HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
What have you made lately? Tell us about it
TELL US

Planning Meals for New York in December: La Grenouille, Craft, Jean Georges.. so many to pick from and not too many days!

eviemichael Sep 20, 2009 05:48 AM

Hello everyone! My boyfriend and I just booked tickets at the Waldorf in NY from Dec 26-28th. We will be in the States over the holidays from Greece, and will visit NY for a few days from my parents' house in DC.
We are definite foodies, especially me. :) We both love French food, a great steak, and I would ideally like great atmosphere along with the food.
I know I'm planning far in advance, but I can't help it, I'm excited! :)

Here's my gameplan so far:

Day #1
Lunch- Jean Georges (are there different dining rooms, and if so, which one should we ask for?- I've read here that there are different ones)

Dinner-La Grenouille

Day #2

Sunday Brunch with a small group of friends at either Balthazaar or Pastis

Dinner-Craft or Wolfgang Steakhouse

Day #3

Lunch- Eleven Madison Park

Also- Sunday night wed love to go to a great jazz club- any great restaurants near to great authentic jazz clubs?

I am pretty dead set on La Grenouille but open to suggestions about replacing others...

Thanks! the info on the board is so helpful in researching!!

Evie

www.emambrosia.wordpress.com

  1. g
    Gigi007 Sep 20, 2009 06:04 AM

    Hey Evie, on day #2 why don't you replace Craft/Wolfgang Steakhouse with Keen's or Peter Luger? That would be my #1 suggestion as both Keen's and Luger's are head and shoulders above your original choices if you're looking for a great NYC steakhouse experience.

    Hope this helps.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Gigi007
      eviemichael Sep 20, 2009 06:11 AM

      Thanks! Yeah I was considering Keen's as well. I know we can get great steaks in DC. I might replace a steakhouse in NY altogether with eating at Balthazar that night, a few friends of mine speak very enthusiastically about the duck shepherds pie and fun cocktails. :)

      1. re: eviemichael
        g
        Gigi007 Sep 20, 2009 06:15 AM

        If you're going to DC you can find great steaks but not the NYC steakhouse experience (I'm actually in DC) and really nothing comparable to Keen's or Luger's. In DC I recommend Bourbon Steak or Ray's. As for Balthazar I usually go there for brunch and always enjoy it. Personally I don't think the dinner menu there is worth it. You have so many other options...especially if you like French (Per Se, Le Bernardin, Daniel, etc.). Can understand your wanting to go to La Grenouille. I've always liked it.

        1. re: Gigi007
          eviemichael Sep 20, 2009 06:22 AM

          Ok! Then maybe ill go to Balthazar for brunch and Keen's sunday night!
          I'd love to go to Le Bernadin, but I'm not sure my guy would like it...he doesnt usually eat seafood unless its summertime. :-/
          Have you been to Jean Georges? I want to go b/c the lunch deal is so great, but the reviews seem so mixed.

          1. re: eviemichael
            g
            Gigi007 Sep 20, 2009 07:41 PM

            Balthazar for brunch and Keen's for dinner would be a great plan. As for Jean Georges, I've been to Nougatine, the casual dining room for brunch and it was very good, but based on others' recommendations for Jean Georges' main dining room (including posters on this thread), I think you should go there for lunch.

            And if you're really into French, you might squeeze in Per Se or Daniel, if you don't want to do Le Bernardin. For a casual option,I like Pastis too, but it's a lot like Balthazar and is more French-American than French.

            Hope this helps. Let us know how you make out and if you need more advice.

            1. re: eviemichael
              s
              sis2catbat Sep 23, 2009 10:20 AM

              For what it's worth, was at Keens last week (we chose it over Luger's) and the service was horrible. Maybe because we weren't a table of frat boys, rock stars, or Wall Streeters, but whatever.

              1. re: sis2catbat
                g
                Gigi007 Sep 23, 2009 10:26 AM

                Sorry to hear that. It must have been an off night. I've always had great service at Keens but not at Luger's (whose gruff, unfriendly service some people actually describe as "charming" LOL).

                1. re: sis2catbat
                  r
                  RGR Sep 23, 2009 11:48 AM

                  We definitely do not fit the description of frat boys, rock stars, or Wall Street tycoon, and we have never had anything but pleasant, efficient service at Keens. Perhaps you could give us some specifics as to where your service fell short.

                  1. re: RGR
                    s
                    sis2catbat Sep 24, 2009 10:47 AM

                    Happily. The service was attentive until our meal was served. Never saw the waiter again voluntarily. He never checked with us during our meal to see if everything was to our liking or if we needed more drinks (which we did) or condiments, et cetera. We had to flag him down for dessert menus, and when he didn't return in a timely manner to take our dessert orders, we had to again flag him down for the bill. If it weren't for the busboy, we would have had to take leftovers home in a napkin.

                    Keens food was fine, but such lax service is inexcuseable and detracts from what could have otherwise been an enjoyable experience. Very disappointing.

                    1. re: sis2catbat
                      r
                      RGR Sep 24, 2009 11:06 AM

                      Thanks for the details, sis. Being ignored in that fashion shouldn't happen in a cheap spot, let alone one of NYC's premier steakhouses. Inexcusable! As I said, we've only had first-rate service, but if what you described happened to us, we'd have had more than a few words with one of the managers. And we'd show our displeasure by severely limiting you tip. I hope you at least did the latter!

                      Btw, it does happen to be the busboy's job when clearing the table to take care of having any leftovers wrapped.

                      1. re: RGR
                        s
                        sis2catbat Sep 24, 2009 11:18 AM

                        Thanks, RGR. I understand the busboy's functions; just making a point that his face shouldn't have been the only one we saw after our meal was served.

                        And, yes, the shoddy service was indeed reflected in the tip. T'was the least we could do. And, of course, spreading the word on Chowhound makes me feel better too ;)

                        We had such a wonderful five days dinner-wise (review to come) in NYC last week, it was such a shame Keens made the bottom of our list after all the wonderful things we had heard about it.

        2. hcbk0702 Sep 20, 2009 02:18 PM

          For Jean Georges, book the main dining room. The casual dining room is called Nougatine and it's essentially a separate restaurant. IMO, JG is the best lunch deal in NYC and Jean-Georges' style is unique, fascinating, and all his own. JG generally gets very positive reviews, so I'm not sure where you're reading the mixed ones from. Definitely a must visit. Lunch at EMP is a great value as well, so keep both on your itinerary.

          Honestly, I'd really skip La Grenouille. It's sort of an anomaly and a culinary dinosaur. You can find much, much better French food at much more highly-regarded places all around the city, but if you're dead-set on getting old French classics, then I suppose this would be the place to get them. I think you can do a lot better though. As the poster said above, places like Le Bernardin and Per Se (EMP and JG as well) are so far ahead of La Grenouille that the comparison is moot.

          If you want a steak dinner, then Peter Luger's is worth the short trek out to Brooklyn. If you haven't been, I'd say it's a requisite visit. The servers are rather gruff, the decor is sort of laughable, most of the side dishes are forgettable, and it's cash only. BUT when their porterhouse is on (and I mean really on), there isn't a better steak in the country. Keens is a good choice if you want to stay in Manhattan, but I'd opt for the famous mutton chop instead of the steak. Craft is a great restaurant too, but I wouldn't go there for steak.

          1. r
            RGR Sep 20, 2009 03:47 PM

            Hey, Evie,

            I applaud your decision to go to La Grenouille. It had been on my "go to" list for a long time, and we finally went there in May. Of course, it isn't anything like Eleven Madison Park (our favorite NYC restaurant), Jean Georges, or any other "modern" French restaurant. And that's the beauty of it! It is the last of the Grand Dames of French haute cuisine, a throwback to a different dining style, and I wanted to experience it before it, like the others, is gone. Happily, it's still doing a damn fine job!

            I expected well-prepared, delicious classic dishes, and they provided that. I expected an attractive space, and the rose-colored space, including the gorgeous floral arrangements, was lovely.

            I thought there might be a snooty attitude, but we received a nice welcome and very pleasant service. What I did find shocking was how many tables they had jammed into the two dining areas. I'm sure when Grenouille first opened, tables were much more widely-spaced. But I'm guessing that economic realities resulted in the change. In any case, we lucked out and were given a cozy table for two tucked into a corner. It was kind of comical watching waiters encountering a traffic jam as they made their way along a narrow aisle from the kitchen at the rear to the central service station in the middle of the room. (Some plates are "finished" there.)

            We enjoyed every minute of our Grenouille experience and are considering going back sometime.

            I'm certainly pleased to see that you intend to go to EMP for lunch. While the 2 for $28 is a terrific deal, I would recommend that you consider doing the $68 5-course Lunch Gourmand. We have had many of them, and they are always sensational!

            I haven't been to Pastis, but I like Balthazar a lot -- the food and the ambiance.

            Keens is our favorite NYC steakhouse, so I would definitely go there instead of Wolfgang's. (I haven't yet managed to get to Craft.)

            Blue Standard is a jazz club. The food they serve is from Blue Smoke upstairs. The 'cue's just o.k. However, if you're looking for excellent food, I'd suggest SD26, which opened just this week and is a few blocks away. We had dinner there last night, and the Italian food they are serving is truly delicious. Understandably, there are still a few service kinks to be worked out . But I'm sure all will be running smoothly by the time you are here in late December. The website should have all the information filled in soon.

            http://www.sd26ny.com

            50 Replies
            1. re: RGR
              s
              stineh_8 Sep 20, 2009 07:49 PM

              I personally was unimpressed with Pastis - didn't come close to the hype IMHO. Any better brunch spots?

              1. re: stineh_8
                g
                Gigi007 Sep 20, 2009 07:52 PM

                For brunch, I recommend Public and Penelope. And although touristy, I sometimes enjoy the food and atmosphere at Balthazar. I've only been to Pastis for dinner and like the steak-frites and ambiance as well.

                1. re: Gigi007
                  r
                  RGR Sep 20, 2009 08:13 PM

                  What exactly makes you describe Balthazar as "touristy"? Plenty of natives eat there, If we described any restaurant where out-of-towners choose to dine as "touristy," that would have include all the 4-stars + hundreds of other restaurants as well.

                  There are, of course, restaurants which most would consider "tourist traps." But that's a whole other thing.

                  1. re: RGR
                    g
                    Gigi007 Sep 20, 2009 08:18 PM

                    Well, it's fairly common knowledge that a lot of tourists go there and have Balthazar on their must-go-to lists (I could include myself on that list since I no longer live in NYC.) I see your point, but at the same time, a less touristy (meaning more often frequented by locals as opposed to tourists) place for brunch (in my humble opinion) could be Penelope or Public, for example.

                    And I agree, "tourist traps" are an entirely different thing.

                    1. re: Gigi007
                      eviemichael Sep 20, 2009 09:16 PM

                      Thanks so much to everyone for their input!
                      The mixed reviews I've read on Jean Georges have been on the trip advisor website. But I will reconsider. How much is it to eat lunch at their main dining room?

                      Based on reviews here and elsewhere that I've seen, people either love La Grenouille or find it unnecessary. The reason I want to go there is because Niko (my b/f) and I love traditional French dishes, and I think the atmosphere will be incredibly romantic and lovely. I considered Per Se or Daniel but the price tag will be double at the very least. Our budget isnt tight, but I am keeping the cost in mind...

                      I will definitely try the 6 course lunch tasting at EMP, Im really looking forward to that.

                      And I will look into Penelope and Public for brunch.

                      Again, thanks to everyone and any more suggestions/opinions are welcome!!

                      1. re: eviemichael
                        hcbk0702 Sep 20, 2009 09:29 PM

                        I'd be wary of user reviews on non-food centric sites, such as Trip Advisor, Yelp etc. There's a deluge of idiotic, ill-informed reviews on those sites, so you have to filter through the crap, like reviews of sushi restaurants with "OMG, raw fish sux! 0 stars!" Useless.

                        Jean Georges lunch is $29 for two courses, $14.50 for each additional course, and $8 (I think) for a two-part dessert. Three courses will be a full and satisfying meal.

                        To keep costs down, lunch at Le Bernardin and the walk-in only Salon at Per Se are wonderful. Both are light-years ahead of La Grenouille. I'm not sure if this would be a concern, but the clientèle at La Grenouille tends to skew towards the very old. The setting is romantic though, if cramped.

                        1. re: hcbk0702
                          eviemichael Sep 20, 2009 09:43 PM

                          Youre right that I should be weary of tripadvisor's food reviews. I am back on board for Jean Georges. Im dying to try to foie gras brulee with stawberries! If I ask to be seated in the main dining room, is there a difference in price?

                          I would actually love to go to Le Bernadin. I am an Eric Ripert fan. Unfortunately my boyfriend doesnt really eat seafood in the winter. Strange, I know. He just wouldn't enjoy it so I dont want to drag him there.

                          How does the walk-in at Per Se work? No reservations makes me nervous that we would be waiting a long time.

                          1. re: eviemichael
                            hcbk0702 Sep 20, 2009 10:25 PM

                            No, the prices I quoted were for the main dining room at Jean Georges. The casual room (Nougatine) is cheaper, but the food isn't nearly as good.

                            If you're an Eric Ripert fan, Le Bernardin seems like a no-brainer. Perhaps your boyfriend doesn't eat seafood in the winter because seasonal New England-type seafood (i.e. Maine lobsters) tends to be less popular in the winter months. Remind him that Le Bernardin has a far more international scope, and is far, far, far more ambitious, refined and rarefied than than other seafood restaurants. The food can't be succinctly described as French, as there are many Asian influences (especially Japanese) on the menu. I can't imagine him not enjoying it as Le Bernardin overhauls its menu often with the seasons. The results are reliably stunning. Ripert is famous for his adamant refusal to fall back on signature dishes (in direct contrast to Jean-Georges and Thomas Keller) and constantly pushing for new, creative dishes and evolution at his restaurant.

                            I would recommend showing up at the very beginning of dinner service if you'd like to try the Salon at Per Se. I don't think there will be a problem getting a table for two.

                            And as Gigi007 said, Daniel certainly has a reputation for being a romantic restaurant. It's dinner only though, unlike some of its peers. The recent renovation is a huge improvement overall with a sleek, contemporary Adam Tihany aesthetic, but it may be considerably less romantic now.

                            1. re: hcbk0702
                              eviemichael Sep 25, 2009 07:20 AM

                              hcbk0702, sorry but i promise just ONE more question- i have decided on the Jean Georges lunch.
                              For dinner, if I had to choose between 3 course Daniel, 5 or 11 course EMP, and walk in salon at Per Se...which would you pick? (based on value for money and lovely dining experience)
                              Advice from others is welcome of course...

                              1. re: eviemichael
                                r
                                RGR Sep 25, 2009 08:17 AM

                                Re: per se. Personally, I wouldn't do the salon because I abhor the idea of eating hunched over a coffee table. And since portions are tasting menu-size tiny, filling up would require ordering quite a number of dishes, so that by the time one is done, in terms of cost (as well as comfort), it makes more sense to eat in the formal dining room.

                                I don't remember how your eating itinerary is configured at this point, but keep in mind that per se serves lunch on Sunday (as well as Friday and Saturday), and it's easier to get a reservation for lunch than for dinner.

                                Re: Daniel. My problem is that, based on our experiences, service is uneven. The last time we were there, we were victims of several very serious service errors. It was a Saturday evening, we had an early seating, and a few -- but not all -- of these glitches were a very obvious attempt to get us to vacate the table more quickly so they could turn it. Imo, inexcusable for a restaurant of Daniel's caliber. If not for the fact that we'd dined there before and received excellent service, I would not consider returning.

                                You already know my thoughts on EMP....:)

                                1. re: RGR
                                  eviemichael Sep 25, 2009 08:39 AM

                                  I appreciate your response and patience! :)

                                  Sunday I am doing brunch with a big group of friends from NY, so that isnt an available meal for me.

                                  I wouldnt want to risk those kinds of service glitches, so i will let Daniel go. You have a point about Per Se- I don't think I would want a bar room experience over a dining room. So I am back to EMP! Thank you so much!

                                  This is off topic, but I have to say I'm shocked that EMP has no Michelin star! But I know this is another topic for another thread, which has already been addressed...

                                  1. re: eviemichael
                                    r
                                    RGR Sep 25, 2009 08:52 AM

                                    I think it would actually be better if per se's seating was at a bar. Imo, sitting on a comfortable bar chair would be preferable to this couch-hunched-over-table arrangement. Of course, that still leaves the issue of cost....

                                    Re: No Michelin stars for EMP. Shocking is putting it mildly!!! However, most natives I know don't put much, if any, stock in Michelin's NY guide. It's really foreign travelers who have been "miss-guided" (to coin a phrase) because if they go strictly by Michelin, they've been missing out on one of NY's most stellar dining experiences. Hopefully, this egregious oversight will be rectified when the 2010 guide comes out shortly.

                                    1. re: eviemichael
                                      f
                                      fm1963 Sep 25, 2009 10:13 AM

                                      Just curious, where are you having brunch?

                                      1. re: fm1963
                                        eviemichael Sep 25, 2009 12:15 PM

                                        We are having brunch at either Public or Yerba Buena. I'm leaning towards Yerba Buena for the endless drinks...:)

                                        1. re: eviemichael
                                          thew Sep 25, 2009 02:53 PM

                                          public = yummy

                                          1. re: thew
                                            g
                                            Gigi007 Sep 25, 2009 03:00 PM

                                            I second that. I love Public's banana-stuffed french toast w/ bacon.

                                        2. re: fm1963
                                          eviemichael Sep 25, 2009 12:16 PM

                                          or Paradou!

                                      2. re: RGR
                                        g
                                        Gigi007 Sep 25, 2009 08:46 AM

                                        RGR, Sorry to hear about your bad experience at Daniel, but didn't that happen some time ago? I understood from an earlier post that you hadn't been there since the remodeling. I agree that the kind of bad service you received is terrible, especially at a restaurant of Daniel's caliber, but couldn't it have been due to the poor judgement of a particular server? Did the manager try to get you to leave, or was it the server? If so, that would be really inexcusable. I'm curious to know more because I've always had wonderful experiences at Daniel.

                                        To the OP (Evie), a lot of people (unfortunately) expreience one-time service problems (I know I have), and no doubt, some incidents are worse than others. However, based on many, many memorable dinners and family celebrations at Daniel, I recommend it without reservation. It would be a shame for you to rule it out unless you have heard that poor service is a current and recurring problem (I myself would like to know if that is the case, but haven't heard or read anything lately to that effect)... Speaking of service, one of the restaurants where I've experienced outstanding service is Bouley. I cannot recommend it enough and noticed that enough poster here also had a fantastic celebration and experience there as well.

                                        1. re: Gigi007
                                          hcbk0702 Sep 25, 2009 09:31 AM

                                          Of the choices you listed, I would go for the 11 course dinner at EMP, though perhaps it isn't fair to compare the 3 course prix fixe at Daniel to EMP's most expensive tasting menu. However, if you're only doing prix fixe, then I'd take Daniel over EMP. And I know lots of people are Thomas Keller-crazy as he's the single most revered American chef working today, so if you'd really like to see his style firsthand (and you haven't been to French Laundry or Per Se before), the Salon at Per Se is a compelling option. It's actually very comfortable dining in the Salon, even for an extended period of time, and you do receive the full Per Se treatment, which includes the best bread service in NYC (pretty much undisputed), multiple amuses, and a veritable avalanche of mignardises. The basic service that's offered is no different from that of the $450 20+ course extended tasting menu, which may be NYC's most decadent restaurant experience.

                                          As for EMP's snubbing in the Michelin NYC guide, I think it's nuts. There's no doubt EMP would be a shoo-in for 2 stars easily. It's the most glaring error on Michelin's restaurant survey of NYC so far and as RGR said, it will hopefully be changed for the 2010 guide. NYC Japanese restaurants in general seem to be under-ranked as well.

                                          1. re: hcbk0702
                                            eviemichael Sep 25, 2009 09:38 AM

                                            Thanks to everyone for their help and advice, and I have no clue how I will choose between the salon at per se, daniel, and EMP, oh my! :)

                                          2. re: Gigi007
                                            eviemichael Sep 25, 2009 09:32 AM

                                            If Daniel is great then how do I choose between the two? :) eek!

                                            Ok, Daniel tasting of 6 dishes for 175 and gorgeous setting

                                            OR

                                            EMP 175 for 11 dishes and so-so setting

                                            1. re: eviemichael
                                              g
                                              Gigi007 Sep 25, 2009 09:48 AM

                                              I'll defer to hcbk0702 on this one. I've not been to EMP. Can only speak for my experience at Daniel!

                                              1. re: eviemichael
                                                a
                                                a213b Sep 25, 2009 10:28 AM

                                                Wow, I cannot imagine thinking of EMP's setting as "so so". I think the room is beautiful, especially at night overlooking the park.

                                                1. re: eviemichael
                                                  ellenost Sep 25, 2009 10:45 AM

                                                  First, EMP's decor is equal or better than that of Daniel. Second, the food is far superior at EMP. Third, service is far superior at EMP (I, too, have received poor service at Daniel). Easy answer: EMP would be my choice.

                                                2. re: Gigi007
                                                  r
                                                  RGR Sep 25, 2009 11:17 AM

                                                  Gigi007,

                                                  You are correct that our last meal at Daniel took place in Oct. '07.

                                                  Poor judgment on the part of the service staff? My proverbial eye!! Service during the first half of the meal was fine. However, once we finished our main courses, things took a very noticeable downward turn. As Monk always says when describing how the murder transpired, here's what happened....

                                                  We decided to order a cheese course, and it was obvious from the moment the captain arrived with the cart that serving us the cheese was about the last thing he wanted to do. He stood there expecting us to make our selections without asking us to tell him what kinds of cheeses we preferred and/or describing what was on the cart. So, I asked him to give us the details. His face looked as though he had swallowed something nasty, but he reluctantly did so. We made our selections and my husband asked for a wine pairing. He waited and waited, and when the wine failed to appear, he had to flag someone down. It still took a few minutes before it finally arrived.

                                                  When our dessert and coffee/tea orders were taken, my husband and our son-in-law specifically said they wanted their tea *after* dessert (which is the way my husband *always* orders his tea, espresso or cappuccino). Next thing we know, before the desserts have been served, the tea guy arrives. My husband immediately told him to take the tea away and bring it back after we finished dessert. The tea guy is not the one who decides when the tea is served, so someone had instructed him to bring it when he did. Very obvious to us that it was not some little innocent mistake but was done intentionally in order to move us along more quickly. (The tea was brought back later.)

                                                  On to dessert. Our son-in-law has certain dietary restrictions which the staff was advised about at the beginning of the meal. When he was selecting his dessert, he chose one which the server said would be a good fit. The desserts were placed in front of us and after our son-in-law had taken his first bites, one of the servers rushed over and told him that there were ingredients in it that he should not be eating. Not a good thing! To simplify matters, he just ordered sorbets.

                                                  They left his uneaten dessert on the table for the rest of us to share. We each finished our own desserts, and my daughter and I were in the process of sharing the extra dessert when the busboys swooped in and cleared off the empty dessert plates. As I'm sure you know, the proper etiquette is to wait until there is no doubt that everyone has finished eating, or if there are leftovers on plates to check with diners to be sure they've finished before clearing. In this case, it was quite obvious that two of us were still eating.

                                                  No matter who was responsible, they couldn't have acted more blatantly if they had put up a flashing sign board reading: "Here's your hat; what's your hurry!"

                                                  1. re: RGR
                                                    g
                                                    Gigi007 Sep 25, 2009 11:28 AM

                                                    RGR, thanks for sharing the gruesome details, and again, I'm so sorry to hear that. Re: the mistake about the dessert and your son-in-law's dietary restrictions, that is really, really bad. And I cannot stand being rushed to leave from any restaurant, but especially from a fine dining restaurant the caliber of Daniel. I can understand your not wanting to return. I hope you spoke to the maître d' or someone else about the less than stellar service you received.

                                                    LOL about the Monk reference.. You could be the Monk of the restaurant world (although I sincerely hope your experiences are more positive then negative!). :)

                                                    1. re: Gigi007
                                                      r
                                                      RGR Sep 25, 2009 11:39 AM

                                                      As you may guess, we are not usually ones to keep our mouths shut when things go awry, However, in this case, it was a celebratory occasion, and we didn't feel like getting into it. So, instead, after the check was paid, we decided to sit at the table a while longer *on purpose* and laughed about the blatancy of what had taken place.

                                                      Though we haven't yet managed to get back to Daniel, we do intend to do so. But three things are certain: (1) it will be middle of the week, (2) we will insist on sitting in the main area and not, as we were, on the balcony, and (3) it will be a late reservation so that there's no chance the table will be turned!

                                                      1. re: RGR
                                                        g
                                                        Gigi007 Sep 25, 2009 11:46 AM

                                                        I understand completely. I might have handled it the way you did, especially as you were there for a celebration.

                                                        Your strategy for a future Daniel visit is a good one. It's definitely better to go mid-week w/ a late reservation. I've also heard that the new dining room is beautiful. I'm going to try to get there before the holidays, but with so many places I need to try (including Tocqueville and EMP based on your recommendation), am not sure when it will be.

                                                        1. re: Gigi007
                                                          eviemichael Sep 25, 2009 12:22 PM

                                                          RGR im so sorry you had such a bad experience at Daniel...its always so disappointing, especially when there is a special occasion at hand and high expectations!

                                                          Then maybe since I'm making a reservation for the 26th which is in the middle of the holidays, I should defer to EMP...

                                                          1. re: eviemichael
                                                            r
                                                            RGR Sep 25, 2009 01:31 PM

                                                            There was actually more to that dinner than just celebrating my birthday. Our daughter and son-in-law had become engaged, were planning a private ceremony, and we were thinking of having the post-ceremony dinner for the very immediate families (8 people) at Daniel. As I've mentioned, my husband and I had had two excellent dinners with stellar service at Daniel before -- the first in the previous location where Cafe Boulud is now and the second just after the move to the Mayfair. However, that second dinner had been a long time before, so this dinner was a test to see if we should have the wedding dinner there. Given what transpired, I'm sure you can guess that we decided against having the post-ceremony celebration at Daniel. Instead, it took place at at EMP. Needless to say, it was perfect!

                                                            P.S. Prior to the dinner, our daughter and s-i-l had already selected Daniel's Bellcour room as the venue for an aftenoon cocktail party for their friends, which took place several weeksafter they came back from their honeymoon in Japan. The operation for private parties at Daniel is totally separate from the restaurant side. They did a wonderful job, and the party was a huge success.

                                        2. re: hcbk0702
                                          g
                                          Gigi007 Sep 20, 2009 09:46 PM

                                          This is really great advice, hcbk0702.

                                          I can understand why the OP wants to go to La Grenouille and I myself have had some very good meals there. But you are absolutely correct about the older crowd there, which may or may not matter to the OP. Besides the recs you made, I would also suggest that the OP consider some smaller, lesser known French restaurants since she mentioned wanting something romantic and somewhat reasonably priced.. Perhaps La Sirene in Soho, which is also BYOB, for example (although not on the level of a Per Se or La Bernardin). At the same time, when I think "romantic" and French, I can't help thinking about Daniel...

                                          P.S. To the OP, keep Balthazar in your line-up for brunch if you can. It's fun. I also love the French toast at Public, and Penelope is really charming.

                                          1. re: Gigi007
                                            eviemichael Sep 20, 2009 10:17 PM

                                            Actually, it is a bit disappointing that La Grenouille has an older crowd. It seemed like such a great find in terms of traditional french cuisine, romantic atmosphere, and price. Is Daniel a better option? Is the price for two the same as Per Se?

                                            Also, if I had to choose between EMP and Jean Georges for lunch, which do you recommend?

                                            Maybe I should go to EMP for dinner instead of La Grenouille...?

                                            1. re: eviemichael
                                              eviemichael Sep 20, 2009 10:27 PM

                                              I'm sorry for basically writing down every detail of my thought process, but!- Instead of Grenouille, should I just do the 3 course meal offered at Jean Georges at 10pm?
                                              We Greeks always eat late anyway!

                                              1. re: eviemichael
                                                hcbk0702 Sep 20, 2009 10:51 PM

                                                I'd stick to lunch at Jean Georges, simply because it's such a steal in terms of price. Try dinner elsewhere.

                                                Daniel is not as expensive as Per Se (both Per Se and Masa are sort of in their own price tier). Prix fixe is $105, the six course tasting menu is $175, and the eight course tasting menu is $195, vs. Per Se's $275 standard menu and $450 off-menu extended tasting. Of course, Per Se's Salon a la carte is significantly less expensive, though still pricey. Daniel's prices for its prix fixe and tasting menus are very similar to Le Bernardin's dinner prices. In general though, I'd easily take Le Bernardin over Daniel.

                                                I think going to both Le Bernardin and EMP over La Grenouille is an obvious choice. Which one you want to do for lunch, and which one you want to do for dinner is entirely up to you. EMP lunch + Le Bernardin dinner should also be fantastic.

                                              2. re: eviemichael
                                                hcbk0702 Sep 20, 2009 10:31 PM

                                                Ideally, you could drop the EMP lunch (unless you're doing the Gourmand menu, EMP's lunch is weaker than JG's) for EMP dinner (dinner is much stronger overall), and then go for lunch at Le Bernardin ($68 prix fixe) instead. That IMO would be the best option.

                                                Daniel deserves some consideration as well if you like a more rustic style.

                                                1. re: eviemichael
                                                  r
                                                  RGR Sep 20, 2009 10:31 PM

                                                  Maybe I didn't mind the older crowd at Grenouille (though I did spot a number of younger diners) because to paraphrase the famous line from Pogo, "We have met the oldies, and they are us!" LOL! In any case, despite what I said about Grenouille in my previous post, if you want to go to EMP for dinner instead, you'll never get an argument from me! :)

                                                  1. re: eviemichael
                                                    g
                                                    Gigi007 Sep 20, 2009 10:32 PM

                                                    Hmm, well if you want to go to La Grenouille, maybe you should. The last time I went (last December) with my mom and aunt & uncle was in December, and the food was very good. The atmosphere is what it is. Love Daniel and Le Bernardin though (I'm a huge Eric Ripert fan and even saw him once in the dining room there!). Daniel is absolutely romantic. Cannot comment on the lunch price b/c I don't think it's even open for lunch; I've only been for dinner.

                                                    And sorry, I have no idea about EMP b/c I've not been. It does seem you should go to Jean-Georges for lunch given what others have recommended here and elsewhere (I've only been to Nougatine for brunch, but have heard generally good things about Jean George's main dining room). You really can't go wrong with J-G's lunch deal mentioned by hcbk0702 above.

                                                    I think you've gotten some good advice here and will likely hear from more hounds. You have plenty of time to plan and book too. Cheers.

                                                    1. re: Gigi007
                                                      r
                                                      RGR Sep 20, 2009 10:43 PM

                                                      Have you been to Daniel since the refurbishment? I haven't, but from photos, the very modern decor does not seem at all romantic to me. (And, btw, you are correct that Daniel does not serve lunch.)

                                                      It is not unusual to see Eric Ripert in the dining room. When we were at Le Bernardin earlier this year, he was standing near our table conversing with some of the wait staff.

                                                      1. re: RGR
                                                        g
                                                        Gigi007 Sep 20, 2009 10:57 PM

                                                        No, I haven't been since it was remodelled. Apparently, the new decor is ultra-modern but somehow I doubt that the magic of the overall experience at Daniel is completely gone. As far as I'm concerned, the food and service have always been superb (love the lamb, in particular), and I'm also impressed by Daniel's wine list and affordable choices. Gven the OP's preferences, I think Daniel is an excellent option.

                                                        As for Eric Ripert sightings, I'm actually the only one in my group of friends who has ever seen him up close in the flesh although I've only been to Le Bernardin twice and the others have been numerous times. My girl friends and I have terrible crushes on him. :)

                                                        1. re: Gigi007
                                                          eviemichael Sep 20, 2009 11:10 PM

                                                          I wish I had more nights in New York to get to everything! The problem is that one of the twp nights I will be there is a Sunday, so most fine restaurants are closed.
                                                          I will call Le Bernadin and see if I can substitute some of the lunch dishes for the pasta or meat dishes they have available for my boyfriend who wont want 5 courses of seafood....I would love to see Eric Ripert and taste his masterpieces!
                                                          As I see it now, I will definitely do Balthazaar with my NY friends for brunch, will do Jean Georges for lunch, either Le Bernadin or EMP Gourmand lunch, and choose between Daniel and La Grenouille for Saturday dinner.
                                                          Thanks again to everyone!

                                                          1. re: eviemichael
                                                            g
                                                            Gigi007 Sep 21, 2009 10:47 AM

                                                            Glad to be of help. Hope you have a wonderful food-filled trip. I can't imagine going to all of those places in just 3 days, but I understand.
                                                            Let us know how you make out. Cheers.

                                              3. re: eviemichael
                                                MMRuth Sep 21, 2009 04:21 PM

                                                Based on what you have written, I would try La Grenouille - the room is beautiful, the service is lovely, and they do well with the classic French dishes. Were I you, I would consider having the Dover Sole, even though there is a considerable addition to the prix fixe price for it.

                                                Re: RGR's comment about it being cramped - I started going there in the early 90s, and went last year, and the table spacing seemed the same to me.

                                                Pastis vs. Balthazar - I prefer Balthazar. I'm not a brunch person, but my husband and I went for lunch recently, and had a lovely meal for $100 plus tip, which included a carafe of wine. Yes, there are tourist there, but I don't really care!

                                                1. re: MMRuth
                                                  MMRuth Sep 21, 2009 04:23 PM

                                                  Oh - and, I didn't check your dates, but if you can, try to go to La Grenouille on a night other than a Saturday night, and do check to make sure they will be open over the holidays. Lunch there is also lovely, and cheaper.

                                                  1. re: MMRuth
                                                    b
                                                    BebeNC Sep 22, 2009 01:04 PM

                                                    Hi, I'm new here. Why avoid La Grenouille on Saturday night? I was planning my first trip there on a Saturday in October!

                                                    1. re: BebeNC
                                                      r
                                                      RGR Sep 22, 2009 01:17 PM

                                                      Hey, Bebe,

                                                      Welcome!

                                                      We were at Grenouille on a very busy Friday night, which I don't think would be much different from a Saturday, and everything went quite smoothly. So, I don't see any reason to avoid a Saturday especially if (1) it's the only day you can make it, or (2) your special occasion falls on a Saturday. That said, restaurants generally tend to be less hectic mid-week, so the experience can seem a bit more relaxed.

                                                      Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                                                      1. re: BebeNC
                                                        MMRuth Sep 22, 2009 02:56 PM

                                                        In my experience there is a different vibe there on Saturday nights than during the week or at lunch. No effect on service or food quality - and the room is gorgeous any day of the week!

                                            2. re: Gigi007
                                              bermudagourmetgoddess Sep 21, 2009 11:23 AM

                                              Quick Question Gigi...Have you ever had the Sunday Supper at Public? I have it booked when we visit next month and was wondering if anyone has ever experienced it?

                                              My vote for the Steakhouse is Peter Luger!

                                              1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess
                                                g
                                                Gigi007 Sep 21, 2009 11:31 AM

                                                Hi bermudagourmetgoddess (what a great name!), I've only done brunch at Public and it's always been fabulous. Have heard good things about the Sunday Supper too. Maybe you can post a new thread (but do a search first) and ask other hounds what they think.

                                          2. re: RGR
                                            ChefJune Sep 23, 2009 01:47 PM

                                            <Blue Standard is a jazz club. The food they serve is from Blue Smoke upstairs.>

                                            It's The Jazz Standard. The food there is definitely better than just "edible" (I always get the scallops). It is nice to be able to dine while enjoying the music. You sure can't do that if you go somewhere two blocks away!

                                            1. re: ChefJune
                                              r
                                              RGR Sep 23, 2009 02:48 PM

                                              Oops! Thanks for catching that mistake, ChefJune. True, ordering from Blue Smoke's menu allows for eating while listening to the music; however, the o.p. did post the following: "...any great restaurants near to great authentic jazz clubs?" Ergo, my SD26 suggestion.

                                          3. k
                                            kathryn Sep 21, 2009 09:58 AM

                                            Best Brunch
                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598414

                                            1. f
                                              fm1963 Sep 21, 2009 10:09 AM

                                              La Grenouille is a fine choice for the holidays. The cuisine is classic in the best manner, and the service solicitous and unpretentious. Don't miss the dover sole, souffles and Oeufs a la Neige.

                                              By all means go. Have a wonderful visit.

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: fm1963
                                                eviemichael Sep 21, 2009 03:34 PM

                                                wow fm1963 youre one of the only people who is pro-la grenouille! it seemed like such a good balance of price, romantic atmosphere and solid food, but since it pales in comparison to places like le bernadin, jean georges, and Eleven Madison Park in terms of sophistication....im not sure. but i do love traditional french food!
                                                the more i read, the more i think saturday night i will have to do the 11 course at EMP-seems the best value for money as well as an experience not to be missed.
                                                again, thank you to everyone for the suggestions. i appreciate any more that anyone may have!

                                                1. re: eviemichael
                                                  hcbk0702 Sep 21, 2009 04:00 PM

                                                  Sounds like a plan. I guess your itinerary looks something like this now:

                                                  DECEMBER 26
                                                  Lunch - Jean Georges
                                                  Dinner - Eleven Madison Park

                                                  DECEMBER 27
                                                  Brunch - I'd take a good look at kathryn's thread, lots of good options
                                                  Dinner - For steak, first choice is Peter Luger's, second is Keens

                                                  DECEMBER 28:
                                                  Lunch - Le Bernardin

                                                  You have plenty of time to reserve all these places easily. That's an awesome lineup too!

                                                  1. re: hcbk0702
                                                    g
                                                    Gigi007 Sep 21, 2009 04:11 PM

                                                    Following all of the OP's posts, I interpreted the line-up slightly differently. She said would definitely be going to Balthazar for brunch, seemed to be leaning towards Keens for the steak dinner, and was interested in Public or Penelope for brunch. And as you indicated, she seemed definite about J-G lunch, EMP dinner, and possibly Le Bernardin for lunch. Last but not least, she also seems to be still on the fence about La Grenouille.

                                                  2. re: eviemichael
                                                    f
                                                    fm1963 Sep 21, 2009 04:57 PM

                                                    I haven't been to EMP, and it's probably a better choice for food, but I'll always remember a very special post-Christmas dinner at La Grenouille a few years ago.

                                                    It's a gorgeous, glamourous room, quite unlike any other venue in New York. Perhaps on your next visit...

                                                    1. re: fm1963
                                                      eviemichael Sep 22, 2009 02:00 AM

                                                      Again, I just wanted to thank everyone again for the suggestions and help. Its great to have a resource of fellow food lovers!
                                                      hcbk0702 is pretty right on with my tentative food schedule, except I will probably go to Balthazar for brunch and I am considering going to Babbo for dinner on sunday instead of a steak dinner now...
                                                      Just one more thing...if I wanted to switch some things up- is EMP a good place for lunch as well? someone mentioned that it is much better for dinner, is this true?

                                                      1. re: eviemichael
                                                        hcbk0702 Sep 22, 2009 03:08 AM

                                                        The lunch at EMP is still a very good value. Here are a few threads related to EMP lunch vs. EMP dinner, and EMP lunch vs. other four-star lunches.

                                                        Prix Fixe Lunch Jean Georges / EMP / Le Bernardin
                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/652725

                                                        Is Eleven Madison much better value than Per Se and other 4 * NYT restaurants?
                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/644958

                                                        Le Bernadin or Eleven Madison Park?
                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/618641

                                                        1. re: eviemichael
                                                          g
                                                          Gigi007 Sep 22, 2009 05:13 AM

                                                          You're welcome. Glad you've kept Balthazar in your plans. It has a fun atmosphere and a pretty good brunch. And I can understand your change in plans about the steak dinner, but honestly I've not had good experiences at Babbo the last few times I've been. I really like Lupa (delicious gnocchi and great atmosphere), and have also heard that Scarpetta is quite good. Haven't been to EMP, but am sure other hounds can advise you. Hope you have a wonderful trip, and let us know how you make out. Cheers.

                                                          1. re: Gigi007
                                                            eviemichael Sep 22, 2009 08:06 AM

                                                            thanks hcbk0702 and gigi, this has all been very helpful. i will absolutely report back after my trip with reviews of the food and experience!

                                                      2. re: eviemichael
                                                        ChefJune Sep 23, 2009 01:53 PM

                                                        Here's another vote for La Grenouille. IMHO the most romantic restaurant in New York. ;)

                                                    2. thew Sep 22, 2009 08:21 AM

                                                      just wanted to throw in that i love craft

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: thew
                                                        eviemichael Sep 22, 2009 09:01 AM

                                                        I did consider Craft, but I just wasnt sure I wanted to go there as much as some of the other places. Maybe ill catch a sandwich at witchcraft...

                                                      2. OC Mutt Sep 22, 2009 03:43 PM

                                                        I can vouch for EMP, I had an impeccable and spectacular meal there last month, and I highly recommend Nougatine as well - their Prix Fix lunch might be the best deal in NYC. Balthazar was wonderful as well and I recommend it, except for their "famous" french fries, which taste exactly like McDonalds, what a major disappointment - not because McDonalds fries are bad, they're not (they're actually quite good), but because that's not what I expect from a high end restaurant.

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: OC Mutt
                                                          g
                                                          Gigi007 Sep 22, 2009 03:46 PM

                                                          I had an excellent brunch at Nougatine. Am planning to go back for the prix fixe lunch one of these days. Agreed about Balthazar's fries. They're actually (and perhaps surprisingly) much better at Balthazar's sister restaurant, Pastis.

                                                          1. re: Gigi007
                                                            eviemichael Sep 23, 2009 08:34 AM

                                                            I have one more question: Should I go for the 11 courses at Eleven Madison Park? Or is the 5 courses a good enough experience? And if I am going to pay 175 for 11 courses at EMP, should I just get less courses at a 4 star like Daniel or Jean Georges?
                                                            Unfortunately, I don't think I can make it to Grenouille, because I will be in NY ifrom a Saturday to Monday. On Sundays and Mondays for lunch, Grenouille is not open...I guess next time!

                                                            1. re: eviemichael
                                                              r
                                                              RGR Sep 23, 2009 09:25 AM

                                                              The 11-course Gourmand is usually composed of dishes from the published menu, including from the 5-course seasonal, and dishes which are created strictly for the Gourmand, the proportion being about half and half. The specially created dishes tend to have more higher-end ingredients, like caviar and truffles. Imo, at $175, it is a supreme value when compared to the cost of tasting menus at Daniel ($175), Jean Georges ($148), and Le Bernardin ($135/$185), which have only about half the number of courses.

                                                              1. re: eviemichael
                                                                OC Mutt Sep 23, 2009 09:27 AM

                                                                5 courses is plenty. They also include a few items not on the menu so it's more than just the 5. eg. My meal ended with an unexpected "Macaroon tasting", where I had 7 mini macaroons.

                                                                1. re: OC Mutt
                                                                  eviemichael Sep 23, 2009 09:38 AM

                                                                  ohhh i love macaroons! that would be a lovely surprise. i will probably go for the 5 courses.

                                                                  1. re: OC Mutt
                                                                    r
                                                                    RGR Sep 23, 2009 09:49 AM

                                                                    The array of mini-macarons is regularly served as mignardises to all dinner patrons.

                                                                    Photo here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                                                  2. re: eviemichael
                                                                    ellenost Sep 23, 2009 12:51 PM

                                                                    Definitely go for the 11 course Gourmand menu at EMP. My sister and loved it last month, and told Chef Humm that we're now spoiled and will only have the 11 course menu when we return (yes, it's that wonderful!).

                                                              2. Spends Rent on Food Sep 23, 2009 10:38 AM

                                                                Just to throw my opinion into the ring here.
                                                                You should definitely go to La Genouille.

                                                                It's on your original list of must try's and I think you will thoroughly enjoy it any night of the week. It is one of the last old guard french restaurants left, and while that in itself shouldn't be the determining factor, the service and food are impeccable and are worth the visit.

                                                                With so many great restaurants to choose from, you'll have to come back frequently to get to all of them. So start with the ones that you want to go to, your list is great, and you will not be disappointed.

                                                                But really, you should go to La Grenouille. It's from another era, and I mean that in the best way possible.

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: Spends Rent on Food
                                                                  eviemichael Sep 24, 2009 06:26 AM

                                                                  I wish one of the nights Im in Manhattan wasnt a Sunday so I could hit both restaurants. EMP just doesnt seem half as romantic as La Grenouille, but as a true foodie, I think the food experience takes precedence. Id go to EMP for lunch on monday before we leave instead, but it seems the lunch just doesnt compare. Or could we order a la carte? Id love to try their lobster and duck! Maybe I'll call them to see what is possible...
                                                                  Sorry for all the back and forth and incessant questions!

                                                                  1. re: eviemichael
                                                                    ellenost Sep 24, 2009 06:42 AM

                                                                    Despite your feeling that La Grenouille is more romantic that EMP, I recommend that you go to EMP instead. Last time I was at EMP a couple got engaged at the next table. The staff brought over champagne to celebrate. Now that's romantic!

                                                                    1. re: eviemichael
                                                                      r
                                                                      RGR Sep 24, 2009 06:51 AM

                                                                      No need to apologize, Evie. We all understand that you are trying to fit certain restaurants into a short time frame, and it's more difficult because of Sunday closures.

                                                                      True, EMP's 11-course Gourmand is incomparable. However, if you are considering doing the dinner's 5-course seasonal menu, then I think going for lunch on Monday afternoon and having the lunch 5-course Gourmand would be an excellent option. As I've mentioned before, that menu tends to be similar to the dinner seasonal, and portions are about the same size. Of course, if there is something on the 2 for $28 menu that you want to either add or substitute for one of the Gourmand courses, you can certainly do that. You will get some of the little extras, i.e., the gourgères and a couple of the hors d'oeuvres. I'm not sure about the macarons at the end of the meal, but you can ask if they are available; if so, no doubt the kitchen will send some out.

                                                                      Re: lobster and duck. There is always a lobster dish on the lunch menu, so if it's not on the lunch Gourmand, you can add it. However, the duck for two is not available at lunch service.

                                                                      1. re: RGR
                                                                        eviemichael Sep 24, 2009 07:09 AM

                                                                        Oh my goodness, I just saw your pictures on flickr from your 11 course menu at EMP (with a link from another thread) and I am smitten! I think if we ask for a more romantic table in the corner rather than the middle...this can definitely be a romantic enough atmosphere!

                                                                        1. re: eviemichael
                                                                          ellenost Sep 24, 2009 08:47 AM

                                                                          The couple that got engaged was sitting at a corner table in the back of the room near the front windows.

                                                                          1. re: eviemichael
                                                                            r
                                                                            RGR Sep 24, 2009 09:07 AM

                                                                            There are tables for two on either side of the banquettes along the window wall on both the lower and upper levels. Also,...

                                                                            There is a large alcove area on the upper level which has a cozy feel, almost like a separate little dining room within the huge space. The view is out towards the magnificent windows. Along the banquette on the back wall, there are tables for two in each corner which I think are quite romantic. So, you might want to consider requesting one of those.

                                                                            You can see the location of the alcove (under the overhang) in this photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                                                    2. d
                                                                      dreametcalf Sep 24, 2009 07:37 AM

                                                                      Hey Evie - I just moved out of NYC two years ago but return almost every month. As a fellow foodie here are my two cents are your trip (based on your choices and other people's comments here).

                                                                      1) Do eat at Jean George (Main Dining room only). I highly suggest the tasting menu. Lunch is fine there but dinner would be better.
                                                                      2) I just had lunch at Pastis last Thursday. Like Balthazaar, it's almost all about the scene. You will see a bunch of models, maybe an actor or director and tons of non-Americans. The food is always simple and good but if you're a foodie just step in there for a couple of glasses of vino or beer, take in the scene (maybe even sample an app) but move on to a different spot for dining. If you must eat in the Meat Packing district you might want to try Spice Market for Jean George's version of international street food.
                                                                      3) For steak, I agree with the Peter Luger comment. It's the best steak in NYC (I've been to most of the well known steak places too). Getting to Williamsburg is a hike (by taxi of course). I think you should just skip the steak thing.
                                                                      4) You mentioned Daniel. It's very French, very excellent. Bouley is downtown, French, also an incredible dining room experience. Chanterelle however is my absolute favorite for French. It's a smaller dining room than Daniele but really elegant. I would not think twice about going to Chanterelle over Daniel.
                                                                      5) As for Jazz, it all depends on what type of Jazz you want to hear and who's playing where. The little Jazz venues in Greenwich are great and intimate. There's Small's, the Village Vanguard and Sweet Basil. I mention these three because if you do go to one of them then you'll have to experience One if By Land Two if by Sea. It's a lovely lovely old American/New York historical ambiance with fabulous food and a nice old school bar with piano.
                                                                      5) Le Bernardin. I know you're a fan of his and I'd go back in a heart beat if invited by someone but I would not choose to go back. The fish is indeed supreme but all you get in the tasting portion is what seems like the equivalent of one thin piece of sashimi per course! Plus I'm not a fan of dining smack in the middle of mid-town. It feels too much like a work related dining event.
                                                                      6) You didn't mention Italian. I'm normally a French person too but I must must recommend Mario Batali's, Babbo. The food is out of this world! I'm heading to Italy next month and I'm betting Babbo might actually reign supreme. :)

                                                                      PS -- Citronelle on M Street is one of my favorites in DC. Can't wait to get back! Enjoy your holiday.

                                                                      24 Replies
                                                                      1. re: dreametcalf
                                                                        eviemichael Sep 24, 2009 07:58 AM

                                                                        Thanks for the tips dreametcalf!
                                                                        I also love Citronelle. :)

                                                                        On Sat. night I am probably going to EMP, and sunday night no fine dining is open, so I wont go to Jean Georges at night. Is the lunch deal the same in the main dining room as it is at Nougatine?

                                                                        Maybe sunday night I'll try Babbo....We have decided to skip the steak meal because I know we can get great steaks in DC as well.

                                                                        I have also given up on Le Bernadin since my boyfriend isnt a huge seafood fan, but on my next trip it will be a must for me!

                                                                        1. re: eviemichael
                                                                          d
                                                                          dreametcalf Sep 24, 2009 08:41 AM

                                                                          Hello! JG is closed on Sundays for lunch and dinner. The Nougatine, though adjacent, is very different. I highly recommend Chanterelle for your Sunday dinner. I think you'll enjoy it very much!

                                                                          1. re: eviemichael
                                                                            d
                                                                            dreametcalf Sep 24, 2009 08:43 AM

                                                                            Actually Evie, I intended to recommend Chanterelle for Sunday 'lunch' since you mentioned Babbo for dinner. Be careful ... Babbo is going to be very filling (especially after a weekend of fine dining!).

                                                                            1. re: dreametcalf
                                                                              eviemichael Sep 24, 2009 08:50 AM

                                                                              Are the portions big at Babbo? I was thinking of doing the 6 course tasting menu...IF i can get a reservation, I hear it is nearly impossible.

                                                                            2. re: eviemichael
                                                                              r
                                                                              RGR Sep 24, 2009 09:35 AM

                                                                              "...and sunday night no fine dining is open...."

                                                                              Not true! Although Chanterelle is currently closed for renovations, it will reopen sometime in October. As dreametcalf points out, they serve dinner on Sunday evenings. The French cuisine, which is a cross between classic and contemporary, is superb, and I consider the dining room to be very romantic, so one would hope that will still be the case with the refurbishment.

                                                                              Here's a photo of the dining room as it was when we had lunch there in April: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/3481580878/in/set-72157617405955302/

                                                                              http://www.chanterellenyc.com

                                                                              Adour Alain Ducasse, in the St. Regis Hotel, also serves dinner on Sunday evenings. In fact, we were there recently for the second time, and it was on a Sunday. Wonderful food and stellar service.

                                                                              Here are is the photo set from that meal: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/sets/72157621968596143/

                                                                              http://www.adour-stregis.com

                                                                              Bouley is also open for Sunday dinner, but we have never been there.

                                                                              ETA: How could I forget? per se is open for both lunch and dinner on Sundays. http://www.perseny.com

                                                                              1. re: RGR
                                                                                eviemichael Sep 24, 2009 09:39 AM

                                                                                Oh that's great! Although these are more wonderful choices to agonize through, I'm glad there are more options. :)
                                                                                Is Babbo not worth it compared to the rest?

                                                                                1. re: eviemichael
                                                                                  r
                                                                                  RGR Sep 24, 2009 09:42 AM

                                                                                  We've not been to Babbo mainly because I refuse to do the required "telephone tango."

                                                                                  1. re: RGR
                                                                                    g
                                                                                    Gigi007 Sep 24, 2009 09:48 AM

                                                                                    I don't blame you. IMHO, Babbo is not what it used to be. It used to be one of my family's favorite places, but after our last two visits which turned out to be bad experiences service wise (one was a bday celebration that was ruined--too long of a story to get into), we now go elsewhere for Italian (most frequently to Lupa and Convivio). I've also heard from friends and people on this board that not getting a reservation at Babbo has been a blessing in disguise as they've been able to discover other excellent restaurants.

                                                                                2. re: RGR
                                                                                  eviemichael Sep 24, 2009 09:45 AM

                                                                                  And...if its between Chanterelle and Adour Alaine Ducasse- which is a better choice?

                                                                                  1. re: eviemichael
                                                                                    r
                                                                                    RGR Sep 24, 2009 09:57 AM

                                                                                    Ooh, that's a really tough one! Since both have superb cuisine and stellar service, and Adour's ambiance is very elegant, I'd probably want to see what Chanterelle's "refreshed" look is like when it reopens before trying to decide.

                                                                                    Adour is more convenient to where you are staying since it's on 55th St., b/t Madison & 5th (the Waldorf is on 50th, b/t Park & Lex), so if the weather is decent, you can walk there. Chanterelle is downtown in Tribeca -- definitely a cab ride.

                                                                                  2. re: RGR
                                                                                    g
                                                                                    Gigi007 Sep 24, 2009 09:46 AM

                                                                                    RGR, great post (as always). Agree w/ all your recs. And Bouley is FABULOUS.

                                                                                    1. re: Gigi007
                                                                                      eviemichael Sep 24, 2009 09:50 AM

                                                                                      all of the posts have been so helpful but now i feel like i need many more days to get to everything...sigh! oh well, i come to NY once a year, so there is always next time...
                                                                                      between Bouley, Chanterelle, and Alain, which is best?

                                                                                      1. re: eviemichael
                                                                                        g
                                                                                        Gigi007 Sep 24, 2009 09:54 AM

                                                                                        I've only been to Bouley and haven't been to Adour Alain Ducasse or Chanterelle, so it's hard to say. However, based on what I've heard from others and what I gather about your preferences, I'd say it would be a choice between Bouley and Chanterelle. My best guess.

                                                                                        1. re: Gigi007
                                                                                          eviemichael Sep 24, 2009 09:56 AM

                                                                                          thank you! I would lean towards Chanterelle based on what I've read.

                                                                                          1. re: eviemichael
                                                                                            g
                                                                                            Gigi007 Sep 24, 2009 10:05 AM

                                                                                            YW. I was about to post the highlights of one of my most recent meals at Bouley. I'll be brief since it seems you're going the other way, but perhaps the info would be helpful to others.

                                                                                            Bouley Highlights:

                                                                                            Ambiance & setting: Intimate w/ a beautiful decor. Dim lighting w/ a red glow shading the room. Patrons of all ages.

                                                                                            Wine: Superb. We had an excellent red Languedoc.

                                                                                            Service: Excellent and accomodating, especially b/c we had a vegetarian in our group. The eggplant terrine, which I had a few bites of (and would order in a hearbeat in the future!), was oustanding.

                                                                                            Food: The halibut was perfectly prepared. Saffron risotto was delicious. Good for vegetarians too (see above).

                                                                                            Bread: AMAZING. Lots of choices, but the saffron-walnut bread was especially delicious.

                                                                                            Dessert: the highlight of the meal. We had a chocolate soaked brioche and a chocolate souffle. Wonderful.

                                                                                            1. re: Gigi007
                                                                                              ellenost Sep 24, 2009 11:00 AM

                                                                                              I agree with Gigi007 100%. I just had a special birthday celebration at Bouley in August, and everything was wonderful! I've been to Chanterelle a few times, and prefer Bouley.

                                                                                              1. re: ellenost
                                                                                                eviemichael Sep 24, 2009 11:05 AM

                                                                                                One last question- is the 5 course dinner at EMP still fantastic? Or is it basically essential to make the splurge and go for the 11 course?

                                                                                                I will look into Bouley as well for sunday night :)

                                                                                                1. re: eviemichael
                                                                                                  ellenost Sep 24, 2009 11:12 AM

                                                                                                  I'd say either is wonderful (only that the 11 course is more wonderful!). The 11 course is $175; the 5 course is $125. Me personally, I'd splurge for the extra $50 since the experience is so much more wonderful.

                                                                                                  1. re: ellenost
                                                                                                    eviemichael Sep 24, 2009 11:19 AM

                                                                                                    Yes after reading the very vivid description of the 11 course menu, I have to say I can't really imagine not going for it...I wish it had a more formal and romantic atmosphere, but I will get that at a Jean Georges lunch. And after comparing menu's, I find David Humm's the most exciting and elaborate dining experience.

                                                                                                    1. re: eviemichael
                                                                                                      ellenost Sep 24, 2009 01:02 PM

                                                                                                      Sorry to disappoint you, but Jean Georges' room is not romantic at all (it is very nice though). FYI -- Chef Humm's first name is "Daniel".

                                                                                                      1. re: ellenost
                                                                                                        eviemichael Sep 24, 2009 01:21 PM

                                                                                                        Youre right I just looked at pictures! Food will take center stage over romanticism. And oops, yes I meant to write Daniel. :)

                                                                                                        1. re: ellenost
                                                                                                          r
                                                                                                          RGR Sep 24, 2009 01:25 PM

                                                                                                          ellenost,

                                                                                                          I agree that Jean Georges's large dining room is lovely. During the day, it's very light and airy; in the evening, there is a golden glow from the window draperies and the lighting. There are two nooks on either side of the room, each of which holds a table for two. Mr. R. and I sat in one of them, and it made our dinner experience feel very cozy and romantic. :)

                                                                                                          1. re: RGR
                                                                                                            f
                                                                                                            fm1963 Sep 24, 2009 01:45 PM

                                                                                                            Jean Georges may not be conventionally *romantic* but it's certainly sexy in its own hushed, high powered way.

                                                                                                            1. re: RGR
                                                                                                              ellenost Sep 24, 2009 03:03 PM

                                                                                                              Sounds like it's time for another visit to JG (it's been a few years).

                                                                                  Show Hidden Posts