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Mar 10, 2010 08:28 AM

Le Bernardin & My NYC Restaurant choices. Help?

Am coming to the city this weekend. Chef husband, sous chef wife.
What do you think of my choices? Fri. lunch- Blue Smoke, Fri Dinner -
Maialino, Sat Lunch Craftbar, Sat dinner - Le Bernardin. We love the
lively NY restaurants. Is Le Bernardin too quiet? Worth the reservation?
Any other suggestions? Breakfast? Thanks ahead!

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  1. ive only been to le bernadin once but form my experience it isnt too quiet since its a very popular place and when i went there weren't many empty tables if any. but it is a really classy place so its not exactly lively. its too late now but maybe next time try momofuku, from my one experience its a pretty lively place. i think my favorite lively place where u might still get a reservation this weekend is striphouse, if u like steak i think its an awesome place. le bernadin is more about the food than atmosphere. though it is beautiful, i walked to the bathroom about 4 times cause the path to it is just really beautiful. but i dont think le bernadin is a place to go for a lively atmosphere. but if u love food, especially seafood i would definiately keep the rec for sure.

    6 Replies
    1. re: daffyduck

      Ssam Bar has gone downhill lately, with the departure of the former chef. I'd wait to hear reports that things have settled in and gotten better.

      Le Bernardin is a superb restaurant, upscale French seafood. Another to consider is Eleven Madison Park (if you can get a reservation at this point). But neither Le Bernardin or EMP is "lively."

      1. re: gutsofsteel

        Not sure if daffyduck was referring to Ssam Bar since you don't need a reservation. If dd was referring to Ko, Ko is still brilliant (I've another reservation for lunch this weekend). Sometimes last minute availability does pop up--I've gotten a few of those myself.

        1. re: ellenost

          "maybe next time try momofuku, from my one experience its a pretty lively place"

          I wouldn't really call Ko lively. More like...sedate but with an iPod playing music running in the background. I think daffyduck is referring to Ssam Bar or Noodle.

          The "reservation" aspect is referring to Strip House in daffy's reply.

          1. re: kathryn

            guts of steal is right i was refering to ssam bar

      2. re: daffyduck

        Strip House was written up in NY Times today. Might not be easy to get in, eh?

        1. re: ChefJune

          i guess, when i went it was a bit packed but i got in with no reservations. thing is i went on a weekday around 9pm. if the OP calls now maybe she has a chance?

      3. The cuisine at Le Bernardin is superb. But if you're looking for lively, you won't find it there. Not that it's funereal, but it is on the subdued side. And, in case you aren't aware of it, jackets are required.

        EMP, imo, has a livelier vibe though there is certainly no assault on the eardrums.

        For fish and seafood with a lively vibe, but where you can still converse in normal tones, I highly recommend Oceana. The style of the cuisine is Contemporary American, as opposed to Le Bernardin's French. Although the level is a step down from Le Bernardin's, we found the food to be very well-prepared and delicious. Service is cordial and attentive (at Le Bernardin, it's stiffer and more reserved). Oceana's large dining room has very attractive decor. Prices are much more moderate than at Le Bernardin, and you can dress casually.

        Photos of our dinner at Oceana can be viewed here:

        You've chosen well for Friday's dinner. We have been to Maialino several time. The food is wonderful, service is welcoming and efficient (as befits a Danny Meyer restaurant), the rustic decor is very pleasing, and the upbeat vibe is exactly what you are looking for.

        Photos of one of our meals at Maialino can be viewed here:

        3 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          Oceana and Le B are not even in the same league, they are not comparable...Oceana is now a giant corporate expense account place (and a crappy one at that) completely devoid of a soul. A good comp to Le B in midtown is Marea...if you want french go to Le B, Italian go to Marea....and forget you ever heard the word Oceana....

          skip Bluesmoke and go to Dinosaur or Hill Country or even better go to Char no.4 in brooklyn (this place is very Cheffy).... and skip craftbar and go to Momo Ssam , I have been there several times in the last couple of months and have seen nothing even close to a downhill trend, going again tmrw will report back is something is up...I consider Ssam to be the most important restaurant in NYC right now,has ben for awhile, every visiting chef should go...

          1. re: Cpalms

            You are certainly entitled to your opinion about Oceana. I can only go by the experience we had, and it was an excellent one in every respect, including with regard to the cuisine.

            And, imo, nothing corporate feeling about it. This was in large part due to the fact that service was warm and gracious. At Le Bernardin, while service is proper, it's much more remote. You're lucky if you can coax a smile from the staff, and the folks at reception are not very welcoming.

            I've never cared for the room at Le Bernardin. Despite all the efforts at camouflage, I can't shake the feeling that I'm dining in the lobby of an office building, which is, in fact where the restaurant is located. At Oceana, the designers have done a terrific job with the very attractive decor so that there's no inkling that this restaurant is also located on the street level of an office building.

            1. re: RGR

              the way I order wine, I get plenty of smiles at Le B :)...the room at Le B is a little austere, who cares? it is about the quality, creativity, attention to detail of the food, L B has that in spades..i'm all about flower arrangements or chit chat with the staff if they make my meal better, 99 times out of 100 they don't matter...

        2. Skip Blue Smoke and hit up Dinosaur in Harlem. Blue Smoke is not even in the top 5 BBQ joints. Also, Craftbar is OK but nothing special. Everything comes slathered in a heavy sauce. You could do better. I would suggest Commerce.

          1. I don't know where you're from, suechef, but New York is really not a comparable barbecue city with any of the "name" places. Unless you're just dying for it, I would skip barbecue altogether and head down to Katz's for a Pastrami sandwich. MUCH more "New York," and something you likely can't get at home.

            1. One of our favorite breakfast places is Penelope on 30th and Lex.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Motosport

                If you want amazing food, go to Le Bernardin. It was an awesome experience! I also agree about going to Katz's Deli, it is a classic NYC diner experience. If you want something, upbeat and buzzy, consider Cafe Boulud, I loved our time there, also. :)

                1. re: syrahgirl

                  I would try Gotham Grill for lunch instead of Craftbar. Nice prix-fixe menu and surprisingly inexpensive...great wine pairings, too.

                  1. re: liza.calderon

                    I agree with liza about GBG. One of my top restaurants for a special occasion.

                    Have not been to Le Bernardin yet so I cannot comment.

                    For Italian, I seriously recommend Convivio.

                    Strip House is a fine steakhouse and I will comment since a few people recommended it. Right on par with Keens for best steakhouse in MANHATTAN but not the city. That title still belongs to the almighty Peter Luger in Brooklyn IMO.