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Le Bernardin or Toxqueville this weekend?

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Jez May 26, 2011 01:31 PM

Have reservations at both. Before I read some reviews on here I would have said LB hands down, but many complain of icy service.

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

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

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  1. r
    Riverman500 RE: Jez May 26, 2011 01:37 PM

    For me, LB hands down. Yes, service is reserved, which can be perceived as either icy or correct, depending on your point of view. In my own experience, I've always found the staff to be quite friendly and engaging, even though I am not one of their regulars.

    But Tocqueville is nice too, though not as polished and rarefied as LB. It would depend on whether you want seafood or a broader menu.

    1. ChefJune RE: Jez May 26, 2011 01:55 PM

      Both are wonderful. It all depends upon what you are looking for. Very different. Tocqueville is not so formal. Nor so expensive.

      1. n
        nmprisons RE: Jez May 26, 2011 02:44 PM

        I had one of the best 2 or 3 meals I have had in four years dining in New York at LB (see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/779315 ). That would be my choice hands down.

        1. r
          RGR RE: Jez May 26, 2011 02:47 PM

          Without a moment's hesitation, Tocqueville. Delicious cuisine; pleasant, professional service; and an elegant space that is one of the most beautiful in the city.

          I have to disagree with Riverman that icy can be interpreted as correct. Many restaurants, including Tocqueville, provide correct service that is not icy. Le Bernardin's service is correct without even a scintilla of warmth, and the reception desk is the most unwelcoming I've ever come across. Also, the space has never held any charm for me. It will be interesting to see what it will be like after the refurbishment in August.

          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

          3 Replies
          1. re: RGR
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            nmprisons RE: RGR May 26, 2011 03:08 PM

            I found their service to be warm, inviting, and courteous without overbearing.

            1. re: RGR
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              thelobster RE: RGR Jun 5, 2011 07:50 AM

              RGR, I have a reservation at Tocqueville on Tuesday evening. Any recommendations for an omnivore? Thanks.

              1. re: thelobster
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                RGR RE: thelobster Jun 5, 2011 03:44 PM

                We haven't been to Tocqueville recently, so I can't speak about dishes on the current menu with one exception. Seared Diver Scallops and Foie Gras is a signature and has been on the menu since they opened. It's fabulous!

                Enjoy your dinner and please report back.

                http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

            2. y
              yebo RE: Jez May 26, 2011 02:57 PM

              Sometimes I make decisions like this based on what I'm up for -- what I call restaurant research (e.g., how do *I* think about a place there's disagreement about -- need to be up for a good mean/service or not as "interesting") or do I want to just have a particular type of experience (maybe go to a place I've been or one where consistency of opinion exists -- though I certainly have disagreed with consistent opinions as well)

              1. m
                Mangita RE: Jez May 26, 2011 04:26 PM

                I have been to both on a number of occasions and to both recently. The food is excellent at these two establishments. . So it does depend on what you are in the mood for. LB is very Midtown and has a clubby more corporate feel. I have always found the service excellent and not at all unfriendly. In fact, the last time I was there the waiter overheard my spouse mentioning my birthday and he brought me an extra dessert with "happy birthday" on the plate. Very sweet. The food is fabulous. Bit of course you must be in the mood for fish- you can get a few non-fish entrees but honestly there is no point if you do not want fish and it is exquisite. On the hand, Toqueville is a lovely much softer and romantic setting. The food, IMO is just as good but not focused on one specific protein the way LB is. Service at Toque is excellent too. So, it is just a matter of what you are in the mood for as far as setting and food. You can't go wrong with either. Happy eating!

                1. j
                  Jez RE: Jez May 28, 2011 05:30 AM

                  Thanks for all the comments.

                  In the end we went to LB. It's somewhere I have been meaning to go to for a few years, while Tocqueville only popped up on my radar recently.

                  It was an an anniversary dinner. Since we had a baby our high end dining activities have been severely curtailed and much more consideration goes into the choice of restaurant than had previously been required.

                  As noted before, the main concern with LB was the perceived over-formal/icy service that CH'ers had got. This was not my experience last night. The service, while professional, was certainly not devoid of warmth. Both the sommelier and our waiter were friendly and helpful. The waiter had a pleasant chat with us about several random things. In fact I would rank the service as approaching that of a meal we had in Per Se last year.

                  The savory food was very good. We had the regular tasting menu. Nothing served blew me out of the water, but our favorite dishes were the monk fish, the octopus and the shrimp. The pounded tuna with brioche and foie was meh. The Black Bass was somewhere in between,

                  Deserts were better. The Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta was great. On top of that came the so called "red hot" apple gelee. It was anything but hot. I even chewed on the sliver of jalapeno to see if I could extract any heat. Not an iota of fizz was forthcoming. Next up came what looked like a boiled egg in an egg cup. Inside was a combination of moussey creamy deliciousness. On top a white buttery toffee foam, underneath a rich chocolate mouse. Bravo. After that was a chocolate parfait that, while decent, didn't wow. They then dropped off a "Happy Anniversary" tart with candle that is best remembered for the coconut ice cream that topped it.

                  Will hopefully try Tocqueville later in the summer.

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                  Per Se
                  10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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