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Feb 13, 2012 11:24 AM

Le Bernardin, Jean Georges or Daniel?

I have reservations to all three for wed night, and need to make a final decision and cancel
the others. Please help! Thanks :)

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    1. 1. Holding all three reservations until the final two days before the date = frowned upon here
      (to put it mildly)

      2. Giving us no information to base a choice on = toss a coin? I guess there are no 3 sided dice.

      2 Replies
      1. re: fooder

        I only made the reservations today, to "hold my spot" for a couple of hours before I decide

        1. re: Olichka0811

          Ok. But goes back to my point of more details the better. Unless you're just asking CHers for their personal favorites.

          Le B for subtle flavors, JG for light versions of classic flavors, Daniel for rich, traditional flavors. Are you doing the Prix Fixe or the tasting? I think JG is best for tasting, the others for prix fixe.

      2. We've had very good food at all three. However, I have issues regarding service at Daniel and Le Bernardin. Regulars here know that our last experience at Daniel was severely marred by several serious service faults. As for Le Bernardin, the reception staff is the most unwelconing bunch I've come across, and the service staff is too remote for my taste. Thus, I would choose Jean Georges where we've had nothing but pleasant, faultless service.

        36 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          +1 I would avoid Daniel as well. The service at Jean Georges has been excellent, helpful and accommodating.

          I've also had excellent service at Le Bernadin, more reserved than Jean Georges or EMP, but not pretentious.

          1. re: Pookipichu

            +1 for Jean Georges. Not a fan either of Daniel due to service issues. Not "wowed" by Le Bernardin--too many business dinners there to think of it as anything other than a corporate dining room.

          2. re: RGR

            I have has similar service issues at Daniel and, during my most recent visit, the poor service was accompanied by truly mediocre (and once, actually bad) food. So, I won't be going back.

            I had a near flawless meal at LB and, if the OP is interested in seafood and is ok with a slightly stuffy atmosphere, that would undoubtedly be my choice, with JG a close second.

            1. re: nmprisons

              I've never had such rude and incompetent service as I experienced at Daniel. Inexcusable for ANY business in the hospitality industry.

              1. re: nmprisons

                We've always had delicious food at Daniel, both at the original location (where Cafe Boulud now resides) and at the Mayfair. And this was the only time that service was a problem. During previous visits, it was flawless. However, as I've explained before, most of the problems were due to their wanting to turn the table. Inexcusable! That visit was in 2008, and we haven't exactly rushed back.

                Btw, I found it truly laughable when Daniel received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Service in 2009.


                1. re: RGR

                  It is funny - I felt the same way when Spiaggia was nominated for that award. An elbow in the head without an apology - unreal.

                  FWIW, my experience at Daniel was very much the opposite of others in this thread. Incredibly gracious service, great room, great food. Didn't hurt, likely, that Chef Boulud was around that night both in the kitchen and patroling the floor saying hello to guests.


                  1. re: uhockey

                    I had laughably bad service at Nobhill Tavern (read: worst service I have ever experienced) the same year it was nominated for that award. I sense a trend.

                    1. re: uhockey

                      Perhaps you had a good experience because Boloud was there. I had wonderful experiences at Daniel prior to the move. Boloud himself is gracious, humble and warm. But it took one hideous experience to sour me on Daniel forever. The service was comically bad and rude. I almost thought we were on candid camera or something and people were going to come out to tell us it was all a big prank.

                      1. re: uhockey

                        Daniel Boulud was in the house and actually stopped by our table to say hello shortly after we were seated. But that did absolutely nothing to prevent all the problems that occurred later.

                        The best service we received at Daniel occurred on 76th St. about midway through the first year it was open. Since it was Boulud's new baby, he was running the kitchen every night. We chose the 8-course tasting. For no reason we could figure out, Boulud sent out a different dish for each of us for each course + an extra dessert. Each time a course would arrive, we would each eat half and then switch. Our captain noticed early on what we were doing, and every time we were ready to switch, he or one of the servers would appear at just the right moment to switch the plates for us. From the beginning to the end of that meal, they couldn't have been more pleasant and hospitable.


                        1. re: RGR

                          They did the same for my sister and I at 3* Le Pre Catelan in Paris. Never seen it done before but impressed the heck out of me.


                          1. re: uhockey

                            Doesn't Cafe Boulud do that as well? At least, I've read a few accounts of people ordering tasting menus and each person receiving a different dish.

                            1. re: Cheeryvisage

                              True about Cafe Boulud.

                              The situation I described at Daniel took place in 1999. It was the first time we'd ever had a tasting menu, so the whole experience amazed us. Aside from unexpectedly being served two different dishes for each course -- all of which, btw, were fabulous -- what was so impressive was that service. They had to really be paying attention to us in order to pull off the plate exchanges the way they did.


                              1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                Yes. I blogged about this exact thing when I visited. We had 3 tastings, each coruse totally different save for the duck which we all requested.

                                What we're discussing regarding Daniel and Le Pre Catelan is that they actually serve the plates and then swap them for your instead of forcing you to slide 'em around the table.


                          2. re: uhockey

                            Daniel Boulud is in the kitchen and on the floor almost EVERY night.

                            Your experience, however, very much depends on whether he and his staff determine that you're a customer they ought to please.

                            At a restaurant with that many covers, they almost are required to perform triage if ANYONE is to get a first-rate experience. Too bad for most of us, though.

                            (Well, maybe I should take out the "us", since by now I think they know me.)

                            1. re: Sneakeater

                              For what they charge, and for their reputation, they should assume that everyone is a customer they ought to please. On my last visit, I (along with my whole family) were treated more like customers they ought to watch move from underwhelmed, to frustrated, to unhappy, to angry. It was pitiful. Luckily we can laugh at it now. If I ever go back (which I hope not to), I'll be sure to wear a nametag identifying myself as someone worth pleasing.

                              1. re: nmprisons

                                For what they charge, and for their reputation, they should do about a half as many covers a night as they do.

                              2. re: Sneakeater

                                Are you sure about your premise? My wife and I have been treated with great service and respect from our first visit through our last. I love to point out to my wife the superb way they treat solo diners. That, in my mind, is yet another sign of a great restaurant.

                                1. re: steve h.

                                  Consider yourself lucky... I will never go back to Daniel. For that kind of money, I can enjoy wonderful food and great service, something that Daniel failed to deliver.

                                  1. re: Pookipichu

                                    No, I don't consider myself lucky.
                                    You had a bad experience and won't return. So be it.

                                    Modest note: I used to wait in the foyer/lounge for my wife then I discovered the tiny bar on the side. In the bar I get to listen to staff talking about the night's challenges. My French is passable except to the ears of a Frenchman. My take is that these folk are highly focused on customer service.

                                    1. re: steve h.

                                      You're right, I had a bad experience. Actually, not just a bad experience, a horrible experience. The kind of experience that sticks in your craw. So while I'm glad you had a good experience, I would never ever recommend Daniel to anyone.

                                      1. re: Pookipichu

                                        Many good experiences. Another anniversary in late June. We'll be back, Deb insists.

                                        1. re: steve h.

                                          steve h.,

                                          Considering how often you've been there, I'm sure they know you and so are very solicitous with regard to the service you receive. The problem evident by our experience and those of others whom they don't know from the proverbial Adam (or steve h. or Sneakeater) is that service can be far from that, though that's the way it *should be* for *every* patron at a restaurant of Daniel's level.

                                          I believe in the adage, "A restaurant has only one chance to make a good first impression." So, for those who experience poor service during their first visit, no surprise to me that they wouldn't go back or recommend Daniel. Frankly, the only reason I would ever consider going again is that we've had excellent service in the past. But we would make a reservation late enough so that there's no chance of them turning our table.


                                          1. re: RGR

                                            Timing is everything. Hitting a restaurant very early or late makes a lot of sense.

                                            1. re: steve h.

                                              My meal was at 5:30PM in a nearly empty room and we were celebrating an anniversary, I guess we didn't look as posh as you.... Maybe I should wear a diamond tiara to get good service.

                                              1. re: Pookipichu

                                                I guess you've never seen me: tired old blue blazer, khakis with pleats and cuffs, Oxford shirt and boat shoes.

                                              2. re: steve h.

                                                With regard to table turning, I don't agree that "very early" makes any sense whatsover. We got the problem-plagued rush because we our reservation was 6 o'clock on a Saturday.

                                                Too bad it was before I started taking photos. Maybe things would have turned out very differently, à la uhockey's experience.


                                                1. re: RGR

                                                  My experience has been that "prime time" dining is seldom a good strategy. No point in expecting the best from a place when it's slammed.
                                                  Take your photos, leave the flash off. I don't think it makes a difference.

                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                    I don't agree. We've had many superb experiences when dining "prime time" at restaurants on Daniel's level and at those ranked lower.

                                                    I never use flash.


                                                    1. re: RGR

                                                      Lots of techniques to secure a good meal and most of them work. Off-hours/off days work for us. I'm not fond of the camera thing but I've spent enough time in Asia to know lots of folk need to chronicle the day's activities.

                                                      1. re: steve h.

                                                        If I am paying hundreds of dollars for dinner, the only "technique" that should be required is showing up.

                                    2. re: steve h.

                                      To Steve H. --

                                      Yeah. Cuz I've had the good service and the bad service.

                                      Not just the service, either. The quality of the food you get increases greatly when they think they need to please you. I've had great food at Daniel -- but I've also had food that was only a few steps above oldstyle airline first-class cabin.

                                      1. re: Sneakeater

                                        That's interesting.
                                        My wife and I visit Rome every March/April. We take a little rental apartment on the same street and live on the economy. Romans, for the most part, deal with millions of day trippers and serve up decent food/decent service. It's the return customers who are treated like family. We are "family" to a lot of mid-range shops and restaurants in our neighborhood near the Campo de' Fiori.
                                        I never experienced that day tripper/family thing at Daniel but I suppose it could happen.

                                    3. re: Sneakeater

                                      I'd heard similar. Perhaps I was treated well because I was a solo and had a camera?


                              3. re: RGR

                                Jean-Georges hands down. I also have issues with Le Bernadin and Daniel, food and service.

                              4. Le Bernardin for seafood, Jean Georges for Asian inflections, and Daniel for tradition. Or, as another poster said, Le Bernardin for precision, Jean Georges for innovation, and Daniel for sumptuousness. It all depends on your mood.

                                I've always had warm and personable service at all three. The staff at Le Bernardin is the most polished.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Riverman500

                                  I agree with your assessment. They are all wonderful restaurants offering great service. In my personal experience, I found Jean Georges to have the best service, but I cannot complain about any of them. Choosing between them depends on what you're looking for in terms of food.

                                2. it all dependents on your mood. follow you gut. I have always enjoyed JG and Daniel. you comments re the service statff at LB is consisitent with my experience. I would do JG.