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Suggestions on my shortlist of fine dining restaurants in NYC (first time)

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Hi fellow foodies,

I am new here and have found the forum and site very informative! Can you please suggest some of the better fine dining restaurants in NYC to try in 7 days? We plan to go to 5-6 restaurants for lunch/dinner.

My partner and I are going to New York City (first time) for a week next month and am putting together a shortlist of fine dining restaurants and other "Must eats!"

I went to find the 2011 Michelin guide to Best Restaurants in NYC, but my local bookstores do not stock it.

I have spent some time researching and reading restaurant reviews, and have so far have the following:

- Daniel
- Gordon Ramsay at the London
- Jean Geroges
- L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
- Le Bernardin
- Masa
- Per Se
- The Modern
- Asiate
- Blue Ribbon

We are not rich enough to eat at all these restaurants, but given that its about 2 weeks before we leave for NYC, I wanted to decide on which restaurants and make a reservation before we depart.

We are not picky eaters and neither of us drink wine - as we are not intending to go for the tasting menu each time, (instead I was hoping we can do several 3 course lunch/dinner sets on offer). We have no particular preference on cuisine types.

If we were to do the degustation/tasting menu at one restaurant - which would it be?

I was wondering which websites you usually check for reviews on restaurants? The ones I have found so far are Yelp, MenuPages, tripadviosr and of course here.

I am reading older threads to find out restaurant recommendations, but if anyone can suggest a few fine dining places or give some feedback/advice (or name restaurants that I've missed), that would be greatly appreciated! :)

On top of the fine dining list, I am also looking into "must eat food/places in NYC" - would definitely want to try Pizza, Bagels, Steak burgers etc

I'm from Australia and will be staying in 53rd St and 7th Ave (near Le Bernadin!)

I've read the thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781072 and all the informative replies/links there, so much information here! It's like a foodies dream website! :

)

Thanks!

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

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

Asiate
80 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
57 E 57th St, New York, NY 10022

Gordon Ramsay at the London
151 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019

Masa
10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

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  1. Depending on when your plans are, you may not be able to get reservations any more for some of these places.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      Agree with the comment above that it might be too late for reservations at some of those. That said, here's a stab at places you might enjoy as a first time visitor:

      Per Se: best food on your list and view over Central Park is very special during daylight hours.

      The Modern: overlooking the MOMA sculpture garden. Can combine with a visit to that museum. The Bar at the Modern is more casual but also very worthwhile.

      Jean Georges: great lunch deals in a wonderful space at Columbus Circle. To save $, consider Nougaine, the Jean Georges restaurant in the bar area of the same space

      l'Atelier du Joel Robuchon: use open table to reserve a space at the counter. Fun and delicious.

      Asiate : lunch or cocktail for the spectacular view.

      For general restaurant guides, see the online recommendations of the nYTimes and New York Mgazine. Have fun.

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

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

      The Modern
      9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

      Asiate
      80 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

    2. lunch is a good time to eat more affordably at lots of upscale places: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/770973

      1. Agree that depending on the restaurant, the chances of getting a reservation are very slim. Your best bet is to hope for cancellations at a few places, try for lunch, or to take an early dinner (530ish reservation) or late supper (1030ish reservation).

        With regards to food review sites, I would say that Chowhound and egullet are the best choices and have the most discerning forum posters. Definitely the forums to read for fine dining. Yelp has too much noise.

        Most of what you are looking for in terms of NY must-eats have been written about many times over on these forums. Just keep searching and you will find way more information than you will probably use.

        With regards to fine dining restaurants, I think the most glaring omissions from the list are Eleven Madison Park, Corton, and Marea. My suggestion to finding out more about fine dining restaurants is to read a couple of threads, and keep track of the most regular posters. Often, they will be the most knowledgeable. Examples include RGR, ulterior epicure, gutsofsteel, uhockey, etc. Then you can click on their names and CH will take you to all their posts, where you can do more digging. I also tend to mostly post about fine dining, so you can also click on my name, look at my posts, and work from there.

        Glad you discovered CH and welcome to NY!

        -----
        Marea
        240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

        4 Replies
        1. re: fooder

          >> With regards to food review sites, I would say that Chowhound and egullet are the best choices and have the most discerning forum posters. Definitely the forums to read for fine dining.

          For upscale dining, you'll do much better on some of the more region-specific boards, like Mouthfuls Food for NYC, LTHForum for Chicago, Don Rockwell for DC etc. eGullet is far more cooking-centric now, with very little traffic for NYC dining. Also, Ulterior Epicure doesn't really post here any more (many of the more prolific bloggers don't).

          To the OP, I'd drop Gordon Ramsay, Asiate (unless you're really after a view), and Blue Ribbon off your initial list. Robuchon's L'Ateliers are spreading across the planet, so I don't think the NYC branch is a necessary visit. Masa should only be considered if you're absolutely comfortable dropping $600 per person on a kaiseki and sushi meal. Corton and EMP are good additions.

          -----
          Asiate
          80 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

          Corton
          239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

          Masa
          10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

          1. re: hcbk0702

            Mouthfuls Food can be pretty chatty though, so if you're a visitor just looking for reviews, you should know that.

            For New York dining reviews, I like Serious Eats.

          2. re: fooder

            After reading the link that rose water gave for fine dining lunch deals, have added these 2 restaurants to try for lunch:
            - Bouley
            - Toqueville

            Is there a significant difference between doing lunch vs dinner at the same fine dining restaurant (if both are 3 course meals) in terms of the food?

            Thanks for the suggestion fooder - not sure how accurate opentable is for real time booking/availability, but most of the restaurants still have tables during lunch time and early dinner

            I'll be reading as much as I can on these forums the next couple of days and start booking, as you've mentioned, there are a number of glaring omissions from my list. Thanks for the tip, will research based on the CH regular posters.

            I will need to plan around the attractions we'll be sightseeing as well, which might be a challenge.

            -----
            Tocqueville
            1 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

            Bouley
            163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

            1. re: ausfoodie

              OpenTable is very accurate for the tables a restaurant has released to OpenTable. When a restaurant is on OpenTable, their entire reservation backend runs on OpenTable's software (like what the hostess sees at the podium, etc). If you call for a table, they are entering your information into OpenTable anyway. But as hcbk0702 notes, some restaurants hold back inventory from the web interface but not necessarily through other channels.

              Given that your trip is in 2 weeks, I'd book sooner rather than later.

          3. What everyone else said. The restaurants you have chosen typically book up 4 weeks in advance.

            Also most aren't open Sundays (not sure what days you're here). Most serve lunch but not every day of the week so plan carefully.

            I'd drop Blue Ribbon from the list of fine dining considerations. It is more casual than the others and doesn't accept reservations unless you're 5+ people. I do like it a whole lot but it sticks out on this list.

            1. Thanks for the all the replies, will take note of the suggestions.

              Will speed up the decision making process and start making reservations. Do most people book directly with the restaurant or is it fine to use opentable? I don't have a US cell phone number for this though so will most likely call direct, despite the 14 hour time difference!

              You are all very correct regarding the booking - I checked most of the restaurants from my list and most are booked out for dinner during the time I'm there (10th-17th May)

              I think I'll do lunch at a few places and choose one for dinner (tasting menu) - it'll all come down to which restaurants are available.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ausfoodie

                Lots of people use OpenTable, and it'll certainly be much more convenient for you. However, restaurants do not release all of their tables through OT, so you may want to call certain restaurants directly to maximize your chances of landing a reservation (or to get on a waitlist).

                From your list, Le Bernardin, Jean Georges, and The Modern all serve significantly less expensive lunches. I guess Asiate does too, but you should really skip it.

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

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

                Asiate
                80 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

              2. Thanks hcbk0702, will look into Corton and EMP (have read lots on the latter)

                Is there a specific reason to drop Gordon Ramsay? I was actually thinking of doing the tasting menu dinner here after reading reviews on MenuPages.

                kathryn, thanks for the suggestion. Will plan each day to try and fit one of the restaurants in. It will just be two of us the whole time, we'll be there 10-17th May.

                Thanks cortez for the tips on those restaurants.

                -----
                Corton
                239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                1 Reply
                1. re: ausfoodie

                  I was going to add that EMP and Corton should be added to your list, as they are respectively more American-ish and more unique, than say what might be available in Australia. I usually don't like to throw extra things out there especially when your original list was already pretty good. But since others mentioned it, I agree with them (and on the deletions too).

                  I'm just curious about the japanese portion. I always imagine that Australia would have pretty good decent sushi and the sort, or at least better than NY. But that could just be my imagination.

                  Also, use opentable or the restaurant websites before calling. Just makes it easier. It's real time, and accurate, and will give alternative time and dates. If there is a place that don't have availability for the time you want, then call. But there's no harm with opentable.

                  -----
                  Corton
                  239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                2. Just came back from a weekend in NYC. I'd suggest Blue Hill as another option. They have a bar which is first come first serve and I noticed people come in without reservations on Sunday evening and they were very gracious in trying to accomodate them.

                  I'd pass on Masa, as another posted pointed out, you will drop a ton of money, I did and I came out hungry still. Just finished eating at 15 East instead and had a great meal at lunch, just sitting at the sushi bar and doing omakase.

                  Girl friends have been successful eating at Per Se without reservations, but they were in the bar area as well.

                  Loved Le Bernardin and Daniel (but the latter was many many years ago).

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

                  15 East
                  15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

                  Blue Hill
                  75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

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

                  Masa
                  10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bdachow

                    The bar area at Per Se (the salon) doesn't take reservations, so that would be why.

                    Del Posto could be a nice lunch option. Their lunch prix fixe is a steal.

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

                    Del Posto
                    85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                  2. I'd echo above recommendations for Eleven Madison Park. A lot.

                    I recently went visiting NY and this board recommended EMP for me, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/762912. It was a great meal and at least for lunch I was able to just walk in (on a Thursday around 1:30). The whole experience was exactly what I wanted - high end interesting food, great service, and a very open and relaxed atmosphere.

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

                    1. Big thank you to everyone for the replies, it's very helpful with digesting a lot of info (so many restaurants in NYC!) in a short space of time.

                      The more threads I read, the more I wished I found Chow earlier! The wealth of information here is astounding.

                      Apologies for asking so many questions, when I know I should really be reading older threads here as many members have already posted answers to questions similar to mine.

                      I will take out the restaurants as suggested and add others like EMP, Corton to the list.

                      Thanks for confirming the accuracy of OpenTable - will use this to make the bookings and then call the restaurant afterwards to confirm the booking (in case some restaurants require credit card info to hold the table)

                      I'm not a particular fan of Gordon Ramsay, but am keen to find out why that's one to omit from the list - will do a search for this.

                      If I had to choose one of the restaurants for dinner (tasting menu) - which would you suggest? I was thinking Daniel (now that I'm giving Ramsay a miss)

                      Thanks again for the replies, its much appreciated!

                      -----
                      Corton
                      239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ausfoodie

                        I would do Per Se, Le Bernardin, and EMP (and perhaps Corton) if I were given the choice of a tasting menu before I would do Daniel, but that is just me.

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

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

                        Corton
                        239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                        1. re: ausfoodie

                          If you go through opentable, there should be no need to call or anything, they'll get all the info needed for the reservation. I hate to seem like a shill for their services, but it's convenient and hassle free.

                          I don't think you can go that wrong with any of your tasting menu options. It might come down to what kind of setting/service you are going after. Daniel would be a good choice if it's something a little more upscale/romantic/intimate type say versus Le Bernardin which has a slightly more corporate feel (not a knock, LB is one of my favorites). Those things don't make that much of a difference for me as I'm usually on a budget and don't get to pick when I'm being treated for fancy meals.

                          1. re: villainx

                            Also, most OpenTable restaurants will call you within 24 hours of your reservation to confirm.

                        2. My own two cents...

                          Drop:
                          Ramsay
                          Daniel
                          Robuchon (has many branches, stick with "Only in NYC" places, I'd say)
                          Asiate
                          Blue Ribbon (it's great, but not really "fine dining" - go there for a casual night, though, and get the Bone Marrow with Oxtail Marmalade... mmm)
                          Masa (you'll blow your whole budget in one meal)
                          Per Se (you'll blow half your budget on one meal - also, I think they're overpriced in general)

                          Add:
                          Cafe Boulud (superior, food-wise, in every way to Daniel's flagship)
                          Eleven Madison Park (a no-brainer)
                          Del Posto (for lunch - as someone else pointed out, it's a steal)
                          Corton (haven't been in awhile but I've been hearing they're really back on their game)
                          WD-50 (if it appeals to you - some find it pretentious, others find it playful)
                          Babbo (if you can manage to snag a rezzie - it's one of NYC's greats)
                          Kyo Ya (for a splurge dinner, order the Kaiseki two days in advance - unbelievable. But going a la carte can be fantastic, too - though it gets very pricey)
                          Soto (skip the sushi / sashim and go with the composed dishes, where he really shines - order everything with uni on the menu is my suggestion, and have an uni tasting. He's a master with it.)

                          Of course, once you've made your rezzies, poll the boards and see what people suggest ordering - you'll get 1,000 different opinions, but there are certianly some must-trys at a number of those places.

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

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

                          Soto
                          357 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10014

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

                          Babbo
                          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                          Del Posto
                          85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                          Kyo Ya
                          94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                          Corton
                          239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: sgordon

                            sgordon, is the food at Daniel vs Cafe Boulud similar or noticeably different? Why do you suggest Cafe Boulud over Daniel?

                            As I have already booked Le Bernardin, Del Posto, Jean Georges and EMP for lunch prix fixe, I am currently deciding between Daniel and Cafe Boulud for dinner - am so far reading very positive reviews for both restaurants but pricing is cheaper at Cafe Boulud so am hence wondering if the quality is the same.

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

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

                            Del Posto
                            85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

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

                            1. re: ausfoodie

                              While Cafe Boulud may be Daniel Boulud's second-tier restaurant, in every way that counts, it is first-rate! C.B.'s executive chef, Gavin Kaysen, is cooking some of the best food in the city right now, and we recently had two sensational dinners there. Service is pleasant and polished, and the space is very attractive.

                              Cafe Boulud photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                              and here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                              I should add that though we've never found fault with the food at Daniel, service is not always what one expects at a restaurant of this caliber, i.e., it can be either excellent (as it was our first couple of times there) or filled with serious faults (as it was the last time we were there). Furthermore, there have been reports from other people I know confirming our experiences with the hit or miss service. In my view, when you're spending that kind of money, service problems are inexcusable.

                              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                              1. re: RGR

                                I would strongly concur wrt the "go with Cafe Boulud vs Daniel comments," contingent on your committing for sure to one or the other (vs using a wildcard, for instance)

                                I would go in the same direction, but even further than RGR wrt commenting on the strange schism that seems to strike Daniel - as many others have observed as well, there's often huge variability in one's experience for whatever reason.

                                My 2 experiences at Daniel were rather similar to Ruth Reichl's bifurcated review of Le Cirque (I'm being silly, to some degree -- obviously, the highs and lows were far more moderate and I wasn't able to be/trying to be anonymous in one case and a "whale" in the other).

                                Furthermore, in my bad service case, the service directly affected the food (huge delays -> food arriving late/incorrectly heated, utter lack of concern from the person serving me about said delays, etc) - tho for all I know, perhaps the food was already worse.

                                In the excellent case, however, the service and food were incredibly on point. I was attired similarly, ordering similarly, arrived on time, etc, etc.

                                Possible variables might have been overall economic climes, how booked the restaurant was at the time, or simply having the fortune of being waited on by an excellent server (Pasquale, who seems to have gotten name-checked elsewhere, and hardly needs a CH bump).

                                In addition, given that you don't plan on ordering wine, my suspicion is that that would make it even more likely that you'd get the evil-twin Daniel treatment. I'd definitely also agree that you'd get more bang for your buck at Cafe Boulud, as you mention that price is a concern.

                                One last thing - RGR can comment on this better than I can, no doubt, but at one point CB was only serving the brunch menu on Sundays w/no option for the regular/imo more interesting lunch menu. You probably want to avoid that.

                                It somewhat surprises me that RGR got hit this way as well, tho maybe that makes the unevenness of service a little more egalitarian than I had thought :P

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

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

                              2. re: ausfoodie

                                What RGR and cellardoor said up there: ↑

                                I simply find the food more adventurous at CB than at the flagship. Daniel is very good at what they do, but I find what they do kind of boring, personally.

                                Also, while I have issues with jacket requirements, that's got nothing to do with the food. Even if CB had the jacket requirement and Daniel didn't, I'd say the same thing. Even were the prices reversed (and CB is by no means cheap, mind you) I'd say go to CB.

                                1. re: sgordon

                                  To be clear, I’m still firmly in the “if OP must choose between Daniel and CB, do CB” camp. I’m also in agreement w/you (sgordon) wrt the boring factor personally (esp desserts, where the # available at CB is also a lot higher – and assuming quality is roughly constant, more choices that are actually distinct from one another probably reduces the boredom factor - also, while desserts are "prettily plated" at both, there's a degree of relaxation of the "needs to be ridiculously gorgeous, to the point of ossification/it's gotta cause the dessert quality to be a bit lower - all else held equal" factor present at Daniel.).

                                  Here’s a devil’s advocate argument wrt the OP’s preferences and how much to weight the “boring” factor.

                                  #1 I assume that partly, you find the Daniel menu inherently more boring (which seems like a valid critique to me personally, but that’s not what I’m concerned with)

                                  #2 Speculation alert: I’m assuming many of the ppl posting on this subject are probably in NY, near NY, or travel to NY and dine. Thus, you have the opportunity to dine at CB or Daniel (but more likely, you’ll go to WD-50 :P) in a way that OP definitely doesn’t have – you may have made the choice btwn the two in the past, and continue to be able to make the choice to dine at either one.

                                  I’d also assume that you find Daniel additionally boring because you have more choices/have chosen already/have the option to dine there if you thought the experience were worth it – but the main thing is, you have options (and probably old memories) that OP does not have.

                                  Idle thought part:
                                  OP+partner are here for just a brief while, so maybe the boringness factor attributable to #2 shouldn’t be as prominent. Perhaps they would rather experience the luxe/”very good at what they do”/safer-but-better*, since they _don’t_ have the option of doing both, or coming back easily to try one or the other, etc. Maybe for them, the “boring” weighting is still a factor, but much less so due to their inability to return easily.

                                  *-not wishing to get into a debate about whether "better" exists, which one is better, etc etc - call it the haute/full monty/more luxe/more occasion dining-y or whatnot for the OP. [Of course, as discussed above, whether the _potential_ service issues then drag down the "better" experience is an additional factor.]

                                  To be clear – I’m definitely still saying CB over Daniel, if it’s strictly restricted to those two.

                                  Comments on attire, to be merged w/your (sgordon) longer post on the subject below.
                                  |
                                  |
                                  V

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

                                  1. re: cellardoor

                                    Thanks RGR, cellardoor and sgordon for your thoughtful comments and advice regarding CB vs Daniel.

                                    I don't want to restrict ourselves to CB or Daniel for dinner, I am also considering WD-50, Bouley, Babbo and Soto.

                                    I'm thinking of going with the tasting menu dinner at Cafe Boulud and then choosing 1-2 more palces for dinner (WD-50 currently being one of them!).

                                    We are very keen to try out other food like burger, steak, pizza etc so we don't spend our whole trip just doing fine dining.

                                    RGR, awesome blog you have and thanks for the links to the photos.

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

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

                                    Babbo
                                    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                                    1. re: ausfoodie

                                      One fast response to the hi-end dinner list: I would strongly suggest adding Corton to the mix - if I had thought that you had more free spots for dinner before/you weren't set on doing one of Daniel/CB for dinner, I would have lobbied strongly for it. Will comment later/merged w a response to one of sgordon's existing posts in this thread.

                                      -----
                                      Corton
                                      239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                                      1. re: ausfoodie

                                        Thank you, ausfoodie, for your flattering comment about my blog. :) I hope seeing the photos helped with your decision to go to C.B. By all means, do the tasting. It is not a set menu; however, Chef Kaysen will ask about your preferences and avoids so that he can send out dishes that will appeal to you.

                                        Since you say you are interested in having steak, I highly recommend Keens, which has been in its 36th St. location since 1885. Thus, in addition to superb steaks, chops, sides, etc., there is the unmatchable Old NY ambiance -- walls filled with authentic American memorabilia and row-upon-row of old clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings + pipes belonging to famous people dating back to the 19th century in display cases in the vestibule.

                                        Keen photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                        -----
                                        Keens
                                        72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

                                        1. re: RGR

                                          RGR, I was set on CB before seeing your photos as sgordon, cellardoor and yourself had given it such glowing endorsement!

                                          So the tasting menu will be different for everyone depending on ther food preferences?

                                          Thanks for pointing out Keens, I had only been looking up reviews here on BLT and Luger and had seen Keens mentioned numerous times within those threads.

                                          1. re: ausfoodie

                                            Yes, ausfoodie, the tasting menu will differ depending on individual preferences. However, Chef Kaysen selects the dishes from the 4 a la carte menus + the daily Market Menu. So, you can either leave it entirely to his discretion, or if you see something you really want included, you can tell him,

                                            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                        2. re: ausfoodie

                                          If you're thinking of adding Babbo, I'd call ASAP about a reservation / getting on the wait list. They fill up very, very quickly.

                                          A good alternative - which I hadn't mentioned before, as it seemed Italian food wasn't a major player in your week - is Falai. The food of late has been top-notch, easily on the same level as Babbo, and far superior to the last time they were reviewed in The Times ('06, I think) - Chef Falai has upped his game considerably. Food and price wise it's similar to Babbo, though he's a bit more subtle with flavors and not quite as rustic - his roots as a pastry chef show, as does the influence of his neighbor Wylie Dufresne up the street. It's not as jam-packed as Babbo, more of a neighborhood joint in vibe. My last review (from the fall) is here: http://bit.ly/g1NURU (sorry, no pics - that website didn't allow multiple pic uploads...

                                          )

                                          Not that we should be adding more potential restos to your list - probably confusing enough as it is!

                                          -----
                                          Babbo
                                          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                                          Falai
                                          68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                                2. To give some objective background re reasons to drop Gordon Ramsay from a legit mainstream publication, since others seem to be tiptoeing around the subject:

                                  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddri...

                                  "Gordon Ramsay sells off flagship New York restaurant
                                  Gordon Ramsay has had to abandon his dreams of conquering New York, quietly selling off his flagship foreign restaurant after three years of money problems"

                                  "t will continue to trade under Ramsay's name but his involvement with the restaurant – and the hotel's more casual sister outlet, Maze – will be limited to advice on the menus and service, and the occasional visit.

                                  The British celebrity chef, who stars in three US TV reality shows, had reportedly invested £5 million into the venture but ever since it opened in December 2006, it suffered from lukewarm reviews and empty tables.

                                  Tim Zagat, the co-founder of New York's most popular restaurant guide, said that, whenever he went, he was always struck by how few people were eating there.

                                  "His fame put up expectations very high and they were not met," he said. "Whether or not it has two stars, it hasn't really ever been a success with New Yorkers." "

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cellardoor

                                    Thanks cellardoor for explaining about Gordon Ramsay's NY restaurant - it does put things in perspective and explains why most have suggested it to get dropped from the list.

                                  2. Thanks sgordon for the suggestions, more restaurants to research but also some I know I can drop from my list.

                                    Still reading through reviews and studying the menus from the restaurants websites - all this reading and photos is making me super hungry despite having had a big dinner! :) I gotta admit it's addictive reading

                                    So far, I am definitely set on doing lunch at Le Bernardin, Jean Geroges, EMP, Del Porto. This gives me 3-4 more restaurants to choose and I still need to decide on a restaurant for dinner (tasting menu).

                                    Found this list (link below)- apart from the first 4 restaurants, I have not really heard about the rest. Are they considered fine dining?

                                    http://www.worldpress.org/Americas/19...

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

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: ausfoodie

                                      No, not really. And I would ignore that list if I were you.

                                      1. re: kathryn

                                        yeah, that list is terrible

                                        1. re: kathryn

                                          Awesome, thanks for the quick reply - not going to bother with that list and stick to reviews/posts here on Chow

                                        2. re: ausfoodie

                                          In a word, no. In more words, no way in hell. It almost reads as if most of the restaurants below the top 4 paid the article writer to advert their less-than-world-class wares by mentioning 4 of the most recognizable/3-michelin/4-nyt star restaurants...and then jammed in a whole bunch of cruft below it

                                          Some are renowned for their poor food quality - like the Todd English Olives. Many are clubby/scene-y to the detriment of the food.

                                          There are a few exceptions (eg, from the perspectives of a significant chunk of new yorkers, Peter Luger's is still an "institution"/some ppl will argue that it still has the best steak in town)

                                          -----
                                          Olives
                                          201 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003

                                          1. re: ausfoodie

                                            Apart from what was mentioned in this thread, I don't think the other restaurants on that list qualifies as fine dining. Not to say they ain't good, but not close to the fine dining experience you are after for the purposes of this thread. With the exception of Luger and its porterhouse (and side of bacon), but not sure how high of priority you would place the steakhouses.

                                            I mentioned Japanese food before, but if you haven't been exposed to better Japanese food, NY has its share of sushi and kaiseki places that should be fun, tasty and unique.

                                          2. No one has suggested River Café, which I consider to be a must for out-of-towners. The view of Manhattan & the Brooklyn Bridge is spectacular, and the food is great. Do not be put off by the fact that it is in Brooklyn, as it's just a short taxi/ reasonable subway ride from Manhattan, and well worth the trip.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: boredough

                                              River Cafe is absolutely gorgeous, no doubt. I don't think anyone who's dined there will disagree that it's the most magical view in the city. But I generally don't think of it unless someone really specifies "romantic ambience" (or something to that effect) in their question.

                                              The food is good, yes, but the prix fixe price is the same as that of many four-star restos, or even higher, and the food isn't on the same level as an EMP or whatnot. Of course, tastes vary - I don't personally think Daniel is worth its four stars. But as far as "general consensus" goes (whatever that is), River Cafe is serving (often) three-star food, very good but nothing terribly adventurous, at four-star prices.

                                              1. re: sgordon

                                                I agree that on a purely gastronomic level, there are better restaurants. But for a non-New Yorker in particular, the setting earns it an extra star, so that the total experience is wonderfully memorable. I have never had less than a great meal there, and in fact, have always been impressed with the level of service & the quality of the food. The restaurant strives (& succeeds) to be far more than just a great setting.

                                            2. I have successfully made a reservation for lunch at Le Bernardin, Del Posto, Jean Georges and EMP! Thanks for all the advice and suggestions. Am very happy and glad that I managed to get a booking!

                                              Any suggestions of what must-order dishes are at these restaurants? I am now checking the menus of these restaurants online.

                                              I read from a post here that at Le Bernardin, the "Egg" (Laiskonis' signature dessert) can be provided to diners that ask for it - is this still the case? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/720843

                                              Most of the restaurants listed require a jacket - I was wondering if wearing a nice collared shirt, jeans, leather shoes and jacket would be okay? Or would they expect full formal attire (business suit)? Is there an expected dress code for the female?

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

                                              Del Posto
                                              85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

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

                                              12 Replies
                                              1. re: ausfoodie

                                                You should be fine with a sportcoat and jeans, especially at EMP, but may wish you had decent slacks and a proper shirt at LB and JG (never been to Del Posto). No need for a suit at any of those places, though I would personally wear one to LB. And, if you go the suit route, it certainly need not be a "business suit" (if I understand you to be speaking of traditional conservative business dress), you can certainly be more bold in your cloth patterns and accessories than you would if you were heading to work.

                                                -----
                                                Del Posto
                                                85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                                1. re: ausfoodie

                                                  Wrt male dress code - it's not an either or situation. In all cases, I think you'll be fine (from a perspective of fitting in, as well as respecting the establishment/minimizing the chance that you'll end up being regarded as a second class citizen - not that that _should_ be an issue at any restaurant) as long as you sub something in for jeans (slacks, even khakis). You may feel a little underdressed at Le Bernardin, but not in a severe way.

                                                  In fact, JG's detailed opentable reqs (as opposed to the static, single dress code regs) that are emailed to you, were you to have put in for lunch via opentable, and automated message as well, shld explicitly mention that jackets at lunch are no longer required.

                                                  EMP prefers jackets, but their ethos is such that they are least likely to be at all unhospitable.

                                                  As a matter of course, if you're curious re: median diner attire at LUNCH (this is not prescriptive, just observational):
                                                  -Le B - suits
                                                  -EMP - all over the place, esp at lunch - median will be dress code respecting, but you'll have lots of outliers (they're jackets preferred at dinner not req'd)
                                                  -JG - median is probably jacket but not suit, lots of downwards outliers at lunch
                                                  -Del Posto - too few data pts, but definitely lots of downwards outliers who still get seated

                                                  From a worst case scenario standpoint, frankly, if you wear dark jeans w/no artfully distressed features, even Le Bernardin will almost certainly seat you as long as you're wearing a jacket.

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

                                                  1. re: cellardoor

                                                    Thanks nmprisons and cellardoor re the dress code - will dress accordingly. Just didn't want to be wondering around NYC most of the day in a business suit!

                                                    1. re: ausfoodie

                                                      no worries - I def don't think the business suit is _necessary_, nor is it recommended (esp given that you'll be touring nyc).

                                                      The only reason I could think of would be if you felt insecure at Le Bernardin - not because I would expect them to treat you less well, though a significant minority on CH might disagree with me here - but because it might make you relax more and feel better about the experience itself. [edit: not saying you should feel insecure, nor am I saying the physical environment of Le Bern is a temple to high gastronomy - you'll most likely be surrounded by lots of expense accounters, and the decor is fairly prosaic. Not a knock - just an observation - I like the food and have never felt mistreated there, even when I wasn't ordering alcohol (tho granted, I order more food than norm). I have noticed, like many others, that at certain pre-peak times - eg, ppl who take the first seating at DINNER, not lunch on off-peak days, that you may get rushed out/they will tell you that they need the table back at 8pm. (Typically, you're told by email or via the person who confirms reservations by phone about the 8pm thing explicitly; that being said, the one time I was worried I might go over towards the end of my meal there, I was told by my server not to worry about it.)]

                                                      Also, just in case it wasn't clear (because of my overly geeky "median dresser", "outlier" language), from a purely observational (NOT "this is what you should or shouldn't do") perspective, there are regularly a number of explicit dress code violators (ppl in a fleece+jeans+sneakers) who are seated and treated, afaik, within bounds of normalcy, at lunch in JG and EMP (tho EMP staff I'm sure would prefer this to not be the case, they technically and fundamentally would be less likely to penalize ppl given their overall service model). JG may selectively enforce this based on other factors tho. Again, Del posto had some, but I've only been there for lunch and dinner once (and dinner is very different).

                                                      The explicit dress code violation wouldn't fly at Le Bern tho.

                                                      As for the Egg, it is definitely still available, but the protocol of requesting it is obviously not as codified (vs receiving it automatically due to being a regular who loves desserts, for instance, being someone who works in pastry and makes it know to the kitchen, etc etc). I think if you politely ask in advance - no harm, no foul whether they turn you down or not.

                                                      From Laiskonis' slightly outdated post (in that the egg has become more popular, such that ppl def. do explicitly ask for it):
                                                      http://michaellaiskonis.typepad.com/m...

                                                      Excerpt:
                                                      One appeal of “The Egg” is simply the element of surprise and its dramatic presentation, as it arrives at the table cradled in a porcelain egg cup, complete with a tiny silver spoon. As a pre-dessert, the portion size is rather small, but by design; I kind of like the idea of someone wanting just one more bite! What really makes this dessert special is the result, a synergy greater than the sum of its parts. The different textures and flavors find their ultimate harmony with the addition of flaky Maldon salt, the key ingredient of “The Egg”.

                                                      Today at Le Bernardin, “The Egg” often appears unexpectedly as a special treat for our guests, as there has never been any mention of it on any printed dessert menu. That said, we still produce anywhere from 50-100 on a daily basis. And yes, we still expect to break one or two out of each dozen!

                                                      The definitive recipe appears below. For the home cook, it does require a moderate investment of time and equipment, however, beyond the initial opening of the eggs, the individual components themselves are really quite simple, and can be prepared up to a day or two in advance of serving.

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

                                                      1. re: ausfoodie

                                                        Jean Georges now *requires* a jacket at lunch (a recent change in the lunch dress code there).

                                                        At EMP, as has been pointed out, since it is a very popular business lunch destination, there will be lots of suits in evidence. But if you dress more casually, you will certainly not be the only one, and you can even wear a nice pair of jeans.

                                                        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                        1. re: RGR

                                                          RGR, can I respectfully ask just how recent the JG change that you're thinking of was? I suspect that there may have been more than one change (paralleling economic mini-booms, mini-busts, and waves of interest as various ratings came out), unless you're referring to the outdated opentable data.

                                                          Granted, I've never dined there w/o a jacket, but I was explicitly told within the last few days by their reservations line staff that the lunch jacket requirement in the main dining room was no longer a constraint. (Not saying the change happened in the last few days, just that I checked explicitly within that time period.)

                                                          Again, I've been there for lunch a number of times in the recent past, and seen many, many ppl being seated w/o jackets - I'd put little weight on this, but would weight the above heavily.

                                                          1. re: cellardoor

                                                            In the past, when we've had lunch at J.G., my husband has not worn a jacket. However, several months ago, it was reported on this board that the policy had been changed, and jackets were being required at lunch. When that information was posted, several people called the restaurant, and the answers they received confirmed it.

                                                            Since you say you called within the past few days and were told that jackets are now not required, that means they've reversed the policy back to what it had always been at lunch.

                                                            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                            1. re: RGR

                                                              That makes sense - I can explicitly confirm that I called the reservation line within the last 4 days, asking specifically about lunch in the dining room and jacket requirements, and was told (not just by automated message, but by a live person) that the requirement had definitely been relaxed. [It also makes me feel foolish, but that's another story entirely.]

                                                              The opentable reqs still say jacket required, fwiw, but I'm not sure if that field allows them to distinguish between dinner and lunch. Also, the opentable page reflects highly outdated pricing for lunch as well.

                                                              1. re: cellardoor

                                                                I'm guessing they got a lot of negative feedback about the switch to the jacket requirement at lunch, so they wisely reversed it. It's one thing to have always had that requirement at lunch as per se, Le Bernardin, and La Grenouille do. It's quite another to suddenly institute it and expect people, especially those who had previously dined there wearing casual attire, to be happy about it.

                                                                http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                1. re: RGR

                                                                  Indeed - it's all about the framing - and why I felt so foolish upon discovering that (if I understand your comments re jacket timeline correctly) I probably didn't need to wear a jacket for much of the last few years, even if I probably would have opted to do so anyway.

                                                                  1. re: cellardoor

                                                                    That's true. Previous to that short period when the "jackets required" dictum was in effect, you did not *have* to wear a one though there's certainly nothing wrong about doing so. Thus, I see no reason for you to feel in the least bit foolish, especially since you say you would probably have opted to wear a jacket regardless.

                                                                    We've only been to J.G. for lunch twice and the second time in April 2010, there were several young men dressed in ratty jeans and t-shirts. I feel there is a limit as to what kind of casual attire someone should wear to a restaurant of J.G.'s caliber and. imo, those young men crossed the line into totally inappropriate.

                                                                    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                    2. re: ausfoodie

                                                      I wouldn't wear a "business" suit to any of the above. Confort level is an odd thing, though - for some people, it means being comfortable in their surroundings, dressing like everyone else, so as not to stick out. For others, it means being comfortable in your own clothes. Count me among the latter. I don't even notice what anyone else is wearing in the room. It's just not a concern to me in the slightest.

                                                      Last time I was at EMP (which was admittedly awhile ago) I was wearing a nice sweater & jeans, and we had a lovely meal. The service was friendly and not snooty in the least. At Danny Meyer restaurants, there's a very high baseline of service that regardless how you look you're going to recieve. Frankly, our more casual dress sent a signal to the servers that they could relax a bit as well - not in terms of the service level, but in terms of the formality of their manner - fine by me, too much formality makes me antsy, I don't care for it. That said, if you like formal, feel free to dress up a bit. DM staff in general seemed to be trained to "get" each individual customer and sense what they're looking for. (Well, okay, not at Shake Shack so much...)

                                                      Batali is very much like DM in that sense - he understands it needs to be "their pleasure to serve you" more than "your pleasure to dine there" - it is after all, however fancy, the "service" industry. As he explained once, he doesn't wear suits so why should he demand his customers do it? I'd dress nicely for Del Posto for dinner - no suit, but certainly a nice sweater. Last time I was there for lunch I was wearing a plain black t-shirt and jeans. My mother & gf & I had just gone for a walk along the High Line on a hot summer day, no way I was wearing a jacket or even a light sweater. We were treated wonderfully - couldn't have been any better.

                                                      -----
                                                      Del Posto
                                                      85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                                    3. As a frequent visitor to NY, I am faced with similar issues. Not enough time (or money)!

                                                      I note that your selections 'so far' are fairly similar in style - if you want 'American-style-French' you've hit many/most of the top ones - but I think you may find them blurring into one long meal by the end. I recommend all of those you've chosen - but I wouldn't attempt them on the same trip. And Daniel (and variations) is 'more of the same'.

                                                      Maybe consider stepping outside that format. wd-50 was mentioned above and is a totally different experience - you may hate it, but I expect that it will be such a contrast that you will welcome the change. They do, indeed, do a tasting menu, and most nights they will even give two of you totally (OK mostly) different tasting menus. You might also consider Casa Mono for a selection of tapas (except it's very crowded at peak times).

                                                      And finally check the James Beard House to see if anything is scheduled that you might like.

                                                      PS If you do need another 'french style lunch' my favourite, currently, is Bouley.

                                                      -----
                                                      Casa Mono
                                                      52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: estufarian

                                                        In terms of the "one-noted-ness" of your presumed dining choice, I'd say there can't be too much of a good thing.

                                                        But you'll probably rounding out your dining experience with low and mid end items. I haven't really addressed that but if you give some directions, I'm sure I/we will probably blast you with recommendations. Ramen (Ippudo), yakitori (Tori Shin), Korean bbq or anju, Ethiopian (Queen of Sheba), India, Chinese, Thai, burgers (Corner or Shake Shack), BBQ (Daisy May, Hill Country, Dinosaur), street carts (Halal perhaps), outer borough favorites, etc.

                                                        -----
                                                        Hill Country
                                                        30 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010

                                                        Corner Bistro
                                                        331 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

                                                        Daisy May's BBQ
                                                        623 11th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                                                        Shake Shack
                                                        Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                                                        Queen of Sheba
                                                        650 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                                                        Ippudo
                                                        65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                                        1. re: estufarian

                                                          That is a good point, in that a few of them are quite similar - that said, Del Posto will break things up a bit, as can Cafe Boulud. While CB has it's "Tradition" menu of French country classics, ther other three menus tend to break it up quite a bit - right now the "Voyage" menu is Kaysen's interpretations of Mexican cuisine, even.

                                                          WD is very flexible with the tasting menus - I know a couple who're semi-kosher(!) who had a great tasting there, without even giving advance notice. I've also seen that when couples or groups do the tastings, they'll sometimes bring out "paired" dishes (i.e. an egg course where one person gets the "eggs benedict" while the other gets the "scrambled egg raviioli") to make it more fun for everyone. And going a la carte is always an adventure, too.

                                                          Wylie's flavors tend to be very clean, delinieated, and light - you don't see so much reliance on butter, cream, demi-glace, etc. I think for some people, who associate "haute" cuisine automatically with with the lushness of French cookery, that can be disconcerting. I find people who appreciate high-end Japanese tend to like WD a lot - not that there's anything similar going on, flavor-wise, just a pattern I've noticed among my sharply divided friends on the subject of WD. That said, he certainly has his lush dishes (the eggs bendict, for one - and he works wonders with foie gras...)

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

                                                          Del Posto
                                                          85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                                        2. Thanks for the pointing that out - it sounds so obvious but I hadn't realised that most of the restaurants from my selection except Del Posto are all similar in style (American-style-French).

                                                          Having said that, the reason I chose them were all the brilliant reviews I've read on them. I haven't seen the photos of the dishes from the restaurants, I want to avoid this as I still want to be surprised when I see the food myself!

                                                          Unfortunately the trip to NYC isn't long enough to do all the restaurants I've already booked as well as other cuisine types Japanese (how could I leave this out?), Spanish, Chinese, Mexican etc

                                                          I think I'll stick with the restaurants I've booked for lunch but will look into the following (non French) for dinner:
                                                          - Babbo (Italian)
                                                          - Casa Mono (Spanish)
                                                          - Gramercy Tavern (American)
                                                          - Marea (Italian)
                                                          - Nougtaine (American/French)
                                                          - WD-50 (American) - have been mentioned too many times to ignore!
                                                          - Soto (Japanese)
                                                          - Kyo Ya (Japanese)

                                                          My girlfriend and I love Japanese but we have recently dined at Tetsuya's in Sydney and so wanted to try something different in NYC that we wouldn't be able to taste back in Australia.

                                                          There are still a number of highly recommended French restaurants that I want to try for dinner:
                                                          - Bouley
                                                          - Corton
                                                          - Picholine
                                                          - Tocqueville

                                                          I think we're going to go over our budget for dining - but I think it'll be worth it as it's too hard to just pick one or two!

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

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

                                                          Babbo
                                                          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                                                          Casa Mono
                                                          52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

                                                          Del Posto
                                                          85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                                          Picholine
                                                          35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

                                                          Kyo Ya
                                                          94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                                          Corton
                                                          239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                                                          Marea
                                                          240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                                                          9 Replies
                                                          1. re: ausfoodie

                                                            Soto, from what I hear, is a uni specialist, so if that's your thing, and you want a lot of it, then go for it.

                                                            Kyo Ya is a kaiseki specialist, so ... I'm assuming you are getting a res for that anyway, so go full blast on the kaiseki. Tetsuya's sounds like it's a kaiseki type place too, right?

                                                            If you are going to Jean George, no reason to consider Nougtaine unless you want to really delve into Vongerichten's philosophy. In which case, one of his other restaurants might be better anyway.

                                                            Babbo use to be a hard reservation to get, and if you are after Italian, that'd be a good place to have good food, as well as name dropping Del Posto. Marea too.

                                                            I've tried WD-50, it was good, but ... as something to contrast your list, it's worthwhile. You might like it a lot, or you might not, I guess that's the risk. I'd think Corton might be a better option for "new" American, and a more fine dining experience.

                                                            Casa Mono is also going to be less fine dining too, more noisy and raucous. And if you want to explore that atmosphere/ambiance, that also opens up a lot more options to chose from. Sounds really exciting, regardless.

                                                            1. re: villainx

                                                              villainx, am leaning towards Kyo Ya, I think I read that the kaiseki needs to be ordered 2 days in advance, so will read more about this. Tetsuya's is a kaiseki-like degustation

                                                              Am going to read more reviews on WD-50 and Corton.

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

                                                              Kyo Ya
                                                              94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                                              Corton
                                                              239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                                                            2. re: ausfoodie

                                                              > think I'll stick with the restaurants I've booked for lunch but will look into the following (non French) for dinner:
                                                              > - Babbo (Italian)

                                                              If your trip is next week, call Babbo ASAP. They book up a month in advance. Or plan to arrive 30 minutes before opening and try to grab a walk-in table. You will dine in the front near the bar. It will be loud, crowded, and cramped, but the food is excellent if you don't mind a view of others' behinds the entire time.

                                                              As an alternative, try Lupa, especially for lunch or an early dinner. They serve continuously all day.

                                                              > Casa Mono

                                                              Instead of Casa Mono, I would send you to Txikito instead. My last Casa Mono meal was not that great, sadly. I think the execution is higher/more consistent at Txikito. They serve Basque style tapas.

                                                              If you must go to Casa Mono, most likely they are fully booked, but they do save most of the restaurant for walk-in patrons though waits can be very long. Go for lunch, not dinner, if you don't want to wait.

                                                              > Gramercy Tavern

                                                              This restaurant books up 4 weeks in advance. You could possibly get the wait list. Or try the front Tavern Room which doesn't take reservations.

                                                              Instead of Gramercy Tavern, consider making a reservation at ABC Kitchen, which is Jean Georges' farm to table restaurant. I had a quite nice meal there last night. Don't miss the peekytoe crab toast with lemon aioli, or the sugar snap pea salad with endives and parmesan, or their signature sundae of salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts, caramel popcorn, and chocolate sauce. Reasonably priced as well. I see some limited availability on OpenTable, and you can also dine in the bar area (I would suggest arriving before 6:30pm to minimize wait).

                                                              Another option is Craft, which is excellent, American, and farm-to-table as well. Tom Colicchio owns this restaurant and used to cook at Gramercy Tavern (you might know him better as the head judge on Top Chef). They're showing a lot of availability on OpenTable right now. Don't miss the short ribs, mushrooms, crispy bacon, sweetbreads, scallops, jerusalem artichokes, or the ice cream sampler.

                                                              > - Nougtaine (American/French)

                                                              No need if you're already doing JG proper.

                                                              > - WD-50 (American) - have been mentioned too many times to ignore!

                                                              They may already be fully committed.

                                                              > - Kyo Ya (Japanese)

                                                              Great restaurant, call now. Mention if you want the kaiseki menu.

                                                              > - Bouley
                                                              > - Corton

                                                              Very good chance these are fully booked.

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

                                                              Babbo
                                                              110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                                                              Casa Mono
                                                              52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

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

                                                              Txikito
                                                              240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

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

                                                              1. re: kathryn

                                                                Thanks for the heads up kathryn - will make a booking now, otherwise we'll arrive half an hour early as you suggested and hope to get a walk-in table.

                                                                Will check out Txikito and ABC Kitchen.

                                                                -----
                                                                Txikito
                                                                240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

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

                                                                1. re: kathryn

                                                                  kathryn,

                                                                  Corton is no longer the difficult reservation it was when it first opened. A check of OpenTable for next week shows availabilities at all times Mon. - Thurs., and even on Friday and Saturday, though at more limited times.

                                                                  As for Bouley, except for Saturday, there is lots of availability every day next week.

                                                                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                                    Good to know!

                                                                  2. re: kathryn

                                                                    sgordon / kathryn, you're both spot on- unforunately Babbo is fully booked during the dates of our trip. I couldn't get through to Kyo Ya.

                                                                    I have made dinner reservations for the tasting menu at Cafe Boulud and WD-50. Will be deciding later today on the last restaurant to round out our list, it is between Kyo Ya, Corton, ABC Kitchen or Craft (depending on availability)

                                                                    Once I finalise the bookings, I can then start planning on all the other delicious food (below) in NYC!

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

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

                                                                    Babbo
                                                                    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                                                                    Kyo Ya
                                                                    94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                                                    Corton
                                                                    239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

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

                                                                    1. re: ausfoodie

                                                                      I think Corton is far far better than craft and more interesting than kyo ya, which is traditional japanese food done very very well.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Craft
                                                                      43 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003

                                                                      Corton
                                                                      239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                                                                  3. re: ausfoodie

                                                                    Between the Japanese places, I'd say go with Kyo Ya if you're willing to commit to the Kaiseki - it'll be an enchanting experience. If you prefer (or your budget prefers) to go al a carte, I think Soto is the better choice, especially if you're an uni fan. The man is simply a master - he can present you six different uni dishes and, as assertive as the flavor of uni is, you won't get tired of it. I've done the unofficial "uni tasting" (basically, ordering everything w/ uni on the menu) and rounding it out with a few more dishes. Portions aren't huge - you'll spend a bundle, for sure (actually, almost as much as the Kaiseki at Kyo Ya) - but it's spectacular.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Kyo Ya
                                                                    94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                                                  4. I have been reading the online menus of these restaurants and currently reading reviews on these restaurants on older threads here in the forum.

                                                                    I was wondering if there are any famous/signature must try dishes (for lunch) at:

                                                                    - Le Bernardin
                                                                    - Del Posto
                                                                    - Jean Georges
                                                                    - Eleven Madison Park

                                                                    Thanks!

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

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

                                                                    Del Posto
                                                                    85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

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

                                                                    21 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ausfoodie

                                                                      At EMP, Chef Humm's signature dish is the whole roasted duck for two. At lunch, it is available only by special request in advance. So, if you are interested, contact the restaurant and let them know.

                                                                      Photos of the duck can be seen in this set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                                                      At Jean Georges, the foie gras brulée and the warm chocolate cake are signatures. I don't have photos of them, but here is a set I took when we had lunch there last year:

                                                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                                                      http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                      1. re: RGR

                                                                        Curious how much extra was the duck? Should go 3 or 4 courses plus duck? Going to Ippudo later in the night. BTW We are going in a month. Is the souffle in addition to a regualr dessert?

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Ippudo
                                                                        65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                                                        1. re: toro

                                                                          Iirc, it was $30pp. There were three of us sharing it, so the portion size worked well when added to our 4-course lunch. If two people share it, portions will be substantially larger. It must be ordered by special request in advance.

                                                                          The soufflé was also by advance special request and was not an addition. Our dining companion had it while my husband and I chose a dessert from the ones available on the that day.

                                                                          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                          1. re: RGR

                                                                            I was told they have different sized ducks that they use depending on whether it's for 2 or for 3. Therefore, I don't think portions will be substantially larger for two.

                                                                            RGR, when you say advance special request (duck, souffle, seared foie), how far in advance? Need to speak to anyone specific?

                                                                            1. re: fooder

                                                                              The duck is usually available at dinner without an advance request. When it comes to any special request, I think it's best to ask when making the reservation.

                                                                              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                              1. re: RGR

                                                                                RGR, is the duck dish an additional dish to the 4 course lunch? Will be calling up EMP later today to confirm the reservation and will request for the duck and souffle, but I'm not sure if we can fit the 4 course lunch and the roasted duck dish as well!

                                                                                1. re: ausfoodie

                                                                                  Think carefully about requesting the souffle -- I personally don't think it's all that spectacular. Moreover, since the souffle was first introduced several years ago, their dessert program has improved substantially, so it may be a good idea to select what is actually offered.

                                                                                  1. re: Nancy S.

                                                                                    I've been a long time fan of EMP, and have enjoyed the new format too. The souffle remains my most favorite dessert at EMP. If you like souffles, you must try EMP's souffle. It rivals the best souffles in Paris, and is the finest souffle in NYC. I'm returning to EMP in a few weeks, and may make a special request for the souffle.

                                                                                    1. re: ellenost

                                                                                      Every year, I taste many souffles in Paris and I'm not sure I agree, but, perhaps it's just a matter of taste, etc.

                                                                                      1. re: ellenost

                                                                                        ellenost,

                                                                                        I don't have to tell anyone how I feel about EMP, but "the finest souffle in NYC"? A bit of hyperbole, no? While I do love EMP's souffle and think it is superb, I have had others that are equally as fabulous. La Grenouille and Oceana immediately come to mind, And the soufflé at La Petite Auberge is not too shabby either.

                                                                                        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        La Petite Auberge
                                                                                        116 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

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

                                                                                        Oceana
                                                                                        120 W 49th St, New York, NY 10020

                                                                                        1. re: RGR

                                                                                          I think the souffle at EMP is the finest in NYC-no hyperbole. Sorry you don't share my enthusiasm. I'm not a fan of either Oceana or La Grenouille. I think the souffle at La Petite Auberge was very good, but it's been at least 5 years since I've had dinner there. I don't recall it being quite as fine as EMP's souffle. I wish EMP would add the souffle to the dessert menu since I don't like making special requests (they are always gracious, but still don't like to trouble them).

                                                                                          1. re: ellenost

                                                                                            ellenost,

                                                                                            Saying that I think there are other equally superb soufflés does not = not sharing your enthusiasm for EMP's. :)

                                                                                            It is possible the soufflé may return to the menu at some point. We've done the tasting menu twice during the past few weeks and both times, the desserts were ones that have been on the menu in the past: the
                                                                                            Chocolate Palette with Peanut Butter and Popcorn and the Strawberry Vacherin
                                                                                            with Lemon and Basil. Perhaps, you will recognize them?

                                                                                            http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                                                                            http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                                                                            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                                            1. re: RGR

                                                                                              Sounds like I'll need to make my special request for the souffle. There are a few foods that I dislike, and peanut butter tops the list. Not that much of a fan of basil for dessert. I do hope that EMP does add the souffle back as a regular dessert.

                                                                                              1. re: ellenost

                                                                                                Since you say you're going back in a few weeks, the desserts could very well change again. When we were there last week, we were told that "Chocolate" that evening was different from the one served to us on the tasting a few weeks prior, i.e., not the chocolate and peanut butter. In any case, requesting the soufflé would certainly be playing it safe for you.

                                                                                                http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                                                1. re: RGR

                                                                                                  Not really trying to play it safe; more a guarantee of a delicious dessert.

                                                                                              2. re: RGR

                                                                                                I'm thrilled that desserts in NYC and EMP are becoming more "modern", and noma-esque.

                                                                                      2. re: ausfoodie

                                                                                        ausfood,

                                                                                        We did the duck as an add-on to the 4-course menu. If you feel that would be too much food, I suppose you could ask that it be subsituted for one of the savory courses.

                                                                                        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                                        1. re: ausfoodie

                                                                                          I would probably make the request for souffle. It's still the only dessert I've ever really liked at EMP (and I love EMP.) I also think La Grenouille makes better souffle though.

                                                                                          1. re: uwsister

                                                                                            From my experience with the soufflés at La Grenouille, they don't come to the table picture perfect as they do at EMP. However, as I've said above, they are just as delicious. At a recent lunch, I had the caramel for the first time, and it was truly luscious! Plus, even the small size is much bigger than EMP's. And if you want to overdose, they come in medium and large as well.

                                                                                            Photo of Caramel Soufflé small) at La Grenouille: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                                                                            Photo of EMP's Vanilla Soufflé with Quark and Passion Fruit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                                                                            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                                            1. re: RGR

                                                                                              Also, to note that the pastry chef of EMP just won the James Beard award in her category. Her "new" style desserts are innovative and exciting -- the next wave of the dessert course. This is why I suggest going with the menu, since most "new" restaurants are not as successful (yet) with this "new" style of desserts, whereas EMP is accomplished in this course.

                                                                                              1. re: Nancy S.

                                                                                                I read about the pastry chef winning the James Beard award and was frankly surprised. Congrats to EMP, of course. I am wondering though what do you mean by the "new" style of desserts?

                                                                            2. Am definitely keen to explore other food and making a list of that was my next task! I've been reading this thread - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610739 (Don't leave NY without eating...) but as the posts were back in 2009, I thought I'd ask again, if there are any updates to the list.

                                                                              Please feel free to add to the list that I've put together so far, we don't mind travelling a bit for the best of the following food:

                                                                              - Steak: Peter Luger or BLT Steak (cannot decide between the two after reading many reviews
                                                                              )- Burger: Shake Shack, Pamplona, Corner, Blue Smoke
                                                                              - Pizza: Grimaldi's, Lombardi's, Motorino, Co., Artichoke (get thin slice) - are these places touristy?
                                                                              - Bagel: H & H Bagel, Esa Bagel
                                                                              - Diner:
                                                                              - Hot Dog: Gray's Papaya
                                                                              - Dessert: Chikalicious
                                                                              - Donut:
                                                                              - Ramen: Ramen Setagaya, Ippudo
                                                                              - Lox: Russ & Daughter
                                                                              - Sandwich: Katz's pastrimi
                                                                              - French Toast: 202, Jane

                                                                              Have I left out any food category? I don't think we are going to be able to fit all this food in on our trip this time(!), but would like to have a list to bring with us so we know know where to go.

                                                                              Thanks

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Russ & Daughters
                                                                              179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                              BLT Steak
                                                                              106 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022

                                                                              Blue Smoke
                                                                              116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                                                                              Gray's Papaya
                                                                              2090 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                                                                              Ippudo
                                                                              65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                                                              Ramen Setagaya
                                                                              34 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

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

                                                                              Grimaldi's
                                                                              47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010

                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: ausfoodie

                                                                                To your list I would highly recommend adding some BBQ restaurants (Hill Country for fatty brisket and pork ribs or Dinosaur for pulled pork), at least one Southern restaurant (Redhead, Pies 'n' Thighs in Brooklyn), and maybe a New England style seafood restaurant (Pearl Oyster Bar). Also for South American food, visit the Red Hook Ballfields one weekend to try huraches, pupusas, elote, etc.

                                                                                Here is a thread started by a previous visitor from Australia:
                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/764111

                                                                                > - Steak: Peter Luger or BLT Steak (cannot decide between the two after reading many reviews

                                                                                My personal favorite is Keens and the atmosphere and service cannot be beat. Great for visitors. Really wonderful porterhouse for two and good service was well.

                                                                                > - Burger: Shake Shack, Pamplona, Corner, Blue Smoke

                                                                                Pamplona has closed. I assume you meant to write Corner Bistro when you wrote "corner"? Make a reservation for Blue Smoke as it's very popular. For burgers, it depends what kind you want. Fast food style thin patty with special sauce? Go to Shake Shack. For thicker, juicy, large patties, with more beefy flavor go elsewhere, like Blue Smoke. See also Minetta Tavern's Black Label Burger.

                                                                                > - Pizza: Grimaldi's, Lombardi's, Motorino, Co., Artichoke (get thin slice) - are these places touristy?

                                                                                You will find tourists in them but you'll also find New Yorkers.

                                                                                Grimaldi's is in Brooklyn. Lombardi's and Grimaldi's are coal oven pizza joints. Motorino and Company are more Naples style. It depends what you want.

                                                                                I think Lombardi's and Grimaldi's have been overshadowed by others. Artichoke -- get the SQUARE slice. Note that their style is a bit more thick and bready. Out of the ones you listed my favorite is Motorino but they are not all the same style so it is a bit apples vs oranges.

                                                                                Also I think you're also missing Patsy's in East Harlem and John's of Bleecker (don't go to the other locations for either of these).

                                                                                My thoughts on Pizza in NYC
                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6928...

                                                                                > - Bagel: H & H Bagel, Esa Bagel

                                                                                Some required reading on bagel quality these days:
                                                                                http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/1...

                                                                                > - Diner:

                                                                                Why do you want a diner? What kind of food do you want?

                                                                                > - Hot Dog: Gray's Papaya
                                                                                > - Dessert: Chikalicious

                                                                                There are two Chikalicious locations. Do you want a sit down dessert counter / table service or a take out / more of a bakery type place?

                                                                                > - Donut:

                                                                                Do you you want yeast raised (think Krispy Kreme) or a cake doughnut? For the former, Peter Pan in Greenpoint, for the latter Doughnut Plant (order the tres leches, blackout, salted peanut, or strawberry, make sure you get the cake doughnuts, as the yeast-raised are too chewy).

                                                                                > - Ramen: Ramen Setagaya, Ippudo

                                                                                Go to Ippudo for a weekday lunch. Get there right when they open to avoid the line.

                                                                                > - Lox: Russ & Daughter

                                                                                Note: R&D is takeout only. Get a bagel sandwich. Taste a few different kinds of smoked salmon before committing.

                                                                                Lox vs Smoked Salmon:
                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7180...

                                                                                > - Sandwich: Katz's pastrimi
                                                                                > - French Toast: 202, Jane

                                                                                202 has closed. Minetta Tavern and City Bakery both have excellent french toast on the weekends. One is a sit down restaurant and the other is more of a buffet style/cafeteria. Jane is good, too.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Russ & Daughters
                                                                                179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                                Corner Bistro
                                                                                331 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

                                                                                Minetta Tavern
                                                                                113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                                                                                City Bakery
                                                                                3 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

                                                                                BLT Steak
                                                                                106 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022

                                                                                Blue Smoke
                                                                                116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                                                                                Gray's Papaya
                                                                                2090 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                                                                                Ippudo
                                                                                65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                Ramen Setagaya
                                                                                34 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                Ballfields Cafe
                                                                                66th St Transverse Rd Central Park Driveway, New York, NY 10023

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

                                                                                Grimaldi's
                                                                                47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010

                                                                                Doughnut Plant
                                                                                220 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

                                                                                1. re: kathryn

                                                                                  Thanks kathryn / RGR for pointing out the places that have now closed, I was reading an old thread and hadn't actually searched these places for location and opening hours

                                                                                  Have decided to go with Keens for steak (thanks for pointing it out as we would have otherwise gone with Luger).

                                                                                  I really want to try the Porterhouse for two at Keens, but the Mutton chops sound very tempting as well so will be a tough choice!

                                                                                2. re: ausfoodie

                                                                                  See also:

                                                                                  Best breakfast and brunch:
                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/707772

                                                                                  Please help me eat during a month in new york
                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/716238

                                                                                  French person coming to NYC for the first time - I made a list for him
                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/780317

                                                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                                                    Ausfoodie, I also suggest starting a new thread once you nailed down your (fine dining) reservations and ask for recommendations then. And maybe start a new thread for your non-fine dining suggestions. One, it'll probably be easier for you to sort through now that this is (long) thread sorta served its purpose. Two, the new threads with more specific request/directions might draw more opinions. Not to be thread police, just trying to be helpful.

                                                                                  2. re: ausfoodie

                                                                                    Pamplona (which we liked a lot) closed quite a while ago.

                                                                                    You do know that Peter Luger is in Brooklyn? Upthread, I recommended Keens, our favorite NYC steakhouse.

                                                                                    You might want to consider taking my famous self-guided Lower East Side Gustatory Tour, which begins at Katz's (for pastrami, of course) and includes Russ & Daughters, the Doughnut Plant, and several other tasty stops.

                                                                                    LES Gustatory Tour: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/493333

                                                                                    Note two changes: Guss's Pickles has closed, so substitute The Pickle Guys, on Essex just off Grand. And the correct address for Economy Candy is 108, not 145.

                                                                                    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                                    1. re: RGR

                                                                                      RGR, your LES tour reads like a foodie's dream excursion!

                                                                                      Our Sunday is currently free apart from going to the Yankees v Red Sox game in the evening so I think it'll be the perfect time go (eat) on the tour! Hopefully most of the spots are open on Sundays.

                                                                                      1. re: ausfoodie

                                                                                        Yes, they are all open on Sunday.

                                                                                        I will be adding a few other spots in the revised/expanded version that you may want to check out as well. Sugar Sweet Sunshine for cupcakes is on Rivington, b/t Essex and Norfolk. And three places in the Essex Street Market, on Essex, b/t Rivington and Delancey: Roni-Sue's Chocolates, Saxelby Cheese, and Pain d'Avignon.

                                                                                        Enjoy the tour and the game!

                                                                                        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                                                                    2. re: ausfoodie

                                                                                      "Bagel" and "Lox" basically go together, so having them as seperate categories could be a bit confusing. The bagel is basically the carrier for the lox - you want a good one, but it's the fish that'll make or break it. And for smoked fish, Russ & Daughters is the current reigning champ by a mile. Barney Greengrass is good, too - especially for sturgeon - but for lox, the selection at R&D is unparalleled.

                                                                                      For dessert-only places there are a couple of other good ones - Spot Dessert Bar is great, very creative. And Momofuku Milk Bar has some standouts, certainly. Both (and Chickalicious) are in the same neighborhood. You could do a dessert tour of the East Village and leave very, very satisfied (and possibly diabetic, as well...)

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Barney Greengrass
                                                                                      541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                                                                                      Russ & Daughters
                                                                                      179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

                                                                                      ChikaLicious
                                                                                      203 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                      Momofuku Milk Bar
                                                                                      251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                      Spot Dessert Bar
                                                                                      13 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                                                                                    3. Thanks everyone for the recommendations, can only post a quick reply now - will review the lists and links later tonight.

                                                                                      Agree with villainx in starting a new thread, I'll summarise our 7 day schedule with each day's food itinerary planned out and consolidate all the suggestions and recommendation places in one post.

                                                                                      I realised I've left it fairly last minute to do all this research, so thanks very much to all that have responded with the helpful pointers, its appreciated.

                                                                                      1. Apologies for the late reply with my food itinerary summarised day by day - have started a new thread for this.

                                                                                        Have been very busy with work the last few days - almost done with planning for NYC, will need to plan for Boston and Toronto next!

                                                                                        1. I agree with all the posters who said to drop Daniel and add EMP.

                                                                                          Also, OpenTable is absolutely not accurate. I would recommend you not use it at all, just call the restaurants. Most of the time, there are tables and options available if you call that are not available on OpenTable.