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60th Birthday Suggestions Needed

Next month, my family will be celebrating my mother's 60th birthday in NYC. My brother lives in Queens and we travel to the city often to visit him. We mostly dine out at smaller places in the city and don't really go for anything too expensive or fancy. BUT this is my mother's 60th birthday and my brother has spent the past year recovering from cancer. Price and location are not obstacles. We are all adventurous eaters except for my father. I'm hesitant to choose a tasting menu, because my father would probably not be thrilled by half the things on the menu. I don't mind paying a lot of money, but I don't want to pay for my father and have him leave things on the plate. I'm looking for a once in a lifetime food experience.

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  1. < I'm looking for a once in a lifetime food experience.>

    That's almost impossible to quantify. First of all, you haven't specified what would make that kind of experience for YOU. I can tell you about places I love, but my taste and expectations may be different from yours.

    If you can be more specific, maybe someone can come up with a suggestion other than the usual suspects. I presume you have already combed this board and read about Eleven madison Park, Le Bernardin, Gramercy Tavern, Daniel, Per Se, etc.

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    Per Se
    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

    Gramercy Tavern
    42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

    Le Bernardin
    155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

    1. Considering the weather you might want to treck out of the city to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. That is certainly a food experience your family will not soon forget.

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      Blue Hill
      75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

      1. If price is no object... and you have one picky eater who'll need a lot of choices, I'd say my top choice would be... Eleven Madison Park, hands down.

        Other thoughts popping into my head:
        Corton
        Babbo (or Del Posto)
        Marea
        WD-50 - my dad's a picky eater as well, who'll often just go along with my mother, but he loved it both times he's been.
        ...and Le Bernardin (of course) - which might not be so "adventurous" these days, but will still be spectacular.

        I'm sure I'll think of a few others as soon as I hit "post" as well...

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        WD-50
        50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

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

        Babbo
        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

        Del Posto
        85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

        Le Bernardin
        155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

        Corton
        239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

        Marea
        240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

        1 Reply
        1. re: sgordon

          Despite the experience you had with your father at WD-50, imo, this is too important an occasion for Sap115 to take that kind of huge chance. I know people with very adventurous palates who have not cared at all for the food there. As for me, I have no interest in going there because I prefer that my dinners not be science experiments.

          While I enjoyed my two dinners at Corton, I think even that food might be risky for a picky eater.

        2. I would suggest....

          1. Daniel. Cocktails are great arriving a bit early and enjoy a couple of drinks in a nice bar setting, The food and service is excellent and the dining room is beautiful. Elegant.

          2. EMP is our favorite restaurant of the moment. The food, service and wine list are outstanding. Cocktails are OK, I've had better.

          If you have a fussy eater in your party they could either look at the menu online or maybe you can ask what they prefer to eat and advice the restaurant if they're able to comply with special requests. Can't hurt.

          1. Thanks for all of your replies. I have already read through the posts on this board and still felt like I needed an additional point in the right direction. For me what makes a meal memorable is a restaurant that it hits all the points - service, food, and atmosphere. A restaurant that you leave and can say everything was perfectly executed. The most memorable meal I have had was a meal in Hawaii at Jean Georges' place overlookng the mountains. The food was spectacular, the atmosphere amazing, and the service was incredible.

            I am leaning towards Eleven Madison Park. My brother says it's too stuffy! I want to prove him wrong!

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

            Jean Georges
            1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

            9 Replies
            1. re: Sap115

              Now that you mention Jean Georges..............................

              We used to go often & haven't been in about 3 or 4 years but our favorite Jean Georges restaurant was always JoJo's <his nickname>, his first in NYC. We've been to some of his others, including Jean Georges, but we always returned to JoJo's.

              The food was always outstanding and service unobtrusive, Very good wine list.

              Here is more info, JoJo's web site is embedded in the link: http://www.opentable.com/jojo

              1. re: Sap115

                I think you will be able to prove to your brother that he is wrong about EMP. Imo, one of the major reasons is it so not stuffy is the service staff -- young and energetic. They love what they do, and that translates into service that is not only polished, but also very friendly and welcoming. Chef Humm's cuisine is exquisite, and though there are no mountain views, that grand Art Deco space is gorgeous! Thus, I am confident that you will have a memorable meal that hits all those high points you are looking for.

                1. re: RGR

                  Completely and totally agree. Go to EMP. You won't be sorry, any of you.

                2. re: Sap115

                  20-something new yorker here-

                  EMP is a great choice for you.

                  EMP isn't stuffy at all- people just aren't used to flawless restaurant service. There's no pressure at EMP- Chef Daniel Humm's menu is incredibly sophisticated but its also totally accessible- you'll have heard of all the ingredients. The service staff is on the younger side, but clearly know the ropes of true fine dining. They are also friendly, and in no way stuck up, so you can easily ask questions and find your perfect meal.

                  My other favorite high end restaurant right now is Chef Michael White's Marea. Check the menu out online- it's also fairly accessible, but perfectly executed. The atmosphere is definitely fine dining, but not overly fussed.

                  http://underemployedinnyc.blogspot.com/

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                  Marea
                  240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                  1. re: UnderemployedInNYC

                    Though I am a fan of Michael White's cooking, the one dinner we had at Marea had two not inconsequential glitches.

                    After being seated and receiving our menus, we were left sitting too long without any attention. Once the maitre d' finally came over to inquire if we had any questions and took our order, service proceeded smoothly. However, that long a wait for service is inexcusable at a Michelin 1-star/"NYTimes" 3-star.

                    With regard to the food, unfortunately, it was not "perfectly executed" because my St. Pierre (John Dory) was too dry -- imo, not acceptable for a restaurant focusing on fish and seafood, especially one at this high level.

                    1. re: RGR

                      We have reservations to Marea in a couple of weeks.

                      How long ago was your visit there, RGR?

                    2. re: UnderemployedInNYC

                      Thank's Underemployed. It sounds perfect for what I'm looking for. Why is it so hard to find flawless service?? It's really not THAT difficult. Sometimes I think I should have gone into restaurant management.