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Way Downtown, Way Special for My Foodie Mom's 70th Birthday?

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fmogul Jan 27, 2010 04:50 PM

We're taking mom to the Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park for her 70th birthday and want a dinner that's either within walking distance (not very likely) or a short, easy cab ride. To give you an idea: we'd do something like Eleven Madison or Daniel, but they're deemed too far away; we'd consider Bouley, which is sufficiently close, but we did that last year for dad's birthday. Need something totally memorable for a foodie.

So far, that leaves us considering:

-SHO Shaun Hergatt
-Corton
-Del Posto
-Scarpetta
-Perry Street

Any of those jump out for anyone? Any other ideas?

Thanks!

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  1. b
    bern1 RE: fmogul Jan 27, 2010 07:22 PM

    i would recommend the tasting menu at forgione on reade street. in my opinion it was leaps and bounds better than my meal at bouley which left me underwhelmed (perhaps an off night?)... this place is decidedly more laid back and less of an affair, but very memorable and i believe they just got a michelin star. shouldn't be more than 5-10 min by cab.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bern1
      f
      fmogul RE: bern1 Jan 27, 2010 07:56 PM

      That does look really nice. Interesting menu and sounds like a very solid place. Thanks for the suggestion!

      If it were for me, that'd be more than enough. But I think we gotta bump it up to a bit more fancy-shmancy...

    2. daveena RE: fmogul Jan 28, 2010 08:18 AM

      I really liked both SHO and Corton. Haven't heard many positive reviews of Del Posto, and have heard great reviews of Scarpetta, but it seems more like a night out with friends place than a special occasion place.

      SHO's cuisine is more Asian-inflected French (reminded me a bit of Jean-Georges' style), and Corton's is more avante-garde (reminiscent of but not as extreme as Alinea and Pierre Gagnaire). SHO's interior is ultra-luxe and Corton's is spare but attractive. Both have great Burgundy and excellent but unobstrusive service. Definitely worth checking out the menus of each to see what suits your mom's palate best.

      1. g
        gutsofsteel RE: fmogul Jan 28, 2010 08:31 AM

        For this particular occasion, from that list, I would do Perry Street. The food is lovely with Asian accents (it's JGV), the room is airy and pretty, the service professional and helpful, and the noise level is fine. I found SHO utter soulless with erratic food (generic upscale Asian-influenced - see the link I posted below) and spotty service, and I found the food at Corton too fussy, and the sparsely decorated room felt like a medical facility. After two hours we were dying to get out of there. Scarpetta is a bit too casual for this occasion. Del Posto might be fine, it's certainly festive and a nice room, but I've read too many reports of inconsistency to recommend it for an important occasion, plus the food is somewhat traditional and your mother may want something more "foodie-ish."

        You want a room that feels festive, but also comfortable where you can sit an enjoy good food and each other's company. Sho feels like a dark hotel lobby restaurant in any Asian hotel in the world.

        1. t
          taboo RE: fmogul Jan 28, 2010 10:06 AM

          SHO and Scarpetta stand out to me in your list for food. I do think that the atmosphere of Scarpetta might be too loud for your mom though. What about Scalini Fedele (might have spelled that wrong) or Valbella.

          8 Replies
          1. re: taboo
            g
            gutsofsteel RE: taboo Jan 28, 2010 10:27 AM

            Some of my feelings about SHO were echoed in this NY Times blurb:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/din...

            1. re: gutsofsteel
              u
              UWSEater RE: gutsofsteel Jan 28, 2010 10:42 AM

              I'd say SHO or Del Posto from that list.
              I ate at SHO recently, and the comments about asian themed hotel bar seem off to me. I thought the room was structured very nicely, plenty of rooms between tables, and the wait staff was great. Our server was fantastic, and the bartenders mixed fabulous cocktails. The wine list was a bit over marked up, but the food is a fantastic value. Not everything was spectacular, but I thought it was all pretty high caliber.

              1. re: UWSEater
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                gutsofsteel RE: UWSEater Jan 28, 2010 10:52 AM

                It is high caliber. Generic, high caliber, Asian influence fancy hotel food with no soul. What the Times said - fancy dining for the sake of fancy dining. And the wine list markups (for any decent quailty) are extreme.'

                About Del Posto - the birthday woman is a foodie. She wants a foodie wow experience. Del Posto is not that.

                1. re: gutsofsteel
                  u
                  UWSEater RE: gutsofsteel Jan 28, 2010 12:20 PM

                  The wine list was absurdly marked up, but I wound up with a great cocktail (manhattan) and some nice sherry (manzanilla) with desert. I thought some of the dishes had great technique and plating, and strong flavor profiles, nothing bordered on bland while I was there. While I thought it was semi fancy, for the price the level of service was fantastic, on par with the service I've had at Jean George, just below EMP.
                  I haven't been to Del Posto in a year and a half or so, but when I went I was very impressed with everything we had. We had about 10 different canapes and amuses, and pieced together our own tasting menu with a number of primis, a secondi or to and 4 or 5 pastas. We took a break mid meal, and even got a tour of the kitchen, wine room, and the private dining rooms. It was one of the better meals I had that year. Service was top notch, from captain to bus boy. Not sure if it has degraded that much from then, but I've sent a number of people there, and no complaints yet.

                  1. re: UWSEater
                    g
                    gutsofsteel RE: UWSEater Jan 28, 2010 12:36 PM

                    I know someone who held his father's 75th birthday party at Del Posto and they loved it. I'm just saying that if one of the requirements is "foodie-ness" it might not be right, just because it's fairly traditional cooking. It's very good food, I agree. And it is a festive, fancy enough place for this.

                2. re: UWSEater
                  financialdistrictresident RE: UWSEater Jan 28, 2010 02:28 PM

                  We found SHO to be Zen like. The cuisine is French Asian. A thread with my experiences:

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/642544

              2. re: taboo
                f
                fmogul RE: taboo Jan 28, 2010 11:07 AM

                Ooh, now you're complicating things. Often walked by Scalini Fedeli at my old office and wondered how it was, but never looked into it until now. Seems to be very well-regarded, and just formal enough. A new leading contender! Valbella also sounds amazing, but not sure -- mom's pretty hip-and-cool for an almost 70something, but not sure she's *Meatpacking District* hip-and-cool. (Same issue with Scarpetta. Man, I gotta get out more and try these places myself, birthday dinner or not!)

                1. re: fmogul
                  g
                  gutsofsteel RE: fmogul Jan 28, 2010 11:22 AM

                  Scalini Fedeli is not a foodie wow place, although I like it. Valbella I have no idea but then again I am generally allergic to the Meatpacking District :-)

              3. g
                glutton RE: fmogul Jan 28, 2010 12:07 PM

                How about Locanda Verde in TriBeCa?

                2 Replies
                1. re: glutton
                  g
                  gutsofsteel RE: glutton Jan 28, 2010 12:18 PM

                  Noise level is not okay for this type of occasion.

                  1. re: glutton
                    financialdistrictresident RE: glutton Jan 28, 2010 02:24 PM

                    I was not wowed by Locanda Verde. To be fair I went once and for lunch.

                  2. f
                    FreeWally RE: fmogul Jan 28, 2010 12:58 PM

                    Try Il Giglio @ 81 Warren Street. Very good Italian food with a great ambience. Could be
                    rather expensive depending what you order. But this is very close to your hotel.

                    1. r
                      rrems RE: fmogul Jan 28, 2010 01:34 PM

                      SHO is by far your best choice. Just because 2 people on this board found it "soulless" I would not hesitate for a minute. Read all the positive (rave) reviews. The food is fabulous and imaginative, and the ambience is perfectly pleasant. I will be going there this weekend (for the third time in three months). The price is very reasonabl too, and don't be afraid to order from the low end of the wine list, there are some great buys there. The $50 bottle we ordered retails for more than half that, so I don't get the comment above about ridiculous markups.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: rrems
                        c
                        Cpalms RE: rrems Jan 28, 2010 02:01 PM

                        Based on your list, I would go with Corton first, SHO second and forget about the rest. the only other consideration would be Del Posto (frankly, Babbo is far more a "foodie" experience than DP), I have heard much about recent about DP's improvements however it would be to much of a risk for your situation...

                        another suggestion, because it souunds like transportation is an issue, consider having the hotel arrange for a car service for you. You are going to spend a small fortune on dinner so you might as well go all the way and get a car service. Picture walking out the restaurant stuffed and tipsy be able to jump right into your car and not have to find a taxi...

                        1. re: rrems
                          egit RE: rrems Jan 28, 2010 02:13 PM

                          I concur about the "soulless" comment. Can a criticism be more subjective than that? I've been to SHO only once about a month ago, and I didn't find it soulless at all. (whatever that means...)

                          So two people weren't wowed by it. Okay. Difference of opinion and tastes. Most people think SHO is a really fine restaurant, and very appropriate for a special occasion.

                          I can't comment on Corton yet, as I haven't been there. On my list soon!

                          1. re: egit
                            thew RE: egit Jan 28, 2010 02:29 PM

                            as one of those who found the food at SHO soulless let me say that, if you read the review where said that, you will find i said the food was flawless, and the service excellent, and the room beautiful. I cannot put my finger on exactly what was lacking for me, as all the elements were there. I do not think it is a bad place in any way shape or form, but somehow, and i'm still not sure how or why, the whole was less than the sum of its parts.

                            again here is the review:
                            http://www.yelp.com/biz/sho-shaun-her...

                            1. re: thew
                              g
                              gutsofsteel RE: thew Jan 29, 2010 05:45 AM

                              It has no personality, no soul, no warmth, no uniqueness. It's not fun. While some of the food was well executed, I found it all "high end generic." Aside from the energetic sommelier (who also tried to upsell us, as if the markups aren't already insane), the rest of the staff was robotic and nervous. I don't define "fine restaurant" only by decor and food perfection. Details have to be right, the vibe has to be genuine and comfortable in its fine-ness and not forced. This restaurant is not that. The NY Times got it right.

                              I would think that for this occasion, warmth is one of the criteria that matters. This place has no warmth whatsoever.

                          2. re: rrems
                            daveena RE: rrems Jan 28, 2010 04:02 PM

                            Agree re: wine - for a restaurant of this caliber, they have quite a few bottles under $80. The lovely burgundy we got (which I thought was well priced at $130 or so) retails for just under half of what we paid - pretty standard for markups.

                            1. re: daveena
                              u
                              UWSEater RE: daveena Jan 29, 2010 05:35 AM

                              A few of the bottles I looked at getting were well above the mark ups I've seen at other restaurants. A bottle of Mattassa which I had at hearth for about 75 or so was 150 or so from memory. Maybe it was just the bottles I looked at and was familiar with. There were some decent sub 100 wines, and I'm not an expert on wine lists, but it seemed like the mark up was a little more than similar places. I still think it's a great place, and a good value.

                          3. financialdistrictresident RE: fmogul Jan 28, 2010 02:21 PM

                            I've only been to SHO and Corton and preferred SHO. To be fair, I went to Corton when they first opened and what I've read recently about Corton indicates it's better than my experience was . . .I also prefer the decor at SHO.

                            PS You may be able to take the complimentary NN bus from the Ritz to SHO if you have dinner when it's still running. After that a taxi.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: financialdistrictresident
                              r
                              rrems RE: financialdistrictresident Jan 28, 2010 06:30 PM

                              I agree regarding SHO vs. Corton (and my experience was very recent). We thought Corton was less imaginative and some of the dishes just did not really work. Corton is also considerably more expensive and the mark-up on wine was obscene.

                            2. f
                              fmogul RE: fmogul Feb 18, 2010 02:11 PM

                              OP here. Since a lot of people were good to weigh in, and I was proud to see some spirited discussions how to maximize the foodie experience below W. 4th Street, I thought I should give an update on what happened. Corton won the day, though only by a nose -- until I found out they don't have tables for parties larger than six. Next up, I bit the bullet and tried for SHO -- even though the menu did seem a little over-the-top fussy (we're foodies who value simplicity with our creativity). No-go. All booked up, between the hours of 6.30 and 9pm, and we're too lame to 'dine in the Continental style.' I go for Del Posto, also not without reservation. They can do it, but only with prix fixe, and they can't guarantee that we'll get the quietest of the three tables that seat 10. Are you kidding? Someone calls up for a 70th birthday dinner, and the best you can do is, "Well, we'll put a note in the system, and there's a good chance the maitre'd will honor your request." So I call up Perry St, where they're super cordial. No problem with the seat. No prix fixe. They're happy to have us. My only hesitation -- and it's still there a little bit -- is that the place might be a tad casual. For this occasion, I'd prefer to have a place that didn't have burgers and fried chicken on the menu, but, oh well, you can't get everything.

                              Gutsofsteel, you were leading the charge for Perry St -- any specific meal suggestions? Dishes not to miss -- or to totally avoid?

                              Anyone else want to persuade me out of this and counter-offer a worthier place downtown?

                              Thanks, all!

                              Fred

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: fmogul
                                r
                                rrems RE: fmogul Feb 18, 2010 02:47 PM

                                Perry St. has great food and a really comfortable atmosphere, but it is more casual than the other places you listed except for Scarpetta. But, if you are willing to travel this far uptown, why not go a few blocks further to EMP? It's not as though you will be walking to the restaurant. Does another minute or two really put it out of the running?

                                1. re: rrems
                                  f
                                  fmogul RE: rrems Feb 22, 2010 04:37 PM

                                  Hmmm. I continue to be concerned about it being a tad too casual, but hopefully it'll be okay. Perry St. is relatively close in the sense that we can get a car at the Ritz-Carlton and get up the West Side Hwy pretty quickly. Would've done Corton, but nada for a party our size, and SHO didn't have a time that worked. EMP's now full. Any other last ditch lobbying efforts to take our 70th Birthday elsewhere?

                                  1. re: fmogul
                                    f
                                    fm1963 RE: fmogul Feb 22, 2010 04:55 PM

                                    Sounds like you may have explored all possibilities downtown. Not sure if you're considering uptown (if just a matter of booking car service, why not?), or when you're planning your celebration, but places like La Grenouille, Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse have lots of openings next week, according to Opentable.

                                    La Grenouille is great, haven't been to the other two, but I will probably try Joel Robuchon for an upcoming birthday dinner.

                                    1. re: fmogul
                                      famdoc RE: fmogul Feb 22, 2010 07:35 PM

                                      I presume your plans are for tomorrow (Tuesday) evening. Around 2 PM, call each place and see if there were any cancellations. Consider a cab ride to Brooklyn.
                                      Consider the East Village. There are thousands of restaurants in this city. Not all are booked and many are appropriate for a special occasion. Perhaps the concierge at the hotel can score a table somewhere for you, maybe at one of the places on your original list. BTW, Corton and SHO would have been my votes.

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