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May 14, 2009 08:33 AM

Please help me find restaurants which contrast with EMP and Degustation

Dear Manhattan Chowhounds:

A friend and I are planning a six-day trip to NYC and we're trying to organize our six dinners. One night we will be at EMP and another at Degustation. I have a broad question for the board: what restaurants can you suggest which will be good contrasts to EMP and Degustation? By contrast, I mean in terms of cuisine, atmosphere, and location. Price point is not a concern. Just to give you a little background, we have eaten at Babbo, Gotham Bar and Grill, Jean Georges, Pylos, Gramercy Tavern, Momofuku Ssam and have really enjoyed all of the meals. We would prefer not to repeat restaurants despite the wonderful meals we have had. We are also very avid cooks (one of the reasons we are going to Degustation is to watch and speak with the chefs as they prepare the food) and are trying to learn more about wine and how it pairs with food. Our list is clearly Euro and New-American biased. Both of us are adventuresome eaters. So, maybe you can suggest a good contrasting Asian/Sushi restaurant and perhaps a Latin place. We wouldn't mind trying a raucous place as long as the food is good. Thanks for your advice and I may ask further questions depending on where you lead us.

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  1. Sushi Yasuda.
    Blue Hill

    1. WD-50 would be interesting.

      Or have you considered a steakhouse, like Keen's?

      Craft is also a nice place to visit. Basically very simple cooking to high quality ingredients, contrasting to EMP and Degustation where a lot of techniques are used to transform the food.

      1. I would go with Italian, American, and/or Asian. WD-50 could be interesting but I'm not sure if you're into the whole experimental/molecular gastronomy thing. Keens is a great suggestion.

        Since you've been to Babbo already, maybe you want to stay away from the Mario Batali joints this time? Scarpetta, Alto, and Convivo all receive a lot of raves on this board.

        1. I think a good contrast to the grandeur of EMP would be Casa Mono. Cuisine, Atmosphere and Location are all different from what you'll get at EMP, but the food is exceptional.

          Casa Mono serves raciones, which are larger plates than tapas and are great for sharing. Everything on the menu is very well-prepared. My personal favorites are the sweetbreads and the Fois gras.

          The atmosphere is much more casual, and very cozy verging on cramped. if you're visiting in the summer the doors/ walls will be open and you'll get a great view of irving place (which is a nice quiet neighborhood just steps from EMP).

          They also have an excellent wine list.

          Hope you enjoy your trip.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Spends Rent on Food

            I finally got to Casa Mono. Went early, sat at the bar. Really enjoyed the food.

          2. I happened to really enjoy The John Dory (no sign outside - it's next to Del Posto behind Chelsea Market). It's a tiny little place with a great bar scene (they make some wonderful cocktails and have a nice wind list) with really funky fish-themed decor. Gets quite lively, but it wasn't by any means off-putting and we could hear ourselves just fine.

            Seafood was wonderful and they have some really interesting items on the menu (i.e., monkfish liver). Our server was knowledgable about the different type so fish - some of which I had never had before. We were all quite happy with our choice. They also offer treacle pudding for dessert!

            3 Replies
            1. re: piegirl74

              I have to disagree with your description of The John Dory as "a tiny little place." While it is far from huge, the bar is a fairly substantial size, there are two small dining areas, and there's a good size open kitchen.

              Lots of positives going for it. The funky fish-themed decor is very eye-catching. The music they play is terrific (this coming from someone who generally prefers that no music be played in restaurants). Even with the music, the noise level remains comfortable. The reception staff provides a warm welcome, and servers are very pleasant and capable. Best of all, the food is very well-prepared and delicious.


              1. re: RGR

                Maybe I perceived it as tiny because it was PACKED. We had a 6pm reservation and it was full with lots of bodies standing in the foyer from the get-go. But, the manager was lovely and sent us to the bar for a free round of drinks when he needed to clear our table (we were in the cozy back room just taking our sweet time lingering over dessert crumbs).

                And I also didn't mean to imply that tiny is bad. Degustation is one of my fave places in the city, and it's pretty "tiny", too.

                All this food talk has made me hungry!

                1. re: piegirl74

                  I agree that tiny does not necessarily equal bad. We arrived around 11:30 p.m. Not packed at that hour, but all the tables were occupied, so we had to wait about 10 minutes before being seated in the front room. Though we were the last to finish, we were not in any way rushed. The staff there is terrific!