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Dec 4, 2009 07:51 PM

First-Timer...Looking for a Critique of my Meal Choices

Hi guys....I've posted before (a big rambling one with little info for you to work with), but now I think I am very, very close to nailing down my eating plan! Still need your help though as I am a little nervous about screwing something up.

My gf and I are coming in for New Years and spending a couple of days with friends and a couple to ourselves. My only job is to pick out our food (except for cupcakes...she loves cupcakes and has her places to visit for that).

We are looking for a food experience.....we are not exactly foodies. More like wanna-be foodies, and this is our chance to experience the best of the best - within our budget anyway. One thing we definitely want to try is a tasting menu. Another is street food.

So far....I have booked a reservation at Scarpetta for our final night in town (Saturday Jan 2nd). Babbo was my first choice, but after 45 minutes on the phone, I gave up. I am perfectly fine with Scarpetta as my first alternate though - unless there is some strong dissent from you guys. For Friday's dinner, I'm torn.....I have a reservation at Nougatine (seemed to have a nice $68 prix fixe), but am wondering if I should just bite the budget bullet and upgrade to Jean could be years before I return to NYC after all! Another thought was Degustation. Leaning towards something more French however.

For lunches....had thought about Shake Shack on the UWS....possibly Momfuku Noodle Bar....and the street food angle. Trying to keep the lunches very reasonable and splurge more on dinners.

Looking for some place to eat on New Year's Eve lunch without messing with large crowds and wait staff angry at working on the a total loss here.

Thanks for any help and guidance you can give!

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  1. I think Scarpetta will do you just fine.

    Haven't been to either jean-georges yet, though I'm heading to JG for lunch in a few weeks. JG is a top restaurant and gets very good reviews esp. for its $28 prix fixe lunch, served Mon-Sat. Nougatine gets mixed reviews. You might let us know what your budget is for each particular meal (specifying whether the amount is intended to include drinks, tax, and tip) so that we can give you an idea of where you can get the best bang for your buck.

    Street food is a good idea for lunches, and is one way to avoid NYE crowds (though it's really after 5 that the crowds become a problem). You should definitely work in some pizza, at least one lunch. If you let us know where you're staying or where you'll be, we can give you a sense of the best pizza (and other stuff) in that area.

    Enjoy your trip!

    1 Reply
    1. re: ml77

      For dinner prices.....I'm thinking no more than $200 before tax and tip - $150 is better, but willing to go higher. Lunches, of course, will have to be less.

      I am definitely doing pizza while in NY....our friends are taking us to Brooklyn for pizza, so that should cover it.

      While in Manhattan, we will be staying near Grand Central terminal....but we will be doing some shopping and site-seeing, so we expect to be all over the city.

      Any ideas what our friends and us could do on NYE? We will need a place to eat and drink a few.....a nice neighborhoody gastro-pub type of place out of the way of the NYE crowd?????

    2. Scarpetta is a great choice. Definitely keep that one. I'd skip Nougatine and go with JG or Degustation, leaning more toward Degustation because 1) It's within your budget 2) It's out-of-the-ordinary, but for overall food quality JG comes out ahead. SHO is another alternative. The food is superb, more interesting IMO than JG, the prix-fixe is $69, and they also offer a tasting menu.

      We've been going to Chow Bar for New Years Eve for several years and always enjoy it. It's festive but relatively low-key, the pan-Asian food is delicious, the staff is very pleasant, and prices are quite reasonable. No re-heated food or rushed service, everything is cooked to order.

      9 Replies
      1. re: rrems much is the dinner tasting menu at JG? I will probably not do any wine pairings, but will have a bottle with the whole progression (not the ultimate experience, but I do have bills to pay once the trip is over!).

          1. re: kathryn

            My wallet just did a double-take at that Kathryn! :)

            Honest you think it's worth the extra cash to do the tasting menu as opposed to his prix fixe? Or would I get as much enjoyment from the Degustation tasting?

            I hate to have this be about the money, but I would want to be WOW'd for that sum of cash.....will I be WOW'd? :)

            1. re: HTownCowboy

              I've been wowed by the food at JG before, especially since with the tasting menu, you can do the signature menu, your partner can do the seasonal menu, and you can try lots of things. Both his signature dishes and newer, more seasonal ones. I do have to warn you that it's a long meal. 3-4 hours. You may become restless by the end, or really full, or have palate fatigue.

              Don't forget the dress code, especially if you plan to be sightseeing during the day. In the main dining room, jackets are required for dinner. (For lunch, they simply ask no jeans, no tennis shoes.) If you're not used to a long multi-course meal wearing a nice jacket/suit/etc., it might dampen your enjoyment of the meal.

              If budget is a concern, Degustation would be a better fit. You can choose to do the 5 course tasting there, and it's a very good meal for the price. Not in the same tier as JG, but a good place to "dip your toes" into the foodie/upscale/fine dining world, so to speak since the service is very friendly, it's an open kitchen setting, and it's not as formal.

              1. re: kathryn

                Excellent advice, kathryn, but I would like to point out that if HTC is a fairly big eater he might find Degustation's 5-course to be not enough food. The first time we went we had 6 courses a la carte and left slightly hungry. Since then we have always had the 10-course and it is just right. At $75 it still fits within the budget.

                1. re: rrems

                  Lord knows I need to drop a few pounds, but I am not that big of an eater anymore.....Degustation is sounding better to me as a dinner option. How long would the 10 course tasting take....2 hours plus? Do they only take reservations by phone? I don't see them on OpenTable.

                  1. re: HTownCowboy

                    Yes, only by phone. We had dinner there last night and it took just over 2 hours. The pacing is perfect. I posted a short report on another thread:


                  2. re: rrems

                    BTW....thank you guys for all the input....this is helping tremendously

                    1. re: HTownCowboy

                      Degustation says they will be closed on New Year's Day due to inability to get fresh fish and produce.....have now booked Cafe Boulud instead. Will also try the lunch special at JG. Scarpetta is still my final Saturday night meal....looking forward to them all!

        1. is a great resource for street food in midtown. There are tons of different options, but the "classic" one is halal chicken and/or lamb over rice. Here are a couple of links from midtownlunch with lots of options: