a dining destination.

                                    Bouley, wd-50, and l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon I would actively try to disuade you from. The balance I meet with indifference; they're good, but not particularly worth staking an important meal on.

                                    1. re: ulterior epicure

                                      Going to the Yankees Game with friends on Monday (barring rain) and as such a long meal does not work.

                                      Veritas looks interesting, for sure and may fit the bill. After a mediocre experience at Craftsteak Vegas I am leary of Craft, though the menu is appealing. Gotham is intersting to me, as are the Boulud options since I've never been.

                                      Having looked more into Scarpetta's menu it might fit the bill for Italian - I'm just worried given so many people saying Del Posto is a miss - perhaps Esca would indeed work - I love the look of the pasta menu, though I don't fancy the main on the tasting.

                                      1. re: uhockey

                                        Oops, I forgot to include Scarpetta on that list (of the usual suspects that I haven't been to). And that's strange, as that is towards the top of my list of places to visit.

                                        As between Del Posto and esca, esca. As between esca and Veritas - no doubt about it Veritas - by a few country miles. But Veritas will not help fulfill your Italian quota, that is for sure.