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Help me decide-Dad's 80th b-day: EMP, Convivo, Marea, Hearth, Perilla or USC?

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enp123 Jan 28, 2010 08:04 AM

I know these are all very different--I just can't decide. Want a lovely, memorable meal with gracious service. Thank you I am spinning my wheels!!!

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    gutsofsteel RE: enp123 Jan 28, 2010 08:10 AM

    EMP by a mile for such an occasion. No question.

    3 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel
      ellenost RE: gutsofsteel Jan 28, 2010 08:12 AM

      I agree with you 100%. My 85 years (young) mother adores EMP. She made me promise her that for her next birthday in August, we celebrate it at EMP. We look forward to it!

      1. re: ellenost
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        enp123 RE: ellenost Jan 28, 2010 08:47 AM

        Thank you--I should add my DAd is a young 80 as well,,, but we haven't been to EMP in over 5 years and I think he'll really enjoy.

        1. re: enp123
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          gutsofsteel RE: enp123 Jan 28, 2010 09:37 AM

          Oh so you haven't been since Daniel Humm took over....you're in for a real treat. Reserve asap.

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      RGR RE: enp123 Jan 28, 2010 12:39 PM

      No surprise that I echo the EMP suggestion. We were just there for Mr. R.'s birthday on Tuesday evening. The 11-course Gourmand (which ended up a baker's dozen) was truly exciting! Four hours of enchanting bliss!

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

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        Jane A. RE: enp123 Jan 28, 2010 12:52 PM

        Not that you need another EMP vote, but really that's the only place on the list that I'd take them. I'm sure they'll love everything including the wonderful space. Who knows, your Dad may have been there when it was still a bank and have wonderful stories to tell you.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jane A.
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          rrems RE: Jane A. Jan 28, 2010 06:37 PM

          I hate to be picky, but it was never a bank. It was part of the (very large) lobby of the Met Life building.

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          burton RE: enp123 Jan 28, 2010 07:45 PM

          I'd choose Convivio. Where EMP is grand, Convivio is intimate. Where EMP can veer toward the stiff and pretentious, Convivio is warm and attentive. EMP is impressive, Convivio memorable. The menus are distinct, with equally wonderful preparations in my experience. Take a look for yourself. You'd do well either way, but a slight edge goes to Convivio.

          3 Replies
          1. re: burton
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            gutsofsteel RE: burton Jan 28, 2010 07:52 PM

            I have been at EMP many times - one of the things I love about it is that it's so good, and so very unpretentious and there is nothing stiff about it. One of its most special qualties is its ability to remain at the top of the quality and service chain while remaining comfortable and friendly. And to compare it to Convivio? Convivio is a nice restaurant with some good dishes but that's about it. I cannot fathom any comparison of quality between the two places in any way.

            Also, there is hardly a more beautiful restaurant space in NYC than EMP. At Convivio, the tables are too close together and it's light years less elegant and gracious than EMP.

            burton, when were you last at EMP?

            1. re: gutsofsteel
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              burton RE: gutsofsteel Jan 29, 2010 10:28 AM

              I used to go to EMP with some frequency in previous years and always left very pleased. It really was one of my favorites overall. On a more recent visit however (2009) I was surprised at some of the service related issues (though food overall was excellent) as suggested in my earlier posting. Perhaps the experience was uncharacteristic but the issues were sufficiently pervasive for me not to want to rush back any time soon. Glad to see so many continue to have very positive experiences. I suppose some variability goes with the territory, right? By contrast, two visits to Convivio in recent months have been near-perfect and I recommend it wholeheartedly for across the board excellence.

              1. re: burton
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                gutsofsteel RE: burton Jan 29, 2010 10:40 AM

                I think issues with service at EMP are anomalous. What issues did you experience?

                My recent Convivio visit was fraught with service issues! Had to ask for water many times, My companion and I were served at different times with the same course, silverware didn't arrive with the food, coffee was lukewarm...

          2. the1arianna RE: enp123 Jan 28, 2010 07:55 PM

            I recently had a VERY memorable meal at Convivio w/ a large group of foodies and we all agreed – it was fantastic! Every dish was perfect, the wine list extensive, and impeccable service. I can’t wait to return! Plus Tudor City adds great NY ambiance.

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              enp123 RE: enp123 Jan 29, 2010 10:40 AM

              Oh no!!! What to do! EMP or Convivo?

              5 Replies
              1. re: enp123
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                gutsofsteel RE: enp123 Jan 29, 2010 10:44 AM

                The majority recommend EMP here...it is light years better in my view. Just take a look at the two NY Times reviews...EMP is considered one of the finest, if not the finest, restaurants in NYC. It was recently awarded 4 stars by the NYT. Convivio is a nice place...but it's just not even in the same league. Take a look at the websites for both places, look at the menus for both places, the wines lists, the rooms...do a search on EMP here on CH and see the overwhelming delight that people have going there...

                1. re: gutsofsteel
                  hcbk0702 RE: gutsofsteel Jan 29, 2010 11:33 AM

                  Actually, Frank Bruni did mention on Charlie Rose (in an interview right after he left the NYT) that one of his absolute favorite restaurants in NYC was Convivio (the other was Le Bernardin). That's not faint praise coming from him.

                  1. re: hcbk0702
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                    gutsofsteel RE: hcbk0702 Jan 29, 2010 11:46 AM

                    Frank Bruni was waaaay prejudiced toward Italian food because it's the only cuisine he actually understands.

                2. re: enp123
                  hcbk0702 RE: enp123 Jan 29, 2010 11:39 AM

                  Depends on what you're looking for. EMP would be great for a more formal, French fine dining type meal. Convivio serves excellent pasta dishes and heartier, more rustic Southern Italian fare. Pick whichever you think your father would prefer.

                  If cost is a concern, then Convivio is the easy choice. The 4 course $62 prix fixe is a great deal for the quality and quantity of food.

                  1. re: hcbk0702
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                    rrems RE: hcbk0702 Jan 29, 2010 02:37 PM

                    This would be my advice exactly. Both are wonderful in their own right, but cost and level of formality would be the deciding factors for me.

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