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Oct 19, 2010 08:11 AM

If you had to choose between Daniel, Blue Hill or Eleven Madison Park for a birthday meal...

I'm struggling to choose between having a 6-course tasting dinner at Daniel and a dinner at Eleven Madison Park or maybe dinner at Blue Hill with my best friend in a few weekends from now.

Concerns/thoughts between the three:
I'm hearing/read varied responses in regards to Daniel (service is too cold, food is inconsistent, etc) that I don't know if I should go to Daniel for dinner and spend that kind of money that's kind of a waste.

I've been to EMP before its renovation several times and enjoyed it. Reading in this board lauding the new space and food makes me want to try it.

Blue Hill (the one in Westchester) has been on my list of places to try for a while but not too sure if the menu is going to be focused on root vegetables during that particular season and if there's anything to look at on their farm.

Thoughts about this, please comment.

Thanks in advance!

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

Blue Hill
75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

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  1. This would be a very tough choice for me personally because GF and I frequesnt all the places you mentioned and love them all (well of course or we wouldn't frequent them).

    EMP - The new format at EMP is WONDERFUL and you have to return to try it out, if not for this celebration than for something else.

    Daniel - We have never had any problems, i.e. food, service, ambience, at Daniel. For whatever reason, maybe the lighting or decor?, I always thing of Daniel as the most romantic of the 3 you mentioned.

    BH @ SB - Fine dining on a farm! Beautiful location. And yes, Fall menu will have a lot of root vegetables but it has proven to be our favorite season for dining there. The bar area is nice for pre-dinner drinks and you can stroll the grounds as well.

    Any of the 3 will be wonderful but for very different reasons.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Spiritchaser

      Thanks for the reply, Spiritchaser.

      Have you tried EMP's new coffee service? What did you have at EMP recently?

      Of the three restaurants which would you pick just for food?

      1. re: chocokitty

        I just had superb meals at both EMP and BHSB. Fall is a great time for BHSB, and their grounds are impressive. If you are less than 4 weeks away from the planned dinner, I would see which has availability. If that's not an issue, I might choose EMP because I think the room is more beautiful and the food is a bit more modern.

        1. re: chocokitty

          Of the three, if choosing only for food, I would choose EMP for sure.

          For atmosphere, I would have a hard time choosing between EMP and BH@SB.

          I really like EMP (really enjoyed the new format), but I found the new coffee service ridiculous. And overpriced doesn't begin to describe it (I mean the coffee service, not the restaurant).

          I am not a fan of Blue Hill in Manhattan.

          1. re: chocokitty


            Sounds like you have a good problem to have.

            EMP - I can't speak on behalf of EMP since the new format, but like you, thoroughly enjoyed the restaurant before the change.

            Daniel - I had the 6-course a couple of months ago, plus cheese course and wasn't blown away with the food or service. While nothing in particular was poor (service or foodwise), I just wasn't wowed by anything, coming from a three star.

            BHSB - I've been here for both, late summer/early spring and late autumn/early winter and had the 8-course, plus cheese course, both times. Service was a bit aloof on my last visit but the food was very good. I wouldn't be too concerned with an over emphasis on root vegetables. You may have one or two courses which feature them, but your progression will include an egg preparation along with the fish and meat.

            Hope you have a great meal, regardless of where you end up going.

            1. re: chocokitty

              Yes, had the coffee service and I really liked it because dining is one of the ways we spend an evening so we like theatricality of it all. It is ridiculously expensive though.

              I had the langostine, the lobster, thepork, and a chocolate dessert. Everything was wonderful, the langostine was the hit of my meal.

              For food, for me a very tough choice but I think I'm going to go with EMP, maybe because it is the freshest in my mind but I do know it was a fantastic meal. Maybe BH@SB can beat it next week...

          2. I haven't been to the new format at EMP nor have I tried Daniel butI've been to EMP 4 times (for lunch) and BH@SH once. Foodwise I would say at least the (late summer tasting) BH@SH is better. Decor and service they are both about the same IMO. I never went to BH during the day to check out the farm though. You should check out the menu
            If there are a lot of items you like and you decide to go with BH@SH make sure you tell them the items you prefer and the items you don't when they ask you which tasting course you want. When I went in late summer I told them I didn't like cooked carrots and that I loved corn. That night I had 3 corn dishes that blew me away. If you haven't been to BH@SH I think it's a great place.

            1. Thanks everyone! Your feedback is very helpful. :D

              Well, since it's relatively last minute for EMP or BH@SB to get the prime reservation times, I'm hoping my best friend can do either times I've reserved. We'll do at least either one.

              Will keep you all posted on my experience.

              3 Replies
              1. re: chocokitty

                Did you call EMP directly or get the rez via Opentable?

                1. re: Spiritchaser

                  I did both. OT doesn't have anything that would work for my friend's schedule so I called and it worked out.

                  For now, I'm in between EMP & BH@SB. It really whittles down to how flexible my best friend's schedule is.

                  1. re: chocokitty

                    Ok, well I hope it all works out for you.

              2. I went to Blue Hill at Stone Barns last night, they just changed the concept of their menu. Now you are not given a list of ingredients where you can specifiy if you like certain ingredients more than others or if they're items you don't like. Now it's pretty much if you have any restrictions or food allergies and you are at the chef's hands. They still have a choice of 8 courses to 5 courses but like before the 5 course has the same amount of food. As my visit before service was wonderful, here's what I had.
                Amuse bouches: Crudites: corn, carrot, cauliflower, broccoli with a shot fennel soup. Everything was good especially the fennel soup. I was dunking everything in the soup.

                A stick of corn with pancetta, again wonderful.
                A tiny beets burger (this was one of my favorite bites of the night)
                Fried wax beans-Tasted like the best fries ever.
                Cured Meats-I think they were Testa and Coppa
                Some sort of Red potato chip, it was the best potato chip I ever tasted
                Smoked kale-This reminded me of those asian packages of seaweed with a smokey bacon taste
                1st Course-Beets in some of a sauce (I forgot) with premature eggs shaved on top. I thought the dish was fine, but my gf wasn't a fan (she doesn't like beets). The premature eggs reminded me of parmesian cheese.
                2nd Course-A thick slice of bread. With homemade ricotta from 18 different cows and cucumber and black pepper foam on the side. The bread reminded me of corn bread with a cakeyness to it. We both liked the dish, the ricotta was delicious.
                They gave us a bread basket of onion\potato bread with homemade butter and mushroom and celery salt. The taste of the onion and potato is very subtle. Since they saw we liked the ricotta so much they gave us another fresh hot batch with the bread.
                3rd Course-Carpfish with Corn chowder. This was my gf's favorite dish, there was alot of flavor in this dish and fish was cooked perfectly.
                They gave us another fresh batch of bread even though we had 2 slices left in the basket. (I believe they bake the bread on the spot just before serving)
                4th Course-This morning's Farmer's egg with a variety of beans. This was essentially a poached egg on top of chili. I liked it dipping the bread a lot into it. My gf thought the egg didn't go well with the chili. I think she thought it would have been better fried instead of poached. I'm not sure I agree because I love poached eggs.
                Another we had another fresh batch of bread brought just before the next course
                5th Course-Red Gnocci with shittake mushrooms and white truffles. This was another wonderful dish, my second favorite savory after the carp and corn chowder fish.
                6th Course-Veal with Red Cabbage. The Red Cabbage was in sometype of sweet. I didn't think the cabbage tasted good by itself but together with the veal it was fine.
                7th course-A shot of blueberries, granola, and yogurt (this was just ok, if a dessert is just ok that's pretty bad imo because I love everything sweet), a shot pear sorbet with something else (this was delicious!, my favorite thing today too bad it was in all in a shot class =[), a shot concord grape jelly (this was fine, I mixed it with the blueberries/yogurt cause it needed some help)
                8th course-Apple tart with meringue. This was awesomee, the tart part of the dessert was like a graham cracker crust on steroids, really really addicting.
                At the end of the check the gave us complimentary chocolates, honeycombs (wow!), and grapes. I loved my meal there, everything was solid and some things very very good. But I am disappointed that they changed the concept. Last time I dined there in August I had 3 wow bites (tomato burger, fois gras with chocolate crackers, and cornbread with corn ice cream), this time I had none but I did have some very good bites. The last time I dined there I told them my favorite foods that were in the ingredients menu like liver, corn, chocolate, etc, I even told them I loved ice cream which wasn't on the menu and they made sure both the desserts I had last time had ice cream. I felt that really enhanced my last dining experience. I still highly recommend Blue Hill at Stone Barns, but be aware now that you are entirely at the chef's hands.

                2 Replies
                1. re: daffyduck

                  Hey, GF and I were there last night as well. I was going to write up my menu but it was almost identical to yours with the exception of a beef heart slider (instead of beet), lobster with corn soup, my poached eggs had chicken hearts added, and I had lamb neck (insanely good) instead of the veal you had. The menu/format has changed a little bit but it was still well worth the price of admission : ).

                  Anf FYI, my GF dinner was of course all vegetarian and she loved it.

                  1. re: daffyduck

                    Thanks for the update, dafffyduck! :)