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11 Madison Park, Nougatine, or Gramercy Tavern???

One night. My only fancy dinner in the city. Those are my 3 options, no other choices - what's the consensus hounds?

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  1. Nougatine is not at the same level of EMP or GT. What's your personal preference? Some more grand or something more farm-to-table?

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      My preference is for the best, most memorable food. Fancy does not matter at all, I'm sure all of these places are nice. I've eliminated GT as the menu does not excite me.

      1. re: OC Mutt

        As you can see by my repvious post, good decision to eliminate G.T.

        Even if "fancy" does not matter to you. there really is no comparison between the food at Nougatine and EMP. While Nougatine's is fine, EMP's is sublime!

      2. re: kathryn

        @kathryn: I'm a bit confused by your question. Which restaurant in that threesome are you attempting to associate with "farm-to-table?" I'm reading Nougatine, but I somehow suspect you mean Gramercy Tavern.

      3. Regulars on this board know that EMP is our #1 favorite NYC restaurant, so for me, it's no contest. It has the whole package. The cuisine is exquisite, the wine program is excellent, service is cordial and polished, and the room is gorgeous!

        Now, aside from that, as kathryn indicates, Nougatine is not the place for a "fancy" dinner. (That's the bailiwick of the flagship, Jean Georges.) And I cannot recommend Gramercy Tavern because the meal we had in the dining room a few months ago was sorely disappointing. My first and main courses were ill-conceived and unappealing. My husband pronounced the dishes he chose "decent but unexciting." No complaints about dessert, but that hardly redeems the rest of the meal.

        1. EMP without any hesitation. My sister and I (last week) had a wonderful dinner. We had the 11 course Gourmand menu (it took 4 hours -- very well spaced pauses between courses). But even if you don't have 4 hours for dinner, the regular menus are wonderful too! Very attentive service; great wine list.

          4 Replies
          1. re: ellenost

            OK, sounds great - what's the dress code at EMP? I know it says Jacket suggested, but what's the least fancy one could get away with and not feel as out of place as a clown-suit at a board meeting?

            1. re: OC Mutt

              Where does "it" say, "Jacket suggested"? The EMP website says the following: "We ask that you wear proper attire. No shorts, t-shirts, or sneakers are allowed." Ergo, you can dress casually. Even a nice pair of jeans is quite acceptable.

              1. re: RGR

                You're right. I got the "jacket suggested" from OpenTable.com when I made the reservation, and just assumed it was on the website.

                1. re: OC Mutt

                  I thought that OpenTable might have been where you saw it. Well, you know what they say about "assume"... ;) In any case, you will see a range of dress at EMP from jacket and tie to casual shirt and nice jeans.

                  Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

          2. Just had a FABULOUS meal at EMP last Tuesday for my husband’s birthday. I think both of our expectations were exceeded, we loved it. We chose the 3 course pre-fixe menu but literally, it ended up being 9 courses because of all the amuse bouches, intermezzes and petit fours. The food was sublime, the service was very attentive and professional but not overbearing, and the room is very grand indeed. We requested a romantic table in the back which was perfect for a more “intimate” birthday celebration. We had a wonderful time and were there for almost 4 hours! Also, don’t be afraid to take advantage of the byob for the $35 corkage fee if you have a special bottle lying around. It was worth it. Enjoy every moment, you made the right choice!

            PS My husband got the duck and I got the beef which were both outrageous.

            1. I'll be the dissenting opinion and say that i much prefer Nougatine to EMP, from a food perspective. I guess Nougatine isn't as "fancy" as EMP, but at least in my experiences there, it's not a slouch either and the space it self is beautiful.

              t's not that EMP was bad, but I loved the dishes I had at Nougatine, whereas at EMP, I walked away saying good, but not great. Like the much discussed duck, which almost everyone else seems to love, was really good, but nothing I'd rave about to others.

              again, just an opinion, which i know many will disagree with...

              1. Having eaten at all three, I would say EMP over Gramercy over Nougatine. Gramercy and Nougatine are at a similar level but both are far below EMP when it comes to creativity and taste.

                Having been away from NYC for a few months, I find myself thinking about EMP often. This is the first time I thought of my meals at Gramercy or Nougatine.

                1 Reply
                1. re: nmprisons

                  Thanks Hounds! I have a reservation for EMP. I'll of course report back.

                2. WAY belated follow up. Sorry hounds. I did in fact eat at Nougatine for lunch, and Eleven Madison Park for dinner during this trip. I went to Nougatine and tried their prix fix menu for lunch, and it certainly lived up to the hype as one of the best bargains in the city. I started out with a prawn salad with champagne vinaigrette, which had the surprise of being creamy. The prawns were sweet and perfectly cooked. The greens crisp and flavorful. Followed that up with a seared snapper with carrot ginger vinaigrette. It was prepared with absolute perfection – served piping hot, moist, with a wonderful seasoned crisp patina. However, as a taste note, I didn’t care for the flavor of the vinaigrette. However, I could tell that someone who’s palate favored that combination, would have found it spectacular. It was still good, but I wouldn’t order it again. The dessert was a strawberry meringue cake, which was like an IMAX 3D showing of strawberry flavor. Perfection. The service, it should be mentioned, was also perfection. This is clearly a top notch establishment from soup to nuts, even though they consider it the “more casual” alternative to Jean-Georges. It is far more than that description, it is a true gem.
                  At EMP, I went a la carte. I had the Hawaiian Prawns Roulade with Avocado, Lime and Yogurt to start. It was absolute perfection. Every element of the dish stood out in terms of flavor, texture and culinary execution. The avocado was like silk, the prawns sweet, crunchy and yet perfectly done and the lime yogurt added the perfect amount of counter balance. For the entrée, I chose the Nova Scotia Lobster Poached with Lemon Verbena and the Flavors of Ratatouille. This dish was sublime. I’ve had a lot of lobster in my life, and cooked a lot of it as well, so I know how difficult it is to cook it properly. This was the essence of lobster flavor with sweet flesh and perfect texture as well as the perfect hot temperature – which isn’t easy considering it was de-shelled. The lemon verbena put the entire dish over the edge with a silky understated but still present lemony taste – like summer on a plate. My dining companion had the vaunted suckling pig, and it was crispy, sweet, salty and of course nice and hot temperature wise (this is a big deal because serving hot food even at the finest establishments is not always a given, even though it absolutely should be). I had never experienced anything like it, and the bing counterbalanced the pig with a fruity, tart, and slightly sweet element, while the chanterelles added an element of luxurious earthiness. As thrilled as I was with the lobster, I would’ve eaten all of the suckling pig as well, if somehow the opportunity had arisen.
                  Dessert was the perfect ending to the meal with a free tasting of mini-French-style-macarons. When the waiter asked me which flavors I’d like to try, I replied “all of them?” He happily obliged. I also ordered the famous Chocolate Peanut Butter Palette Caramel Popcorn and Popcorn Ice Cream. It was top notch, and as a fan of the salty sweet combination so popular today, this was right in my wheelhouse. I should mention that the service was superior, but my only criticism would be that it was a bit too proactive for my tastes. However, I’d rather have someone err on the side of exhuberance than apathy. Finally though, I should also tip my proverbial hat to the presentation. The room might have been one of the most spectacularly perfect spaces I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. Every single design element was executed flawlessly. The food was also art in itself, each dish, including surprisingly the suckling pig, was virtually a piece of art in itself, practically commanding to brain to desire what it saw on the plate. Eleven Madison Park deserves every one of its many accolades and I hope that it is around for years to come. It’s expensive, but certainly not as expensive as plenty of other places, and but it’s one of those rare places that’s worth every penny.

                  Eleven Madison Park
                  11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

                  1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: OC Mutt

                    Thanks so much for your detailed report. I am going to have lunch at EMP on my upcoming trip and I can't wait!

                    1. re: atjsfo

                      I posted a review of my EMP lunch recently as well if you can find it - it was fantastic!

                      1. re: uwsister

                        uwsister, I found your review and it turns out I had already read it! (i've been trying to do my homework). Sounds absolutely fantastic, and I love the fact you tried a little of everything on the dessert (tart) cart. Is that a standard option or did you ask for that special?

                        for anyone else who wants to see the review, here it is:

                        1. re: atjsfo

                          They will gladly give you as many selections from the tarts cart as you wish.

                          We just had lunch for the umpteenth time at EMP last Thursday. Photo of that lunch, including the tarts cart, can be viewed here:


                          1. re: RGR

                            RGR: good to know about the selections of the tarts since there are two that I'd like to try (lemon meringue and strawberry shortcake) now I can have both!

                            1. re: ellenost


                              The lemon meringue is currently not on the cart. It's been replaced by the more seasonal apricot frangipane. However, once the summer ends, there's a good chance they will bring the lemon meringue back.

                              I had the strawberry shortcake in June. It happened to be the first day it was on the cart. Divine!

                              Strawberry Shortcake photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                              1. re: RGR

                                What a bummer! I was looking forward to the lemon meringue (especially since I don't like apricots--never met an apricot that I liked). I guess I'll stick with the strawberry shortcake--better for my diet anyway. Your photo of the strawberry shortcake looks wonderful! Thanks for letting me know.