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Apr 7, 2012 02:49 PM

Help a newbie: Reservations and recommendations for Prix Fixe lunch at fancy restaurants?

Hello my fellow Foodies!

I'm planning my second trip to NYC in May and would appreciate some help and feedback.

Hopefully i will be visiting at least one or two of these recommended restaurants for their lunch specials.

My questions are:
1 Do i need to reserve a table for one to two people at any/all of these restaurants for lunch?
2 Which of these fine places would you personally recommend and why?
3 Any not to be missed dishes?

Thanks in advance and cheers

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  1. HI Iriemann,

    You might want to rethink relying on that list... I found a few errors when I scanned it quickly.

    For example Jean Georges' lunch is now $38. Momofuku Ssam Bar has an all-duck lunch menu on weekdays and only has a prix fixe lunch on weekends now. They misspelled Momofuku in Momofuku Noodle Bar. And New Green Bo is now Nice Green Bo.

    But in general:

    1. YES, make a reservation whenever you can. BUT you'll need to tell us what days of the week you are visiting.

    Many upscale restaurants are closed on Sundays; many also don't do weekend lunch if they are open on Saturday or Sunday. A good number of those prix fixe deals are only weekdays, but not all.

    2. I don't see some of the other board prix fixe lunch favorites on that list. I think we CHers can probably make a wider variety of suggestions than what is on that list.

    Can you give a rough budget for food, per person, for lunch, before tax, tip, drinks/wine?

    What kind of atmosphere do you like? What about cuisine types? Any specific neighborhoods you need to be in?

    9 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thank you Kathryn for your help.

      1 I will probably be going for the lunch menu on weekdays only so that's probably not going to be a problem.

      2 Always happy for some more suggestions from CHers.

      My budget per person before the extras is around 60$, could be more if meal is extremely good but of course would prefer it to be less.

      About what i'm looking for:
      Atmosphere: I dislike stuffy service and pretentiousness so a relaxed and friendly atmosphere is my ideal setting. With me it's 99% about the food and i actually prefer simple settings to fancy show off ones.
      Cuisine types: I live in Berlin so i'd like to try stuff i can't get here.
      American, Chinese and creative cuisine with decent portion size spring to mind.
      I am generally looking for memorable distinctive dishes and amazing desserts (aren't we all?).
      I was in NYC 4 years ago and the dishes i enjoyed the most were the eastern/western oysters at GC oyster bar, the pecan pie with cream at peter luger's (steak was good but didn't blow me away) and funnily enough the onion and sour cream pretzel at auntie ann's :-)
      Later i will post another thread with my intended dish list for both lunch and dinner based on my research online and would welcome more input.

      I will probably only eat in Manhattan and any neighborhood will do although places near Madison square park/New York Life building are my preferred ones.

      Thanks for the help

      1. re: lriemann

        Can you do a more formal atmosphere if the service is very friendly and laidback (i.e. Eleven Madison Park)? It's a little over your price range for lunch ($74) but the food is extremely good. AND it is right off of Madison Square Park.

        You might like this thread of my "only in NY" type favorites:

        Here's a good discussion of some lunch prix fixe deals:

        It sounds like you don't want French, French-influenced, or Italian, though, which knocks out a lot of contenders (like Del Posto).

        1. re: kathryn

          Thanks again for the help.

          EMP is actually on my possible list but i'm a little wary because judging by the photos the portions seem kind of tiny and the concept of picking an ingredient instead of a course is a bit daunting, i like to research not only where to eat but also what to eat at each place and even at a place like EMP not all entrees are created equal.
          On the other hand they do have 3 stars and a lot of people sing their praises so it's definitely an option.

          Currently i'm thinking it's a choice of 2 or more of the following places for lunch.
          Wrote down these guides for my friends who also have a say.

          Name: ABC kitchen
          Cuisine: Fresh organic and not too heavy.

          why yes: interesting menu 32$ for 3 courses, salted caramel ice cream sundae!
          Why not: nada.

          Name: Nougatine at jean George
          Cuisine: French classy seafood.

          Why yes: 32$ 3 courses considered one of the best deals in the city, warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream, tuna tartare.
          Why not: nada.

          Name: Del Posto
          Cuisine: classy Italian

          Why yes: chocolate ricotta cake paired with pistachios, lots of options on menu.
          Why not: 39$ for three courses might not be best deal.

          Name: Eleven Madison Park
          Cuisine: top of the line eclectic.

          Why yes: considered one of the best restaurants in the world, number 1 on tripadvisor, seems to be outstanding in every respect, we only live once.
          Why not: 74$ for 4 course lunch is a pretty penny even with all the little extras, menu system is mysterious as you choose ingredient instead of course, booking might be tough.

          Name: Aldea
          Cuisine: Spanish/Portugese

          Why yes: 24$ 3 course menu, very good reviews.
          Why not: not much choice on prix fixe, a la carte temptations.

          Would appreciate some feedback.


          1. re: lriemann

            ABC Kitchen: good choice and their prix fixe looks decent, especially with the kabocha toast and sundae as options.

            Nougatine at JG: tough call, some people think the main dining room at JG is much better for lunch, but it is $38 instead of $32. With your $38 meal at Jean George, they also give you amuse bouche (three I think) and petit fours at the end, including their famous house-made marshmallows, usually cut table-side. No dessert included in the prix fixe though.

            Del Posto: They also give you amuse bouche at the beginning and petit fours at the end, like JG. And it's a three course meal. $39 for that is pretty good since they include 2 savories and 1 dessert!

            EMP: The portions are not tiny, and with all the extras, you won't leave hungry.

            Aldea: you're right, and you'd probably end up ordering a la carte there if you went. Many of the good reviews are based mostly off of dishes that I don't see on the lunch prix fixe.

            1. re: kathryn

              Thanks again for the help.

              I thought about JG instead of Nougatine but most places people seem to think that Nougatine offers a better deal and atmosphere is nicer there so right now i think it has the edge.

              There seems to be a new candidate too.
              I didn't think about including Bouley since i couldn't find their actual prix fixe menu online which i thought was unprofessional.
              Then i read up some more and ran into a description of their porcini flan which combines too of my favorite ingredients in crab and truffles so i emailed the restaurant and got a quick reply with their current lunch menu which seems pretty awesome.

              I also started checking the opentable website and it seems that apart from EMP all the other places are not that difficult to get a table at, which of course makes EMP more desirable :-)

              1. re: lriemann

                I want to caution you against Nougatine. I've been there 3 times, the service was bad 2 out of the 3 visits. Food was generally fine, but I'm in no hurry to return.

                Jean Georges, on the other hand, was fantastic both times I was there.

                1. re: Cheeryvisage

                  Sorry to hear about your experiences at Nougatine, Cheery, mine have been just the opposite! In fact I prefer it to Jean-Georges.

                2. re: lriemann

                  While I've only dined at Bouley for dinner, I find their food to be delicious, the dining room gorgeous, and the service very attentive. Someone whose palate I trust had a wonderful lunch at Bouley about a year ago. The porcini flan is excellent. Highly recommend the duck for your main course, and either the chocolate souffle or the pear for your dessert.

              2. re: lriemann

                The 3 course Prix- Fix at ABC Kitchen is delicious and in a lively but laid back place- it sounds like exactly what you want. I have gone to lunch there about five or six times now and still don't get sick of anything they offer- it only gets better.

                I haven't been to Aldea in a year or so but it was for the lunch and the meal was wonderful. The banana passion fruit tart to end in particular blew my mind and I'm not even a huge fruit dessert fan.

                Del Posto is great but...If you are already on the fence with the price and you dislike pretentious service and stuffiness it might be a tad too much for you.

                Manzo just started a 3 course lunch menu for $29 that looks great although I have yet to try it.

                The porcini flan at Bouley is amazing.

        2. You simply cannot beat Jean-Georges (main dining room). Incredible food, and a great deal. (Spend the money for dessert; you won't regret it.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: pikawicca

            Nougatine was always our go to spot before a matinee. last year,however,our lunch was less than stellar so we will be trying somewhere new this trip.

          2. Hi folks!

            Thanks for all the help.

            I've decided on the two restaurants i will visit for sure.

            Bouley because the menu looks very interesting and very few people find it disappointing.
            ABC because they seem to be more relaxed, the price is right, the menu is different than most top restaurants and a salty popcorn caramel sundae sounds too good to resist.

            I might visit EMP or one of the JG too if i like the experience at Bouley as much as i hope to just to see how it compares.

            Currently researching the best non prix fixe dishes that interest me in NYC and will post on the forum later this month.

            Thanks again and Bon Appetit!

            3 Replies
            1. re: lriemann

              EMP and JG lunch can be hard to book on short notice. How long are you here for?

              1. re: kathryn

                I will be in NYC from the 3rd to the 6th of May, then a few days in Boston and New Orleans (yummy), then back in NYC from the 11th to the 20th of May with maybe a short foray to Philly and DC.
                Just got a confirmation for my Bouley reservation for the 4th of May and i hope to catch a break booking EMP and JG, and if not then c'est la vie.

                1. re: lriemann

                  Just did a quick check on OpenTable, and EMP is showing lunch availability (very limited on 5/3 and wide availability on 5/11; they take reservations only 28 days in advance so 5/11 is the furthest they accept reservations as of today).

                  BTW, glad you got the Bouley reservation! I know you'll have a wonderful time.