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Help with Dec 19-22 Trip... Daniel, The Modern, and EMP?

Hey all. My husband and I will be staying three nights at the Loews Regency on Park Ave and E 61st St during the Christmas holiday. We are age 30 from South Florida (Ft Lauderdale) and this is our second trip to NYC. We are looking for excellent food in a beautiful setting. Great wine pairings a plus. Budget for dinners is around $130 pp before tax, tip and drinks. After going through tons of helpful posts from chowhounders I have come up with the following food itinerary but could use some input/suggestions with any recs/potential problems you might see.

Monday: arrive via Penn Station in the afternoon. was planning on eating/hanging around the area near our hotel the first night.
Dinner at Daniel (ambience, dessert, proximity to hotel)
Followed by drinks at Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle (love jazz)

Tuesday: we have 10 AM reservation at the 911 Memorial.
Breakfast - Locanda Verde (proximity to 911 Memorial)
Lunch- Pizza. Not sure where? Any recs? Not picky as to the type (coal vs wood, crust style) just looking for all around delish pizza preferrably sold by the slice. If feasable we would be willing to travel to Brooklyn as we have nothing planned for the afternoon.
Dinner - EMP
Drinks - Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel if we can get in (ambience... the place looks gorgeous). Last trip we went to Pegu which we loved but was looking for something closer to EMP.

Wednesday: Museums and a Show (Other Desert Cities at Booth Theatre -222 W 45th Street)
Breakfast at Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie with a quick peak at the collection. Then head on down 5th ave to check out the Frick Collection.
Lunch - no plans
Dinner before the theatre (8pm showtime) at the Modern Dining Room. Is there enough time?

Thursday: No plans yet. We leave in the afternoon out of Penn Station (train tickets not yet purchased so times can be adjusted). Looking for nice lunch place near hotel/Central Park South (wine pairing a plus). Last trip we went to Asiate at the Mandarin and the setting was tdf. Looking to spend $50 pp before tax tip and drinks.

What do you guys think? Is this realistic? Are Daniel, EMP, and the Modern to similar to do all together? Is there enough time to enjoy the Modern Dining room pre-theatre? Thanks so much for any input you can give us.

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Cafe Sabarsky
1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

Asiate
80 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Gramercy Park Hotel
2 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10010

Bemelmans Bar
35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

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  1. I think your concern about similarity is well-founded. I would definitely keep EMP, which is superior in every way to Daniel (though slightly less formal, if that matters to you). I would also keep The Modern, which is a great New York space and produces some seriously tasty food.

    As for Daniel, perhaps you should consider trading in for one of the city's top Japanese restaurants, like 15 East or Kyo Ya. Another option would be something more out there, like WD-50, or something simple and tasty, like Craft. Perhaps waiting to snag a Ko reservation would also work. Either way, I see no reason to risk poor service or poor food at Daniel when you are already enjoying similar cuisine on other nights and there are so many diverse options out there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: nmprisons

      Thanks. I was afraid of this and figured Daniel would be the one to get booed. I'll check out these other places and scratch Daniel of the list.

    2. > Lunch- Pizza. Not sure where? Any recs? Not picky as to the type (coal vs wood, crust style) just looking for all around delish pizza preferrably sold by the slice. If feasable we would be willing to travel to Brooklyn as we have nothing planned for the afternoon.

      Motorino would be my choice.

      > Drinks - Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel if we can get in (ambience... the place looks gorgeous). Last trip we went to Pegu which we loved but was looking for something closer to EMP.

      A little further away is Flatiron Lounge (art deco style decor) as well as Raines Law Room (more of a speakeasy).

      Both have good ambiance and are a short walk away from EMP. The cocktails are EMP are also stellar.

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      Flatiron Lounge
      37 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011

      Raines Law Room
      48 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

      Rose Bar
      2 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10010

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

      3 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Motorinos it is.Just curious.... If we were going to order a whole pie would you suggest John of Bleeker or still here? At Johns of Bleeker can we order dif toppings on the same pizza or does the whole pizza have to be the same (like 1/2 pepperoni mushroom and the other 1/2 tomotoes and onion) My hubby can kill a pizza but I was thinking by the slice so we could try a bunch a dif things .

        Both Flatiron Lounge and Raines Law Room look fantastic. Raines website has me intrigued and I have to check it out now. Cool. Thanks for the recs, I had no idea these places were so close.

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        Flatiron Lounge
        37 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011

        Raines Law Room
        48 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

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

        1. re: dreamstate

          Motorino only sells by the whole pie. Their pizzas are more personal size so if he really is hungry, I bet you would order three pies there.

          At John's you can definitely do 1/2 toppings, but I believe they charge you for both. I would not recommend more than one topping, I guess two would be OK.

          In NYC, the pies tend to be more minimalist because the thin crust just can't handle huge amounts of sauce, cheese, etc, you know? Some pizzerias have pies that just collapse under the weight when visitors order too many toppings.

          Pizza in NY isn't really about the toppings at slice joints. A lot will usually just reheat an existing cheese slice, and throw a topping on before sticking it in the oven. If you're into trying different types of toppings a place like Motorino makes more sense. The slice joints aren't really putting a lot of time and effort into sourcing great toppings.

          If you're willing to go to Brooklyn, and spend a bit of time/money/effort, I'd go to Di Fara. They have some stellar toppings like baby eggplant, wild onions, porcini mushrooms, partially dried cherry tomatoes, great artichokes, and more. The place is not very big and sometimes a little dirty, but their pizza is excellent and sold by the slice (when we go we usually order a whole pie and take home the leftovers since it is such a trek). $5 a slice, $1 for regular toppings, $2 for specialty ones. Be prepared to wait in a long line and eat with possibly nowhere to sit. We like to get there about 1/2 hour before they open so we can be first in line.

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          John's Pizzeria
          278 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

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

          1. re: kathryn

            Thanks, this is all very helpful. Everytime I've done a pizza search I've gotton overwhelmed. I'll let my hubby make the final choice out of the three. Google maps puts transportation to Di Fara at 40 min which is doable if he thats what he wants. Thanks again.

      2. Dinner before the theatre (8pm showtime) at the Modern Dining Room. Is there enough time?

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        Make sure you get the earliest seating (I think it's 5pm) and do the 4-course prix fixe instead of the tasting menu. You should make it to the show just fine and not feel rushed. Of course, you should still tell your server about your 8pm show so he/she can pace everything properly.

        1. Agree with what nmprisons said. If you're going to trade in one of the three, I'd drop Daniel for sure. (Actually, I wouldn't go to Daniel in the first place as I find it a bit boring & stuffy)

          The suggestions he mentioned are great - Kyo Ya would be a 180 from the other two, but equally refined and exquisite. A couple other Japanese options where the focus is on composed plates rather than just great sashimi are Kajitsu and Soto, both Michelin two-starrers for whatever that's worth.

          If sticking with Western cuisines, WD would make, to me, a more appropriate trio with the other two than Daniel - all three chefs have a very playful, modernist approach to food, though to different degrees.

          I'd also consider Del Posto and Aquavit. Both excellent, both a decidedly different style of cuisine than the other two, though Aquavit has a similar whimsicality. The former, a NYT four-starrer (though some argue that - usually people for whom only French food is ever worthy of four stars) the latter, of late, very much deserving an upgrade to three (IMHO) from their deuce a couple years ago. Both offer very refined cuisine that's not as as heavy as the French-influenced. And frankly, Aquavit's current price point is a steal - $89 for four courses. So unless you were to do tasting menus, you'd save a little which you could either put towards fancier wine or doing a full-on tasting menu at EMP. Del Posto could be worth considering for lunch, too - their $29 prix fixe (for three courses) is one of the great fine dining bargains in the city, and only $10 more to make it a "proper Italian" four-course meal.

          What time does your show get out on Wednesday? It might make more sense to do a late lunch and dinner after the show. The Modern serves dinner until 10:30, so depending when / where it is, it could be possible. Jean Georges, Del Posto, Blue Hill, and the above mentioned Soto all seat until 11:00, as far as high-end places that go late go. You could always switch The Modern to your first night.

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          Aquavit
          65 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022

          Soto
          357 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10014

          Blue Hill
          75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

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

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

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

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

          2 Replies
          1. re: sgordon

            How about Toqueville for lunch before the show?

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

            1. re: sgordon

              Our show is 2 hrs 15 min so will get out around 10:15 which is kinda late. We havent bought tickets yet so we could change the night to tues when they have a 7pm showing so we'd get out around 9:15. Our theatre is less than a mile from The Modern so it is not unreasonable (?) to think we could make a 9:30 reservation. I goggled it... 5 min by cab, 15 min by foot. Would it be dead at this time? Would you go here post theatre? This would be a great option because I wanted to do the wine tasting but was afraid I might fall asleep during the show.