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Visiting in May: Need Help with Lunch/Dinner Decisions and Patisserie Suggestions

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I'll be visiting my mom in early May. I will be coming in on a red eye flight Friday morning and hoping to fit in at least two lunches and two dinners. I should note that I will be solo for lunch on Friday and in groups of 3 on Friday and likely 4 on Saturday for dinner each night. I will be paying for one other person at each non-solo meal and while cost is a consideration, it is not the most important as this is a mini vacation. On my last trip I dined at The Modern, Le Bernardin and Babbo. The places I am considering so far are:

Lunch Friday (solo):
Momofuku Ko
Bouley
Del Posto
Bouley
Aldea

Dinner Friday:
WD~50
Corton
(note that I'll be in the SoHo/Tribeca area)

Lunch Saturday:
Bouley
Jean Georges
Aldea
Per Se
Le Bernardin (my mom has not been)
EMP

Dinner Saturday:
EMP
Plus any others I listed above

Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated, specifically what restaurant would be best for each occasion.

Finally, my mom is in the pastry program at the French Culinary Institute and is very interested in working at and eventually opening a patisserie (think Meryl Streep's place in the movie It's Complicated) one day. I wanted to hit up a bunch of great examples in the city and am looking for some suggestions from all you hounders. I very much appreciate the help!

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  1. Friday lunch - Momofuku Ko

    Friday dinner - Corton

    Saturday lunch - Per Se. Note that Le Bernardin and EMP are not open for lunch on Saturday.

    Saturday dinner - Jean Georges

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    Per Se
    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

    Momofuku Ko
    163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

    Corton
    239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

    4 Replies
    1. re: peter j

      ...and Aldea isn't open for lunch Saturday either.

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

      1. re: kathryn

        At Per Se, are reservations required for the Salon? Is that even worth doing or is it better to try to do the full experience?

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        Per Se
        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

        1. re: ZJY82

          I don't think you could make reservations in the Salon even if you wanted to. I've eaten in the dining room and the Salon and did not think the Salon suffered at all in terms of quality. The selection is more limited, but upside (for me) is that you can order less food. (I find the full tasting menu a little bit overwhelming.) The service is also quite lovely.

          1. re: ZJY82

            No need for reservations in the Salon, though jackets are still required.

            The food, however, might seem unremarkable and meagerly portioned when taken out of the context of the tasting menu. IMO it's better to try the full experience. The dining room offers a choice of 5 or 9 courses during lunch on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

      2. For the pastry shops, I'd suggest one (or more, if you are interested in decor/layout/etc) locations of the Financier Patisserie chain. Chain is usually not a good thing, but I think their quality has held up despite expansion.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Elizabeth E.

          I like Financier too. Other suggestions for pastries:

          Cafe Sabarsky
          Lady M
          Soutine
          Silver Moon
          Bouchon
          Payard Patisserie
          Francois Chocolate Bar
          Momofuku Milk Bar

          -----
          Cafe Sabarsky
          1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

          1. re: Riverman500

            Lady M is known for their crepe cake, which is insanely pricey, but delicious.

        2. Patisserie Claude on West 4th Street is worth a visit. The inside is unassuming and hardly impressive, but their croissants, brioche, and éclairs trump a lot of the "big names" in town.

          Also, Balthazar has nice pastries too. Blue Ribbon Bakery Market has great challah and "toasts" (aka open-faced sandwiches). I've not had anything else from them.

          -----
          Patisserie Claude
          187 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

          Blue Ribbon Bakery
          33 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014

          5 Replies
          1. re: loratliff

            I used to love Patisserie Claude (even after Claude's departure), but I think the trick is to get there early in the a.m. -- or at least very soon after the croissants come out of the oven. I recently purchased some in the afternoon for visiting guests and they were a huge disappointment. I am a huge fan of their eclairs any time of day. Fruit tarts can be a bit soggy, but I like that they are not very sweet and true to the fruit.

            La Bergamote does wonderful almond croissants when they are not burnt. For some reason, though, the last three or four times we went, almond, chocolate and regular croissants were all over-baked, with a slightly burnt flavor and a hard, dry texture.

            La Maison du Macaron does wonderful macarons if your mother likes those. Some of the fillings are a bit too sweet, but I think they are slightly less egregious on that front than any other macaron establishment I've tried in town.

            If you like or want to try cantucci, a soft biscotti, stop in for an authentic version at Il Cantuccio in the West Village. There are different bread rolls that also seem to be popular, there, but I've not tried them. I have tried and did not like their heavy, Italian-style croissants, but I think I just don't enjoy the sweet, breadier style. They are probably well made.

            BTW, ZJY82, please keep us updated about your mom's pastry shop aspirations. I look forward to trying them when she opens her own place.

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            Patisserie Claude
            187 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

            La Maison du Macaron
            132 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

            La Bergamote
            515 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019

            1. re: michelleats

              I've never been to Claude in the afternoon, but that's good to know.

              1. re: loratliff

                It's a curse unique to those of us who can't always get our act together before noon. :)

              2. re: michelleats

                Actually, I have an unhealthy obsession with Macarons, so suggestions on places for those would be much appreciated.

                Fortunately, macarons are covered in the FCI curriculum, so I will hopefully be getting a care package of those.

                Will keep you posted on her progress. She has about four months to go. Regrettably, I am unable to reap any of the benefits of all the goodies she brings home.

                Thanks, everyone, for all the suggestions.

                1. re: ZJY82

                  La Maison du Chocolat or La Maison du Macaron. Make sure the latter's are at room temperature before eating.

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                  La Maison du Macaron
                  132 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

                  La Maison du Chocolat
                  30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020

            2. Lunch Friday (solo): If you are neutral on type of cuisine, I would do Momofuku Ko. It is unforgettable. The others are good, but more run-of-the-mill.

              Dinner Friday: I don't think the current tasting menu is very strong at WD-50, though I've enjoyed it in the past. I haven't been to Corton, so I have no basis of comparison.

              Lunch Saturday: Per Se (if you don't mind the expense).

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              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

              Momofuku Ko
              163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

              Corton
              239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

              3 Replies
              1. re: michelleats

                Ko certainly intrigues me (assuming I can get a rez). I've been to Schwa in Chicago and understand there are some similarities.

                Removing Per Se for a second, what are people's thoughts on Lunch on Sat between Bouley and JG?

                Thanks!

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                Per Se
                10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                1. re: ZJY82

                  I think lunch at Bouley is more interesting. I'd reserve JG for dinner, when you can get the tasting menus.

                  1. re: ZJY82

                    I've dined at both Bouley and JG, and I highly recommend Bouley. They have a 5 course tasting menu at lunch for $45 which (to me) is a bargain. Food is wonderful, service is attentive, and the room is beautiful.