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Jul 14, 2011 08:54 PM

innovative restaurants

We will be in Manhattan for a few days at the end of September. We have room for one dinner and a few lunches. What are the most inovative, most unique, must try, restaurants?


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  1. WD-50 seems to fit your criteria. All of the dishes are one of a kind, most that I tried were total knockouts. Eleven Madison Park takes amazing twists on classic flavors: like a fois gras creme brulee and goatcheese lolipop with beet marshmellows, as in a funky beet and goat cheese salad. A diminutive winebar called Desnuda in the East Village serves innovative ceviches and raw fish combination dishes.

    1. It matters very much where you are coming from. If Chicago or London don't bother with WD-50, as you have closer better options nearby. If Houston or New Orleans, then WD-50 is a great choice.

      It also matters what you mean by innovative. If you want modern American takes on traditional French cooking and techniques, then Per Se is the very best choice. If you mean farm-to-table new food movement stuff then go to Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

      The reason you have gotten so few responses is that your question is way to broad. Heck, I can name 25 places off the top of my head -- offering things ranging from the best bagel you have ever had to most decadent foie gras to a giant crab cooked to perfection and dumped on your plate -- that you "must try."

      So, you know, what is your budget? Where have you eaten that you liked? What kind of experience do you want? Who is "we"? Answers to those questions will help us.

      Per Se
      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

      50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

      Blue Hill
      75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

      1. I would disagree with the comment that if you're coming from Chicago or London to not bother with WD-50. Sure, those cities also have chefs who plays with advanced, modern techniques. But saying if you've eaten Heston Blumenthal's food you should skip Wylie Dufresne's, just because they both use liquid nitrogen, is a bit like saying if you've eaten at Curry-In-A-Hurry you might as well skip Eleven Madison Park, because they both use saute pans.

        Because leaving techniques and equipment aside - what are the similarities in HB's food to WD's to Grant Achatz' in Chicago? They each have their own flavor profile, they're each striving for something different. They are all "unique" - one of the OP's keywords.

        But that said, it's a bit hard to make ANY recommendations without knowing budget, how much of said budget would be for drinks, etc. Most people will never be able to afford Eleven Madison Park, let alone Per Se. Also, what kind of cuisines they prefer (French? Italian? New American? Eastern Congolese?), what kind of setting they like (casual? fancy-schmancy jacket-required white-tablecloth?), etc.

        50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

        6 Replies
        1. re: sgordon

          My thinking was more that the OP was looking for something unique in New York and seeking an experience he or she couldn't get in his or her hometown. I think you are right that the WD and GA and HB are all trying to do different things (and to various degrees of success). And, again, you are right that they are all "unique" -- just as any place is "unique" in the way you use that phrase -- in that a meal at one is not the equivalent of a meal at another.

          Perhaps I am just projecting my own preferences on OP (as I often do when there isn't a ton of information in the OP), but when I travel to eat, I often look for experiences that are special to that location (i.e. sushi in Japan) or experiences that are truly wold-class (i.e. Alinea in Chicago). I don't think that WD-50, while a place I enjoy -- both for the food and the wonderful cocktail program -- fits into neither of those categories. Instead it displays a smart (and sometimes gifted) use of cutting edge techniques in a city that is far less experimental. It is more of an outlier here than an exemplar, and I was hoping to steer OP to things that make this city stand out.

          But, our little debate is probably academic. Foodell doesn't appear to go back to his/her posts to help us eager beavers guide him or her to the right spot for him or her. So, you might be right and I might be right or we both might be wrong, but alas we will never know.

          50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

          1. re: nmprisons

            I thank you all for your help and I am pleased with your suggestions so far. I have not had time to check out these suggestions and book reservations.

            I am intrigued by nmprisons sthat perhaps i asked the wrong question. Is there a truly unique and new NY experience. I love the 2nd Ave Deli, but that hasn't changed much in 50 years.

            1. re: foodell

              When I think of eating in New York, the following places come to mind:

              1. Absolute Bagels on the UWS. You can't get a bagel outside of New York and nowhere in the city does it better than Absolute.

              2. Per Se. The height of fine dining overlooking Central Park.

              3. Eleven Madison Park. A downtown feel to upscale food. It combines the very high standards of New York diners with a more comfortable atmosphere than many of its peer restaurants.

              4. Death & Co. Perhaps a bit trendy now, but really at the forefront of creative bartending.

              5. Russ & Daughters. An incredible appetizing store. If you are Jewish, you will feel an immediate cultural bond to pretty much everything they sell. If you are not, you will wish that you were. Seriously.

              6. The Modern. Creative fine dining overlooking MoMA's sculpture garden.

              7. Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Every day enough food to feed millions of people has to be trucked into Manhattan. Escape that mess with the mecca of local cuisine. A day at the farm and you will forget that you live in a city. (bring a bottle of wine and picnic blanket)

              8. Keens. There are better steaks in the city, but that mutton chop is classic New York.

              9. La Grenouille. French food taught American cooks how to be American cooks. This place is a New York institution that should be celebrated and preserved for as long as they are willing and able to continue making delicious traditional French Food.

              10. Countless wonderful ethnic restaurants that are best found by searching this site as everyone has there favorite and I would hate to poison the well. This City is great because of its diversity. There is probably no greater mix of food in such a small area anywhere in the world.

              Heck, I am going to miss new york!

              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

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

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

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

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

              Absolute Bagels
              2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

              Death & Co.
              433 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

          2. re: sgordon

            Have you been to Alinea though? It seems like most people who have been to Alinea are disappointed with wd-50 (actually every person I have talked to and read on Chowhound.) Not saying the OP shouldn't try wd-50, of course, though I am not entirely sure about what the OP means by "innovative" now.

            nmprisons - love your list.

            1. re: uwsister

              I absolutely love Alinea and very much enjoy WD-50. The latter is not the former. Can't go to WD-50 thinking it will be Alinea without being disappointed. That said, you can go to WD-50 thinking it will be WD-50 and have a great time.

              50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

              1. re: nmprisons

                >Can't go to WD-50 thinking it will be Alinea without being disappointed.

                Most certainly - but I think it's a bit inevitable for many people to have certain expectations for either restaurant, if one came before the other.