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Please help me pick a restaurant for a 40th birthday celebration - private room

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I am planning a 40th birthday celebration for my husband in Jan 2012. It will be a sit-down dinner for 15 people. So far I have contacted EMP, BLT Fish, BLT Steak, Blue Hill (NYC and Stone Barns) and Gramercy Tavern. Does anyone have any first hand experience with dinner in these private dining rooms? We are big foodies and I used to cook professionally - the food is very important. For the money I don't want to pick a set menu and have what would feel like good wedding food. I want to be wowed. Can anyone help me decide?

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  1. I'd drop the BLTs. Not even remotely in the same league as the others.

    For "wow factor" - EMP by a landslide. GT & BH both have excellent, refined food, but as former chef probably nothing you couldn't make with careful attention and good sourcing, more than likely. EMP, on the other hand, will be a real event with a capital E. They'll customize the menu to your liking, and be as elaborate as you want. It'd be the most expensive of the above options, yeah - but if you can afford the $$, worth it.

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

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

    Blue Hill
    75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

    6 Replies
    1. re: sgordon

      Thanks for the input! I was expecting a lot of praise for EMP considering how many great reviews they have on CH.

      1. re: sgordon

        Agree about the BLT's. I've been to both BLT Fish and BLT Steak for corporate functions, and while they are fine for that purpose, and the service was excellent, the food wasn't particularly imaginative or memorable (except for the popovers!).

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        BLT Fish
        21 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

        BLT Steak
        106 East 57th Street, New York, NY 10022

        1. re: Elizabeth E.

          What about toqueville? I have been to a large birthday party at bh@sb, and while it was good, it was not amazing, my husband found it rather bland( could be their selections) also in Jan there could be weather issues getting up to Westchester. I remember having reservations there many years ago, which we had made months in advance, and they called to cancel because of snow.

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

          1. re: rkaene

            Looks like the BLTs are out. Blue Hills are out too. I was not impressed with the NYC location and the BH@SB is probably too far to travel in winter. I welcome more opinions about GT and EMP.

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            Blue Hill
            75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

            1. re: sleepastry

              Agreed. Blue Hill NYC I think is excellent for the price - they're a good $20/pp less than, say, Gramercy (though it varies since BH is a la carte). And while Stone Barns can be amazing, sure - asking 15 people to travel to the middle of nowhere just for a birthday party, especially as the weather grows colder, might be asking a bit much...

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              Blue Hill
              75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

              1. re: sleepastry

                For me this would be EMP hands down based upon your list, the food in the private dining rooms is as spectacular as what's served in the main dining room and that's incredible. That being said, I always thought it would be a cool idea to hire a shuttle bus and take a group of friends to BH@SB, we've been there numerous times on our own but never wanted to put people on the spot to have to drive there if uncomfortable with the idea. Even with a shuttle bus BH@SB would not beat EMP for an event but the setting is pretty awesome.

        2. What about Locanda verde

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          Locanda Verde
          377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

          1 Reply
          1. re: apples

            I like LV well enough, but it isn't in the same universe as EMP.

          2. Thanks for all your feedback. I booked the private room at EMP for January. I hope it is worth it!