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Which ONE tasting menu?

I have used this board extensively for a gastronomic trip through Spain and was steered in wonderful directions. Now, I am heading to NY with my two "kids" ages 24 and 21. We are going to do a lot of ethnic restaurants, but would love to do one special tasting menu. 24 year old is a food writer in Spain and loves tasting menus. The places that we did tasting menus in Spain were awesome, 3+ hour meals that were very memorable.

If you could only do one (because of budget) which would you choose? Budget is around $150/pp without tax/tip/drinks. Probably would do wine pairings so would be willing to add another $50-80pp. No suit and tie required, but a fantastic "special" experience is requested. We love to be treated very well - no snobbery involved.

Thanks!

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  1. I'd recommend Eleven Madison Park.

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

    4 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      I second this! Truly special experience, and though I haven't dined there with the new menu, the meal I enjoyed there was so exceptional that I don't hesitate to recommended it!

      1. re: gutsofsteel

        The Eleven Madison Park tasting menu is $195, or approximately 33% above OP's budget.

        You might consider instead Gramercy Tavern ($115), Craft ($110), The Modern ($155) or Corton ($155). The Modern doesn't require, but does prefer jackets, but you can get away with something nice sans jacket.

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

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

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

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

        Corton
        239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

        1. re: nmprisons

          I strongly disagree with your Gramercy Tavern suggestion. I have never had a meal in formal dining room that was even close to EMP's level. In fact, the last time, in early 2009, the food was shockingly mediocre. So much so, that I've written off G.T.'s dining room.

          I do think The Modern Dining Room and Corton are excellent options as they have stellar cuisine on a par with EMP. (We've never been to Craft.)

          The Modern Dining Room photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

          s for the jacket policy at The Modern, I've asked specifically and was told they are neither required nor preferred. It is, as the French would say, "comme vous voulez."

          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

          1. re: RGR

            Yeah, but we aren't comparing to EMP, because that is out of OP's price range.

            I would rather go to EMP than GT, though I have had very good meals at GT, some of which were better than a subpar meal I had at EMP, but not nearly as good as my favorite meals at EMO

      2. I too would consider Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern or Dovetail. Jean Georges used to have a great one, but it has been awhile since i have been there and not sure if that is still an offering.

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

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

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

        Dovetail
        103 West 77th Street, New York, NY 10024

        6 Replies
        1. re: scholar399

          Good suggestion of both Dove tail and Jean Georges (Signature Menu at $148), but I think JG is still enforcing their jacket policy, though I could be wrong.

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

          1. re: nmprisons

            I just had dinner at Dovetail this past Sunday with my parents. While the food was absolutely delicious as before, the service was really disappointing. It wasn't rude or snotty just missed a lot of points.

            Just a couple of examples - 3 of us were expected to share 2 cornbreads while everyone else in the resto for the # that match the people at their table. The wait between courses were long and draggy. No one swept our table after the entree till I flagged someone down. And we were the only table to not get the complimentary dessert at the end. (I know this is a touchy subject since the EMP debate). I could have asked for it, but at that point, I was so deflated, I just wanted to leave.

            I know none of them were huge errors, but a culmination of like 7-8 mistakes one after the other just made it snowball. I had emailed the place, and got a simple apology. I still feel a little peeved..but I'll get over it. It was my last meal at Dovetail sadly.

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            Dovetail
            103 West 77th Street, New York, NY 10024

            1. re: kelea

              Such is life in the big city, sadly. The only places I have eaten where the service was without error are Alinea and Per Se (actually the service at Schwa was pretty remarkable given that it is just the cooks bringing out the food). I have recently just decided to forgo any hope of good service (though I still can't tolerate BAD service) and try and enjoy the company and the food (I know, I know, I should expect good service and all). Soundly like your meal moved from ok service to bad service and I, too, would be peeved. Hard to say it couldn't happen anywhere, though.

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              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              1. re: nmprisons

                Agreed...it's just harder to swallow when all my other meals at Dovetail have been pretty much on point, and the one time I take my parents to treat them, it just was unsatisfactory. Granted, it could have been a lot worse, it just left a sour taste in my mouth after perfect meals I've been fortunate enough to experience in my "Eat my way out of NYC" rampage I've been having.

                1. re: kelea

                  I am with you. When I lived in Chicago I went to Blackbird twice a month or so for about a year. I loved it (6 years ago it was spectacular, I don't know about now). My mom came to visit and I took her there for dinner. The service was horrible, just freaking horrible, and I never went back. I don't mind people ruining my meal so much, but ruin my family's and you ar in trouble in my book.

                  Just sad to hear it happened at Dovetail, where I have fond memories of good meals. Oh well.

                  1. re: nmprisons

                    I dunno, if I was a regular at some place and there was an off night, it wouldn't go into my "never go back" list. In fact, as someone who went to Blackbird twice a month, you have to assume the senior staff knew you at least by face at that point - you'd be in a fine position to pull someone aside and mention the problems. If a customer doesn't complain, there's often no way for upper management to know there's an issue. It's not like they're looking over every server's shoulder.

                    Now, I know that bad service on a first visit can taint my opinion for a long time. The first time I went to Aquavit - way back in Marcus Samuelsson's heyday - while much of the food was great, the service was so god-awful we didn't know what to make of it. Servers sticking their arms in people's faces to refill water glasses, orders screwed up. It was like it was everyone's first night on the job or something. Didn't return for years.

                    But all that aside, I've fallen into the "parent trap" more than once. It's one of those odd things - you've got a favorite place, always consistent, and the very night you bring the folks, none of the regular staff are to be found and it's like the B-Team is running the show. (And my mother's a restaurant critic, so it's doubly-worse when that happens...)

        2. Bouley has a wonderful tasting menu for $125--it's one of my favorites! Delicious food, attentive service and a gorgeous dining room!

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          Bouley
          163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

          2 Replies
          1. re: ellenost

            Agreed. Bouley is spectacular. EMP is incredible as well. Also, Tocqueville doesn't get enough credit on this board. Gotham Bar and Grill has a fabulous tasting for $95 also.

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

            Gotham Bar and Grill
            12 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003

            1. re: steakrules85

              Agree that EMP is incredible too (I'm planning to return to EMP in two weeks for the tasting menu, but at $195, I originally though it was too expensive for the OP). Loved your report about Tocqueville, and have added it to my list of restaurants that I want to try soon.

          2. Around your price range, I'd probably go with, in no particular order%3

            WD-5

            Corton

            The Modern

            WD would be the least "stuffy" and most playful of the three. Otherwise, depends on your preferred cuisines.

            Gramercy would be wonderful but not as adventurous as the above three.

            Jean George does still have a jacket policy, AFAIK.

            You could also always try to get a four-top (they only do 1, 2, or 4) for Momofuku Ko at 10%3

            AM exactly one week before the date you want to go. Probably wouldn't be too hard finding someone to take the fourth seat if you luck out.

            If you'd be into a Japanese tasting, the exquisite Kaiseki dinner at Kyo Ya has been waxed poetic about on these boards before - must be ordered two days in advance still, I believe, but you could check.

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

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

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

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

            Corton
            239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

            9 Replies
            1. re: sgordon

              I would also recommend Momofuku Ko, as well as Degustation, for the type of experience the OP is trying to achieve.

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

              1. re: InfoMofo

                +3 for Momofuku Ko. What's not to to f**king love about Chang (sorry, had to drop an f bomb for Chang). But the chance of scoring a resv w/ 3 is slim. So maybe I would go with the majority and say WD-50.

                I'd also suggest the OP not do the wine pairings. It's usually impossible to focus on the food when having a wine pairing with each course. After 3 hrs you're a bit sloshed and have difficulty remembering the most important stuff - the food. I did wine pairings when we dined at Per Se and that was my experience. More recently, I did the tasting menu at Alinea in Chicago and only had one glass of wine and it was a much better experience all the way around.

                1. re: lynnlato

                  Unfortunately Momofuku Ko doesn't take reservations for a party of 3 (only 1, 2 or 4); no idea why not 3.

                  1. re: ellenost

                    That's what I had heard. Personally, I'd high tail it over to Momofuku Ssam then. But, then again, I'm a huge David Chang loverrrr.

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                    Momofuku Ssam Bar
                    207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      Yep - I was sooo intrigued with Momofuko Ko until I found they don't take rez for 3 (I don't really understand why). So - yes we are planning on the duck lunch at Momofuki Ssam. Can't wait.

                      Lynn - I agree with you about the wine pairings. While we LOVE trying new wine and especially enjoy wine that his specifically paired with menu items, it does tend to be overwhelming after several courses. I asked at Bouley if 2 persons could "share" one wine pairing and haven't yet received an answer. I haven't asked at WD50 yet. It seems like an elegant solution to me, but they may not agree.

                      1. re: lindatork

                        Momofuku Ko is all counter seating and a very, very small space. There are not any tables.

                        http://www.momofuku.com/restaurants/ko/

                        The counter is L shaped so they do one party of four at the bend. The rest is parties of two. I think they do exactly two turns a night, so it is all very precisely choreographed. There are only 12 seats and they have simply made the business decision of never leaving one seat empty.

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

                        1. re: lindatork

                          Good choice, Linda! I love Ssam. I'm so jealous.

                          Sharing a pairing is a great idea. I hope they will allow it. That's a great compromise. I'm a total wino and never in a million years would have guessed that I would decline pairings for a multi-course meal, but I think I enjoyed my Alinea dinner that much more because I didn't do the pairings. But that one glass of Portuguese red I had was amazing!

                          I'm sure you will have a great meal with your kids. Cheers!

                  2. re: sgordon

                    Have to agree with wd-50. It meets all of your requirements, as well as your budget.

                    EMP would be my second rec, if it were within your budget.

                  3. sgordon has some great suggestions as always. For Kyo Ya, reserve the kaiseki as soon as you can; I think that 2 day period is their minimum advance notice.

                    While I love NYC, it's going to be tough to live up to the places in Spain like Cinc Sentits but I think Eleven Madison Park, Kyo Ya, The Modern might come close (I haven't done Corton yet but it sounds like a good choice as well :).

                    When is your trip? NYC restaurants tend to book about a month in advance.

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

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

                    Corton
                    239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                    1. Thank you all for excellent suggestion - some that were definitely news to me - Corton, Momofuko Ko, Bouley. Kyo Ya is especially interesting. I need to research it some more. I already had a line on Momofuko SSam - but I think I don't really understand the different "momofuku" restaurants.

                      EMP is in the running even though it is a bit out of budget. Been to Degustatgion last time in NY and loved it.

                      Our trip is in early July. Still time to make 30 day advance reservations if I act soon.

                      Kathryn - you must have seen my post(s) about Spain to know that we LOVED our meal at Cinc Sentits. We went to several other places in Barcelona, Madrid and Pais Vasco with tasting menus and my daughter and I got hooked. I certainly hope we won't be disappointed in NY.

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

                      Corton
                      239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: lindatork

                        Also have a look at SHO Shaun Hergatt - we had a gorgeous tasting dinner there a year or so ago and two recent lunches that have me pawing the ground to go back. Slightly Asian-influenced, gorgeous, flavorful food. Better than the Modern in May. (Checked the menu which shows a 3-course dinner for $75 - would expect a tasting is still available, it was somewhere around $100 when we were there.)
                        Lunch (Monday to Friday) there is very worthwhile too, and extremely reasonable.

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                        SHO Shaun Hergatt
                        40 Broad St, New York, NY 10004

                        1. re: buttertart

                          my experiences at those 2 places is completely the opposite. i loved the modern, but found SHO fairly soulless

                          1. re: thew

                            Agreed. I did not particularly like SHO.

                            1. re: gutsofsteel

                              I adored the Modern the first two times we were there and very much enjoyed it this last time in May (there was a lapse in service - at least 30 mins prior to the main course - and we received lukewarm main courses, which took away from the overall experience), but the dinner and lunch we had at SHO both times were very good. It's not a warm and cuddly place but the service is professional and the food was really quite exciting. The lunch is an excellent value.

                              1. re: gutsofsteel

                                Immaterial for the OP since the itinerary has been decided on, but:

                                I absolutely loved the Modern the first two times we were there (a lunch and a dinner). The last time (this May) there were some service issues - a lull before the main course of at least 30 mins and lukewarm food being presented) that detracted from the experience, but it was most enjoyable anyway.

                                The dinner a year or so ago and two lunches we've had this year at SHO have been excellent and we have found the service to be professional and welcoming there as well. Their lunch is a real bargain for food of the calibre.

                        2. Just had an amazing night at the James Beard Foundation-they have on going meals planned-just google and check out schedule. Wine pairings w dishes-you can't go wrong with this venue!!

                          1. My most memorable was L'Ateleier de Joel Robuchon. It's a small restaurant in midtown. Amazing and beautiful. It may be a bit more than $150 pp.

                            1. Thank you to everyone for your comments. I now have reservations for tasting menus at both Bouley and WD-50. I am leaning towards WD-50 at the moment, but we will see. We are also going to try to fit in ABC Kitchen, Marc Forgione (for Sunday Supper), Momofuku Ssam for duck lunch, Del Posto for lunch, Zabb Elee for Thai and somewhere (?) for pizza! This board is awesome!

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

                              Momofuku Ssam Bar
                              207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

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

                              Marc Forgione
                              134 Reade Street, New York, NY 10013

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

                              Zabb Elee
                              75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: lindatork

                                Your itinerary sounds amazing so far. I'd add in Motorino for pizza. Probably my favorite in Manhattan at the moment.

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

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Kathryn you must try San Matteo.

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                                  San Matteo
                                  1739 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128

                                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                                    Just Googled and found the NYT review. That coffee soft serve sounds divine.
                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/13/din...

                                    1. re: kathryn

                                      It's not really soft serve. It's heavier than foam but lighter than soft serve. It's called "coffee cream" - but the star of the show is the pizza.

                                2. re: lindatork

                                  wd-50 is an experience you are less likely to find elsewhere, as opposed to boulay, which while excellent is more traditional, with a more widespread approach

                                  1. re: lindatork

                                    I've never been to WD-50, but if your 3+ hour tasting menus in Spain involved molecular gastronomy, perhaps you might consider something different?

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

                                    1. re: Riverman500

                                      In Spain we had tasting menus at Cinc Sentits, HIsop and Etxebarri. I would not consider any of them "molecular." Innovative, yes - especially Cinc and HIsop, but not molecular. I am thinking WD50 would be a unique experience for us. Appreciate the comment!

                                    2. re: lindatork

                                      I was just checking the new Bouley website, and noticed that the tasting menu for dinner is now $175 (the price increase may make a difference to you).

                                      1. re: ellenost

                                        Just posted about the marvelous dinner we enjoyed at The Modern. Spend an afternoon at the museum, book a table looking out on the sculpture garden, and enjoy food, site, service, that feels uniquely new york. i preferred it to Eleven madison which we found weirdly stilted and a bit too solemn.

                                        1. re: teezeetoo

                                          Great review, Teez. The Modern is not on our list this trip - I had forgotten that I lunched there several years ago (I didn't remember that the Modern was the name of the restaurant at MOMA when other posters were mentioning it). It was truly a lunch that I still remember. A standout was "egg in a jar." Don't know if they still offer that one, but it was soooo good. I also recall the setting was gorgeous.