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Which 2 fine dining options would you choose?

Hi guys--

DH and I are headed to NYC for the first time in May. I'd love to eat at 5 star restaurants each night we're there (who wouldn't?!) but I only feel comfortable doing it two nights, budget-wise. MAYBE three nights if we just can't decide. ;)

Been scouring the boards for a few months and here's my short list:

Daniel
Per Se
11 Madison Park
Sushi Yasuda
wd~50
Le Bernardin
Jean Georges

So, which two would you choose?

For reference, we don't care for seafood (except sushi) or wine.

We also don't mind eating French both times, since we plan to eat a wide array of ethnic foods throughout the trip.

Thanks for any advice/insight!

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

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

Sushi Yasuda
204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

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

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  1. Here is the order in which I would choose:

    1. Eleven Madison Park
    2, Per Se
    3. Bouley
    4. Jean Georges
    5. Daniel

    Le Bernardin is a seafood/fish restaurant
    Sushi Yasuda is not a fine dining experience
    WD-50 is interesting but not in the same league

    You don't have to drink wine anywhere if you don't want to

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

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

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

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

    Sushi Yasuda
    204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      I agree with gutsofsteel's recommendations (except for Daniel).

    2. If you don't care for seaweed, cross Le Bernadin and Yasuda off the list.
      Per Se is the floorshow on the list, but very formal compared to the refined rusticity of Daniel. Me? I'd go to those two, hands down.
      www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

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

      1. I have never been to Per se, but if you can get in and swing the $275 price per person then go for it
        I have been to Daniel several times-it is simply one of the best French style restaurants in the world.

        Personally, I have always been disappointed at Jean George restaurants.

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

        8 Replies
        1. re: AdamD

          Have you been to Jean Georges?

          What other "French style" restaurants do you rank at the level of Daniel in the world?

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

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            Well truthfully, I am generally not a huge fan of French restaurants. I definitely prefer Japanese. I seem to be disappointed every time-bore me with pop and circumstance. Yes I have been to Jean Georges-I was not impressed with the food I had there-same with some of his outposts-spice market, Vong etc......I was served some tamarin paste at spice market that was truly offensive-smelled like lady parts :)
            And I have never been to paris/france, so my experience is largely NYC/SF/Boston/Hong Kong/UK/Japan/Germany based. All I know is that when I go to Daniel or Cafe Boulud-the food is delicious and the service impeccable. Give me homura-an (closed) kamo nanban for $30 and I am much more happy than any experience I have had at a French place.

            I liked Le Bernadin, La Grenoullie, Le Colonial and Le Cirque back in the day, but to tell the truth, I never left a meal at those places like I did at other places. I mean the food is good, but I always walk out questioning myself.

            I am dying to try per se and masa. But I just cant stomach a close to one thousand dollar bill for a meal with drinks.

            I just have not found a place where I am wowed by the food and the value in a french place.
            I dont mind paying $150 a person with wine. What can a French place give me? If I want fish, I go Japanese. If I want Beef, I go steakhouse, korean or japanese BBQ, or home made. If I want pork, I go BBQ or again, home made. So aside from an outstanding souffle, French places bore me to death with their food.

            -----
            Le Colonial
            149 E. 57th St, New York, NY 10022

            Le Cirque
            151 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

            1. re: AdamD

              I think what you had that "smelled like lady parts" was probably not tamarind paste but shrimp paste, and from your description, it sounds like it was real, properly flavored shrimp paste and you just can't take it. I'm not so sure Vong was ever really a French restaurant, though; it's a fusion restaurant. For the record, I was never impressed with the food I had there, thinking of it as more or less watered-down Thai with very good ingredients plus great desserts (desserts are always a forte of Vongerichten restaurants, in my experience). But I don't think it makes sense to judge all of Jean Georges' restaurants on the basis of an evaluation of Vong.

              1. re: Pan

                It wasn't at vong. It was at spice market. And It was presented and described as tamarind paste. I forget the entire dish at this point, but I am not a timid eater-very few things offend me. Natto is one, fermented fish is another. But thats all I can think of at the moment. Its just one thing that stuck with me and comes to mind when I choose a place to go.

                I don't base my opinions on any one restaurant, or even one sitting that could go wrong. Just saying, my experiences at JG places in NYC have been disappointing. All of them. Too much hype perhaps.

                1. re: AdamD

                  Spice Market is Southeast Asian inspired. Go to a supermarket that has real Malaysian or Indonesian belac(h)an and smell it. I'm willing to bet that's what you smelled and, perhaps, tasted. Tamarind doesn't smell bad; belacan does, but those of us who like it consider it a good flavor.

                  For the record, while I was never impressed with Vong and have never been to Spice Market, Jo Jo was my family's favorite restaurant in the 1980s. I've been to lunch at Jean Georges two or three times. Each time, I've considered my meal a good 2 1/2 or so, maybe 3-star meal in my version of NY Times stars, not a 4-star meal, but always a good value and pleasant experience.

                  1. re: Pan

                    I know the difference. But this was a blend, perhaps some fish sauce or shrimp paste blended with tamarind-not good in any event.

                    Lunch is a different story. But like you said, you go expecting 4-5 star and you get 2.5. In a nutshell, that's exactly what I am saying.

                    1. re: AdamD

                      I get that. But you're not paying 4-star prices for the lunch prix fixe, so if you downgrade your expectations to being a very good meal with excellent service in a pleasant environment, you can enjoy it.

                      1. re: Pan

                        Service is always good. No question. It is all relative. But for me its about the food. Of course, looking over central park in a pleasant setting is nice and pleasant. Paying for food that makes me crave something else after paying JG prices-not so nice. It just makes me want to take out boucheron bakery brisket sandwich to the park. I end up wanting a katsu hama or a simple bahn mi! Just one man's experience. Tis all.

        2. Just my own two cents but if you eat at places like Jean-George, Daniel, Le Bernardin, Per Se, etc. you will spend more in two nights than you would eating at excellent restaurants like Scarpetta, Marea, Cafe Boulud, Craft, Aldea, 3 or 4 nights.

          If you want to say you ate at the 3 Michelin star places here in NY, then go for it, but IMO you will have food that you may like even more and go to more restaurants if you don't go to the absolute cream of the crop. I liked my meal at Scarpetta overall more than my meal at JG for instance.

          1 Reply
          1. re: XerxesAB

            No question: PER SE! Absolutely the best meal my husband and I have ever eaten.

          2. Per Se is insanely amazing but insanely expensive. Le Bernardin is all seafood. I'd probably go 11 Madison, Daniel and Jean Georges.

            However, Blue Hill, Marea, Ko, ABC Kitchen and Bouley although not all "5 star" whatever that means, should be considered.

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

            Blue Hill
            75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

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

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

            Marea
            240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

            ABC Kitchen
            35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

            8 Replies
            1. re: jive1178

              Ko is another excellent recommendation. High quality and delicious food in a very casual environment. Ko received 2 Michelin stars for the past 2 years.

              1. re: ellenost

                If Expensive, lousy service, a "holier than thou" attitude, convoluted reservation system, uncomfortable bar chairs, and hearing the F-bomb dropped 15+ times during a 2.5 hour meal is ideal, then by all means do Ko. :-)

                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                1. re: uhockey

                  I agree. Once at Ko was enough. I am so over the whole Chang thing.

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    I really like Chang, in general - and I had great meals at Ssam and Noodle - but the cost/experience ratio at Ko was horrible IMO. I'd sooner go to Ssam or Noodle and order $200 worth of food, sit in more comfortable seating, get equally good food, have better service, and not be treated like I'm LUCKY to be there.

                    http:uhockey.blogspot.com

                    1. re: uhockey

                      I agree. Once was enough. I found the cooks rude, and I was not thrilled to see them more than once prepare a dish and pop a slice of fish or meat in their mouths right in front of us!

                  2. re: uhockey

                    Sorry uhockey, I've dined at Ko more than 30 times in the past 2 1/2 years, and have always found the food creative and delicious, the service always professional and friendly, and the seats no more uncomfortable than those at some of the best sushi restaurants.

                    BTW, I'm waiting for your LV reviews.

                    1. re: ellenost

                      Creative, yes - but worth $225 after tax/tip? No chance.

                      You must be "known" after 30 meals, so perhaps that accounts for the pleasant service - they didn't treat a single person "pleasant" or "friendly" when I went.

                      I still wonder if the restaurant would be nearly as popular after ~3 years if it weren't for the auto-hype created by the reservations system.

                      As for the reviews - they will be very slow in coming. Full time clinic duties plus research resume today and my next "scheduled" day off is February 4th. I'll be heading to the Big Apple on Feb 16th, btw, so I'll be around these parts making my decisions for that trip.

                      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                      1. re: uhockey

                        The dinner I had last week at Ko was fantastic, and reminded me why I adore this restaurant. Yes, I'm known to the staff, and after 30 visits I've never seen either the service staff or the chefs treat anyone in a manner other than professional and friendly. BTW, I've never heard any of the staff curse.

                        Too bad about your work schedule; I'm looking forward to your LV reviews (as are many people).

                        We're looking forward to your return visit to NYC. Have a Happy New Year!