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Jan 27, 2012 09:24 AM

Surprise trip for husbands 40th

Hi everyone!
I thought I could do this on my own this time, but I can't. I'm once again overwhelmed and need your help.

I'm surprising my husband with a trip to NYC (his first) for his 40th in April. I've already booked the Andaz Wall Street. I'm not concerned with distances to restaurants. We are coming from Chicago, getting in around lunch time on Friday and leaving Sunday afternoon. His birthday is on Saturday. Even though we aren't big eaters, I have a tendency to over plan meals. With a goldfish mentality, we can easily over eat and feel crappy the rest of the day.

Friday afternoon, I was thinking we go to MOMA and then going to the Bar Room afterwards.

When I was in NYC last summer with my sister, we went to WD-50 and had a good time. My husband loves the whole molecular gastronomy movement so I thought about taking him there. However, reading all your amazing reviews and looking at your pictures, I was thinking of trying to get reservations at EMP for his birthday lunch or dinner. I also keep coming across posts about Junsik which looks amazing. Looks like I can get a reservation there for Saturday evening.
Since we are light eaters, I was planning we do one big meal on Saturday, either lunch or dinner. Can't squeeze in both without popping a couple buttons.

We enjoy big flavors, unpretentious ambiance, and less formal is better. At the same time, I'd like to choose something he will remember forever. Something he'll be blown away by. I know what I am asking is subjective. I've just been going in circles this last week and don't know my head from my... well, you know. So, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I also want to try to squeeze in a visit to Shake Shack, Donut Plant, and Spot, Chickalicious, or Milk Bar... you know, for dessert.

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  1. What a wonderful birthday present! The best part is that it is something you both can enjoy. Also, since you are planning ahead, reservations will not be a problem.

    So, welcome to NYC. I must say that your idea of EMP is a very good one. A few dishes during a recent trip hinted of the modernist movement that is in full-effect at places like WD-50 and Alinea, and I wouldn't be surprised if your husband found a few things there to be both delicious and exciting.

    One quibble: since you are coming from Chicago, I don't see any reason to go to Chickalicious. It is far inferior to your own Hot Chocolate and just not worth it.

    One question: based on your desire for "big flavors, unpretentious ambiance, and less formal is better. At the same time, I'd like to choose something he will remember forever," I assume that the two of you have been to and loved Schwa. Where else in Chicago do you enjoy? I a somewhat familiar with the food scene there and might be able to make suggestions based on stuff I know you like.

    50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

    203 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

    5 Replies
    1. re: nmprisons

      Funny enough, we don't dine out very often here at home. We save it for traveling. I guess it's a bit shameful since we live in such a great city.
      I had a reservation once at Schwa but had it canceled on me which put a bad taste in my mouth. Last year for his birthday, I took him to Avec which we enjoyed. We've frequented Frontera and Xoco many times over the last few years due to multiple trips to the Merchandise Mart. But other than that, nothing else that I can list to influence suggestions.

      1. re: nmprisons

        Wow, I was going to recommend Falai because the chef was into molecular gastronomy but I notice that it has closed, too bad. Try getting a reservation at Brooklyn Fare you would like that.
        The Modern, jung Sik, for tasting menus Katz's of course is always memorable, The Meatball shop is good for a lunch, and maybe Golden Unicorn for dim sum with carts ( i have not seen that in Chicago). Chikilicious has great desserts, there are two , one is "express" across from the good one. Skip the hot chocolate as per the other poster. I am in the mood for Mia Francesca in Chicago, my favorite Chicago italian food.

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

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

        Golden Unicorn
        18 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

        203 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

        The Meatball Shop
        84 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002

        Jung Sik
        2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

        1. re: foodwhisperer

          I know you said distance wasn't an issue, but for me, when all else is about equal... JungSik is a very short cab, or a (imho) perfect "after dinner walk distance" (2/3 mi.?) from Andaz Wall St., and was one of the best meals I've ever had (Which isn't necessarily saying much, compared to the dining resum├Ęs of some of the posters here, but I digress...).

          1. re: BrettLove

            I don't have the most sophisticated palate but I know when I love something. So I really appreciate your feedback. Plus, I didn't realize how close JungSik was to where we're staying. I love after dinner walks.

          2. re: foodwhisperer

            Thank you for the advice, Foodwhisperer. We love Mia Francesca and her sister restaurant La Sorrella di Francesca. Consistently great italian.

        2. The MoMA will probably be on the crowded side due to free Friday afternoon admission. Definitely book the Bar Room in advance.

          EMP is a wonderful choice, especially if they know it's a special occasion.

          Save the molecular gastronomy for Alinea one day.

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

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

          2 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            Do you think MoMa will be too busy? Should I save it for Saturday?
            It's good to know about EMP and special occasions. I have made a saturday evening res at JungSik f for now.
            I'd still like to try for EMP and will decide when and if I get a reservation. It's 28 days out at 9am eastern time, right?

            1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

              I think it is 28 days, 9AM on the nose, phone and OpenTable (and it is 9AM NY Time). When I have booked it I an generally on the phone hitting redial and at the computer hitting refresh and usually get it.