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One Big Dinner in Manhattan

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My friend is coming into town and we want to go to, in his words, "a big expensive dinner." We'd like to stay in Manhattan, but otherwise it could be anywhere.

The details: he can be choosy, so we'd like to avoid places with only tasting menus and just be able to order a la carte. Seafood emphasis is great, although not required (I don't eat red meat, so no Peter Luger).

Other places we like: Locanda Verde, Falai, Ki Sushi, Calle Ocho, Allen & Delancey.

Some of my ideas are: Convivio, Corton, Marea, Market Table, Le Bernadin.

Other thoughts?

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Calle Ocho
45 W 81st St, New York, NY 10024

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

Falai
68 Clinton St Frnt 1, New York, NY 10002

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  1. Market Table is the only one that does not fit with the rest of your list. It's ordinary, and though not expensive, it is overpriced for what it is, not to mention cramped and ear-splittingly loud. I have not been to Corton or Marea yet, and it's been a long time since I've been to LB, but based on recent reports any of these would be a good choice. SHO Shaun Hergatt has been getting rave reviews too. I love Convivio, but you might prefer the seafood emphasis at Marea.

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    Market Table
    54 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014

    Convivio
    45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

    Marea
    240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

    SHO Shaun Hergatt
    40 Broad St, New York, NY 10004

    Corton
    239 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013

    1. Le Bernardin is far and away the best choice IMO, especially given your seafood preference. If you're looking for pasta, Marea is a great alternative that's also seafood focused.

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      Le Bernardin
      155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

      Marea
      240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

      1 Reply
      1. re: hcbk0702

        Le Bernardin is great, but only serves a prix fixe menu or tasting menu. You cannot order a la carte there, IIRC.

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        Le Bernardin
        155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

      2. I really liked Marea when I went there. It's mainly seafood but does offer other things like pasta and meats. I do like Convivio better though. And you can't beat their prix fixe (4 courses $59) which includes the whole menu (whole including the specials).

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        Convivio
        45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

        Marea
        240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

        1. With the seafood emphasis, I would second Le Bernardin. And even though it just has the tasting menu and a prix fixe menu, there is a huge choice of options in each category on the prix fixe. I don't think your friend would feel limited by it.

          Corton is also fantastic, as well as SHO, and I've recently had very good meals at both Convivio and Alto.

          Personally, I don't get all the fuss about Marea. I found it not to live up to the hype, and I think New York magazine's rating (2 out of 5 stars) is a lot more accurate than the new critic at the NY Times' (3 out of 4).

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          Le Bernardin
          155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

          Convivio
          45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

          Marea
          240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

          Corton
          239 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013

          1. Thanks so much for your help! I've "narrowed" the original list to Le Bernardin, Convivio, and Marea (in that order). I'm also throwing Jean Georges into the mix.

            From what I can tell from the online menus, Le Bernardin and JG are similar in scope of prix fixe offerings and price (~$100/person), while Convivio and Marea offer a la carte and seem to be ~$60-70/person for a similar meal. Seasoned diners - is this the case? Just want to know what to expect.

            Any more feedback is welcome!

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            Jean Georges
            1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

            Le Bernardin
            155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

            Convivio
            45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

            Marea
            240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

            3 Replies
            1. re: LaLaLisa

              If you're considering only food costs, with no drinks, tax, tip etc. then yes, both Le Bernardin ($109 four course prix fixe) and Jean Georges ($98 four course prix fixe) are about $100 per person. Of course, wine can make that figure skyrocket. Both of them are a full tier or two above Marea and Convivio in terms of fanciness, refinement, and service as they should be given their prices, especially for the tasting menus.

              Marea is considerably more expensive than Convivio as it is Michael White's newest and probably most ambitious restaurant. It's $89 for the four course prix fixe while Convivio is $59, so there's a big price difference between high-end seafood focused Italian and more rustic Southern Italian. I would suggest going the prix fixe route if you end up at either of these restaurants because ordering a la carte delivers less value and will end up being more expensive if you order the same amount of food. I think Convivio's prix fixe is an especially great value.

              1. re: LaLaLisa

                I like all four restaurants. If money really isn't an issue, I would go with your 2 choices of either Le Bernardin or Jean Georges for a truly great experience. They really provide the best of everything.

                Also, I think Le Bernardin is definitely better than Marea in terms of seafood.

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                Jean Georges
                1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

                Le Bernardin
                155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                Marea
                240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                1. re: LaLaLisa

                  Thanks for all the help everyone! We ended up at Le Bernardin, and the meal was fantastic! I had the fluke sashimi with crispy kimchi and citrus/jalapeno nage, escolar with potato crisps and red wine bearnaise, codfish with stuffed sweet peppers, and chocolate ganache with chicory ice cream. A little disappointed by the cod, but everything else was great - especially enjoyed the first and second courses.

                  Thanks again!