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Birthday tasting lunch - Bouley or GT?

I'm trying to decide on a place to celebrate my birthday with my boyfriend, with a 5 course tasting meal - which we've never done before! It will be a weekday lunch-time in Feb, and at the moment I'm between Gramercy Tavern and Bouley - both have great menus at a very reasonable price ($50 ish). Other suggestions are welcome though, around that price range, and anywhere in Manhattan is fine. We're not major foodies, but we do want something really special.

We're also looking for somewhere for a nice brunch on a Sunday - has anyone had good experiences at Cibo? We'd be looking at Midtown/ East 60s for the brunch, and around $30 a head or less.

Thanks for any help!

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  1. I think the most spectacular lunch is to be found at Eleven Madison Park. It's a relative bargain at lunch and the room during the day is so beautiful, with the huge windows facing the park and the light coming in....couldn't be lovelier. The food is excellent, the service is the best in the city. My favorite time to go there is lunch on a weekday.

    3 course prix fixe is $42, plus amuses, wonderful breads and butter, sweet nibbles after your savory courses, etc etc.

    http://www.elevenmadisonpark.com/

    1. Bouley is a great choice (as is EMP). There is a very recent post about a wonderful lunch at Bouley.

      1. EMP is a great suggestion. Another good weekday lunch option is Jean-Georges. They have a great option of building your own tasting menu with as many courses as you want for $14.50 per course (minimum 2 courses). So you can easily have an excellent 4-course meal (3 savory dishes plus an $8 dessert) in your $50 range. In my opinion, both EMP and Jean-Georges would be better options than Bouley or Grammercy Tavern. Not that either of them are bad, it's just that in your price range at lunch, you can go to a 4-star restaurant.

        And Happy Birthday! Hope you enjoy your celebration, wherever you pick.

        1. EMP, as suggested by g-of-s, is a great choice but you won't be able to do their tasting menu for your budget.

          Another non-tasting recommendation would be Jean George, you could do 3 plates and dessert (before tax, tip, booze) for about $50.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Spiritchaser

            Not true. Their 3-course prix fixe lunch is $42.

            1. re: gutsofsteel

              What's not true? If you are referring to EMP, the 3 courses for $42 does not include dessert. The tarts cart is $12. In any case, the o.p. says she wants to do a 5-course tasting menu. At EMP, it's $68 which, as Spiritchaser points out, is beyond the stated $50 budget.

              Btw, the costs at Jean Georges are now 2 plates for $29, $14.50 for each additional plate, and $8 per dessert.

              1. re: RGR

                So it comes to $54 for the $42 3-course prix fixe plus dessert. I'd call that pretty close to the $50 budget. Plus there are the amuses, and wonderful bread and butter, and little sweets thrown in, and a palate cleanser....it's a lot of food.

          2. I am not a fan of the food in G.T.'d dining room. The dinner we had there was the most disappointing meal of '09 for me. (I do like the Tavern Room, though.) We've been to Bouley once and had the tasting lunch. It was fine, but not close to being stellar.

            EMP's 5-course lunch Gourmand is $68. Imo, well worth the extra dollars. We had the current one last week.

            Photos can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

            Happy Birthday and Bon Appetit!

            1 Reply
            1. re: RGR

              I completely agree about Gramercy Tavern and their different dining rooms. The Tavern side was much better.