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Blowout, romantic 50th birthday for 2 NYC foodies - suggestions?

t
tmchome Jul 19, 2011 06:50 AM

I really want to take my husband to an amazing dinner for his 50th. I'd like it to be romantic and the food has to be great - love a dining experience. We've been to Per Se, Daniel, Le Bernadin, Eleven Madison Park (though we'd go back)

current thoughts are Le Grenouille, Jean Georges, Babbo (he's never been) - or maybe back to one of the ones we've been to.

I guess I'm asking for a (close to) ideal meal/experience - thoughts?

thank you!!

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Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

Babbo
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

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  1. e
    Elizabeth E. RE: tmchome Jul 19, 2011 06:57 AM

    Annissa. Amazing food, a small intimate room. I had a romantic dinner there a few months ago, and it's the best meal I've had in New York so far this year.

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    Annisa
    13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

    1. r
      Riverman500 RE: tmchome Jul 19, 2011 07:08 AM

      The food and atmosphere at Jean Georges would be on the same level as the other restaurants that you've experienced. The only other restaurant that I'd suggest would be Corton. The Modern Dining Room has a lot of fans but my last meal there a few months ago was not as memorable as previous visits.

      The cuisine at La Grenouille a bit predictable but the restaurant has its charms. Babbo is energetic and much more casual. The food is rustic but generally delicious and well executed.

      I'd go with Jean Georges, though you'll have a fine meal at any of these restaurants.

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      Babbo
      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

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

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

      Corton
      239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

      1. n
        nmprisons RE: tmchome Jul 19, 2011 07:11 AM

        Congratulations!

        Certainly not Babbo, it seems too loud and too casual for a truly romantic amazing dinner.

        I think both Daniel and Jean Georges may be a bit too hit or miss in both the food and service department to trust to such a special occasion. You could do La Grenouille, and have some wonderful souffles, but the food will be a step down from Per Se, Daniel, Le Bernardin, and EMP. And so might not be the "amazing" experience you are looking for.

        I think your best bet is to return to whichever of Per Se, Le Bernardin, and EMP you preferred. However, Blue Hill at Stone Barns (complete with a evening at a nearby bed and breakfast to celebrate this wonderful occasion) might be the best choice of all. The food is often great and the setting, particularly if you score a reservation around sunset, is divine.

        Picholine might also be worth considering.

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        Per Se
        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

        Babbo
        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

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

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

        1 Reply
        1. re: nmprisons
          k
          kathryn RE: nmprisons Jul 19, 2011 08:08 AM

          Blue Hill at Stone Bars is a great experience. The only flaw would be if you happen to really dislike the use of the same ingredients more than once (I think we had 2-3 dishes that contained strawberries, peas, etc.).

          It's a very easy train ride and cab ride to the facilities. The produce is extremely fresh. You can have a snack at their cafe, walk around the grounds (I'd consider a change of clothing at your B&B in between -- we didn't, and it was really warm/no shade on the farm), and then settle in for dinner.

          The service we received was excellent and they sent out a dish or two that others didn't receive when we told our server "we eat everything, including organ meat."

        2. m
          manic2 RE: tmchome Jul 19, 2011 07:50 AM

          I would suggest Corton....or Blue Hill Stone Barn if you don't mind traveling..

          1. ellenost RE: tmchome Jul 19, 2011 07:52 AM

            I celebrated my 50th birthday at Bouley; I had an exquisite time. Already made my reservation at Bouley for my upcoming birthday for what I know will be another fantastic dinner!

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            Bouley
            163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

            1. ChefJune RE: tmchome Jul 19, 2011 08:23 AM

              Imho, you can stay in New York and have a fabulous evening at Blue Hill in the Village. OR you could go to Gramercy Tavern, which is one of my favorite places for celebrations. OR you could go to Tocqueville, a highly underrated restaurant with excellent food, gorgeous setting and exemplary service.

              Babbo has amazing food, but imho, it's far too noisy to ever be considered romantic.

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

              Babbo
              110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

              Blue Hill
              75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChefJune
                s
                secondsplz RE: ChefJune Jul 19, 2011 05:20 PM

                I completely agree with regard to Tocqueville. Had a superb meal there for my last birthday with my husband. We had the tasting menu which the chef catered to all of our likes/dislikes, the service was outstanding and the atmosphere which was also very important to us was romantic, spacious and beautiful...I have fellow chowhounders to thank for the rec

              2. t
                thepanda RE: tmchome Jul 19, 2011 03:31 PM

                I know what Riverman means about La Grenouille, but I'd use "traditional" (in the extreme) rather than "predictable." The service there is fabulous, the room (especially the flowers) is beautiful, the souffles are romantic and delicious, and they make you feel like a regular even if you've never eaten there before. I would throw Del Posto into the mix, because it's such a special occasion restaurant and you'll feel incredibly pampered- and needless to say, the food and service are spectacular. Do the 5 course menu, and talk to the sommelier. I'd also check out Marea, although the last meal I had there wasn't the best it's ever been, and Veritas, especially if you're into wine. Have fun!

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                Veritas
                43 East 20th St., New York, NY 10003

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

                Marea
                240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                1. t
                  tmchome RE: tmchome Jul 19, 2011 07:30 PM

                  As usual, the chowhound foodies come to the rescue! Such great input - I really appreciate it as I'd like to make this very special.

                  We've been to Marea (yummy but not the most comfortable dining room, I thought), I keep thinking of trying EMP again - I was actually underwhelmed but I feel like I'm the only person on here who was.

                  Agree on Babbo - forgot about the noise level. Would LOVE to go up to Blue Hill but I think we want to stay in NY for this one.

                  From what everyone suggested, I'm thinking of narrowing to:

                  Del Posto - excellent recommendation - would love to go. Not sure I can get a reservation...

                  Le Grenouille - seems like such a classic NY/French experience and romantic

                  Corton - interesting, hadn't thought of this one. Looks good!

                  Tocqueville - again, never thought of this one - reviews look good

                  Grammercy Tavern - haven't been in a long time - is it still as good?

                  Per se - we may be going the week they're closed, though. :(

                  Would you say all 5 are romantic and stellar?

                  Thanks again, all!

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                  Babbo
                  110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                  Blue Hill
                  75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

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

                  Corton
                  239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                  Marea
                  240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: tmchome
                    r
                    rrems RE: tmchome Jul 19, 2011 08:03 PM

                    There are a number of places that are doing some serious cooking, with great atmosphere and service, that do not fall into the top end category. It's more than just how much money you spend. I very much agree with the suggestion above for Annisa. La Silhouette is another that comes to mind. I would choose Ciano over Babbo. Nicer atmosphere and IMO superior food. Toqueville is lovely too. I would not consider Corton romantic by any stretch of the imagination. You are not the only person who was not so impressed with EMP. Though it is much beloved on this board, there are certainly dissenters, and as one of them I can only say if how much you are spending is of any concern to you, there are plenty of places where you can get at least as good a meal for a lot less. Which brings me to the Modern. We recently had a spectacular meal there, I think it qualifies as romantic, and you really get good value for your money.

                    1. re: rrems
                      t
                      tmchome RE: rrems Jul 19, 2011 08:14 PM

                      So funny - I took my husband to the Modern for his birthday last year and have to agree - it was a great meal, nice service and the view of the sculpture garden didn't hurt!

                      Argh - forgot to add Annisa to the list. I was wondering about the romantic factor at Corton. Perhaps we'll save that for another meal. (and in NY there's always another meal!)

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                      Annisa
                      13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

                      Corton
                      239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                      1. re: rrems
                        t
                        thepanda RE: rrems Jul 20, 2011 05:51 AM

                        I like Ciano too. The service leaves a lot to be desired, though maybe they're just slow getting their sea legs?

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                        Ciano
                        45 E 22nd St, New York, NY 10010

                      2. re: tmchome
                        r
                        RGR RE: tmchome Jul 19, 2011 08:24 PM

                        Of the five you're now considering, we've been to all except Del Posto.

                        One that I would personally eliminate immediately is Gramercy Tavern. I have never had a meal in the formal dining room that even came close to wowing me, and at the last dinner we had there in early 2009, my first and main courses we so awful that that meal had the distinction of being my worst of that entire year.

                        The food at Corton is excellent though I think the flavor combinations may not be to everyone's liking. I like the space but don't find it romantic.

                        That leaves Tocqueville and La Grenouille, both of which I love. Tocqueville's dining room is one of the most beautiful in the city, while at La Grenouille, one is surrounded by gorgeous floral arrangements and elegant rose-colored damask wall fabric. Service at both is very cordial and attentive. The food at both is delicious though very different in style: French-inspired contemporary American at Tocqueville; classic French cuisine at La Grenouille.

                        So, which would I choose? With little hesitation, it would be La Grenouille. The food at Tocqueville is of a style that one can find in many NYC restaurants. But not so at La Grenouille. As one of the last of NYC's Grandes Dames of haute French cuisine, that style of cuisine has now become rather unique. And they do it very well. That coupled with the romantic setting would, imo, make for a prefect 50th birthday celebration.

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

                        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                        1. re: tmchome
                          rose water RE: tmchome Jul 20, 2011 03:20 AM

                          You are not the only person to have been underwhelmed by EMP. We're not nearly as vocal as the enthusiastic EMP fans, but we exist!
                          I was very unimpressed with gramercy tavern. Inattentive service, so so food, and a rustic, comfortable, but not at all romantic space.

                          1. re: tmchome
                            t
                            thepanda RE: tmchome Jul 20, 2011 05:47 AM

                            I agree with RGR that Gramercy Tavern isn't what you're looking for for this special meal. The front room is fun, and the bar is fun, and the food is fine, but it's not on a par with the others on your list. Del Posto or La Grenouille will come through for you with flying colors. You can't go wrong with either one, and you'll leave feeling like you've made all the right decisions (which is the feeling that an excellent dining experience should bring you). Have a blast, and report back!

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

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

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

                          2. t
                            tmchome RE: tmchome Jul 21, 2011 08:39 PM

                            Ok everyone - thank you SO much for all your help. I've made a reservation at La Grenouille. I decided we wanted something romantic, special, classic and a top level restaurant. I'm sure it's not the latest or the most cutting edge, but it sounds like they've been serving tremendous traditional french cuisine for years and that should count for something. It also sounds like they have good service which would make this evening.

                            Thanks again and I'll report back!

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

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: tmchome
                              Kurtis RE: tmchome Jul 22, 2011 07:25 AM

                              Would love to hear your experience.

                              We recently celebrated our anniversary at Mas (Farmhouse) which was intimate, romantic, with wonderful and knowledgeable service and great food (best duck breast I had in NYC). We reserved a corner table in the back room as suggested by one of Manhattan CH'ers, and it was a memorable evening. We also had reservations at La Grenouille, JG, and L'Atelier JR.

                              Here's another vote for not being impressed with EMP. I think there are many places that has better food AND service, including MAS.

                              -----
                              Mas (Farmhouse)
                              39 Downing St, New York, NY 10014

                              1. re: Kurtis
                                t
                                tmchome RE: Kurtis Jul 22, 2011 05:23 PM

                                My husband surprised me for my birthday at Mas. I really enjoyed it. Glad you had a nice anniversary there!

                              2. re: tmchome
                                u
                                uwsister RE: tmchome Jul 22, 2011 01:53 PM

                                IMO La Grenouille is perfect for this occasion - that's where I'd want to have my 50th birthday dinner. Do report back!

                              3. c
                                City Kid RE: tmchome Jul 22, 2011 02:52 PM

                                I completely agree with your choice of La Grenouille for the occasion. It is elegant, beautiful, charming in a delightful old world way...and the food is divine, classic French. Predictable? I would hope so. As RGR says above, the last of these places that used to be temples to classic cuisine. The Dover sole with mustard sauce is a don't miss. A unique and special place.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: City Kid
                                  r
                                  RGR RE: City Kid Jul 22, 2011 03:57 PM

                                  Ah, yes! The Dover Sole with mustard sauce. If you looked at the photos I linked to, that's exactly what he both had at lunch that day. The sole was perfectly cooked, and that mustard sauce? Totally addictive! And don't forget the soufflés. Ambrosial!

                                  Le Périgord is the other remaining restaurant in the "Le" and "La" Grandes Dames group. We had dinner there in the fall of '09. Though neither the food nor the ambiance is quite the equal of La Grenouille, we enjoyed dining there and will no doubt go back at some point.

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

                                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                  1. re: RGR
                                    t
                                    tmchome RE: RGR Jul 22, 2011 05:25 PM

                                    That sounds good too - we'll have to put Le Perigord on the list for another time.

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                                    Le Perigord
                                    405 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

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