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

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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! :)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I agree with you goodhealthgourmet

          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.

                    1. re: rrems

                      thanks so much!

                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!

                  2. Lure Fishbar might work. It's vibrant, youngish, seafood centric and I've had a delightful dinner, including a bottle of Chassagne Montrachet, tax & tip for less than $125 pp.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Rmis32

                      THAT is an *excellent* idea...anyone else have a vote for Lure?

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        We haven't been to Lure.

                        Have you forgotten or scratched Apiary?

                        1. re: RGR

                          RGR, no Apiary is still in contention. in fact, given that the only availability at Scarpetta is 9:30, it's looking even better ;)

                          this would be so much easier if it wasn't for a Sunday, or if she was going to be here for more than one night!

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            We went to Apiary on a Sunday. It was busy without being frantic. We did the $35 3-course prix fixe, and everything was delicious. We were fans of Scott Bryan when he was at Veritas, so we were thrilled to be able to eat his food again.

                            Speaking of Veritas, it is open on Sunday. We've had dinner there several times since Chef Gregory Pugin took over the kitchen. Twice on a Sunday, as a matter of fact. His French-inspired cuisine is absolutely sensational! He does amazing things with fish and seafood, but every single dish we've had has wowed us. I do think that at this point, Veritas is traveling under the usual culinary radar, which is unfortunate because anyone who loves fine cuisine and hasn't been is missing out on a memorable experience.

                            http://www.veritas-nyc.com

                            1. re: RGR

                              i would have *loved* to go to Veritas but we can't get a table. i'm starting to lean toward Apiary, unless rrems comes back with a MUST-GO review for Locanda Verde.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Wow! That's bad news and good news! Bad news for you if they are totally booked on a Sunday! But good because it means word has gotten around.

                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I like Tides better than Lure. Less of a scene but cool in it's own way.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            Lure is good, I'll second that...But if you can get in to Marea, I'd go there.

                            www.thelunchbelle.com

                            1. re: LeahBaila

                              i wish! Marea was pretty much my first choice, but no luck :(

                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              I think Lure is fantastic. And the decor is sophisticated, but fun.

                          2. GHG, have you been to casellula (w. 52nd st.)? it's open sunday from 5 p.m. - 2 a.m. i've only tried a small selection of the food menu, but that small sampling was fantastic. they were able to serve me my chicken liver pate with endive instead of bread. wild boar sausage, roasted beet salad, duck confit salad are other good options. (i didn't actually check to see if the sausage was gluten free, so please ask.)

                            cheeses, esp. the cheese pairings, will make any cheese lover swoon.

                            http://www.casellula.com/menus.html

                            the atm is youngish and though many people do go for dates, there are plenty of groups there, too. it's civilized and grown up, but not stodgy.

                            the catch: they don't take reservations. if you can make it there early, around 5 p.m., you won't have a wait. later on in the evening, it's really luck of the draw. i've walked in without a wait at 7 or 8 p.m. before; i've also had to wait half an hour for a seat at the bar.

                            other possibilities include:

                            -- market table in the w. village, open 5-10 p.m. on sundays
                            -- estiatorio milos in midtown (wonderfully fresh fish, simply grilled), open 5-10:45 on sundays

                            by the way, landmarc at the time warner center is open seven days a week for dinner (and i thought the tribeca location was, too...). landmarc TWC does not take reservations for two people.

                            -----
                            Casellula
                            401 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019

                            Market Table
                            54 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014

                            Milos
                            125 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: cimui

                              cimui, thanks for the info about casellula. i'm a cheese FREAK. it's not what i'm looking for this time around because she'd prefer seafood, but i'll definitely try it sometime!

                              i'd heard some "meh" reviews of Market Table so i wasn't really considering it, and i thought of Milos, but i figured the atmosphere wasn't really what we wanted.

                              Landmarc would have been great, but we couldn't get a table at the Tribeca location.

                            2. Picholine is open Sundays. I have not been yet (have a $50 gift card thanks to a hound's post).

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                booked - i already tried. thanks, though :)

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  Did we overlook Gramercy Tavern?

                                  1. re: LBNJNY

                                    didn't overlook it, just thought the choice might be a little too "predictable."

                                2. re: financialdistrictresident

                                  Acc. to Picholine's website, they are closed on Sunday and Monday. Has that changed recently and they've not updated that info?

                                  http://www.picholinenyc.com/contact_u...

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    Thanks for the update RGR. I just Googled Picholine and hours so it's possible what came up was not accurate.

                                3. just wanted to say thanks to all for your wonderful suggestions, and for your patience with me...i know i don't make it easy ;)

                                  i think i have a solid list now, so i'll talk to her & figure it out. i promise to report back after we go, wherever we may end up!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    I think the Milos rec is brilliant...Greek restaurants typically have the freshest and most delicious fish. Consider Pylos, as well.

                                    www.thelunchbelle.com

                                    1. re: LeahBaila

                                      Pylos is ok to good, but not mindblowing.
                                      I'd go with Scarpetta, or Convivio if it's open.

                                      1. re: maggiej

                                        Agree Pylos is good and we go often (more meat and veggies then seafood choices), Astoria (Kyclades) is better. I was underwhelmed by Convivio (to be fair I've only been once).

                                  2. Of those on your available list I've been to Red Cat and The Harrison(owned by the same people coincidently)and liked them both.Although Red Cat and the surrounding area might be a livelier choice for a Sunday.My wife and I had dinner at Telepan on a Sunday night about a year ago and we both liked it very much.It's on the UWS a bit north of Lincoln Center.Good food and drinks and service.They offer a tasting menu with 3,4 or 5 courses and can get a wine selection to match each course.Not seafood centric but a good number of seafood dishes.It's a seasonal,possibly locavore type place.Mixed crowd as far as age goes.We've only eaten there once but highly recommend it based on our experience that night.It would be fairly easy to get there once you get through the Lincoln Tunnel.Completely off topic,but since you're driving in there is a website I use to find reasonable parking in NYC.It's www.bestparking.com .There may be other similar sites but I find this one very easy to use.It will tell you the parking rates in the area you want to park and also let you know about availability.It's very aggravating to find a parking garage nearby and then find out they want your first born in exchange for leaving your vehicle there for a few hours.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: TooLooseLaTrek

                                      It really is not necessary to use a parking garage on a Sunday since with Sunday parking rules, you can pretty much park anywhere, including in front of meters, which are free on Sunday.

                                      We've been to Telepan for dinner. I thought the food was very good but not as rave-worthy as some other opinions + +of the opinions I've read. urate with some of the raves I've read. I did like the ambiance, though. Understated elegant decor and very civilized.

                                      1. re: TooLooseLaTrek

                                        thanks for the input. actually, i grew up here & lived in Manhattan for many years, so i'm an expert on driving routes, locations & parking. RGR is right, i'm all about street parking on Sunday, especially during the summer when the city is even quieter.

                                        BTW, as a Lautrec fan, i like your screen name!

                                      2. Unfortunately, I have not been to most of the places on your list. However, I ate at Crispo last week and it was phenomenal. My date had the same opinion.

                                        1. How about Dovetail? Or the hail-mary and try for Momofuku Ko on Monday (to get reservations for Sunday night).

                                          1. sooo...after all the hullabaloo, we're going to Gotham B&G. don't ask.

                                            i'm actually looking forward to it - i haven't been there in at least 10 years, and i've heard a lot of really positive reviews lately. i'll be sure to report back.

                                            thanks again for being such good sports. at least now i have an arsenal of info for next time!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              see this thread:

                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/623617

                                              1. re: bigjeff

                                                thanks, i actually saw that thread a couple of days ago, and that's what made me feel a little better about the choice!

                                            2. ok, totally random thought/question:

                                              Beacon instead of Gotham B&G? they have availability at our preferred time...

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                Beacon is nothing special. Stick with Gotham.

                                                1. re: rrems

                                                  will do. thanks!