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Backup plan for Eleven Madison Park?

Hi All,

I'm trying to set up a long weekend in February. We have 3 nights dining out.

Two nights will be Sugiyama for kaiseki, and WD-50 for their unique and fantastic menu.
(I've eaten at both before and love them).

For the third night, a thursday, there are 6 of us, and I'd like to go to Eleven Madison Park.
I've dined there a couple of times, and had fantastic experiences.

However, with their third star and popularity, I don't think I can bank on getting a table.
And I need to wait until 28 days before to find out.

So, I need a backup plan.
I do not want Japanese (we've got that another night) or Italian.
Per Se is out, because it's just too expensive.

I'm considering the following:
-- Annisa (for me, an unknown, but the menu appeals and it gets high marks),
-- Gotham (not as 'big' and experience, but I know they are very good)
-- the Modern (another unknown)
-- Le Bernardin (never been, appeals to my classic French side, but gets very uneven reviews)

What other places might you propose?
Or do you think any of the above are a particularly good choice?


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  1. Of the options you're considering, I'd go with The Modern. It's one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I still think about the Squab and Foie Gras Croustillant for two that I had for lunch a week ago. It was amazing. I can recommend a number of dishes if you're interested.

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

    1. Actually for a Thursday with a group of 6 I'm betting you'll have a good shoot at getting an EMP rez but since your question concerns backups I'll say check out Jean-George, Daniel (yes I know I hear the "boos" now), Tocqueville, and absolutely check out The Modern (dining room).

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

      1 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

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

      4 Replies
      1. re: Spiritchaser

        I would say Corton, the Modern, or Jean Georges give you the best chance at a great meal in that price range. Don't give up on EMP, though. Just call first thing and you have a decent shot.

        (boo for Daniel)

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

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

        239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

        1. re: Spiritchaser

          I am on OpenTable.com right now and I found 3 available reservations for parties of 6 people at EMP. Granted, they're at 5:30pm, and for Mon/Tues, but I gather the 6-tops are not snapped up as quickly as the 2-tops.

          When I called, the hostess who answered told me they currently can't handle the phone load and many of their customers will get busy signals; I think having OpenTable.com open AND redialing right at 9am is your best bet.

          1. re: kathryn

            I've been checking daily at 9AM NYC time to see what opens up.

            The thing I should add is, it's the day we fly in and to be safe, the earliest we can do is 9PM.
            Generally, I'm finding one table for 6 is available right away on opentable, at 9:45PM.
            This happens almost every day and will work for us.
            I will also call to see if we can get more like 9 than 9:45, but it will do if I can't reach them or they can't do it.

            But! There have been a few Thursdays (and this meal must be thursday!) where there has been nothing.

            Hence the backup plan...

        2. Glad you're coming back to NYC! Definitely try for EMP, but as a back up, I highly recommend either Bouley, Picholine or Corton. (another "boo" for Daniel).

          35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

          239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

          163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

          2 Replies
          1. re: ellenost

            Oh yes, Picholine, can't believe I forgot to include.

            35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

            1. re: ellenost

              Hi ellenost! Yes, last time I was at EMP we were there on the same night!

              Looks like I've got some more research to do. Not familiar with Bouley or Corton.

              I have eaten once each at Jean-Georges and Picholine and, while I did enjoy them greatly, I think I'd rather try somewhere new than duplicate either of those.

            2. I don't recall if Park Avenue Autumn has a 6 top situation, but that strikes me as a good backup.

              I bet you get your EMP reservation though.

              Park Avenue Cafe
              100 E 63rd St, New York, NY 10021

              1. LeBernardin. If it gets uneven reviews, I have no idea why. I've dined there probably half a dozen times in the past three years and each time it's been excellent. I think it's one of the three best restaurants in New York (and you've identified one of the others in 11MP).

                Of the other spots, I'd pick Annisa. Very nice. Rather minimalist, which I like, but quite well done. Freshness actually almost competes with Le Bernardin. The one fly in the ointment at Annisa is that they don't have a wine list that does their cuisine justice. A real weak spot in an otherwise very nice place.

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

                13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

                1. I'm having the exact same problem getting a Rez at EMP in late January. I'm currently on the wait list for a party of 2 and I religiously check open table for openings. Any ideas on what to do next?

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: steffunny

                    You may feel you lose some of the spectacle of the restaurant but you could always eat in the bar area (or at the bar proper) which is first come first served. The menu is not the same as the main dining room (although I have seen people get the dining room menu at the bar) but the food is just as wonderful, after all, it comes from the same kitchen.

                    1. re: Spiritchaser

                      The bar area's dinner menu is appetizers, entrees, and desserts, that all correlate pretty closely to the four row grid prix fixe menu. However, IIRC, you don't receive all of the canap├ęs in the beginning.

                      However, you can get the lunch prix fixe in the bar area during lunch. The same is not true for dinner.

                    2. re: steffunny

                      Hi, original poster here.
                      I'm still ahead of the 4-week mark so I don't know how this is going to work out.
                      But in case you are intetrested, here are the other places we're going to try if EMP does not work out. I've not yet been to any of these 3:
                      -- The Modern (dining room)
                      -- Corton
                      -- Annisa

                      We're also going to WD-50 and Sugiyama on other nights; I'd recommend both of those highly.

                      1. re: pauliface

                        Love The Modern Dining Room - if you opt for there request a 2 top along the window, centered.

                        1. re: Spiritchaser

                          Thank you for the tip. One question though: How will all six of us fit at a two top?

                          1. re: pauliface

                            Doh! I thought it was just 2 of you, sorry 'bout that : )

                            1. re: Spiritchaser

                              That's okay, I was just riding you a bit.
                              Your tip is great info should I ever go as two (which is a definite possibility).

                              Also, since I know fairly little about the place:
                              Why is it that you love The Modern Dining Room?

                              1. re: pauliface

                                I love the attention to detail given every plate. I love the subtle whimsy of a lot of their dishes. I love that they aren't doing what every other restaurant is doing (the Chef is Alsatian). The service is top notch, cocktails are wonderful, Sommeliers are approachable and helpful. The space is beautiful and the view out to the sculpture garden is beautiful. It all adds up to a great dining experience

                                1. re: Spiritchaser


                                  I agree with everything you said about The Modern Dining Room. However, the one sore point for me is that it can be quite noisy. When the Bar Room is busy, the very high noise level from there filters into the Dining Room. That's because there is a wide opening at the rear of the wall separating the two rooms. It's especially annoying if seated right near the opening as happened to us once.

                                  I know I may be more sensitive to noise in restaurants than most people, but I have talked to others who feel the same as I do about this particular situation. I heard that there were plans to close up that opening; however, we haven't been there in several months, so I don't know if they've done it.


                                  1. re: RGR

                                    Yes, I agree with the noise. However, if you sit in the center area, especially the two-tops by the window, the noise won't be an issue. This is probably why Spiritchaser recommended center, window seating above. I always request for window-side seating in the center whenever I go to the Dining Room.

                                    And as of this past weekend, they haven't closed up the opening.

                                    1. re: RGR

                                      I absolutely agree with you the noise filtering in from the bar can be REALLY off putting. We actually asked to change tables once when we were near that dreaded opening (that's why I now always request the center 2 top along the window). The 4 tops in the center are usually okay but the tables along the divider wall and at the ends, forget it. I think it would be extremely beneficial if they could wall off the bar from the dining room in a more "robust" way. And I don't want to sound like a snob but I really dislike when people detour and walk through the dining room on thier way to the bathroom so the can look out at the sculpture garden.

                                      1. re: Spiritchaser

                                        When we asked why that opening existed, we were told it had to do with access to the bathrooms from the Bar Room. Obviously, a serious design flaw.

                                        In a restaurant of this caliber, it shouldn't matter where diners sit. No table should be subjected to this noise. And one shouldn't have to request certain tables in order to avoid it.

                                        While I've never noticed anyone accessing the bahrooms by way of the Dining Room in order to view the Sculpture Gardens, that kind of behavior is another offshoot of the poor design.


                                2. re: Spiritchaser

                                  If you want a table for 6 in the Modern dining room (as opposed to the bar and I do recommend the dining room) go for it now, as they don't have many big tables in the dining room. I loved my meal there (preferred it, in fact, to Del Posto).

                                  1. re: teezeetoo

                                    Thanks! Still too far ahead. Like EMP, The Modern only takes reservations something like 27 days ahead...

                              2. re: Spiritchaser

                                That was exactly where I sat for lunch a few weeks back, and it was absolutely perfect. I'll definitely be requesting it next time.

                                1. re: whitneybee

                                  It really is "the" perfect spot in the restaurant.

                                2. re: Spiritchaser

                                  I agree that The Modern would be my backup. Actually for me, EMP would be my backup for The Modern

                            2. Good news! Thanks for the advice. I was able to get a table for Saturday night during our stay. I am going to suprise my husband and tell him we didn't get the reservation.

                              I will be sure to post about my trip here. Thanks CHOWhounds!

                              1. Thanks folks for all the great information.

                                I *did* manage to get my reservation for the night I wanted.

                                But now The Modern is at the top of my list for next time I'm in NYC...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pauliface

                                  Glad to hear it. Look forward to your report.

                                2. Corton and 11 Madison Park are similar. Love them both.