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Daniel or EMP?? Which is a better experience?

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Daniel or EMP?? Which is a better experience?

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  1. For me, Daniel has better food and service though it's quite formal. It also has the more rarefied atmosphere I think.

    1. Your question is about to bring on a fire-storm of opposing views, but my vote is EMP 100%. My two dining experiences at Daniel had some of the worst (snooty) service ever. Food was pretty good (I think). EMP has stellar service and exquisite food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ellenost

        yeah. this one will be fun to watch.

      2. At least if you're not known to the restaurant, there's no question that EMP is a better experience.

        (If you ARE known to the restaurant, Daniel is hard to beat.)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sneakeater

          I'm not at all keen on making claims based on a small N, in this case my one dinner at Daniel. Let me preface further that I'm in my early twenties, generally quite a tatterdemalion, and was not known to the restaurant. All of that noted, once I made it past the are-you-in-the-wrong-restaurant look from the older lady at the coat check, I enjoyed a nonpareil dining experience.

        2. What are you looking for? You can have a wonderful dining experience at either spot - but as ellenost says you will see many divergent views here.

          1. I have eaten at both more than once. EMP has provided me with some of the most memorable dining experiences I have had at a white-tablecloth place, and consistently ranks in my top two in NYC for service (Per Se being the other). My fiance trailed in their kitchen for an evening and had nothing but very positive things to say about the BOH atmosphere as well (no, she never worked there, so I assume I can post about the place). It is a wonderful restaurant top to bottom.

            All I will say about Daniel is that, on a very special occasion, it provided my family and I with the single worst fine-dining experience of my life. It was bad enough that, despite better prior visits, I will never return, and the staff's total lack of concern for our happiness and enjoyment forces me to warn others of my experience whenever advice is solicited.

            So, to me, the choice is clear: Of my many meals at EMP, I have never had less than a very good experience and a few times I have been absolutely blown away. Go there. You will be happy.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nmprisons

              +1000

              Single rudest service ever experienced in any restaurant was at Daniel.

            2. Daniel is close to unbearably stuffy for me. Treated like garbage nearly from start to end. Never again.

              1. We enjoyed EMP more but Daniel was still OK. Less stuffy dress code at EMP (I wore a tie but most men didn't even have sports coats) and the menu was more avant-garde. We got a tour of the kitchen at EMP, where they made a deconstructed Ramos gin fizz for us as a bonus.

                At Daniel chef Boulud was there and flitted to several tables talking to guests (chef Humm was at Noma doing a guest stint during our visit to EMP). The people whom he knew seemed to be having a very festive time of it.

                A chef at our favorite local restaurant had mentioned that Daniel B. was his favorite chef and a role model, so I asked our waiter if he could get Daniel to sign a menu for us to take to this chef, which he did with a nice personalize touch, including the chef's name and restaurant (a Forbes 5*). Our local chef was very happy to get this. So we were treated quite well there, even given a free glass of wine.

                At Daniel there were maybe 3 items that I didn't think were quite up to Michelin 3* quality (out of I think 14 total since we had two of the long tasting menus), while at EMP I thought everything we had was spot-on.

                So I'd pick EMP if forced to choose between them.

                1. I am a regular at both Daniel and EMP. I go back to both at least once a month and I like both of them. Daniel is a bit on more formal side (but not too stuffy) and more traditional (not old-fashioned though. Often times quite creative too), while EMP is slightly more casual and adventurous. Both chef Boulud and chef Humm have wonderful personalities too (don't know how they might be back in the kitchen though... LOL).

                  1. On our first visit to Daniel, when we were obviously unknowns, the service was impeccable. Neither stuffy nor snotty. We were recommended a wine that eventually became our favourite bottle ever, were served an extra dessert when I mentioned that we were there for a special occasion, and were given fresh madeleines when we let ours get cold.

                    For me, the quality of food is similar at both places, and where you go should depend on what sort of atmosphere you like. Daniel is super high luxury; EMP is more laid-back and playful.

                    1. I think you can see from the replies.. if you'd like to play Russian roulette with your experience and possibly have a great experience yet possibly have the single worst service of your life at a fine dining establishment then pick Daniel.

                      Or you can eat at a universally acclaimed restaurant with consistently excellent and unpretentious service, EMP.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Pookipichu

                        There have been quite a few long threads about service issues at EMP so I don't think you can generalize that it's a "universally acclaimed restaurant with consistently excellent and unpretentious service."

                        I've also received consistently excellent and unpretentious service at Daniel and I'm not a regular by any means.

                        1. re: Riverman500

                          Just to be clear, I'm not talking only about service issues for "unknowns" at Daniel. In my experience (as both a "known" and an "unknown"), unknowns get much less carefully prepared food. The menu is the same,but the food isn't. The place is just too big, and turns too many tables, to prepare four-star food for everybody.

                          1. re: Sneakeater

                            That's scary to hear (just in case I was thinking about ever trying Daniel again. Guess I won't bother).

                            1. re: Sneakeater

                              My terrible service at Daniel was accompanied by consistently average and sometimes bad food. We had a five top and, other than the pretty darn good desserts, no one at the table thought a single dish was good. Things were consistently under seasoned. At least half of the dishes were unfocused, with unnecessary ingredients and ridiculous flourishes. A few things weren't even properly cooked (my fish was over, for example). To say things were "carefully prepared" would be an understatement.

                            2. re: Riverman500

                              No. I've seen the EMP threads, the service issues have been minor in comparison and there is as much of a consensus on EMP as there could possibly be, contrast that with Daniel...

                              Glad you had a good experience. I used to prior to the move. I've dined at Daniel multiple times, met Daniel Boulud, been in their kitchen, etc. etc. etc. It takes only one superlatively awful experience to say never again. Especially at a restaurant that aspires to be 4 star, at the equivalent price point.

                          2. My experiences at both have never been less than wonderful but they have taken very different paths to get there. As others are stating; Daniel, very elegant, very professional, dimly light, incredible food using best ingredients usually skewing towards classic techniques. EMP, classy, airy, playful, incredible food using ingredients at their peak, riskier (in a good way) preperations utilizing variations on classic techniques. For me it comes down to what mood we are in, if you are feeling playful - EMP, if you are going for a refined sophisticated vibe - Daniel

                            1. My recent meal at EMP for your reference ( write up & photos )
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/847366
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/847369