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For his valedictory Sam Sifton answers What is Best in New York?

If it needed confirmation, tomorrow's -New York Times- magazine spoils Sifton's final restaurant review:

http://ny.eater.com/archives/2011/09/...

I realise we answer these questions every day on Chowhound, but I thought it might be fun (and helpful?) for punters to answer these questions themselves. Let's try to limit ourselves to the establishment name and a one sentence/phrase argument.

My nominations:

1. In Which to Eat Alone? ... Balthazar. Brasserie / bistro fare is my comfort food, and a man alone in the big city sometimes requires comforting.

2. To Have a Drink at the Bar? ... Maialino has a good selection of wines by the glass, the half-glass, and the quartino (flexibility is key), as well as interesting happy-hour snacks.

3. To Take My Parents for Their 50th Wedding Anniversary? ... Eleven Madison Park. Not quite 50th, but I plan to take my parents for their anniversary this autumn.

4. For Blowing the Mind of an Out-of-Town Guest? ... If they are from culinary suburbia, perhaps Momofuku Ssam Bar. If from socioeconomic suburbia, Red Rooster in Harlem.

5. Place Where I Can Be Discreet? ... A restaurant with private rooms!

6. For Vegetarians? ... There are people who eat only vegetables?

7. That's Not Actually in New York City? ... Not sure I understand this question or Sifton's answer, but I think l'Ambroisie the most beautiful restaurant in Paris. I'd quite like to visit Michel Bras.

8. Best Restaurant in New York? Period? ... Per Se for the technical accomplishment of their cuisine... but in my heart: Eleven Madison Park.

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Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

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

Balthazar
80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

Maialino
2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

Red Rooster
310 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027

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  1. A lovely game:

    1. In Which to Eat Alone: I almost always choose the Bar at Craft.

    2. To Have a Drink at the Bar: Eleven Madison Park. Both the beer and cocktail lists are tops.

    3. Parents' Anniversary: My parents are divorced and I just can't picture this one. But, I'd take my mom to Le Bernardin for her birthday and my dad to Keens.

    4. Blowing the Mind of an Out-of-Town Guest: Depends on where they are from. I usually stick to bagels (Absolute), thai food (Ayada), Ssam Bar, or Katzs

    5. For Discretion: I've never felt the need.

    6. For Vegetarians: Kajitsu

    7: Not Actually in NYC: I assume this means not in NYC, but close to it. I love spending the day at the farm on Stone Barns and then eating at BHSB. (sorry, RGR)

    8: Best Restaurant in NYC Period: Per Se (but before the period, i would note that EMP is hot on its heals in many, many respects).

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

    Katz's Delicatessen
    205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

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

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

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

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

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

    Absolute Bagels
    2788 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

    Kajitsu
    414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

    1. 1. In Which to Eat Alone?

      Fedora/Joseph Leonard/Jeffrey's, if only because their bartenders and servers are insanely nice and friendly.

      Honorable mention to Otto, where the bartenders (Dennis!) there are also fantastic.

      2. To Have a Drink at the Bar?

      To me drink = cocktails and right now I'd do Fatty Cue because I love their cocktail list.

      Peels & Vandaag are also excellent, as is EMP.

      3. To Take My Parents for Their 50th Wedding Anniversary?

      I can't answer this fairly because my parents only eat Chinese food! :(

      4. For Blowing the Mind of an Out-of-Town Guest?

      Takashi, WD-50 (unless they're from Chicago), Xi'an Famous Foods, Sripraphai (but only if they have crappy thai where they live), PDT/Crif Dogs, Babbo, or, really, anywhere in the Golden Mall.

      5. Place Where I Can Be Discreet?

      Kyo Ya's private room.

      6. For Vegetarians?

      Craft or Hearth.

      7. That's Not Actually in New York City?

      Alinea in Chicago or Asador Extebarri in Spain.

      8. Best Restaurant in New York? Period?

      (Not sure I can answer this because I've done JG, Le B, and EMP, but not Daniel and Per Se)

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

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

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

      Babbo
      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      Hearth
      403 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10009

      Otto
      1 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003

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

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

      Please Don't Tell
      113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

      Crif Dogs
      113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

      Fedora
      239 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

      Xi'an Famous Foods
      81 St. Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

      Joseph Leonard
      170 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

      Xi'an Famous Foods
      88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

      Takashi
      456 Hudson St, New York, NY 10011

      Vandaag
      103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

      Peels
      325 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

      Jeffrey's Grocery
      172 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

      Fatty 'Cue
      50 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        of everything you've ever said on this board, i found this comment to be the most insightful:

        3. To Take My Parents for Their 50th Wedding Anniversary?

        I can't answer this fairly because my parents only eat Chinese food! :(

      2. 1. In Which to Eat Alone? ... 15 East. Just a man and his omakase sushi chef is the best personal solo dining experience.

        2. To Have a Drink at the Bar? ... Keens. A pure bar experience.

        3. To Take My Parents for Their 50th Wedding Anniversary? ... L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Wow, they'd be pretty old. Stronger flavors take priority over subtle combinations of flavors.

        4. For Blowing the Mind of an Out-of-Town Guest? ... Masa. No matter where they come from, the price will blow their mind.

        5. Place Where I Can Be Discreet? ... Not gonna say. Or else the girl I take there will know she's the mistress!

        6. For Vegetarians? ... Kajitsu. Going there next week. Extremely inventive.

        7. That's Not Actually in New York City? ... My guess is the question was going for NJ or LI or nearby upstate. In that case, Blue Hill Stone Barns, although my guess is Luger in LI would be good for the meat eaters.

        8. Best Restaurant in New York? Period? ... Per Se for the established restaurant class. Eleven Madison Park for the still improving constantly class. Lincoln when you consider the sheer volume of customers http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/809840

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

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

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

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

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

        Kajitsu
        414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

        Masa
        10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

        Lincoln
        142 W 65th St, New York, NY 10023

        2 Replies
        1. re: fooder

          Your answer to #5 may be the best sentence written on CH in years.

          1. re: princeofpork

            does that include that request for recs near MSG for a group of kids on LSD? that ranks high in my memory, no pun intended.

        2. For question 7 ('Not Actually in New York City'), Sifton chose McCrady's, in Charleston, SC. This answer does not compute with the Europhile snob in me, which is why I don't quite understand what SIfton meant by this question/answer.

          http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/20...

          http://www.mccradysrestaurant.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: Winterpool

            Having eaten there. It is very good, but is not close to a place like Alinea.

            1. 1. In Which to Eat Alone? Ah Ping Snack Bar or Sushi Yasuda

              2. To Have a Drink at the Bar? WD-50 or Vandaag

              3. To Take My Parents for Their 50th Wedding Anniversary? Mom: EMP or Del Posto, Dad: Peter Luger's

              4. For Blowing the Mind of an Out-of-Town Guest? Tehuitzingo

              5. Place Where I Can Be Discreet? Tehuitzingo

              6. For Vegetarians? Dirt Candy or Kajitsu

              7. That's Not Actually in New York City? If that means "but somewhat nearby" - I dunno, Vetri in Philly. Louis' Lunch in New Haven. And BH@SB, of course.

              8. Best Restaurant in New York? Period? 無

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

              Tehuitzingo
              695 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

              Sushi Yasuda
              204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

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

              Ah Ping Snack Bar
              2 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

              Dirt Candy
              430 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

              Kajitsu
              414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

              Vandaag
              103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

              1. 1. Balthazar
                2. Apotheke
                3. Pietro's, this is where they had their 50th.
                4. Masa
                5. l have never been discreet, sometimes to my regret.
                6. Hangawi
                7 Le Cinq, in Paris
                8. Atelier de Robuchon

                -----
                Pietro's
                232 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

                Balthazar
                80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                HanGawi
                12 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

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

                Apotheke
                9 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013

                Masa
                10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019