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Feb 13, 2010 09:06 PM

Need help! Pick 4 of these restaurants...

First of all, hi. My wife and I will be visiting from San Francisco for 6 days/5 nights in NYC for our honeymoon. This entire trip is pretty much all about food and it is my first time there! She is pregnant (will be about 3 months in when we're there) so this will be our last big trip and food splurge for a LONG time. I'm having trouble deciding how to narrow down our fine dining dinner destinations so here I am, because I trust the 'Hounds :)

Anyway, pick 4. Momofuku Ko already gets the 5th spot!

Le Bernardin
Mesa Grill
Jean Georges

I think Le Bernardin is a fish-centric restaurant? Again, prego wife over here so no raw fish, and not a lot of cooked fish either. Do restaurants usually have a problem with substitutes in a tasting menu?

I'm purposely leaving Per Se off this list because it's a little TOO pricey. Besides, we have The French Laundry over here.

Here are the other lunch joints and smaller bites we have in mind:

Spotted Pig
Peter Luger
Gramercy Tavern
Gray's Papaya
Momofuku Ssam Bar (pork buns)
Momofuku Milk Bar
Balthazar (fries)
Blue Ribbon Brasserie (roasted bone marrow + oxtail marmalade)
Shopsin's (ebelskivers)
Red Cat (tempura fried bacon)
Daisy Mays BBQ (beef ribs)
Choice Market (BLT)
Stand (toasted marshmallow shake)
Five Guys
Five Points Restaurant (yukon gold potato pizza)
Lombardi's or Grimaldi's
Nicky's Vietnamese sandwiches
Prune (bacon and marmalade sandwich)
I Trulli (orecchiette with rabbit ragu)
E.A.T (grilled cheese sandwich and tuscan peasant soup)
Katz's Deli
Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien (our hotel)
Norma's at Le Parker Meridien
Ping's Seafood (dim sum)
Kossar's Bialys
Pearl Oyster Bar (NE clam chowder)
Brooklyn Bagel or Ess-A-Bagel
Karavas Place (gyros)

Obviously we won't hit all of these places, but narrowing down this list won't be as hard. Still, suggestions are welcome.


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  1. Le Bernardin is excellent, but I wouldn't go in your circumstances. They have a few non-fish dishes, but what's the point? I personally do not like Babbo or Jean Georges. You have left off what is now the best restaurant in NYC, Eleven Madison Park. I would go to WD-50 just to have the experience. Bon app├ętit.

    15 Replies
    1. re: beaulieu

      Toss out Mesa Grill, pretty mediocre. Also, I agree with beaulieu's EMP recommendation. Not to be missed if you're looking for fine dining in nyc.

      1. re: ChiefHDB

        OK, Mesa Grill and Craft were already tossed out since they have location in Vegas and LA, respectively. EMP is IN.

        I think Jean Georges and WD-50 are also in. Down to one! I was thinking Babbo to change it up from the French/New American fare, but people here don't seem to think much of it. What is your choice for Italian?

        1. re: kimchee411

          Del Posto, Alto or Felidia would be better choices than Babbo, but there is still no great Italian restaurant in NYC.

          1. re: beaulieu

            What other cities in the U.S. do you think have better Italian restaurants than NYC? Just curious.

            1. re: uwsister

              I guess I should have said that I don't know of any great Italian restaurants in the U.S. But there should be one in NYC; the audience is ready.

              1. re: uwsister

                I think A16 comes pretty close to the best Italian I've had in the states. I've been craving buffalo mozzarella ever since I left Naples and it's the only place that's come close to re-creating that beautiful memory.

                1. re: saraheartsny

                  In SF, I believe Quince is much better than A16, but it probably depends on what you are looking for. For anything but pizza I'd sat Quince, particularly their pastas. For pizza, I actually prefer Defina, but mainly for their crust.

              2. re: kimchee411

                I'm not sure why you think Babbo is not thought of highly here. Although I have never been (no reservations telephone tango for me!), there are a boatload of Chowhounds who rave about it.

                For upscale Italian, I like Alto.

                Alto photos here:

                For slightly more casaul, I like Maialino.

                Maialino photos here:

                and here:

                I'll throw in a culinary curveball. Seasonal serves superb Austrian cuisine. Excellent service and lovely atmospherics. Open just over a year, they've been deserved awarded a Michelin star.

                Seasonal photos here:

                Good move including EMP, our favorite NYC restaurants. Photos of the 11-course Gourmand dinner we had there a couple of weeks ago can be seen here:

                1. re: RGR

                  EMP and Seasonal are great suggestions.

                2. re: kimchee411

                  Babbo gets very positive reports on CH, but I prefer Convivio. I think you should add Degustation to the list. WD-50 is worth trying, though one visit was enough for us, as I felt it was overpriced. Drop Mesa Grill, keep J-G.

                  1. re: kimchee411

                    i would also consider scarpetta - wonderful food and beautiful atmosphere.

                  2. re: ChiefHDB

                    The thing with all these places is that it's kind of like throwing a rock at the broad side of a can't miss! They're all delicious. But since you're visiting, try out some of the NY originals on your list like Grimaldi's, Katz's, Ess-A-Bagel, Luger's, Mesa Grill and the Spotted Pig.


                    1. re: ChiefHDB

                      Agree on Mesa Grill. Reliable for a business lunch but that is about it.

                    2. re: beaulieu

                      Agreed - sub out Mesa Grill and replace it with Eleven Madison Park.

                      Eleven Madison Park
                      11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

                      Mesa Grill
                      102 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                    3. Just came back from NYC visit. Another Italian place to consider is Scarpetta on w14th. Recommended by CH posters and did not disappoint. Had one of the best pasta dishes in my life there (rabbit with cavatelli)

                      1. I agree with Scarpetta. This place is truly magnificent. As for your lunch spots, Shake Shack or BLT Burger are a must try! Lucali in Carrol Gardens is also worth the trip.. I think it's better than Lombardi's and Grimaldi's! Have fun!

                        1. As for your small bites....skip Five Guys (its a small step up from mcdonalds), skip gray's papaya (overrated). Also skip Le Bernardin...its basically all fish so no point in going.

                          I would say try Alto. And I enjoyed Jean Georges when I went. Definitely do EMP. I've never been to w-d 50 but am dying to go!

                          1. As a San Franciscan living in New York, I'd say don't bother going to Ping's seafood for dim sum. While I've personally never been, I've had dim sum at a few other well-regarded places in nyc, and I don't think anything even comes close to what we have in SF. On another note, I really enjoy Babbo, so if you can get a reservation I say go for it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mcm1900

                              As another Bay Area person, I'd like to make comment.
                              I think the Italian restaurants in NY are great and are often where we head in the City.
                              We love Lupa (much less formal than Babbo), Grammercy Tavern and always stop in at Pearl Oyster Bar for a lobster roll the likes of which you don't get in SF.