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Where to go from the Union Square Hospitality Group?

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I got a gift certificate to this and I haven't been to any of the places on it except Blue Smoke and, of course, Shake Shack. The restaurants include Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, The Modern, and I suppose Maialino if it is especially good - although I'm really choosing between the first four. I'm sure everyone knows all of those places, and I was just wondering which is the best. Thanks.

Oh, and it would be a date with my girlfriend - both in our mid 20's, but the key is the food being the best.

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  1. Although I am a HUGE fan of any Danny Meyer joint if your stipulation is the best food then it is narrowed down to two: The Modern Dining Room or EMP. Up until recently this would have been a difficult choice but the nod would have been EMP....BUT...due to a recent run of incredible meals at The Modern I would have to say that would be my choice.

    Both are beautiful spaces but very different so that may influence your decision. The Modern, sleek and bright with a view of the sculpture garden, EMP, grand and impressive.

    And just so I'm clear, I think GT and USC are great but the food is not as "refined" as the other two IMO.

    1. Definitely go to Eleven Madison Park. I've had some wonderful meals at EMP. I've had two meals at The Modern Dining Room (lunch and dinner) and both left me underwhelmed.

      1. In your mid 20s? Def Maialino. Put on a hot outfit, have a great meal in a sexy spot, then stay for a drink at the Rose Bar, or go up to the roof.

        2 Replies
        1. re: chow_gal

          Well I have $400 on the certificate so maybe EMP for the first and Maialino for the second?

          The Modern sounds good but I'd prefer a different atmosphere than something that is bright.

          1. re: Taylor.Watson

            You certainly can't go wrong with EMP, but having been there a number of times, I went to the Modern for the first time this summer and based on that one experience, I would recommend it above EMP. I felt the food was very imaginative and beautifully presented. As far as the lighting is concerned, it is not "bright", it is just as subdued as EMP.

        2. Definitely go for Eleven Madison Park. Chef Humm is certainly one of NYC's brightest young chefs. His food is experimental, yet sticks to the classical French tradition in an unpretentious way. Going here would make a fun and adventurous dining experience.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dyltf

            #1 thats an awesome gift
            #2 EMP

          2. Definitely EMP. I wasn't crazy about the Modern or USQ Cafe. GT is good but EMP is more exciting.

            1. Thanks everyone. I think EMP is the choice, and I'll spend the balance at Maialino. Or I guess maybe Tabla, but it doesn't seem worth it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Taylor.Watson

                EMP is the right choice - the food is excellent and the room is gorgeous, the service the best in the city. But don't be surprised if you don't have anything leftover from that $400 gift certificate after dinner at EMP. I say splurge there, get the tasting menu, drink good wine, enjoy. Maialino is good too, but you can go there another time - it won't break the bank.

              2. The Modern hands down. EMP is too fussy and portions are quite small.

                1. EMP for sure. The food is some of the best in the city, absolutely deserving 4 stars. They're very welcoming, but that'll be true wherever you dine in the group. The Modern is very good but I don't think it's quite in the same class either for the food or the overall experience.

                  1. for my tastes, I would say first, Gramercy Tavern, 2nd, Eleven Madison Park. you will have the best of everything at both these places.