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May 3, 2012 09:35 AM

Coming to NYC and had a few questions about reservation systems and brunch/lunch

My wife and I are planning to grab a dining spot for lunch at EMP. I know that their reservation system opens at 28 days out inc. the current day. What I'm not sure of is if this is set in stone or could I luck out by calling them earlier?

What experience has the board had with EMP reservations and other well known an popular places?

What are some places that take reservations but don't require them (i.e. still a good idea)?

Lastly, if you had to eat brunch/lunch at just one of the following.. what would be your choice?

ABC Kitchen
The Breslin
Minetta Tavern
DB Bistro Moderne
Del Posto
Another option...

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  1. Places that have such policies tend to set them in stone (that's why they HAVE such policies). I've seen some such places make rare exceptions for future meals if you're actually in the restaurant, but almost never on the phone (OT, of course, is inflexible by design).

    Lastly, JG or Minetta Tavern, depending on your mood and preferences.

    1. From your list, I'd choose Jean Georges. However, Tocqueville is our favorite place for lunch on Saturday (not open on Sunday).

      14 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        Yes I follow uhockey's blog alot and saw you tagged along and so followed your blog and going down the favorite sweets (since I bake that is my thing). Btw I hope you had a great Pesach. Thats the last time I was in NY.

        Thanks to you and Sneakeater for your replies.

        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

          Thanks for letting me know that you've been reading my blog and for the Pesach wishes. I hope you had a "ziesen Pesach." :)

          1. re: RGR

            Yeah as actually in NY for it. For shame around great food but alas forbidden to have any. Got to see Newsies though..

            NY a never ending bucket list for food.

            1. re: uhockey

              Price and location is seeming to be the issue. I've created a map as a bucket list of sorts. We are doing EMP lunch on Thursday with rain in the forecast. We may try to go up to theatre district and get TKTS tickets before doing a dinner (maybe the Plaza Basement with lady M and Lukes lobster in them). The problem is that so many of the places I want to hit are in downtown and LWS and LES but otherwise we aren't going to be in that area. A little arm twisting may be in order. The places I'd like to get to are Dominique Ansel, Handcut Noodles, one of the Momofuku Milk Bar locations and maybe Yakitori Totto (which is just south of the park and now thankfully does take reservations). We hadn't planned to be in the city too early but given news that we'd be awaken each day at 8am that may change and if that is the case. I'd look into Balthazar, Buvette, Ceci Cela, . The lunch deals I know of or seen recommended are Del Posto and JG's. I won't be in town Saturday or Sunday as I'm going to New Brunswick, NJ for a wedding and trying to convince my SO that we should do a trip to Harold's Deli over in Edison for the experience alone. I'd also grab lunch at Parm or Otto since it is lower cost than Torrisi. It all just depends on where we are at eating times.. of course I could graze my way across the damn island. Thanks for the reply. I enjoy living vicariously through your blog.

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                The problem that you have is that the New York dining scene is very much concentrated downtown (and in Brooklyn) at this point.

                1. re: Sneakeater

                  Ha! Unrelated to the post but... I just noticed you are the "Sneak" eater, and not the "Snake" eater. Enjoy your posts very much, I'm surprised I just noticed that. I was curious as to why you were apparently so keen on eating snake, what with your otherwise refined taste and all...

                  1. re: BrettLove

                    I have, in fact, eaten Snake. But I don't make a habit of it.

                    (Thanks, BTW.)

                2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  Bouley's lunch is a deal, though it is certainly not in the theater district.

                  I'd skip Balthazar and focus on Buvette, Bosie, Cici Cela, and Dominique Ansel.

                  If you want an "experience," do Shopsins'


                  1. re: uhockey

                    Agreed on Bouley and Shopsins. Two of my favorites (even though obviously on totally different ends of the spectrum!).

                    1. re: uhockey

                      If we are in that area, I'll definitely try to convince my wife to give Shopsins a try. I hope I'm not someone who'd get thrown out. I'm definitely not the uppity or yuppy type. More laid back if not a bit indecisive having seen his menu items. I'm making Ansel my top choice just based on things he's doing and Cici Cela next if we are there. Trying to convince my wife that eating my way through is just as good a way of exploring it as going to its museums. That and well I'm trying to taste things I can't get here in the Southeast and also I bake so gaining an idea of how something should feel and taste helps too.

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        In case you need to search for it, the place is called Ceci Cela and means "This and That."

                      1. re: kathryn

                        Thanks for the feedback. Still thinking we will be in the city more for lunch/snack and dinner times. Definitely no late nights for sure.

              2. I like Tocqueville as well. Jean Georges is also great.

                Also consider Bouley.

                1 Reply
                1. > What experience has the board had with EMP reservations and other well known an popular places?

                  For EMP, call exactly 28 days (aka 4 weeks) in advance, at **EXACTLY** 9am NYC time, while you are also refreshing OpenTable. They are very popular.

                  > What are some places that take reservations but don't require them (i.e. still a good idea)?

                  Many restaurants will take walk in customers in addition to reservations, and in fact, a good number of them set aside tables for walk-in customers in the main dining room. Often, though, the walk-in tables will not be as desirable or well-located, and you might have to wait to be seated... It really depends on what time you want to eat (is this flexible or set in stone?) and how long you're willing to wait for a seat.

                  Almost every restaurant in NYC will serve you food at the bar. In some cases this isn't the exact same menu as you would get at a table (i.e. a la carte vs prix fixe), but they won't deny you the ability to eat there if you want to sit at the bar.

                  > Lastly, if you had to eat brunch/lunch at just one of the following.. what would be your choice?

                  What day of the week? Do you want breakfast foods or lunch foods?

                  Are you willing to wait a bit for a table (like at the Breslin)?

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: kathryn

                    No probably not going to want to wait. I mean I have no problem with doing great/cheap Asian like the supposed buns in Chinatown but my wife is somewhat particular about what she eats. She wants to do the EMP lunch so that is my first goal. I just like good food which is very broad but the names that I see tossed up regularly are what I"m curious about. I'd look into Txakito if they do a good lunch. I think between breakfast and lunch items we are looking more at the lunch side of things, but I'll go hogwild on pastries or baked items that are good.. Like I may not eat a proper breakfast but if I know I"m near X bakery.. I'll go to town. Plus it is about time I try a damn canele. The problem with postin on the board as it stands right now is I don't know where I'll be at any given time. Usually I let the place of dining dictate where I'll be and then find stuff aroudn there to check out.

                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      What days of the week will you be here?

                      EMP lunch is only weekdays, as is Del Posto's.

                      JG lunch is daily, with Sundays starting in a week or so.

                      Not sure db bistro moderne is worth going out of your way for for brunch/lunch.

                      Only go to The Breslin on a weekday if you don't like to wait.

                      ABC Kitchen and Minetta Tavern take reservations, I would highly recommend them to avoid a wait.

                      Minetta Tavern has the bonus of being able to go to Payard, Mille-Feuille, and/or Dominique Ansel before or after.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        For whatever it's worth, the Breslin is a hotel restaurant, which in turn means that they open earlier than many other places do for breakfast/brunch - 7 a.m. as opposed to the usual 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. If you get there on the earlier side, you can often get in without a wait... I live nearby and get in around 9 or even 10 without a wait on Saturdays and Sundays. If you're looking for more traditional lunch hours (or certainly for dinner), you may find yourself with more of a wait.

                        Totally off-topic but has anyone else had bad luck with their coffee? Last couple of times I've been there it's been chemically and almost undrinkable. I'm not all that particular about my coffee though I like a good cup, but theirs is so bad I'm tempted to skip coffee altogether and get something else.

                        1. re: kathryn

                          Minetta is great for brunch and surprisingly easy to get reservations on OT. Their prime rib (although not bone-in) is incredible. I had a real gut busting brunch there earlier this year which started with their thick cut bacon, followed by the enormous prime rib that comes with delicious roasted carrots,onions, and mushrooms and the most delectable popover. Oh and I threw in a side of duck confit hash for good measure as well. That was one of the most delicious meals of my life and I waddled out of there a happy man.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            Unfortunately Minetta only does lunch on certain days which I won't be around to do.

                        2. Pardon if I digress for a moment, but I wonder if you ever took that trip to Spain that you were planning, and if so, if you ever wrote up your experiences here on CH. Thanks.


                          4 Replies
                          1. re: erica

                            Sorry yes I did go and I'll write up what I can remember over the weekend. Didn't mean to be rude.

                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                              Thanks..I'd love to hear about where you ate and what you thought. I guess some of us got invested in those very long planning threads and wondered how you fared.

                              1. re: erica

                                Yeah I tend to ask a lot and then I go and then when I come back I'm worn out and mean to recap ASAP and it just kinda slides away as reality grabs on.

                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                  Imagine if everyone here did asked a ton of questions, in your case receiving a virtual tutorial on eating in Spain, not to mention specific restaurant picks, and then never bothered to report back about their experiences. I guess you get my drift by now. Not in the spirit of what this board is about.