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30th Birthday - EMP, Annisa, Acme, Dutch (or something else?)

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Celebrating a 30th birthday on March 4th with two close friends, would like to go out for a nice dinner. I'm wondering which of the listed options would make for a memorable meal. Overall, I like interesting, creative food (but not at the price of sheer tastiness - e.g. I liked WD-50 as an experience, but wouldn't necessarily want to have a birthday meal there), and smaller portions are not a bad thing - I tend to get full very quickly. Price is not an issue (and I can say that, I'm paying!). I would like it to be special, with good cocktails....but not TOO serious an environment (therefore not Per Se or Masa or something of the sort that feels solemn).

Here are my thoughts, but would love input from people who have eaten at these places recently (and am open to other suggestions).

EMP - I haven't been since after the menu change. I remember liking the food, and the room is very beautiful, but I'm a little thrown off by the menu format.

Annisa - have heard this is delicious, and I enjoy Asian-inflected food - c/o about the room size/noise.

Dutch - Love Locanda Verde and the food looks very delicious, particularly the desserts. My concerns would be about noise/casualness and the difficulty of getting a reservation.

Acme - A little new - the food sounds really interesting, but again, am concerned with availibility as it appears very popular.

Isa - Worth the trip?

(Corton and Le Bernadin, Del Posto, Babbo, Dovetail, Daniel, Boulud Sud I've been too, thus not on this list).

Thanks so much, and sorry for the vagueness of this...just trying to pinpoint the place.

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  1. Don't worry about EMP: other than putting your name on a "wait list", you're too late anyway. EMP books 28 days in advance, and the reservations are usually gone before the end of the day. Also, March 4 is a Sunday, and EMP is not open on Sundays.

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

    1. March 4th is a Sunday. EMP is not open.

      Annisa isn't showing any availability for 3/4 for a party of 3 on Opentable.

      I like the Dutch a lot but I don't think it's special enough for a birthday dinner.

      Do you have reservations at any of these places? You may not be able to get into your top picks as you're only planning 2.5 weeks in advance.

      13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

      The Dutch
      131 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

      1. Jungsik would be great for a special occasion, they're Korean-influenced. Though they're not open on Sunday either.

        What about The Modern Dining Room (non-Sunday too)?

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

        Jung Sik
        2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

        1. Don't be put off by the new EMP menu format. The new EMP menu format is bullshit. In actuality, EMP pretty much operates like any other high 3- or 4-star restaurant. There's a standard fallback preparation for each dish on the menu -- the only difference here is, they don't tell you what it is unless you ask. If you do ask, and then ask them to change it -- well, any very very topnotch restaurant will do that for you. So the only thing that's really new about the new EMP format is that it interposes this middle step where you ask the server what the dish will be like (or else you can opt to be surprised -- which has often led to reported disappointments).

          Don't get me wrong: l LOVE EMP. But the new format is a PR gambit, pure and simple.

          Having said that, I'd say EMP towers over all the other choices on your list. I can't imagine choosing any of them over EMP (assuming you're willing to vary your date according to availability).

          1. I would strongly recommend North End Grill, the new Danny Meyer/Floyd Cardoz restaurant, which is open on Sunday. At our recentl first dinner there, the food was delicious. Service is (no surprise!) friendly and attentive, and the space has very pleasing ambiance. A quick check of OpenTable shows reservations available for various times on March 4.

            North End Grill photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...


            1. Lincoln?
              Ai Fiori?


              142 W 65th St, New York, NY 10023

              Ai Fiori
              400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

              1. I would rate Annisa similar to a WD-50 experience. I had gone to Annisa before their fire. The dining room was very quiet and more on the romantic side. I wouldn't recommend it for a birthday dinner with two friends.

                1. What about Marea? I just did the 8 course tasting menu with wine, but feel strongly inclined to return for the a la carte menu. It's special but still accessible and I loved the ambiance - very warm and convivial. Though that may have had to do with the wine....

                  240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                  1. Ah if you'd only come to us a month ago all of those restaurants would have been good choices and relatively easy to get into.

                    It's your 30th birthday so why not celebrate for the whole month and get a reservation for EMP, Anniss or Acme for later in the month. And I agree with kathryn, the Dutch is too casual and the crowd after 9 pm can be very dicey.

                    In the meantime try on of the excellent new more casual restaurants for your birthday day. My newest favorite is Empellon Cocina in the East Village. I was quite impressed with its innovative very upscale Mexican-inspired food.

                    9 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

                    Empellon Cocina
                    105 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    1. Having been to The Dutch, Annisa, and EMP on this recent trip I can say that although the food (and especially the desserts) at the Dutch are awesome it is NOT a "nice" birthday place - it is loud as hell and bustling to say the least.

                      Regarding EMP - as others mentioned, they are not open on Sunday. I was largely impressed by my lunch there, though 2 courses failed the other 5 and all amuses/mignardises were outstanding.

                      Annisa, contrary to what others are saying here, was outstanding. Great, whimsical service with outstanding food and a really favorable price-point for the quality provided.


                      1. Of those you are considering and are open on Sunday, we have been to The Dutch and Annisa. I liked the food at The Dutch but imo, it's not a place to celebrate a special occasion.

                        We dined with uhockey at Annisa earlier this week, and I agree with him. Superb cuisine, excellent service, and very pleasant ambiance. I don't agree with RosalineS that it feels too romantic for a dinner with friends. In fact, there were five of us at our table, i.e., friends getting together to share a great meal and not for a romantic evening. Thus, you shouldn't hesitate to choose it for your celebratory dinner.

                        Annisa photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...