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One Dinner on Semi-Short Notice

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So here's my dilemma. My girlfriend and I have decided to head into Manhattan on Saturday December 18th to do the whole Christmas in New York thing. She gets to shop, I get to eat. Unfortunately, most of the places I want to try are already booked. I'm on the waiting lists at EMP and Le Bernardin, and Jean Georges only has a reservation available to 5:15. There are reservations available at Convivio (I've read mixed reviews), and Soto. As you can see from the places I'm considering, style of food is not as important as quality. We don't get into the city that often, and I really want to take advantage of this opportunity as best I can.

So here are my questions. Do I take the 5:15 reservation at Jean Georges, or should I be concerned that we will be rushed as they turn over tables for the later seatings? If I don't do Jean Georges, are Convivio and Soto good alternatives considering what's available? Places like Scarpetta, The Dining Room at the Modern, Marea, and Alto are also in play, but only have reservations available past 10. Jean Georges also has late reservations available. I'd prefer to eat in the 7-9 o'clock range, but if any of these places are truly worth it I can make an exception. I really need a hand deciding as the number of choices are overwhelming. Help!

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

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

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

Convivio
45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

Marea
240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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  1. ive come to the realization that you should never eat dinner before 7pm or after 10pm. its a crap reservation.

    on the 18th on opentable, i see gotham, 15 east, perilla, wallse, hearth, and peasant have availability from 730-9pm...

    7 Replies
    1. re: sam1

      Which of these would you most recommend? Would you rate any of these over Convivio or Soto?

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      Convivio
      45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

      1. re: ajh05004

        i used to like convivio a lot but not so much in the last year. soto is good but overpriced and i prefer sushi over cooked japanese that soto is famous for.

        you seem to want to go to the high end places for dinner...of those i listed, gotham is excellent and a straight nyc classic. 15 east has excellent sushi but id make sure that your reservation is for the sushi bar and not a table.

        off of opentable, id consider calling dell'anima for pasta (and sweetbreads), ushiwakamaru for excellent sushi for 1/2 the price of 15 east, or consider waiting for a table at torrisi for an interesting italian meal.

        1. re: sam1

          Now I'm considering going to a more casual place and saving the big dinner for another time. Perilla is intriguing and people on the board seem to like it.

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          Perilla
          9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

          1. re: ajh05004

            perilla is great...id stick with their meat choices over fish though. its upscale but very comfortable. great place to relax after a long day of shopping.

            1. re: sam1

              So I assume you'd recommend ordering a la carte, sticking with things like the duck meatballs and pork belly?

              1. re: ajh05004

                Definitely the duck meatballs and the pork belly. the Farro is a great side as well. A another great option is a L'Artusi a sister resto of Dell'Amina. Personally i LOVE Scarpetta and I've also done a 10PM meal there....still one of my top fave italian

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

                L'Artusi
                228 West 10th Street, New York, NY 10014

            2. re: ajh05004

              I wouldn't consider Perilla upscale. Their signature duck meatballs are delicious. SO went to Gotham earlier this year and enjoyed his meal. I have not been.

              I agree with rrems SHO suggestion if you want a more upscale dining option. Very zen like atmosphere.

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              Perilla
              9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

      2. Would you consider going into the neighborhoods - away from the typical "destination restaurant" lists? If so, look at La Mangeoire (2nd Ave @ 53rd) and Jubilee (54th bet 1st & 2nd). Others on this board can help with exceptionally good and reliable restaurants in their neighborhoods. Look at menus on menupages.com

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        La Mangeoire
        1008 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10022

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jane A.

          I am open for any suggestions really. Location is not very important, just looking for a great meal.

        2. How about lunch at Jean Georges? Followed by shopping after....

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

          8 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            I was considering this, but I think we're going to grab an early lunch at Di Fara, spend the day shopping in Manhattan, and finish with a late dinner.

            1. re: ajh05004

              Early is relative at Di Fara. They open when Dom feels like it--sometimes that means after 12pm.

              1. re: kathryn

                Unfortunately the only lunch reservation available at Jean Georges is 2:30, which I think will be too late for us.

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

                1. re: ajh05004

                  I do see lunch time tables at Bouley, Cafe Boulud, and Maialino, that may work.

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

                  Maialino
                  2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                  1. re: kathryn

                    All three great ideas.

              2. re: ajh05004

                Wow, DiFara's. Let me first say that I am a Brooklyn resident and when anyone says that DiFara's is inconsistent, I ask whether it is between the best pizza in the USA and the best pizza in the universe. I truly believe it is worth a trip, but understand that it could take at least four and a half hours out of your trip. Leave at 11 AM (I hope you have something to do before this) and get back to Manhattan at 3:30 PM. So if you want to do this, more power to you; just know what you might be getting into.

                1. re: bobjbkln

                  So if I got there at 11, you don't think I'd be in Manhattan until 3:30? Maybe I should take the 2:30 reservation at Jean Georges.

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

                2. re: ajh05004

                  That's 3 hours out of your day.

                  I second Hearth as a dinner recommendation.

              3. Alright, I've made 9 o'clock reservations at Perilla. I think we're going to tough it out and stand in line at Di Fara right when it opens and then shop until our reservation. We might go back in January and do Jean Georges for lunch and EMP or Le Bernardin for dinner.

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                Perilla
                9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

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

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

                6 Replies
                1. re: ajh05004

                  Perilla is fine but if you want something a bit more high-end, SHO has availability that night, as does Oceana. I think these would be better substitutes for the places you were originally trying for.

                  1. re: ajh05004

                    A trip to DiFara is a crapshoot in terms of time. Who knows when they'll open or how long it will take, and the subway there and back is long.

                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                      I just had excellent pizza at Motorino -- personally, I would go there instead of DiFara.

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                      Motorino
                      349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                      1. re: Nancy S.

                        Or Keste. But the pizza styles are very very different than DiFara...

                        1. re: gutsofsteel

                          Agreed, but considering the amount of time DiFara involves, for me a better time/quality ratio would be Motorino (or Keste).

                          -----
                          Motorino
                          349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                          1. re: Nancy S.

                            I agree with you - since the OP doesn't have tons of time.

                  2. In my experience, at least one of your top choices where you are on the wait list will call you with an availability.