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Chicago foodie visit - need lineup help

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Will be visiting NYC for the first time and very much looking forward to it. I have one more selection I need and this seems to be the hardest. The choice is not obvious, can you please advise.

So far I've picked Daniel, EMP, and Jean Georges.
I want to pass on Per Se for this visit. And I'm hesistant on Le Bernardin because I'm getting the impression from the board that it lacks a complete experience, specifically seems to be lacking in the room and ambiance.

Some options I'm considering are: Chanterelle, Gotham, The Modern.

I have a feeling from what I'm reading, I am going to love EMP. If there's another option similar to that profile, I'd be interested in that. I'm concerned the Modern and Gotham might not be in the same tier as my other choices. Please help me with my last choice. Thanks!!

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  1. Gotham is a great, true New York place -- where you get Alfred's delicious food in an environment that New Yorkers actually continue to go back to season after season. Chanterelle and the Modern are also lovely, but could exist in other cities. For your first visit to New York, spend some time eating alongside New Yorkers.

    1. The Modern is the closest to your first three choices, but it will still probably fall short. Chanterelle and Gotham aren't really on the same level.

      The issue some people have with Le Bernardin is that the room isn't particularly romantic or dramatic. While luxurious in its own right, the overall effect is rather understated and most of the visual interest comes from the teak ceiling, towering flower arrangements and French paintings adorning the walls. If you don't love seafood, then much of the food may seem overly subtle, which draws complaints from people who are unsatisfied unless they're drowning in foie gras and rich meat. If you do love seafood, then Le Bernardin can hit refined gastronomic heights that no other restaurant can quite duplicate. I think that is something unique to NYC, and L2O in Chicago, despite all of its ambition, simply can't be mentioned in the same breath yet.

      I'd recommend choosing Le Bernardin (perhaps lunch?) as your fourth meal, or dropping Daniel (it's the weakest of your initial three picks) for Le Bernardin and trying Corton. Paul Liebrandt is a very talented chef and fully capable of delivering a show-stopping meal. There are some similarities in style between Corton and Alinea, though Liebrandt has reined himself in a bit after his failed tenure at Gilt.

      5 Replies
      1. re: hcbk0702

        Better than L2O??? Wow, I have no choice now, I must go to Le Bernardin to see if this is true. If it is, I'm going to love it. Thanks for the suggestions.

        1. re: cotedor

          Le Bernardin has long been considered the top seafood restaurant in the US (and the world many say) ever since it opened in 1986. Eric Ripert has been the executive chef since 1994. His style is considerably more traditional than what Laurent Gras is doing at L2O. Here are two videos you might find interesting:

          The No Reservations (hosted by Anthony Bourdain) Food Porn episode, featuring Eric Ripert's blackout-inducing angel hair pasta in sea urchin-butter sauce with Iranian Osetra caviar. Obscenely decadent. I'm scared to ask what the extra cost would be to supplement this dish at the restaurant now.
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR9JpX...

          Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert at L2O's Tatami Room.
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG1YeU...

          1. re: hcbk0702

            Thanks for the links! I would not have thought to look on you tube, that's awesome. Ok, I'm sold. Can you speak to Daniel? You said it's the weakest and also Daniel does not seem to get much love on the board. I don't know about the food, but looks like they have put the most into their website. The dishes look amazing. Let me know if you have a better idea. L2O and Spiaggia are my favorites if that helps. Thanks again!

            1. re: cotedor

              Daniel is a great restaurant and since it recently underwent a major renovation, the dining room looks quite stunning. I guess the best analogy to Chicago would be Charlie Trotter's - excellent food, perhaps not the most interesting, but it has been surpassed by its toughest competition (e.g. Le Bernardin, Jean Georges, Per Se over Daniel in NYC, Alinea over Trotter's in Chicago). However, if you love that rustic, hearty, French country style, then you should be very happy at Daniel. The service staff is very well trained and you will be coddled throughout the entire meal.

              Ultimately though, I think Le Bernardin and Jean Georges offer something more special from a culinary perspective and I feel both are unique to NYC. And if you pay any mind to Michelin ratings (they're generally reliable at three stars, but the one star ratings seem like a complete crapshoot), Le Bernardin, Jean Georges, Per Se, and Masa have three stars, while Daniel has two. I think they got it right in this scenario. If they surveyed Chicago, Alinea would no doubt be a three star as well.

              1. re: hcbk0702

                Got it. Thanks for your help. Now I have to see if I can get into these places!

      2. Of your 3 choices I would go with The Modern- although it is certainly not in the same league as your three firm choices. I have always thought that Chanterelle is over rated and the food at Gotham good, but not great.
        Having said that, if you're a seafood lover I would certainly go to Bernardin - simply beyond compare.

        1. I love your choices or Daniel, EMP, and Jean Goerges and also happy to hear that you're going to skip Per se- I was not impressed considering the price point.

          I am surprised that no one has mentioned Gramercy Tavern as I find it to be one of NY's best restaurants. I wouldn't miss it. Gotham and The Modern are also delicous but not as good as GT in my opinion.

          Due to the fact that Daniel, EMP and JG are all quite similar in their "feel" I would also consider some of NY's greatest places that are hidden gems and have a very cozy atmosphere such as: Degustation, Momo Fuku Ssam, and Dell Anima. These will enable you to see another side of the NY dining.

          Have an incredible foodie trip in NY!