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CONSISTENT MANHATTAN RESTAURANTS FOR AN ANNIVERSARY

i have a somewhat simple(i hope)but long question. as an infrequently regular visitor to nyc which restaurants would as a general rule be consistently good in the 3-4 star ny times, 1-2-3 michelin star or 26 and above zagat category. realizing that any kitchen can and probably will have an occasional off night. there seems to be a few universally well liked and highly rated restaurants. such as, but not limited to emp, modern, gramacy tavern, per se. there are ones such as babbo that really have quite acrimonious comments. and others like daniel or jean georges where opinion seems all over the place. if you are visiting and do not have the time or desire to retry a bad experience whats a guy to do who is wanting to treat his lovely wife of 25 years to 4-5 nights of nyc fun and gluttony. i have spent a fair amount of time reviewing the board and have a very fluid list of restaurants, based upon your board responses, but i would really appreciate some help to narrow my choices to hopefully assure that good outcome that would make my wife and i really remember the 25th . there is no cuisine we would not consider as long as it meets the above criteria. so, if you chowhounders need more info to put things in better prospectus. please ask. thanks

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  1. You say you have a list of restaurants. Why don't you provide it so we can comment?

    1 Reply
    1. re: rrems

      thanks for the quick response. of course the list, which includes the aforementioned, la grenouille, bouley le bernadin, alto and a japanese restaurant that escapes me presently.

    2. My views:
      emp -> never been wowed by food, neither when it first opened nor a year ago; gorgeous space and atmosphere
      gramercy tavern -> great food, service and room
      modern, per se, babbo, -> never been
      daniel, jean georges -> great spaces and meals, but too formal and too much food for me; prefer their "less formal" versions, i.e.e Cafe Boulud (see below) and Nougatine.

      Cafe Boulud on UES - never had a bad meal there in 10+ years; the pastas are amazing, as is the loup de mer on the current menu; and the madelines that come with the coffee always end the meal on a perfect note.

      Lupa in Village - relatively simple but awsome Italian meal, again never had a bad meal here.

      Harrison in TriBeCa - been with many friends from all over the country and world, and everyone has found something they enjoyed.

      The list of options is too long to hit everything in 4-5 days, so these are just a few personal favorites.

      If you give your list, it will be easier for others to give their "yay "or "nay", as well as suggest comparative places.

      -----
      Cafe Boulud
      20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

      Nougatine
      1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

      1. this is the list i'm thinking to greatly reduce in no particular order. show me the way.
        le bernadin
        daniel
        soto
        bouley
        soto
        corton??
        la grenouile
        emp
        modern
        gramacy tavern
        per se lounge
        sushi gari
        sushi yasuda
        gotham b&g
        annisa
        cafe boulud
        picholine
        mas
        ilgiglio
        scalini fedeli
        pearl oyster
        dovetail
        blue hill
        little owl
        felidia
        public
        casa mono
        barney greengrass
        shun lee palace
        jewish deli u name it

        3 Replies
        1. re: kitchenquarterback

          I gave up on Shun Lee Palace years ago. If you want expensive Chinese food, go to Chinatown Brasserie for dim sum and cocktails. I may not be up to date, but last I checked, they do serve dim sum for dinner, and the selection is quite adequate, though they have a wider selection at lunch.

          -----
          Chinatown Brasserie
          380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

          1. re: kitchenquarterback

            EMP- Already one of our favorites before the "reboot", now even better (and I didn't think that was possible). Dined there many many times and have never left disappointed.

            The Modern Dining Room - have had several seasonal tasting menus as well as the Chef's tasting, alwasy great, always inventive, very nice space when the Sun goes down.

            Le Bernardin - if you want fish this place is without equal. Excellent wine service as well.

            Picholine - haven't been since the changed their format but it was always good int he past with the exception of a couple service hiccups during one visit, still consistently great.

            Daniel - still love the classics! Also like all his other places.

            Per Se - it was great to go once and it was a wonderful overall experience but we won't be rushing back.

            Bouley - it's fallen off our radar because of some inconsistentcies

            Public - great food and a good deal

            Little Owl - it was good, it was a cute space, food was solid but not life changing

            A couple not mentioned, we like Klee and August for great food and casual environment.

            -----
            Per Se
            10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

            Little Owl
            90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014

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

            1. re: kitchenquarterback

              At the high end, EMP, the Modern and Picholine are great choices. I would drop Corton. Down a notch, go for Dovetail and Annisa, skip Gotham. Drop Little Owl and go to Perilla instead, it's similar but better and more comfortable. I haven't tried your Italian selections, Il Giglio and Scalini Fedeli. My favorites for Italian are Convivio and SD26. Scarpetta is also good. Others not on your list that I think worthy of consideration are Oceana, Tabla and Aldea.

              -----
              Perilla
              9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

              Little Owl
              90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014

              Annisa
              13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

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

              Scalini Fedeli
              165 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013

              Il Giglio
              81 Warren St, New York, NY 10007

              Oceana
              120 W 49th St, New York, NY 10020

              Scarpetta
              355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

              Convivio
              45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

              Corton
              239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

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

              SD26
              19 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010

            2. Le Bernardin has the most consistent restaurant kitchen in NYC. If you like delicately prepared seafood, it's an easy choice.

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: hcbk0702

                we're on for le bernadin,thanks. that was on the short list anyway, just needed a little push. as far as chinese food is concerned, expensive is not necessarily what i'm looking for, but willing to pay for food at a consistently good restaurant, which seems to be harder to find for chinese food. the chef shuffle i guess.the emphasis is on good and consistent. i also used to go to shun lee palace.

              2. I'm not the biggest fan of Daniel - I'll agree with the poster above who prefers Cafe Boulud. I think the food Gavin Kaysen's putting out is currently 100 times more exciting than anything at DB's flagship. Admittedly, it depends - if you want the classic French thing, the butter sauces, the service that some find wonderful and others (self included) find stuffy - it might be your thing.

                Per Se: far from universally well-liked. Will you have a great meal? Sure. Could you get an equal (or even better) one for half the price elsewhere? Undoubtedly. I've gone off about Per Se's drastic price increases (with no increase in the actual value of what's on the plate) before, so I won't do it again here. Suffice to say I won't be dining there again unless the menu changes to better reflect the increased cost. Right now, it only reflects its "exclusivity" - which, frankly, I can't taste, so I don't care.

                Babbo: Boisterous, not stuffy. May not be your thing if you're looking for quiet, serene dinners. On the other hand, Del Posto might very well fit the bill. I think Mark Ladner's just doing a bang-up job right now. Either way, I'd do at least one of our great Italian restos - I'd say one of the above, Marea, Falai, or Scarpetta.

                Gramercy: I've never had a BAD meal at GT, but I've had a couple that weren't home runs. Very reliable for the most part, though.

                Also, I'd consider WD-50: given the nature of how the food is prepared, and how carefully controlled the kitchen is, there's no such thing as an "off night" here. Will you like the food, though? I find that most people, even those who go in with a bit of trepidation, do. While many feel like it's going to be pretentious and/or too intellectual, most are surprised to find that it's really in the end just playful. It's not "rich" food - Wylie has a light, subtle hand. You don't really get plates you can dig into with gusto, the way you might at a Haute French or Italian place - but nor is it the Grant Achatz kind of place where you just get a few dainty bites of something that looks like an alien made it. It's a good balance. I find WD is always a good meal - perhaps best if you solicit opinions on what to order from 'hounders beforehand. While the food is consistent, there might be one or two menu items that don't quite "click" with everybody, because of an odd ingredient - i.e. the pine gazpacho was not a hit with everyone at our table last time we went. Also, for what it's worth, very few will argue that Alex Stupak is one of the best pastry chefs in NYC right now. I'd say if you've got four / five nights in town, checking out the "state of the art" would certainly be a fun way to spend one of those evenings.

                Given your five nights, too, you could just hit our five most recent Beard nominees: WD, Prune, Marea, GT, and The Modern.

                -----
                Per Se
                10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

                Cafe Boulud
                20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

                Babbo
                110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

                Falai
                68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                Scarpetta
                355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                Marea
                240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019