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Apr 8, 2012 05:37 PM

Good and upscalish eating in Manhattan... suggestions please!

I'm from Canada but thinking of taking a significant other for a weekend in NYC. I feel I want to splurge a bit and just have a good time eating and going around. I'll be going anywhere from mid to late May and I want to decide on the restaurants so I can make the reservations in time. We'll be staying close to Central Park & 5thAve but don't mind moving around for the right place. Budget is not a problem.

I'll be needing:

a. One place for breakfast
b. Two places for lunch
c. Two places for dinner: one will be Per Se, I would need another. I might go to Candle79 but I'd rather find something a bit nicer.
d. A wine bar or a fancy drinks type of bar.

I'm a vegetarian so it would have to be something that offers at least a few vegetarian dishes. If there was any great molecular cuisine restaurant I wouldn't mind trying it.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I haven't been, but the only place that's considered to serve real molecular cuisine in this city is WD-50, and they will do a vegetarian menu for you. Whether it's great or not is a matter of some dispute.

    Wine bars and cocktail bars tend to be different establishments here. One interesting idea is to go to a great cocktail bar that is also a great restaurant, and for that, I can recommend Ai Fiori. But if you prefer to go to a different restaurant for dinner (the usual suspects that will be recommended by many people here will surely including 11 Madison Park - which for the record, I was disappointed with the one time I went since Chef Humm took over - and probably Jean Georges, but there are also some newer places that have gotten a lot of buzz here, including Jung Sik, a Korean-French fusion restaurant in Tribeca), I'm sure they'd be fine with you going there just for drinks and dessert.

    But that would probably be unnecessary because there are several really good dedicated cocktail bars around town. I've enjoyed my trips to Pegu Club, but others have their favorites (kathryn is a great source of information about these, and just about anything else).

    Another idea for your second dinner is to go for kaiseki at a great Japanese restaurant like Kyo Ya. In my limited experience of it, great kaiseki is an experience of the sublime from a Zen standpoint of using the freshest ingredients in perfect yet seemingly simple ways that subtly bring out the best flavor, such that things you thought you knew before are experienced in categorically different ways - so that, for example, "miso soup" and "sake" are entirely dissimilar from what you've had before.

    As for wine bars, I like Aria in the far west Village, but it can be pretty loud. They have well-priced wines by the glass, though (don't get a bottle - there's a strange markup for that), and if you want food, their Italian small plates are quite good. Or perhaps you'd rather go to Txikito, a great Basque-style tapas bar (not called a "wine bar" as such, I think, but that's what tapas bars are, after all, and their food is a bit more special than Aria's, I believe). I've been once so far, with a sizable group, so I got a chance to have a bit of a bunch of different tapas and liked every single one. The wine was equally good.

    OK, lunch. Two good options are Tocqueville and Jean Georges.

    For breakfast, consider Balthazar, if you don't mind going down to Soho, and get reservations unless you're coming before 10:30 or so. Better safe than sorry.

    I have to admit I haven't double-checked all the menus for vegetarian items. I think you'll be fine as long as you're ovo-lacto, but do check the menus of the restaurants I mentioned, either by doing a web search for their home pages or, if you'd like to save time, by going to

    Have a great weekend!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      Thanks for the suggestions! Regarding drinks, I was thinking of going to a cocktail type place one day and to a wine bar another day, probably after the theater or something... not both together :)

      1. re: Adrux

        Oh, I get it. :-)

        Well, in either case, do a search for kathryn's posts. She seems to know about just about every category of dining and drinking establishment in Manhattan, but in particular, she's the brunch queen, so look at this thread to start with:

        Suggestions For Sunday Brunch

        Then, check this one out:

        NYC - 2 people visiting from CA - suggestions?

        1. re: Pan

          Aw, thanks, Pan!

          I actually am NOT an expert in everything... such as wine bars. :)

      2. re: Pan

        BTW, the cocktails at Eleven Madison Park are excellent, and I've been hearing great things about the cocktails at EMP's newest venture, The NoMad (which features a team w/ people from EMP as well as Death & Co and other places).

        NB: Both Tocqueville and Jean Georges serve their prix fixe for weekday lunch and Saturday lunch, but not Sunday lunch.

      3. What days of the week will you be here? It is Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon?

        Many upscale restaurants are closed on Sundays; many also don't do weekend lunch if they are open on Saturday or Sunday.

        Per Se is an exception to this so you might want to consider moving Per Se to, say, Sunday lunch.

        As for breakfast, I assume you'll want to be eating around 9am or so? Some but not all places are only open for weekend brunch, starting around 10am. Unless you mean breakfast on Friday....

        For mixology/classic cocktail bars:

        For upscale vegetarian: