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Dec 4, 2009 03:57 PM

Upcoming NYC Trip - some booked, others pending.

Will be in NYC for 5 days at/around New Years - I have room for 8 (4 dinners, 4 lunches) meals and have already done plenty of scouting - I've also been to many of the mainstays and as good as many were I don't want to do repeats.
Been to JG, Le Bernardin, The Modern, Gramercy Tavern, EMP, Alto, Scarpetta, Babbo, Otto, Il Mulino, Nobu, Ssam, Noodle Bar.

Definites include
Per Se, Daniel, and Marea for dinners
Convivio, Bouley, and Casa Mono for lunches

Thoughts for the other lunch include Tocqueville, A Voce, Cafe Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne, Del Posto, Aureole - I'm leaning toward A Voce or DB.

Thoughts for the other dinner include Gilt, Picholine, Veritas, SHO (or Ko if I can score a reservation) - I'm leaning toward Picholine.


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  1. Picholine is a long-time favorite of mine, but I have to say SHO was sublime. You can't go wrong with either but I think the food at SHO was just a bit more unusual and exciting. Veritas is also great but I find the ambience at Picholine warmer, and again the food at SHO more interesting. Haven't been to Gilt.

    I haven't been to A Voce either but have been reading mixed reviews and am not tempted.

    1. Re: Dinner

      At Picholine two weeks ago, we had the tasting menu, which is now focusing on game. Outstanding!

      Photos here:

      As rrems said, SHO's cuisine is quite unique -- and delicious!

      Photos of our dinner here:

      Veritas is a long-time favorite. With the arrival of Chef Grégory Pugin during the summer of '08, the cuisine changed radically from Scott Bryan's very good Contemporary American to Chef Pugin's sensational French. We've been there several times within the past year-and-a-half.

      Photos of our most recent meals here:

      and here:

      We have not been to Gilt, but it is on my "go to" list.

      Re: Lunch

      Tocqueville and Cafe Boulud are two of our favorites.

      When we go to Tocqueville for lunch, we almost always have the 3-course prix fixe for $24.07 -- a steal for cuisine of such high caliber. And my husband does the wine pairings for an additional $15. The last time we were there was at the end of September.

      Photos here:

      We had lunch at Cafe Boulud in November. As usual, excellent! The dining room was recently refreshed, and there is a new, attractive bar down the hall where you can relax with drink.

      Photos here:

      We've been to dbBistro a few times, the last, a pre-theater lunch in March. The food is very good but, imo, Cafe Boulud's is superior.

      Photos here:

      If you go to A Voce, bring earplugs! We ate once at A Voce Madison (when Carmellini was there), and the noise level was deafening! And I've read that the same is the case at A Voce TWC.

      We have not been to Del Posto or Aureole.

      7 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        Thanks for the pictures RGR......I have been to Picholine a couple of times and absolutely love it! I always sit at the bar. The bartender Eric, who works as a waiter in the dining room on Saturdays, is very nice. I went in July twice in 1 week because of the white gazpacho! The second time I had a glass of Brunello and he filled it again for no charge. Let's just say that it was appreciated:-)

        I am going back at the beginning of January and plan on going again, I just hope that they are not closed for vacation.

        1. re: cricri7

          You're welcome, cricri7! Yes, Picholine is a wonderful restaurant. Not only is the cuisine first-rate, but service is excellent, and the ambiance is exceptionally pleasant. Civilized dining at its best!

          Interesting that you mention Eric. We were also there in September on a Monday evening, and he was our waiter. So, obviously, he works in the dining room on other nights as well. I agree that he is very nice.

          1. re: RGR

            My husband and I stopped into Picholine after a Christmas party and had two dishes from the "bar" menu, some cheese, and a half bottle of a fabulous Brunello. We just looked at each other and smiled after the first bites of the liquid foie gras filled pasta. As you say, the service is perfect, and the rooms are very elegant.

        2. re: RGR

          Much appreciated - and as usual, great pictures.

          I'm thinking that Picholine looks to be the best experience though I wonder if it'll get overshadowed by doing Per Se and Daniel in the same trip - SHO also looks excellent but its location seems a bit far from the areas I'll be staying.

          As the "missing lunch" is actually an early lunch before a 1:00pm Rangers game I do think dbBistro might win out given my fascination with Croque's and gnocchi - both of which seem to have stunning representations on their Saturday Brunch menu.

          1. re: uhockey

            Thanks for the compliment!

            None of your other dinner options is on the same star level ("NY Times"/Michelin) as Per Se or Daniel although, frankly, I don't agree with the star assignments for Daniel in either case.

            Our last visit to Daniel was in the fall of '07. (We had been twice before.) Excellent food, but -- and it's a major BUT -- there were *several* serious service errors during the second half of our dinner which I have described on this board before. Totally inexcusable for a restaurant of Daniel's supposed high caliber. Furthermore, our friend, the ulterior epicure, had dinner there in October and was less than enthusiastic. You can read about it here:

            We've only been to Per Se once, in June 2008. Service was faultless and, except for a veal dish that was bland, bland, bland, the meal was excellent. Was it the meal of a lifetime as so many others hail it? Not for me as I have had equally as wonderful meals in many other restaurants both here and abroad.

            All that said, imo, Picholine provides one of the most pleasant and civilized dining experiences in the city. The cuisine is quite fine and, of course, there is the exceptional cheese cart.. I think if you go with appropriate expectations, you will not be disappointed.

            1. re: RGR

              I regularly read UE's site - but we don't always agree - I was beyond impressed by my visit to L2O, for instance.

              Your comments about Daniel are interesting - I felt the same about Spiaggia in Chicago, a restaurant hailed for it's "superb" service. I still feel I should check out Boulud's namesake just to see if it lives up to other US-Michelin 3-Star's.

              For Per Se - I only hope the Offal menu is still available on December 30th. :-)

              1. re: uhockey

                I can understand you wanting to check out Boulud's flagship.

                If not for the fact that, as I said, we'd been to Daniel twice before and had excellent service both times, we'd never consider going again. However, our opinion of the food is quite positive, and though we've not exactly rushed back, we will eventually go again. But of this I am certain. It will not be on a Friday or Saturday, and it will not be an early reservation. Several of the problems were directly caused by them wanting to turn our table on a Saturday night.

        3. I had a very disappointing lunch at Bouley recently

          I went to SHO shortly after it opened and enjoyed it very much. From what I've heard it's gotten better. I would think that there'd be people recommending Corton given your list of places.

          I think Marea can turn into two dinners in that one would be the crudo/pasta tasting and the other would be cooked dishes from the prix fixe. I think they're entirely different.

          I enjoyed the lunch I had at Tocqueville a while back, but I don't know that I'd consider it a destination food place if you're from out of town. How about sushi? Both Kuruma and Yasuda serve lunch as well.

          9 Replies
          1. re: fooder

            Food-wise, I think Corton would be excellent - but I personally like to take pictures and think their no-pictures policy rather defeats the purpose of stunning artistry in food - if The French Laundry, Alinea, and El Buli allow it so should Corton. I understand Ko doesn't allow pics either, but I don't know - it seems to fit the "mystique" that Chang has created with the seating Lottery and such.

            Call me crazy (many do) but Sushi is just one of those things I have a hard time splurging on - I've had what many consider to be "great" sushi and just didn't find it THAT much better than "good" sushi - clearly I've not been to Japan, MASA, or Ursawa - perhaps some day - but I really prefer my dishes fresh AND prepped (L2O, Providence, etc)

            1. re: uhockey

              I would also recommend Craft and Gotham Bar and Grill for dinner. I had stellar meals at both of them.

              I would recommend that your steer away from Del Posto. While the food is undoubtedly good, the portions are quite small, and the prices are astronomic. For the price, there are far better meals and experiences to be had in New York City.

              Seems like you are only looking for "fine dining" type of places. However, if you would like to venture out in the steak realm how about Peter Luger (Brooklyn), Keens, Strip House, Old Homestead, Del Frisco's. There are many incredible steakhouses in our city and it would be a shame to miss one. Obviously they all offer and excel in different things so please specify what would be your ideal steakhouse meal and I'd love to chuck in my two cents for ya =).

              Good luck and enjoy our great city.

              1. re: steakrules85

                I thought the same thing about Del Posto. Then I heard that they took away the "more casual" section of the Enoteca and making some other changes (perhaps mainly because they lost a Michellin star?). So Mario and gang are aiming real hard to improve Del Posto, the most expensive of the Batali empire.

                They just implemented a $29 3-course pre-fixe menu for lunch Wed-Fri, which I went to this past Friday ($10 for each additional course). I had a great lunch there, with a big selection (pretty much their dinner menu) with an additional course.

                That being said, you can't go wrong with your lunch options, uhockey. I'd either go with Cafe Boulud, SHO (only weekdays) or Del Posto (Wed-Fri only). You can probably skip Aureole since the reviews since it moved haven't been good.

                1. re: steakrules85

                  I always enjoy NYC - I've been there 1-2x yearly for the past couple years, this is a first for New Years - my Blog is full of the experiences I've listed above. You all are also one of the most friendly chowhound boards I've experienced in my travels.

                  Alas, I don't eat beef flesh. :-)

                  Gotham looks interesting - it was in consideration. Regarding Craft, I've been largely underwhelmed by 2 experiences (one comp'd because the first was so poor) at Craftsteak LV - I'm a tad gunshy.

                  1. re: uhockey

                    I cannot comment on Craftsteak in Las Vegas, however Craft is different and this is the original. I have never heard of anyone having a bad meal there that I have spoken to. Give it a try I bet you love it uhock.

                    1. re: uhockey

                      Uhockey, gotham is very nice, but my impression from your reviews and comments is that you go for stellar wows. I think of Gotham as - a really great restaurant to have in the neighborhood when I am willing to spend a fair amount and be somewhat fancy.

                      In sum, I think Gotham will disappoint you, unless you choose it for, say, a lunch b/c you're in my neighborhood.

                      1. re: yebo

                        I don't know that Gotham would disappoint - I still consider a lunch at Gramercy Tavern in NY and Boulevard in SF some of the better meals I've tasted - Gotham looks in a similar light.

                        1. re: uhockey

                          Gotham was better than my dinner at Gramercy Tavern.

                2. You're missing out on a treat if you don't consider Minetta Tavern. In spite of the tough reservations, this is easily one of the top NYC restaurant today. Imho, it's worth a try or a walk in to get seat at at bar. The dishes are simply one of the top bistro-style dishes in the city.

                  1. Any thoughts on wd-50? To anyone who has been to a couple "mg" experiences - how does it compare to Moto, Alinea, or even The Bazaar?

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: uhockey

                      I've been to WD-50 once, and though we were impressed with the food we felt it was overpriced. We ordered a la carte so we could choose dishes that sounded appealing to us, and it worked. Having read reviews describing the tasting menu, I would hesitate to order it as some of the dishes were described as not successful, and the descriptions of those did not appeal to us. The only other molecular experiences I have had have been in Europe. One of the best meals we have ever had was at Akelare in San Sebastian. I do not think WD comes anywhere near the level of that.

                      1. re: uhockey

                        i loved my meal at wd-50. the food was delicious, well thought out, and extremely playful.

                        1. re: uhockey

                          Having eaten at Alinea in Chicago; Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain; Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain; Cinc Sentits in Barcelona, Spain; Hisop in Barcelona, Spain; and Tailor in NYC (RIP), I have to say that in terms of pure deliciousness, WD-50 wasn't nearly as impressive as the ones I just mentioned.

                          Especially Alinea (which remains my favorite in terms of innovation AND taste AND atmosphere AND service) with Cinc Sentits in Barcelona a very close 2nd.

                          1. re: uhockey

                            While not as "mg" as wd~50, Corton will most likely impress you far more with its food. Paul Liebrandt studied with Pierre Gagnaire and his influence shows. While Liebrandt has reined his wilder, more inventive style in at Corton (his food at the previous incarnation of Gilt was much more daring), he's the closest you'll get to Grant Achatz in terms of talent and style in NYC, photo policy notwithstanding.

                            1. re: hcbk0702

                              We went to the restaurant Le Caprice last night at the Pierre Hotel. I think it's a branch of the London restaurant. It is beautifully decorated and fully of snazzy looking people. The food, while not extraordinary, was very tasty and not horribly expensive. Veal chop was yummy ! and the mushroom risotto too. If you're looking for an uptown vibe, you'd like this. Much better than Cipriani on the next block. If you're spending the morning shopping Madison Avenue and the big department stores,I recommend it.. We went to Cafe Bolud last month. It used to be one of my favorite restaurants. I was so disappointed. It was expensive and mediocre. And such small portions too!

                              1. re: pammi

                                Thanks for letting us know about Le Caprice ... I've been wanting to go there since it opened recently. Were lots of diners wearing jackets? We have a visitor this Saturday who wants to go shopping in the area, and this might work for lunch.

                                1. re: pammi

                                  We are longtime fans of Cafe Boulud. While it is not inexpensive, I disagree about the quality of the cuisine and the portion sizes. At a recent lunch there, everything was delicious, and portion sizes were more than adequate. Service, as usual, was cordial and polished. And the new bar room down the hall is very attractive and comfortable.

                                  In case you missed the link to photos in my Dec. 5th post:

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    Cafe Boulud looks excellent and It is definitely under consideration.

                                    1. re: uhockey

                                      I get up to the city about 3 x's a year just to eat. My 2 cents:

                                      Do Cafe Boulud, if for nothing else, a well-crafted martini and a sampler plate of their pates and terrines. Oh, the curried carrots were heavenly. I still think about that pear martini too.

                                      I'm certain you are aware, but it can hurt to remind you to eat extremely lightly the day of per se. 3.5 hrs of eating rich does crazy things to your system.

                                      I adored Casa Mono and would eagerly return. The sweetbreads, razor clams, croquetas and even the custard with the fried bay leaves were all memorable.

                                      Personally, I am a huge Chang fan and if you haven't been to noodle bar or ssam, and can't score a Ko reservation, than definitely hit noodle or ssam while you are there.

                                      Have a lovely trip - I'm envious!

                                      1. re: lynnlato

                              , clearly you didn't read the first line - I've been to all the Momofuku's aside from Ko and Ma Peche. :-)

                               for eating before Per Se - I handled the extended tasting at The French Laundry (21 courses) after lunch at Bouchon. I'll be alright.

                                        1. re: uhockey

                                          My Bad - It's been a long week, and its only Wednesday, what can I say.

                                          Well then, have a lovely trip.

                                          1. re: lynnlato

                                            Thanks - I shall.
                                            Now I have to sort out the ancillary eating - bakery musts and such.

                              2. re: uhockey

                                If you're a fan of Alinea it's worth mentioning that Alex Stupak (Alinea's Former Pastry Chef) is currently the pastry chef at WD50. I ate there last week and had the Licorice Custard with Sake Sorbet, and Bartlett Pear which I found absolutely amazing.