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May 24, 2010 06:24 AM

Celebratory Dinner - 4 Options

I know this has been asked a lot on this board, but I haven't read anything recently about 2 of the 4 restaurants I am looking at for a celebratory, post engagement dinner this Friday night.
The contenders are
Eleven Madison Park - Gourmand Tasting
The Modern - Spring and Chef Tasting Menu
Gotham Bar and Grill - Chef's Tasting
Picholine - Menu Royale

I've eaten at both the Modern and Eleven Madison before, and enjoyed both. Never been to the other two. I really enjoy EMP, but my SO thinks it might be a bit too stuffy for her. I like that the Modern has 2 different tasting menus, so we can try more of what the kitchen has to offer, we typically do this at JG when we go.
I guess the big question is Picholine too staid for a jubilent dinner? Haven't heard much about the food there lately, but have always heard good things from industry friends in regards to it.

I think I'm leaning towards the Modern or Picholine, but could also take other suggestions.

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

The Modern
9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

Gotham Bar and Grill
12 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003

35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

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  1. I think you'd be happy at both The Modern and Picholine. Personally, I prefer Picholine.

    35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

    1. Your choices may be narrowed by what's available. Are you holding reservations at all 4?

      I'd say EMP or The Modern. Picholine has an older, staid crowd, IMO. Not as much energy as EMP and The Modern and their contemporary, stylish food and environs. Gotham, eh. It's sorta played.

      35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

      1. I had a fabulous meal at Picholine - the tasting menu with wine pairings - a week ago Friday. Haven't gotten around to writing it up, but, I will say that the dining room was only about 1/3 full the whole time we were there - 8 to 11. That may just be a one off thing though - I was in the bar area in December on a Saturday night, and the place was packed.


        35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

        1 Reply
        1. re: MMRuth

          I love having dinner at Picholine, but I have to add that I only had dinner in the bar area. The food is always incredible!! It may be an older crowd but I don't really care about that when I go to have a culinary experience or a celebration. I even went back twice in a week last summer because I flipped for their white gazpacho.

          35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

        2. My choice would be EMP-Gourmand Tasting. I had this last summer, and it was fantastic. Be prepared to spend at least 4 hours though. The courses are nicely spaced. Please tell your SO that EMP is definitely not stuffy. I find it to be relaxed elegant.

          I recently (2 months ago) did the Picholine-Menu Royale, and while it was very good, I found the desserts to be particularly weak. I find service at EMP to be vastly superior.

          I've also dined at The Modern, and while the food is good-very good, the service is not nearly as polished as at EMP.

          I haven't dined at Gotham in at least 10 years. I remember the food being good, but the tables were too close to each other.

          Not on your list, but one of my favorite restaurants for celebration is Bouley. Bouley doesn't get much love on this board, but I've always found the food, service and decor to be wonderful. Two weeks ago, we celebrated Mother's Day at Bouley, and had the best time! I'm looking forward to returning to Bouley for my birthday in August.

          1. We've had the Menu Royale at Picholine twice within the past 9 months, and both were sensational. Picholine does tend to get an older clientele, and while I don't find it stuffy, there are many who do. Also, it's usually rather empty and quiet after 8 p.m., when the pre-Lincoln Center crowd has departed.

            Photos of our Menu Royale dinners here:

            and here:

            We had dinner recently in The Modern Dining Room. Although we didn't have either of the tastings this time, the cuisine was superb! (Note: We did a tasting menu last year, and it was fabulous!) Vibe-wise, it has a much more upbeat and jubilant feel than Picholine.

            Photos of our dinner in The Modern Dining Room:

            Photos of last year's tasting menu were taken by our more skillful dining companion:

            We did the *11* at EMP two week ago. As usual, it was stellar! No surprise that I think you can never go wrong celebrating a very special occasion here.

            Photographs of this *11* are by our more skillful dinner companion:

            We haven't been to Gotham B&G in ages, so I can't comment on how it is right now. But I will say that while the food we had there was very good, it didn't leave me raving. Personally, I wouldn't choose it for an important celebratory occasion.

            You might want to consider doing the 9-course tasting at Veritas. Imo, Chef Grégory Pugin's cuisine is brilliant. And, of course, there is that extraordinary wine list. The very contemporary space is much smaller and more intimate than all the others you are considering.

            Photos of our 9-course tasting at Veritas:

            Best wishes on our engagement!

            6 Replies
            1. re: RGR

              RGR, are you engaged *again*? LOL.

              RGR wrote: Best wishes on our engagement!

              1. re: simetrias

                Oops! LOL! Shows you how a word missing one letter can entirely change the meaning of a sentence! Still married to the same guy and will be celebrating #42 in two weeks.

                1. re: RGR

                  Wow, we all await your chowhound report of the celebration!

                  1. re: simetrias

                    That's sweet! :) No surprise where we'll be celebrating... ;)

              2. re: RGR

                Thank you again RGR for your pictures! It brings me back to the places where I have been and loved, The Modern and Picholine, and makes me dream about the ones where I haven't!! Keep them coming.

                35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

                1. re: cricri7

                  cricri7, I'm very pleased that you enjoy my photos. :)