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OK, Manhattan hounds, i *really* need your help!

i just found out that a dear friend is coming into town from Atlanta in a couple of weeks for one night, and she wants to have a memorable dinner out. she requested Le Bernardin, and i would have been happy to oblige...but as it turns out, unfortunately it's going to be a Sunday evening.

so, now that Le Bernardin is out (as are Per Se, Corton, Daniel, etc.), she said she'd be happy with a place that's somewhat hot/trendy/hip, but still with cuisine that gets the CH stamp of approval - with all the great restaurants in ATL, she appreciates good food.

despite the large number of places that are closed on Sunday or already booked for that night, the choices are still a bit overwhelming. so i'm hoping you'll all help me choose, perhaps throw me your best suggestions.

a few guidelines:
- cost: maximum food tab $125 pp (not including drinks).
- location: preferably west side from midtown to Tribeca, though Gramercy & Central Village would be okay, and EV is possible if it's *really* worth it (we're driving in from Edgewater, NJ so easy access from the Lincoln Tunnel is a major plus).
- seafood-heavy menu a plus, as is sustainable/locavore/[insert buzzword here] mentality
- no pasta-centric places as i'm gluten-free (Italian is fine, but if the best items on the menu are pastas, it's out)
- no strictly vegetarian places
- no BBQ
- i'd consider sushi, but 15 East was my first choice and it's not available
- vibrant, young-ish environment preferable to romantic or stodgy (we're single, thirty-something women)

some of the places i instantly considered but that are either closed or booked:
- Blue Hill
- Marea
- Olana
- Cru
- Dell'Anima
- Landmarc
- Jean Georges
- The Modern
- Alto
- Anthos
- the Momofukus

considerations that are available:
- Crispo
- Scarpetta
- Red Cat
- Apiary
- Table 8
- Perilla
- Del Posto
- The Harrison
- Cookshop
- Five Points

what to do??? thoughts on the current list? other/better suggestions? help!!!

BTW, it's 10 days away, so i *really* need to make a reservation ASAP.

TIA!

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  1. nothing?

    you guys are killing me...

    oh, and i completely forgot to add - Locanda Verde is at the *top* of the list if we can get a reservation.

    1. Crispo, eh. A good value, lively and noisy to be avoided on weekends. To be fair, I have only been once. Perilla is good. The Harrison I need to get back to, had a disinterested server and eh dishes accept for one. Have been reading good things from hounds and need to check out the Harrison again.

      Liked Olana, Cru and The Modern Dining Room (its been awhile).

      What about Robuchon (in a hotel) or Falai (one of my favorites and we're going Friday night to check out the spring menu)?

      Gordon Ramsay? EMP? Chanterelle? Degustation? Sundays are tough . . .

      9 Replies
      1. re: financialdistrictresident

        I would tout you off of Del Posto. Many courses waiting for good food that never came

        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          fdr,

          The Modern Dining Room and EMP are closed on Sunday.

          1. re: RGR

            Thanks, RGR. You saved goodhealthgourmet some research :)

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              actually, i don't like EMP - i've been there a few times & never been impressed - and The Modern was already on my list of "considered but closed." but i appreciate the help from all of you! :)

          2. re: financialdistrictresident

            unfortunately Olana, Chanterelle, GR, Degustation & Cru aren't options (all are closed or booked).

            i didn't consider Falai b/c it's a little farther than i'd like (either East or far downtown is ok, but i'm trying to avoid both...)

            Sundays suck for dining out!

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              goodhealthgourmet, I know you don't want to venture to LES. That said, what about restaurant row on Clinton - WD-50 is open Sundays . . .only caveat, I have not been and it was too out there for one of my friends.

              www.WD-50.com

              What about Annisa? Very good but not a wow, IMHO. Open Sundays:

              www.annisarestaurant.com

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                Annisa is definitely an option i overlooked, but i can't seem to find any info about the current tasting menus - they haven't updated their site since last Fall. i'll see if i can dig up something.

                we're not considering WD-50. if she wants molecular gastronomy, she'll eat Blais' food in ATL ;)

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Annisa was very good. A friend gave me a gift certificate. I like Falai, Robuchon, The Modern (awhile ago), EMP (not your thing) better.

                  Bouley (awhile ago) over Blue Hill (I have not been and have no desire to go).

          3. From your list...

            I found the food at Red Cat to be just o.k. Cookshop's food was a sore disappointment, service was slap-dash, and the noise level was unbearably high.

            Apiary has the huge advantage of having Chef Scott Bryan in charge of the kitchen. The food he is serving, while more rustic in style than what he was doing at Veritas, remains delicious. Service was excellent, the contemporary decor is attractive, and the crowd tilts younger.

            A restaurant that is not on your list, but which I suggest you consider is The John Dory, on 10th Av., b/t 15th & 16th Sts. (very easy access from the Lincoln Tunnel.) While not on the level of Le Bernardin, the fish and seafood is excellent. Service is friendly and efficient, the fish-themed decor is appealingly kitchy, and the overall ambiance has a trendy feel (mostly young crowd).

            http://www.thejohndory.com

            3 Replies
            1. re: RGR

              RGR, i really appreciate the detailed thoughts. i'm wary of The John Dory. i know April Bloomfield is a talented chef, but her decidedly British style of cooking is a little too heavy for my tastes. but i'll strike Red Cat & Cookshop from the list. thanks!

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Goodheath - have you eaten at Red Cat? I actually think their food is very good and definitely seafood centric. They have a reasonable wine list and the vibe is good in there. That said, with your friend's initial choice of Le Bernardin she might be looking for something super top notch.

                I may get crucified for this, but I really enjoyed Buddakan and they are open on Sunday. Have you been there? If you go, request to sit in the beautiful downstairs dining room.

                1. re: LBNJNY

                  i wouldn't crucify you for the Buddakan suggestion...atmosphere-wise it's not a bad idea. but i'd rather take her someplace she can't go in any other city.

            2. I think Scarpetta is the best one on your list. We will be going to Locanda Verde tomorrow and I will report after. You should also consider Bar Blanc. It attracts a younger, trendy clientele, is open on Sundays, and the food is excellent.

              5 Replies
              1. re: rrems

                rrems, BTW how is Bar Blanc Cafe since I have still not been yet? Apologies if you have already answered this and my aging mind forgot :)

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  Yes, I have answered. Maybe you will find it if you go back through my posts, but basically I said the food quality has not changed, though the regular menu is now smaller and they have a lot of daily specials, and they have added the bar menu which I have not tried.

                2. re: rrems

                  please do report back about Locanda Verde. reviews thus far have been positive, but the more CHers who give it the thumbs-up, the better i'll feel about it. that and Scarpetta are definitely 2 of the front-runners.

                  i forgot about Bar Blanc - might be a consideration.

                  thanks!

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Sorry that it is so late I can only give a brief report, but we were very happy. The 4 of us had appetizers, pasta, mains and desserts, and everything was delicious. Highlights: prawns, tripe, special pasta orrechiete with rabbit sausage, veal cheeks, porchetta (superb!), raspberry pistachio cake. Great obscure wine from Calabria for $40. Service is excellent, unobtrusive but attentive. A bit crowded and noisy but definitely young and trendy.

                3. Blue Hill has a 10pm reservation on Sunday the 14th. Maybe consider Bouley and as already suggested Bar Blanc

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: misnatalie

                    thanks - the Blue Hill res is a little too late as she has an early meeting on Monday.

                    maybe i can convince her to sacrifice sleep in the spirit of Chowism ;)

                    Bouley could be a possibility.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      The new Bouley is wonderful! I had a great dinner there in February, and everything was perfect!

                      1. re: ellenost

                        great to know, Bouley just moved into the top three :) thanks!