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La Grenouille or Marea tonight?

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I have the option of dining at either of these fine establishments tonight. Where would you choose?

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La Grenouille
3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

Marea
240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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  1. i would do la gernouille, though i haven't tried it. i was very underwhelmed at marea, but that might be because im not exactly a big fan of uni
    here's a point system of everything i tried:
    astice lobster burrata-9 (really good), ricci (2 crackers with sea urchin and lard)-7, vongole (geoduck)-4.5 (really small serving), fusulli-8, spagetti sea urchin-6, veal sweetbreads agnolotti-7.5, bistecca-6 (really good croutons steak is soso), affogato-8.5 (good gelato), gianduja-6 (chocolate cake and gelato with cocoa nibbles), and panna cotta-4. their oysters and olive bread are good though..

    3 Replies
    1. re: daffyduck

      I'd go for La Grenouille...

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      La Grenouille
      3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

      1. re: daffyduck

        Wow 2 votes for La Grenouille. I am surprised.

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        La Grenouille
        3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

        1. re: steakrules85

          Make that 3 votes for La Grenouille. :)

          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

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          La Grenouille
          3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

      2. I have a soft spot for La Grenouille, but Marea has a more interesting menu. Your experience will depend on what you order (i.e. best to stick with their best known dishes),

        Have you thought about your menu selections at both restaurants?

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        La Grenouille
        3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

        Marea
        240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

        1. I haven't been to La Grenouille, but love Marea. It is ALL about what you order at Marea. I adore the ricci, the astice and the sweetbread/veal ravioli pasta.

          I have also heard that they have a fantastic steak at Marea -- and, after reading your past posts and knowing your general love for all things beef, I would love to get your take on it.

          Either way, looking forward to your review.

          -----
          La Grenouille
          3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

          Marea
          240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

          1 Reply
          1. re: kiworan79

            the steak is not that good at marea. i think in general if u want a great steak u should stick to steakhouses

          2. They are very different restaurants, so I'd say it depends on whether you're in the mood for Italian or traditional French. If you're thinking you could be happy with either, I'd probably pick La Grenouille. I think there are many far better Italian places in Manhattan than Marea.

            -----
            La Grenouille
            3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

            Marea
            240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

            1. Another vote for La Grenouille.

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              La Grenouille
              3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

              1. La Grenouille suffers from the fact that there are literally dozens of restaurants in France that can do the exact same type of classic French cuisine on a much higher level. It's a fixture in NYC's restaurant history, but I don't think that merits the high prices they charge, especially when their food tastes tired when compared to better restaurants in the city. At least the soufflés are very good.

                I'd go with Marea. You can have a very nice meal if you choose your dishes carefully.

                17 Replies
                1. re: hcbk0702

                  "You can have a very nice meal if you choose your dishes carefully."

                  I think you can say exactly the same thing about La Grenouille. Start with seared foie gras, follow with the Dover sole, and end with a soufflé. Et, voilà!

                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                  1. re: RGR

                    Also I really love the calves liver at La Grenouille.

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                    La Grenouille
                    3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                      Mr. R's main course choice would definitely be the rognons de veau in classic mustard sauce -- a dish that's rarely, if ever, seen on other French restaurant menus in NYC.

                      Photos of Le Grenouille's Rognons de Veau can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                      http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                    2. re: RGR

                      But you can get much better seared foie gras (and certainly offal in general) elsewhere. I found the Dover Sole bland and soporific, but I agree about the soufflés; they're well-executed.

                      1. re: hcbk0702

                        I'm suprised nobody recommended Eleven Madison Park!!

                        Go to Marea.....I know it is tough to pass up the thrill of sitting next to a pair of 80 year old blue hairs eating dover sole and and drinking a $3,000 dollar bottle of wine while being served tired "classics" ... skip the group think here and go to Marea...

                      2. re: RGR

                        I must say, even though I haven't been to marea and I have been la Grenouille, I couldn't possibly fathom recommending la Grenouille over marea. However, RGR makes the only case for la Grenouille that is even remotely palatable: start with the foie gras (I'd argue the terrine), follow with the Dover sole, and finish with the souffle. You'll hardly go wrong with those three courses. Deviate, and you proceed at your own peril.

                        http://www.ulteriorepicure.com

                        1. re: ulterior epicure

                          I know you didn't love La Grenouille as I do, u.e. I'll be interested to see if you will stick to the view you express here, i.e., not fathoming how one can choose Grenouille rather than Marea, after you've been to the latter, where Mr. R. and I have had less than perfect experiences both times we've eaten there.

                          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                          1. re: RGR

                            We shall see, RGR, we shall see.

                            http://www.ulteriorepicure.com

                            1. re: ulterior epicure

                              Having read several of your meal reports, I'm fairly confident you would like Marea much more. You do have to order carefully though, as there are definite low points on the menu.

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                              Marea
                              240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                      3. re: hcbk0702

                        On the other hand, is there anywhere else in NY to get this type of classic French cuisine?

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Le Perigord. I made it my business to try it last year. It was a pleasant experience, but La Grenouille far outshines it in just about every respect.

                          Le Perigord photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                          1. re: RGR

                            La Grenouille will appeal to anyone who appreciates the lineage of great, formal French service in New York. It's a descendant of Le Pavillon, which introduced Americans to this style at the 1939 World's Fair. Lutece, La Cote Basque, La Caravelle, were La Grenouille's competitors for many years, and have all fallen by the wayside. I love LG for its irrelevance--nobody needs 5 servers fawning over them, but what service! The waiters are a little creaky, but if you engage them, their knowledge of food and wine is amazing. Is it the BEST dover sole you will ever eat? I'm not sure, but the ambience and attention will surely compensate. The flowers and facelifts are worth the price of admission into a rarefied and shrinking world. Who will be extinct first--bluefin tuna or La Grenouille?

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                            La Grenouille
                            3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

                            1. re: whs

                              My sentiments exactly, whs! :)

                              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                              1. re: RGR

                                Mine too, except the waiters at La Grenouille don't really know wines very well.

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                                La Grenouille
                                3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

                              2. re: whs

                                I was lucky enough to have my "fine-dining" cherry broken at Lutece and remember it very fondly!

                                I would love to go to La Grenouille, if only for the souffles. SO hard to find one that's done correctly.

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                                La Grenouille
                                3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

                              3. re: RGR

                                Too bad La Caravelle is no more. That was a very nice French restaurant ca. 1960's-ish place.

                                1. re: RGR

                                  We went to Le Périgord for a recent anniversary that "has" to be celebrated in a classic French restaurant (as it has been for many years) and were quite disappointed. For the money you can do so much better elsewhere. The brioche I had was stale. The oysters were however excellent as were the sweetbreads, but my lamb dish came with a sauce that tasted as much like HP Sauce as it's possible to do. My husband's duck "with seasonal fruits" was well enough cooked but unsauced and garnished with oranges (seasonal in late summer?) . Pastries etc were decent if uninspired and the petits fours consisted of two stale madeleine-shaped cookies, two misshapen palmiers, and a small chocolate cup of chocolate mousse. Furthermore we (unknown to the restaurant) were given only the prix fixe menu and were not told of specials such as Dover sole and so forth we heard putative regulars order. There was absolutely no spark whatsoever to the food as there had been at La Caravelle even in its last days.
                                  The room is pleasant in a very retro way but one would think they could keep it up a bit better (the tile entryway is damaged, the banquette we had was sticky, and the stairs down to the restrooms as well as the restrooms themselves have seen far better days). Table appointments were cheap and/or just plain old (polyester tablecloths, glassware I've not seen on better restaurant tables since the '70's, etc).
                                  Unless money - and the quality of food it gets one - is of absolutely no consequence, I would never recommend this restaurant at this point to anyone.

                            2. Here's my report. I took the overwhelming hounds' advice and went to La Grenouille. However, Marea is definitely in the cards very soon. I loved Convivio and Alto and have to complete the Michael White trifecta. Plus, being a lover of seafood I am sure I will enjoy it. Thoughts on the menu? I'd go with the lobster and burrata, fusilli with octopus, and halibut, strawberry semi freddo for dessert (kinda bummer that the torrons is gone I wanted to try it so bad hopefully it comes back very very very very soon). Don't think that could be bad!

                              Anyway...

                              I had a great meal at La Grenouille tonight. There is a reason it has been around this long and still going strong. Is it old fashioned? Yes. Is the menu classic? Yes. Should you expect to be bowled over by inventive nouveau dishes and the latest hot trend? Nope. But you know what that is exactly how it should be and I loved the whole experience. Quintessential Classic New York.

                              I basically had the place all to myself for the first hour I was there. Seven people were attending to me at my beck and call. Smiling and engaging. One of my servers was especially friendly and we were talking the entire time. He told me how he had worked there for 38 years and how the place hasn't changed one iota. This man was one of the nicest people I have come across- from the homeland France! What a professional. Overall, the service was some of the best and most cordial I have ever encountered.

                              As for the food it was also top notch. I ordered all the signatures- sweetbreads, dover sole, and pistachio souffle. Everything was delicious. The sweetbreads were cooked perfecty and reminded me of "fancy" chicken nuggets. So succulent. The dover sole was expertly prepared. So simple, yet impeccable. Filleted at a neaby station and plated with lemon, mustard sauce, and perfectly cooked haircot verts saturated in... my favorite buttaahhh! So light, refreshing, and superb.

                              The souffle really capped off the meal. As a lover of souffle and pistachio this was the perfect combo. The sauce was basically a creme anglaise and was a nice finishing touch. Souffle was very generous, piping hot, and perfectly cooked. They also provided some complimentary cookies and gave me a free scoop of my favorite.. pistachio ice cream. With all the supplements it was pricy, but as everyone knows I have no problem paying for quality. And this meal was totally worth it. Keep it up La Grenouille! One of the few remaining true French restaurants.

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                              La Grenouille
                              3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

                              Convivio
                              45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

                              Marea
                              240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: steakrules85

                                So glad you had a wonderful experience at La Grenouille, steak! :)

                                http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                1. re: steakrules85

                                  thnx for the report. le grenouille is a place i want to try out so i appreciate the report. i think you made a good choice, i believe i remember reading that u dont like chicken liver or fois gras? two of marea's signature dishes consist of uni which is kind of similar to chicken liver and fois gras cept its more seafoodish.

                                  1. re: daffyduck

                                    I have no problem with foie gras, however I assume you are referring to a post I made when speaking about liver at Katz. I am not a fan of that kind of liver or chicken pates, etc. I do enjoy uni, although again my experience with it has been rather limited.

                                    You are referring to the ricci? Sea urchin, lardo on toast. I've heard mixed reviews and honestly I wouldn't order it anyway... it isn't too appealing to me especially at the price of 15 buckeroos.

                                    1. re: steakrules85

                                      yeah. and they have a sea urchin spagetti too.

                                    2. re: daffyduck

                                      "uni which is kind of similar to chicken liver and fois gras cept its more seafoodish."

                                      Uhhh...no.

                                      1. re: hcbk0702

                                        my experience with uni is pretty limited. i think it's similiar to chicken liver or pate cept with a strong seafood flavor (at least the ones i've had), it reminds me of like a seafood mousse.

                                        1. re: daffyduck

                                          hm....in nyc i tried sea urchin twice at marea (ricci and sea urchin spaghetti) and once at degustation a sea urchin. the later two did not have a really strong sea urchin taste. but ive tried uni twice at a sushi restaurant in mount kisco and this is the closest description i could think of it. maybe like a seafood butter or a seafood bone marrow? but i think it's closer to a mousse like kind of thing. maybe the sea urchin i tried wasnt fresh? is that how it starts to taste like when it gets bad?

                                          1. re: daffyduck

                                            FWIW - I have tried sea urchin a number of times at various sushi restaurants over the years, and have never liked it because of how strong the flavour seemed to me. However, I had a bite of the sea urchin toast at Aldea, and thought it was fabulous. Briney, delicate, etc.

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                                            Aldea
                                            31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              Santa Barbara sea urchin is quite mild while from what I understand, Maine sea urchin is stronger, i.e., more "fishy"-tasting. I've only eaten the former, not straight but incorporated in various dishes and have enjoyed it.

                                              Here's a photo of Chef Humm in EMP's kitchen holding a small tray of Santa Barbara sea urchin: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                            2. re: daffyduck

                                              "maybe like a seafood butter or a seafood bone marrow?"

                                              What does that mean? How can you lump together all the myriad types of seafood into a single descriptor? It's like saying something "tastes like meat," but it's even less specific.

                                              If you want to try very good uni nigiri, you'll have to go to a good sushi bar. The lesser sushi places won't have access to the best stuff. But if you don't like other kinds of roe, you may not like sea urchin roe either.

                                          2. re: hcbk0702

                                            My sentiments exactly hcbk0702. That description of uni couldn't be further off.

                                          3. re: daffyduck

                                            daffy, I'm a fois gras addict and a liver lover with some exposure to uni. There is no way that they are "kind of similar." Not even close!

                                            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                            1. re: RGR

                                              Not similar at all.

                                          4. re: steakrules85

                                            Steak: very much consistent with my experience. What some might call old-fashioned I would call classic with gracious service. The Dover sole "bland," as referred to above?...simple, subtle, sublime. Some things don't need embellishment. When I was there for lunch recently my dining companion had to scoot, but I wanted to linger a bit longer. The captain asked if I would like more coffee suggesting, "please, madame, stay with us a while!" How charming is that? Needless to say, I did!

                                            1. re: City Kid

                                              I know exactly. I had to basically "beg" for the check.

                                          5. Been to both in the last three months. Know this is after you went. La Grenouille was a bastion of perfect service with food that was a little tired, The frog's legs were fried not sauteed and an unpleasant surprise. Sole , souffle ( Caramel ), and other things were fine. Very classy place. Marea, on the other hand, for me was just terrible. Primarily the service. They did not give a rat's patootey that we were there, just too frenetic. The much praised fusilli and octopus for $ 29 presented a portion that would have fit in a small teacup and had one, yes one, 1.5 inch piece of octopus. We received out second bottle of wine well before our first. They were both opened before ariving at the table thus could not return either. Sure it was just the night, well before the Beard Awards, but too many good places to go to risk that again.

                                            -----
                                            La Grenouille
                                            3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

                                            Marea
                                            240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019