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popping the question, just need a setting

Anyone not into the relationship bits, let me simply ask this: EMP vs Jean-Georges, which would you prefer for a romantic dinner? I have been to neither. EMP has an 11-course tasting menu, which sounds like the greatest thing in the world. I take it as a given that Jean-Georges would also be fantastic. This is for 2 weeks from now, but during the week.

Now, for the rest of you - i plan on dropping to one knee before my girlfriend of 2 years on her 27th birthday. I'll ignore the ring-in-champagne-glass stuff; it'll be simple and based on words rather than pranks. I'm looking for a great culinary experience, with just a little bit of help from the ambiance. And hopefully the staff can wrangle a corner table or something. I'll mention my plan when i book.

I DONT want a place where the tables are packed together, where there's a great hum of white noise from all the people stuffed together in the feeding room, or where I can't slip out of my chair without bumping into someone. Typically that's not the case as most high-end spots, but I've been fooled before (see Toqueville, where the only thing high-end is the bill) and am going in blind.

That said, I'm looking at EMP and Jean-Georges. I wanted Per Se but I don't believe they've got a table on our evening. The places we've been in the last 6 months are out because it doesn't feel right to be going "right back" - Bouley, Daniel (lounge would have been perfect), and Four Seasons.

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  1. Several posts on engagements today. I got engaged at Montrachet (now Corton - not romantic) and celebrated my 10th anniversary there. They closed right around our divorce :)

    I had lunch at EMP recently and don't find the space romantic. Have not been to JG yet.

    Congratulations!

    7 Replies
    1. re: financialdistrictresident

      I'm with FDR and others who say that EMP is not very romantic. It's bright, a bit astringent in feel and there are far too many wait persons scurrying about filling water, bringing bread, whisking away plates for it to really feel like an intimate experience. I don't remember JG being very romantic, either, but that may have been because I've only been for a business dinner.

      If you have the ability to go outside of the city, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is a lovely experience. It's intimate, slow paced and low-key. The preparation of food is not usually as involved as at Jean-Georges or Bouley or Daniel, but it's very good and simply prepared in ways that allow the top-quality ingredients to shine through. It might still be very difficult to get a reservation in the aftermath of the Obama visit -- but it's very much worth an ask, IMO.

      1. re: cimui

        cimui, have you been to EMP for dinner? Is the room different at night? It's such a lovely lunch setting with the park outside. Service was fabulous when I went recently. I enjoy formal French service (EMP, Bouley, etc.) and understand not everyone does (FazaMonster did not indicate a preference).

          1. re: cimui

            Thanks, cimui. Apologies, missed that in your post. It's like Chanterelle. When I went some time ago for a business dinner the food was amazing but the room is a bit formal to be considered romantic.

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              Agreed, FDR! Fair question, since I didn't say, either way.

              RGR, it's interesting that you should say that Blue Hill at Stone Barns is too big to be intimate. That's actually one of my problems with EMP. The very high ceilings swallow all the warmth. At BH/SB, the ceiling is lower, tables are set further apart, and the lighting less harsh.

              I've only been to Blue Hill at Stone Barns three times in two years, but had good to very good meals, each time. I think I'd have to agree that sometimes (esp. in the wintertime) the food is not as fantastic as places I really love in the city (i.e. Modern Dining Room), but that's in part because of a style preference. All that said, in the summer, the tomatoes, alone, at BH/SB could make me cry. My taste buds are less attuned to differences in well-raised v. semi-well raised meat (i.e. really free range at BH/SB v. cage free, which I eat more frequently at home), but the difference in some of the vegetable-based dishes is astonishing. Now is a good season to go.

              1. re: cimui

                While I love EMP's soaring space and find it gorgeous, I actually agree with you that it is not romantic, and I've often said so on this board.

                Our first visit to Stone Barns was during the height of the summer produce season, so that may very well have contributed to the meal being more delicious than the one we had in May. And you are right about the sensational tomatoes. However, there are plenty of wonderful crops during the spring season. We just didn't see enough of them. When you're paying top dollar for a meal, it's not too much to expect the kitchen to create dishes without excessive repetition of ingredients. And, finally, there was no excuse for food served cold when it should be hot.

        1. re: cimui

          While I the interior space at Stone Barns is very attractive, I think it's too large to be described as "intimate."

          With regard to the food, I'm sad to say that the dinner we had there last month (our second visit) was very disappointing, especially so because our first dinner two years ago was stellar. Since the menu provided to us listed upwards of 100 possible seasonal items we might be served during the Farmer's Feast, I was shocked that so few of them showed up on our plates and at how repetitive the ingredients were. Also, I don't eat caviar and requested it be left off any dish that might include it. One of the courses was supposed to be asparagus with caviar and almonds. When the plates arrived, instead of leaving the caviar off just my plate, it was missing from *everyone's* plate! What's more, what was on the plate was a boring little clump of greens with hardly an asparagus stalk or tip to be found, and instead of almonds, I discovered one or two pistachios, while one of my table mates found no nuts at all. (Note: Since the actual Farmer's Feast meal is not a set, printed menu, we didn't find out what this course was *supposed* to be until the end of the meal when we were presented with copies of our dinner.) Furthermore, the entire table had to send one course back because what should have been served hot was practically stone cold! Inexcusable for a restaurant of this high caliber.

          Even service was below par as many of the servers were clueless as to what they were setting before and often contradicted one another.

          After such an inadequate performance, I doubt we'll be rushing back.

      2. Been to both, I'd favor EMP but both are winners. If at EMP tell them your intentions and get a nice table

        1 Reply
        1. re: msny98

          EMP is quite spacious and the corner tables are nice. The space is a bit more grand though, with the big windows and high ceilings.

          If you end up at Jean Georges, ask for an alcove table for maximum "romance" -- they're little nooks that hold tables for two. It's not romantic, per se, but I find the sheer white curtains with the lights of Central Park behind them a nice touch that softens the space.

          Neither are really romantic, but I'd give the edge to JG, just barely. The food at both is excellent though, which is more than you can say about some romantic spots around.

          1. re: Trumpetguy

            Are people here aware of the "salon room" at Per Se?

            1. re: Trumpetguy

              There have been posts about the salon on another thread. There have also been posts about preferences not to eat hunched over a coffee table . . .

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                "There have also been posts about preferences not to eat hunched over a coffee table . . .

                That would definitely be me! And add to that the considerably high cost.

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  Really? I didn't experience that. I sat on a couch overlooking Central Park South--I was very comfortable and until now, never even thought about complaining about hunching over :)

                  And the food and service were truly kind and amazing overall.

            2. I don't find JG romantic at all. It has a very white and modern feel to it. But the food is fantastic. I haven't been to EMP. However, if you're willing to go out of your 2 choices, One if By Land, Two if By Sea is considered one of the most romantic restaurants in Manhattan. It has a nightly piano player, velvet seating, and chandeliers. They regularly get marriage proposes there. So I'm sure they'll be able to accommodate any of your wishes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tastyeating

                OIBL may have what you consider romantic ambiance (it sounds overly schmaltzy to me), but one thing is certain -- it's not a good choice for anyone who cares about excellent cuisine.

              2. Great choices! Per Se is our favorite in NY with JG and EMP tied for second. I had my post-engagement dinner at EMP and we did the 11 course and it was fantastic. They gave us a wonderful corner table, overlooking Madison Park. It's a big restaurant so it naturally depends where you are sitting (as table distances from each other and views vary), but I am sure that if you tell them your plan they will make it a magical evening, as they did for us.

                That said, JG is also terrific and we've had only great meals there. I also might consider calling Per Se to see if they have any cancellations. If I was sure that one restaurant would deliver a one of a kind memory, it is Per Se. Let us know how it goes. Congrats!