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Input for our next great NYC meals please!

We're heading to NYC for our annual spring weekend and I'm already thinking about trying to choose the next great meal knowing I'll need a lot of lead time for reservations. Last year it was Eleven Madison Park which was sublime! We thought about returning but I'm not that excited about the new concept (yes, I've read all and every post!) plus we want to try somewhere we haven't been. In the last number of years we've tried Jean George (didn't love), Daniel (loved), Bouley (loved), and enjoyed more casual meals at Balthizar and Pigalle. Per Se is just too expensive at this point.

Clearly, we enjoy luxurious French influenced meals of impeccably prepared fairly rich food. Ambiance and service are important but food quality and great preparations are the top considerations. We don't generally go for huge multi-course tastings, usually choosing a 3 course prix-fixe when available. Excellent desserts are important to us.

We'll likely do a lunch on Friday and dinner on Saurday night. I'd love any and all feedback on our top choices as well as any other suggestions of places I missed that we should be considering. If it were you visiting NYC once in a year, what would you pick for lunch and dinner?

The Modern (which do you recommend, the dining room or "bar" and why?)
Gramercy Tavern
La Grenouille
Gothom Bar and Grill
Babbo (for Italian food, this menu looks AMAZING and of course reviews are always stellar.)
Bouley (we haven't been in over 5 years and the lunch menu at $36 is pretty tempting)

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Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

Gramercy Tavern
42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

Babbo
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

Pigalle
790 8th Ave, New York, NY 10019

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

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  1. I would pick La Grenouille for lunch, and Craft for dinner.

    or:

    Gramercy Tavern (the restaurant, not the front room) for lunch, and The Modern (the restaurant, not the bar room) for dinner.

    Bouley is lovely but you've been. Gotham is not at the same level. I'm not a Babbo fan - pastas are delicious, but I can't stand the music and I don't like the service or the attitude.

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    Gramercy Tavern
    42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

    Babbo
    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

    1. Le Bernardin is a wonderful lunch destination. Men wear jackets there. I strap on a tie, too. Interestingly, they make a killer martini.

      Per Se, for lunch on a Saturday, is exceptional. You can save quite a lot of money if you opt for the five-course menu. You'll get the full-tilt experience, leave satisfied and feel very good about yourselves. Remember, you "own" the table so there is no rush to this well-paced meal. Later that night you can drop into Bar Jamon (Casa Mono's annex) for some cava and fancy Spanish ham while you stand at the tiny, crowded bar. It's all good.

      Lots of Michelin stars here at pedestrian prices.

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      Per Se
      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

      Bar Jamon
      125 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003

      1. I would go with the Modern (dining room) for dinner, or else SHO, which I think is right up there in food quality but a bit less expenseive. I've never eaten in the Modern bar room, but it is crowded and noisy which for me is a big turn-off. Gotham is IMO not exciting food, though the ambiance is nice. I would choose Convivio over Babbo for Italian.

        6 Replies
        1. re: rrems

          Convivio is a lovely restaurant in a very quiet part of Manhattan (Tudor City has architectural/historical significance and has always intrigued me). I'm a fan of the tiny bar and like the pastas there.That's about it for me. The food is not that special.Still, it's an interesting place to visit. The food at Babbo, to me, is significantly superior.

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          Babbo
          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

          Convivio
          45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

          1. re: rrems

            Interesting about the lunch at Per Se. It's well hidden on the website. Still pricey but it's on the list for a possibility. I don't call $175 pedestrian prices. In Paris, even with the terrible exchange rate, we've had lunches at 2 and 3 Michelin starred places for under $100. But NYC isn't Paris so i might be worht the experience. I'm just not sure given the numerous other good choices. I've often felt that I overpaid when I've dined at Michelin 3 stars and enjoyed many of the one or 2 stars (or often no stars) just as much if not more. Anyone else have comments on the value of the lunch at Per Se?

            Le Bernardin is too fish-centric for our tastes. The Caft menu doesn't appeal. Gothom is now off the list. Please keep the comments coming!

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            Per Se
            10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

              1. re: tldmatrix

                I'm a huge WD-50 fan, but I don't think it fits what the OP has traditionally liked.

                You could do the salon at Per Se and probably make it out for $300 or less, total...

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                Per Se
                10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

              2. re: plafield

                If you like Daniel (I do), you'll love Per Se. The daytime view from the dining room over Central Park South is pretty special. $175 pp is not cheap. Still, it's a lot less expensive than the nine-course meal. It also includes tip.

                I'm not defending Keller's pricing policy. Rather, I'm pointing out that there are ways to experience a Michelin three star restaurant at a discount. Give it a shot if it appeals to you.

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                Per Se
                10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              3. re: rrems

                I love the Bar Room at the Modern, and if you request seating along the barrier/wall that separates it from the dining room it is not crowded or noisy. Great food, comfortable, and conducive to conversation. La Genouille is a don't miss if you enjoy classic French food, the last of its breed so go while you can. The food and surroundings are elegant and worth getting dressed up for. Sublime! I am also a great fan of Convivio, a bargain compared to similar restaurants, and in a lovely setting in Tudor City.

              4. I adore Bouley (you seem to also); I'd go back to Bouley since they've moved into a beautiful new restaurant. The menu is completely different from five years ago.

                1. I would do Gramercy Tavern for lunch and The Modern for dinner.

                  Both the bar room and the dining room at The Modern are exceptional. Depends on what experience you want. The bar room will be louder and more casual. It's comprised of small plates that are all exceptional (I've tasted every one). And you'll be able to basically make your own prix-fixe.

                  The dining room is more luxurious with slightly stiffer service, lots of amuse bouches, and phenomenal dishes. It's the same chef in both rooms and whichever you choose, it will be delicious.

                  Enjoy!

                  -www.eatthisny.com

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                  Gramercy Tavern
                  42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: eatthisny

                    Thanks for the input. Right now I'm leaning toward La Grenouille for lunch and The Modern for dinner. I do love Bouley but think we'll save it for another time and try new places this trip. Per Se is still on the table but I'm not sure if I just want to say I've eaten there or if I really want to eat there, especially at those prices. Would love to hear an argument of how it's that much a cut above the other possibilities that are so much more reasonably priced by comparison.

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                    Per Se
                    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

                    1. re: plafield

                      La Grenouille for lunch and The Modern for dinner is a lovely combination.

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

                      1. re: plafield

                        Why not do the bar room at Per Se, as suggested previously? It would end up costing similarly to some of your other options. Plus, no hassle with reservations.

                        Anyway, the food is a cut above the other possibilities, in my opinion, but it's the service that is truly above and beyond (and worth the price).

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                        Per Se
                        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019