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Jan 29, 2012 02:29 PM

Anniversary Dinner

Live in Connecticut, but about once a year we like to have a special dinner in NYC. This year it will be for our 10 year anniversary. Of the best restaurants in the city, we have only been to Babbo and Nobu. Loved both. Budget is about $200 for food, not including drinks. Somewhat flexible, but not into Per Se territory. As for cuisine, would prefer to not have Asian since we plan on going for dim sum the next morning in Chinatown. Otherwise, we are pretty open. And also would prefer something from midtown on down. In the end, we are looking for great food in a not too stuffy atmosphere. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Is this $200/person or $100/person?

    For around $100 you can do a place like The Modern or Tocqueville or even Jean Georges, if you choose the 3-course without dessert (though if you want a "special dinner" you should request one of the outcove tables for two). If you want something a bit more casual, I very much enjoy Craft.

    For a bit more, you can do EMP, which is my suggestion. You might also look into Corton.

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

    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

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

    239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

    5 Replies
    1. re: nmprisons

      I would say $100 - $150 per peron for food. We had thought about Craft, but heard in a few places that it's a bit overrated. Glad to hear someone recommend it - will look into that one again. Don't know your other suggestions, so going to check out their menus online now. Thanks!

      1. re: suzkam

        In that case, I would do the $125 4-course at EMP, indeed, that is what I did do for my last anniversary.

        As for Craft, you have to know what you are getting into going in. The preparations are incredibly simple. If it says "quail" on the menu, you are going to get a quail, and just a quail. Now, their quail is probably my favorite in the city, but this isn't a place that provides creative combinations and beautiful plating. It offers really wonderful ingredients prepared simply and perfectly. If you do plan on going, let me know and I will look at a current menu and give you some tips.

        Some of the real standouts are the steak (best aged cut in the city, imo), the octopus, the quail, the agnoloti, and the hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. The desserts are also of a very high quality, and the recent change at pastry chef has not at all compromised the quality. In fact, three Saturdays ago I was in NYC. Had dinner at Tocqueville with my sister and then walked over to Craft to meet friends for drinks (Craft has great cocktails). Ended up eating a second dinner at the bar, ordering very similar dishes, and both the desserts (as well as the food) and the savories were superior.

        Most of the negative stuff I have heard deals with either price (it is what it is, either you are willing to pay it or not) and lack of cutting edge technique or creativity, which just isn't what the place is about.

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

        1. re: nmprisons

          Thank you for the great feedback on Craft. Definitely sounds interesting. And one that we are keeping on the short list.

          Looked at EMP's menu and am a little confused - it's just a grid with some proteins, vegetables, etc on it. Wonder if you could offer a little more light on how that works.

          Thank you again!!

          1. re: suzkam

            So, the stuff on the grid are the main ingredients of the dish. You pick one from each row (the fourth row is a cheese and 3 sweets). In addition, at dinner, you will get some little treats before and at the end (and sometimes in the middle).

            The idea is that, if you have special likes or dislikes, they can work around your preferences by adding (or subtracting) them from the dish. Some like this idea, some don't. If it is hard for you to visualize a dish without the other ingredients, you can just ask your server and he or she will explain what they typically include.

        2. re: suzkam

          "We had thought about Craft, but heard in a few places that it's a bit overrated."

          Don't listen to those reviews. Craft is an excellent restaurant.

      2. i would second Toqueville.
        like you, we live in CT but come down for occasional blowouts. we went to Tocqueville on Saturday night and it was just, ambiance, and service.
        "not too stuffy" is so subjective...we appreciate not being greeted by servers who say "hi guys, how ya doing tonight?" and "you still working on that?" so that officially makes us geezers. but the atmosphere here is professional without being cold.
        on the other hand, EMP is also a very special place, although we haven't been since they changed to that scary-looking "grid" menu. the room is also much, much larger. Tocqueville is a more intimate setting for an anniversary.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rudysmom

          The menu at Tocqueville looks wonderful. Agreed about EMP's grid menu - not sure how that works. Asked the previous poster for some clarification on that.

          Thanks for your input!

          1. re: suzkam

            Clarification above.

            I have had a half dozen meals or so at EMP and each one has been superior in both food and service to my two meals at Tocqueville. I am not trying to dis the latter, which offers some fine food, but the two restaurants are, in my opinion, not in the same league.

        2. Im gonna throw in Colicchio and Sons. Had an amazing time there and the food and service were perfect.

          Colicchio & Sons
          85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

          1. Well, based on all of your comments and reviews, my husband and I chose EMP. However, on Friday morning (28 days before the date), both of us got caught up at work and didn't get to call until the early afternoon. Alas, we are on the waitlist. VERY disappointing and now we are trying to figure out Plan B -- with much indecision!! Per Se is out because its just too expensive and Le Bernadin is all booked up for the night. SO, here is our list:

            The Modern (just love the menu they have on their website, but I am worried that the atmosphere won't be right AND I was originally thinking of going someplace below midtown)

            Gramercy Tavern (most say too casual for a 10th anniversary dinner?)

            Tocqueville (somethign about it is not grabbing me -- can't quite explain it)

            Craft (again, too casual of an atmosphere?)

            Daniel (overrated and too stuffy?)

            Jean Georges (what if we can't get one of the alcove tables?)

            Would love some input. We literally get a chance to do a dinner like this about once a year, so I feel like I am laboring over this decision when I really just need to pick one! Thanks so much!

            4 Replies
            1. re: suzkam

              "The Modern (just love the menu they have on their website, but I am worried that the atmosphere won't be right AND I was originally thinking of going someplace below midtown)"

              It can be a bit noisy, but there is the view of the lovely sculpture gardens. If you decide to go, request a table for two along the window

              "Gramercy Tavern (most say too casual for a 10th anniversary dinner?)"

              Regulars on this board know that I'm not a fan of the food in the dining room. I've never had a meal there that even came close to wowing me, and after a really poor one in 2009, I took it off the list.

              "Tocqueville (somethign about it is not grabbing me -- can't quite explain it)"

              It's one of our favorites. Superb cuisine, a fine wine list, attentive service, and one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the city. In my view, all the things one looks for when celebrating an occasion.

              "Craft (again, too casual of an atmosphere?)"

              Imo, definitely too casual.

              "Daniel (overrated and too stuffy?)"

              Again, regulars on this board know that my problem with Daniel relates to the several serious service faults we encountered our last time there in 2008.

              "Jean Georges (what if we can't get one of the alcove tables?)"

              I wouldn't let that stop you as the dining room proper is lovely.

              I would add one more to the list: Jung Sik. The Korean-accented French cuisine is superb, the wine list is excellent, service is first-rate, and the atmospherics are wonderful. If you decide to choose it, request one of the tables for two (there are four of them) at the ends of each of the two banquettes.

              Jung Sik photos:


              1. re: suzkam

                >> Jean Georges (what if we can't get one of the alcove tables?)

                I wouldn't want one of the alcove tables. Now, there is a small table shoved right in front of each of the alcove tables. You'll be staring at people seated at the small table's backside all night. I would try for one of the corner tables instead.

                I once did a walk-in for lunch at Jean Georges (November 2011) and got seated at one of these small tables in front of the alcove. The couple that sat at the alcove table got a lovely view of MY backside the entire time. I can also assure you that I was able to clearly hear every single word of the conversation at the alcove table right behind me. I remember thinking to myself "Jeez, I wouldn't want one of these alcove tables if I were to celebrate a special occasion here."

                So.... the alcove tables really aren't special anymore.

                1. re: Cheeryvisage


                  I would NEVER seat at the alcove table of Jean Georges either.

                  I once dined at the table right in front of the alcove table and I could hear EVERYTHING the couple sitting at the alcove table was saying . Oh boy, didn't that embarass me!!!!!!

                  Cheeryvisage's suggestion of corner tables sounds perfect.

                  1. re: Cheeryvisage

                    The first time we had dinner at J.G. in 2008, we were seated in one of the alcoves. There was no table immediately in front of us. Too bad it's been spoiled because it was cozy and romantic.


                2. Thank you all for your responses. Decided on Modern. Something about the menu really appeals us. And we asked for a table along the window. Will report back. Thanks!!