Per Se, Le Bernardin or Daniel?
I'm taking my husband to NYC for his 40th birthday next month. He is a HUGE foodie so I'm surprising him with a great dinner out. I currently have a reservation at Per Se, Le Bernardin and Daniel. I've done some research and it looks like most people, when push comes to shove, would pick Per Se. My only hesitation is that we ate at The French Laundry last May, and we've never been to LB or Daniel. For those who have been to these restaurants recently, what are your thoughts?
Actually have dined at each very recently. We enjoyed each of them immensely for different reasons (although Daniel garners more than it's share of criticism on these boards - and based upon our expeirences I have no idea why). Daniel, IMO, seems to have the classiest vibe and the nicest room. Le B would be the choice if you are lovers of fish, it's really their forte. Our last 2 visits to Per Se have been flawless and the food has been exceptional however I cannot make a comparison to TFL because we've yet to go (due to lack of desire to). If someone were to ask me which I would go to right now I would have to say Per Se, followed closely by Daniel, and then Le B (because GF is a vegetarian, I'm the fish eater).
To make the decision even more difficult I would throw Eleven Madison Park into the mix because I think it strikes an incredible balance in all aspects of fine dining restaurants.
"...(although Daniel garners more than it's share of criticism on these boards - and based upon our expeirences I have no idea why)."
I have posted more than once on this board that my criticism of Daniel relates not to the cuisine, which we've always fround to be excellent, but with the unpardonable service faults we experienced during out last time there in 2007. They all related to our having an early reservation (6 p.m.) on a Saturday, and their desire to turn our table as quickly as possible. So, my caveat to anyone thinking of going to Daniel is to make a late enough reserveration so that there's no chance they will be turning your table.
I had service problems at Daniel that go far beyond desire to turn the table, incompetence and rudeness served in heaping handfuls. After wonderful meals at the pre-move Daniel multiple times and attempting to enjoy the "new" Daniel one disastrous time, I've never gone back. Will not pay for people to condescend or be rude to me, thanks very much.
As for LB - flawless service, a bit reserved.
Per Se - flawless service, a bit reserved
EMP - flawless service, very warm, more casual but still professional (I prefer it).
I have been to all three relatively recently and to all three multiple times over the past few years. Just two days ago my dining partner and I discussed this very question in an attempt to list our ten favorite fine dining restaurants in Manhattan. Per Se and Le Bernardin made both of our top 3s and Daniel didn't make either of our top 10s.
For me, the difference between LB and Per Se is more about my mood than anything else. I would rather celebrate an occasion at Per Se and think it is the most likely place on your list where you will eat something truly astonishing. As someone who has worked in the fishing industry, however, there is something supremely comforting about LB: they cook fish better than anyone in the city and do so in a way that respects the ingredient and our (rapidly dying) oceans. You can't go wrong either way.
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My last meal at le Bernadin was bad. Once it was my favorite fish restaurant. I will not return there. Also, their sommelier should be replaced with someone who understands the job.
PER SE PER SE PER SE PER SE PER SE...
followed by a pretty close, yet stuffier Daniel.
There will be nothing like the look in your husband's face when he sees name PRINTED and personalized on his menu. Be sure to tell them its his birthday when you make the reservations, they will add that and many other special touches!