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What is the best restaurant in Manhattan...with one caveat...

You don't like seafood.

Most of the finer restaurants seem to have menus that are dominated by seafood. And, well, the body likes what it likes.

Thank you.

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  1. Any of the four-starrers besides Le Bernardin would be fine.

    I'd pick Eleven Madison Park, probably, but I'm sure a few will weigh in for the usual suspects (Daniel, Jean-George) as well. Also partial to Del Posto and Babbo (the former being easier to get a table at, though more expensive and formal) for Italian, and WD-50 for something more adventurous. And about 100 other restaurants could spring to mind as well. Really depends what you feel like eating.

    -----
    WD-50
    50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

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

    Babbo
    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

    Del Posto
    85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

    1. Since it comes down to per se and le bernardin, with a nod to EMP, I'd say that your caveat makes it per se, with a nod to EMP.

      -----
      Per Se
      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

      1. "Most of the finer restaurants seem to have menus that are dominated by seafood"

        "Dominated" as in they cater overwhelmingly to seafood lovers? Which come to mind for you?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Chinon00

          I (another non-seafood eater) have to agree with the OP. Today's Pete Well's review of Junnsik has his best dishes: "Mushroom with dashi broth; sea urchin; barley in anchovy broth; miyeok; spicy kalguksu; crispy snapper; Arctic char."
          And prior Frank Bruni's reviews 75% of his favorite dishes in his reviews were seafood.

          -----
          Jung Sik
          2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

          1. re: Stuartmc910

            I'm not getting this. Jung sik has four meat dishes on it's menu. Who care what Frank Bruni likes, order what you want.

            1. re: Chinon00

              four meat dishes on it's menu.

              You missed the point. Four out how many, 12, 15? That's the OP's point. It's not what Bruni likes, it's what's available, and as a non-seafood eater I find my selections minimal. Especially on daily specials. But I am off the topic.

              1. re: Stuartmc910

                Hey I'll take your word for it. Maybe I'm missing something that's going on.

                1. re: Stuartmc910

                  Touchy about seafood? Looking at the menu at Jung Sik, there is no seafood in the app choices. There a 3 categories for mains - noodles, fish and meat. Ok so 2 of the noodle dishes have some fish component to it, but dashi is something that gets you're hackles up? There are 4 fish mains and only 3 meats. Hardly an overwhelming disparity. The tasting menu has one fish and one meat dish. Balance I see. Yeah, korean food has a lot of fish because of the long coastline, but I think it has more meat dishes than most other asian cuisines. I actually feel that other than for certain seafood focused places and high end asian, most menus are heavily laden with meat. There's beef (often short ribs), duck (magret) and pork (belly) pretty much every where. Ok if all you want is steak or prime rib the other meat dishes may seem too precious and you might not want those either. I get in the mood for a good piece of meat from time to time too. But I can't say seafood dominates other than at a place like Le Bernardin or a sushi spot.

          2. Why don't you check out Manzo in Eataly. The food is fabulous and they specialize in Piemontese Beef. You could do a whole tasing of meat and pasta dishes...or just meat!

            -----
            Manzo
            200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

            4 Replies
            1. re: roze

              Jeez.. There are a ton of places better than Manzo that aren't seafood heavy: Per Se (get two vegetarian courses to substitute for the fish and lobster courses), EMP, Jean Georges, Craft, The Modern, Corton, Lincoln, Babbo, Blue Hill, WD-50, Ko, Ssam Bar, etc., etc.

              -----
              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              WD-50
              50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

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

              Babbo
              110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

              Momofuku Ssam Bar
              207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

              Blue Hill
              75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

              Jean Georges
              1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

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

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

              Momofuku Ko
              163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

              Corton
              239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

              Lincoln
              142 W 65th St, New York, NY 10023

              1. re: roze

                I agree with Manzo. Excellent place for someone not into seafood.

                1. re: roze

                  I'm a big fan of Manzo as well, though it might be too informal to be considered a "finer" restaurant.

                  1. re: roze

                    I like Manzo, and have had some very nice meals there. But I'd have a hard time putting it in the running for best restaurant in Manhattan.

                  2. I would say either Per Se or EMP, depending on your mood and restaurant preferences.

                    1. I'm allergic to seafood and a lot of fine dining restaurants are dominated by it - tasting menus and such. It's not that many spots DON'T serve non-seafood proteins, they do. But they tout their seafood dishes (not just Le Bernardin) and you feel you are missing out on the restaurant's A game when you order meat or poultry, even when the restaurant is willing to substitute. Anyway, TMI, sorry.

                      Like Cheers, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows you're a non-Pescetarian and they like it.

                      My favorites are Balthazar, Keen's, Scarpetta, Pepolino's, Locanda Verde.

                      -----
                      Keens
                      72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

                      Balthazar
                      80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                      Pepolino
                      281 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                      Scarpetta
                      355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                      Locanda Verde
                      377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                        ". . a lot of fine dining restaurants are dominated by [seafood] - tasting menus and such. It's not that many spots DON'T serve non-seafood proteins, they do. But they tout their seafood dishes (not just Le Bernardin) and you feel you are missing out on the restaurant's A game . ."

                        Really? I've been eating out since the early 70s and I've never noticed this? Is this a new trend?

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          People associate oysters, crab, lobster, uni, caviar etc. with luxury, so I guess it makes sense that the really upscale restaurants will have a good amount of seafood on the menu. Especially if it's a tasting menu and they want to gradually progress to a "land" protein as the single, final savory course.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            I think any.three or four star joint will (or better) bring their A-Game to every dish. Just as many people associate."luxury" with high-end beef and lamb, proteins just as likely to carry a supplement as lobster.

                            Only seafood specialists a la LB or places with seafood-heavy cuisines (i.e. Japanese or Nordic) would I skip.

                            Italian could be the best route, given that the mid-course would be a pasta. Del Posto (or Babbo if you can score a rez) are worth a look.

                            -----
                            Babbo
                            110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                            Del Posto
                            85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                            1. re: sgordon

                              Obviously a good restaurant will bring their "A" game to all their dishes, and be able to make accommodations for non-seafood eaters.

                              But if you don't like ANY seafood at all and are looking at the number of items on a tasting menu that have some seafood as a component, you might be discouraged from eating there, even if it isn't the restaurant's intent.

                              1. re: kathryn

                                Bless you Kathryn for your eloquence and understanding.

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Ok I get it you want to be able to go to some of the better restaurants in NYC and be able to order their tasting menu but it can't have ANY seafood on it. And you feel as though if you can't have the tasting menu that you are missing out on something because you perceive the tasting menu as the best or most creative the restaurant has to offer. To me that's almost a paradox.

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    I don't recall the OP (who seems to have disappeared) saying anything about a tasting menu.

                                    1. re: sgordon

                                      I was responding to TrishUntrapped, actually:
                                      "I'm allergic to seafood and a lot of fine dining restaurants are dominated by it - tasting menus and such"

                              2. re: Chinon00

                                Chinon, as a non-seafood eater it makes me sad to know I am missing out on a restaurant's touted signature dishes because they are seafood based. While the following restaurants have non-seafood based dishes, seafood tends to be the star attraction. At least that's what I gather from the menus and many a post here on Chowhound. Not saying they don't serve non-seafood dishes, they do. Not saying the non-seafood dishes aren't good, they most likely are. I'm sure I could cull a meal together at any of them. YMMV.

                                Jean Georges: Egg Caviar, Sea Trout and Oyster Tartare, Scallops, Sashimi, Gulf Shrimp, Sea Urchin, Yellowfin Tuna, Arctic Char, Steamed Snapper, Turbot, Lobster Tartine, Roasted Lobster, Bay Scallops, Sea Bass.

                                Daniel: Lobster Bisque, Oysters, Fluke, Yellowfin Tuna, Abalone, Scallops, Connoisseur Caviar Menu, Langoustines, Squid Ink Raviolini, Sea Bass, Monkfish Tail, Bacon-wrapped Swordfish, Dover Sole, Cod.

                                Per Se: Oysters and Pearls, Tsar Imperial Caviar-Peekytoe Crab, Columbia Sturgeon, Cod, Butter Poached Lobster.

                                WD-50: Smoked Cuttlefish, Bay Scallops, Peekytoe Crab Roll, Bass, Ocean Trout, Skate, Tilefish, Everything Bagel with Smoked Salmon, Rockfish, Monkfish,

                                Eleven Madison Park: Vague descriptions, tough to tell exactly what is in the dishes. Hamachi, Langoustine, Skate, Lobster are noted.

                                I'm sure all these spots are accommodating.

                                -----
                                Per Se
                                10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                                WD-50
                                50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

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

                                Jean Georges
                                1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

                                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                  I think you're being oversensitive. I'm not seafood averse, but I generally prefer meat. I've had any number of meals at EMP and Daniel where I didn't order any seafood dishes at all, and I certainly didn't feel like I was missing anything.

                                  Look at it this way: the whole point of a restaurant is that you get to order what you feel like eating (which is one reason why I find the mania for tasting menus on foodboards misplaced). Just because there are seafood dishes on the menu doesn't mean you're missing out if you don't order them. Especially if you wouldn't like them anyway. Maybe the people ordering the seafood dishes are missing out on great meat.

                                  1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                    I've not been to Daniel or JG for some time, but I can say that seafod is decidedly not the star attraction at WD-50. Heck, over half the entrees don't have seafood, and nearly half the apps.

                                    I don't think that a tasting menu that features, say, half seafood, means that that is "the best" a restaurant can put out. It's simply because when putting together a standard tasting menu, it needs to appeal across the board, so you want to have a degree of variety on it. That's all.

                                    Most better resuarants have "ready to go" replacements that are just as good as what's on their tasting menu to account for a variety of allergies or common dislikes - shellfish, red meat, nuts, grapefruit, pork, eggs, whatever - probably every dish on the menu has an "alternate"

                                    EMP will tell you what's in the dishes if you ask. They leave the info off the menu so that those who want to be surprised can be surprised.

                                    1. re: sgordon

                                      Yes, I understand that. Thank you.

                              3. I haven't disappeared - I'm watching with avid interest and taking notes. I think it's a rather interesting debate that has started here.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: browndog888

                                  Sorry Browndog wasn't trying to start something up here. Just giving my own personal thoughts. I would love these posters to tell me about some of the great non-seafood dishes at some of these places. I can be persuaded! ;-)

                                2. "The best" restaurant I guess can mean different things to different people. Let's assume however that it equates to Michelin star restaurants or restaurants of that style (fine dining). Could you call yourself or aspire to be a fine dining establishment with little to no seafood on the menu?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                    There's a difference between having little to no seafood on the menu vs. having plenty of non-seafood choices along with all of the seafood dishes.

                                    I have no allergy or problem with seafood but usually never order cooked fish dishes. When ordering a la carte, I have never had much of a problem, so most restaurants (fine dining or not) should work. Does it suck when your choices are between 4 kinds of fish and then either a less-exciting chicken breast, steak, or vegetarian preparation? Sure.

                                  2. The more this thread goes, the more curious I find it. I am an omnivore, though I avoid red meat for health reasons (bad for the LDL). So I end up eating a lot of seafood or vegetarian meals but with the occasional steak thrown in when I crave it. I actually feel that when you’re out eating in most places it’s hard to find anything other than the obligatory salmon and I can’t stand any more dried out chicken breast. Yeah, once you get to the fine dining world there are many more options. But the lack of good alternatives to meat on most menus results in me eating in a lot of Japanese and Italian places for a basic meal out. Then I compare this to challenge for vegetarians which is much harder. I have a very good friend who eats nothing that comes from any animal so variations on asian cuisines is the norm when we get together. I get the fact that you feel you are missing out on something because you can’t try it, but I wonder if there is something of the grass is greener on the other side going on. Don't focus on what you can't eat, enjoy what you can.

                                    1. <Most of the finer restaurants> ??? They do? Daniel? Jean Georges? Cafe Boulud? Gramercy Tavern? EMP? Del Posto? Felidia? Blue Hill? La Grenouille? Tocqueville? there are more, of course... but all the above surely do have fish/seafood on their menus, but dominated is not the case. I'll agree than many Asian restaurants seem to have an abundance of fish on their menus, but there are many other fine restaurants in Manhattan! If what you've a hankering after is a big hunk of meat, try Porter House -- Michael Lomonaco's place in the Time-Warner Center. He's serving beautifully prepared fabulous meat there. And one of the top Sommeliers in the USA is presiding over the wine list...

                                      19 Replies
                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                        I went to the Gramercy tavern site as a random example and came up with this menu for dinner:

                                        FIRST COURSES
                                        Celery Root Soup Apples, Chestnuts and Butternut Squash
                                        Ruby Red Shrimp Heirloom Beans and Brussels Sprouts
                                        Beef Carpaccio Celery and Anchovy Aioli
                                        Smoked Trout Cippollini Purée and Pickled Onions
                                        Open Ravioli of Beef and Carrots
                                        Squash Custard Shiitake Mushrooms and Aji Peppers
                                        SECOND COURSES
                                        Sea Bass Spaghetti Squash, Walnuts and Sherry Sauce
                                        Pollock Cauliflower, Cabbage and Caviar
                                        Red Snapper Radish, Turnip, Bacon and Beet Broth
                                        Roasted & Braised Lamb Squash, Pine Nuts and Bok Choy
                                        Pork Loin & Belly Spicy Carrots, Leek Hearts and White Sweet Potato
                                        Duck Breast & Confit Sunchokes, Quince, Brussels Sprouts and Maitake Mushrooms

                                        If you count the Beef Carpaccio Celery and Anchovy Aioli, there are 6 out of 12 dishes that contain seafood. That is half the dinner menu offered. To the OP's point, this is a lot. For someone who does not like seafood, half the menu is eliminated. I wouldn't want to be in that position. I understand it is the OP's personal preference, but I'm just pointing this out.

                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                          Thanks for that bit of sanity. Both you and the OP are correct - seafood is overrepresented at many higher end restaurants.

                                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                                            Following ttoommyy's lead I just checked out the menu at Riverview, Tom Collichio's restaurant on 1st Ave. in midtown.

                                            Not counting the salads, there are 43 items listed on the menu. 26 of them are seafood. 60%.

                                            The OP isn't making this stuff up.

                                            http://www.riverviewny.com/menu/River...

                                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                                              Why do you not count the salads?

                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                Doing so would weaken his argument.

                                                1. re: nmprisons

                                                  I love you guys, I really do.

                                                  I went back and added in the salads. The new totals - 51 total dishes. 28 seafood, 23 non seafood.

                                                  That 60% seafood number I quoted above drops to 55%. That's still high enough to prove the OP's point.

                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                    Bob not only are you counting every individual item from the raw bar in your count (I think that the raw bar should be counted as one item) you are also counting combination platters. Of the ten shellfish items six are individual items at most.

                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                      That's hilarious. You were the one who made me count the salads as individual items. Now you want me to count the raw bar choices as a single item.

                                                      Lets take this discussion back on the high road. The OP said that menus at high end restaurants tend to skew toward seafood. I think he's on to something. Menus at upscale restaurants tend to have a higher percentage of seafood choices than mid range restaurants.

                                                      On this thread I've backed up my point with links to restaurant menus. Lets continue that. There is a major disconnect with what high end restaurants do and the midrange places. Take Mesa Grill in New York for example, a mid range place.

                                                      30 dishes. 9 seafood, 21 vegetable or meat. See what I mean?

                                                      http://www.mesagrill.com/new-york-cit...

                                                      The OP is right. High end places have a higher percentage of seafood choices than mid range places. Now you and nmprisons might like that (and that's a legitimate preference) but lets not pretend that it doesn't exist.

                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                        I guess "dominated" in regard to seafood on a menu is in the eye of the beholder (altho' I might grant that higher end places have a more "balanced" menu).
                                                        What confuses me and maybe others is the idea that these menus are somehow unsympathetic to those who do not like seafood. If I had friends who didn't enjoy seafood and I invited them to Riverview I'd really be surprised if they'd be disappointed w/ their choices. And I would perceive it as unreasonable if they did so.

                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                          "altho' I might grant that higher end places have a more "balanced" menu. "

                                                          You mean a menu more to your liking? :-)

                                                          Personally, I don't have a problem with menus at higher end places. There may not be as many non seafood choices as I would like but there are enough so that I can find something that appeals to me. Sometimes I'll even shock my GF and order seafood. Sometimes I get the urge.

                                                          Back to the OP. The Internet is his friend. He can look at the website of any restaurant that appeals to him and confirm that there are enough choices to please him. He should be careful not to get his heart set on a specific entree listed on the on-line menu. Entrees sometimes are swapped out and the on-line menu might be a little stale. But the overall number of non-seafood entrees ought to remain the same.

                                                          Are 5 possible entrees enough? 7? 8? It's up to him to decide. A little research ought to uncover the places that are most likely to please him.

                                                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                            I agree if you are more than satisfied w/ the number of non-seafood choices on the menu then do the number of seafood choices or anything else really matter?

                                                2. re: Chinon00

                                                  Salads are not really main courses. Well, at least not for this 6ft., 207-lb. man they're not! :)

                                                  Just want to throw this observation in...Long before this post ever existed (that would be up until a few days ago) I always noticed how much seafood was on many better restaurants' menus. I love seafood, but I think it is pretty dominant. It may just be a trend. I can remember 15 or more years ago when there were only a few seafood choices on the menu; it was special. Of course this may have had something to do with the availability of fresh seafood then vs. now, what with overnight shipping, etc.

                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                    "Salads are not really main courses. Well, at least not for this 6ft., 207-lb. man they're not! :)"

                                                    I hear ya on that, but Bob Martinez included every item in the raw bar in his count. I guess I could make a meal out of that but it would be quite pricey;]

                                                3. re: Bob Martinez

                                                  Riverpark is Tom Colicchio's restaurant. I don't think he's involved with Riverview.

                                                  http://riverparknyc.com/

                                                  1. re: Riverman500

                                                    Good point Riverman. I Googled too quickly. Now that I've looked up the correct menu lets run the numbers.

                                                    Out of 24 total dishes, 11 are seafood, 13 aren't. The menu is 46% seafood.

                                                    Again, that backs up the OP's point that "Most of the finer restaurants seem to have menus that are dominated by seafood."

                                                    http://riverparknyc.com/menus_dinner.php

                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                      Couldn't you say that 56% non seafood dishes dominate the menu? It is all a matter of perspective.

                                                      That said many restaurants offer one or two items for the following proteins, cow, lamb, duck, chicken and pig. Maybe some wild game thrown in there. Contrast that by the sheer number of fish and shellfish proteins that we consume. The choices offer more creativity to a menu it would seem.

                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                        Annisa. 16 items on the menu. 8 are seafood. 50%.

                                                        This is almost too easy.

                                                        http://annisarestaurant.com/dinner.pdf

                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                          If you're doing this, then it's just a numbers game right?

                                                          How many different types of fish, crustaceans, shellfish, etc. are there?
                                                          How many different types of cows, lambs, pigs, etc. are there?

                                                          There's more "seafood" than "meat" so it's perfectly reasonable that there are more seafood than meat dishes. It's math.

                                                  2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                    Well 75% of the earth's surface is sea so to keep things in line we should have 75% of the menu from the sea so I "see" over representation of land based food! ;)

                                              2. I don't think it's a matter of seafood domination as much as it is a matter of balance and combinations.

                                                When you're discussing the best and highest level restaurants, balance is always a key part. Whether it is perfect balance in every plate or balance across a tasting menu. In those cases, the meat course is considered heavy, and seafood is used to balance out the meal. This is why there are less meat dishes than seafood dishes in many of these menus, but it doesn't mean the restaurant's meat dishes aren't their A game.

                                                What it really comes down to, if you ask me, is that you want the best restaurant that either A) has an extensive a la carte menu or many choices from their prix fixe B) allows you to customize your tasting menu.

                                                Assuming we're not talking about steakhouses, here are some thoughts:

                                                Eleven Madison Park. Tell them you don't like seafood. There will be plenty of choices between vegetables, foie, and meat entrees. Signature dish is duck.

                                                Minetta Tavern. It's not hard to have a super rich and meat-heavy meal:
                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/832273

                                                Daniel. Order the prix fixe, plenty of options.

                                                Picholine. They have a game tasting menu on occasion, but I don't think right now is the season.

                                                As far as "missing out" because many restaurant's signature dishes appear to be seafood-oriented goes, one of my favorite sayings is, "Anyone can make pork belly taste good." Seafood is so varied that there's more opportunity for chefs to combine flavors and show their creativity. But it doesn't mean these restaurants don't focus on concentrating and enhancing the flavors of their meat dishes.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: fooder

                                                  Finally, a reasonable entry into this debate. Thank you!

                                                  (Though I would recommend Per Se, Jean Georges, Craft, the Modern, Corton, and many others well-ahead of Daniel)

                                                2. The tasting menu at Tocquville was excellent and catered to a non-seafood eater. Worth a look but not sure exactly what you are looking to classify as 'the best'.