Asiate or Gilt?!
I'm taking someone special out for his 30th next month. Reservations open shortly for the date I want to claim. Although Daniel, or EMP would be a true special experience, I'd prefer to spend less. I've been to Asiate for breakfast which was an amazing experience, but never dinner. I know they can't guarantee a window table there, if they could my decision would be easy. Based on food, and service alone, which would you recommend, Asiate or Gilt? I think both rooms are equally beautiful.
They both have pretty solid food and service, but unfortunately there are a number of places at the same price point - both are around a $90 Prix Fixe - that I'd recommend higher. Is the room the foremost consideration? It seems you've narrowed it down to those two on account of the ambience, first.
One option to consider would be EMP at lunch - if schedule-wise lunch is an option. It's the same exact meal as at dinner, only $75 instead of $125 - you'd get a better meal (with more courses, to boot) than at Asiate or Gilt and for less money. And the room... many (self included) think it's even more beautiful during the day, with light flooding the windows.
Unfortunately lunch isn't an option. I want food to be first priority, service second, and then ambiance. The person who's birthday it is, isn't big into the food scene, but I have permission to do what I want to make it special. While I don't want to spend the Daniel/EMP money, I think he might be overwhelmed by that experience, so I was trying to take that into consideration as well. Keeping that in mind, where else would you recommend?
From a personal preference I would pick Gilt. The food plating is a little more impressive/fun and clubby.
For Asiate, book thru Open Table and submit your request for window seating through that field note space. My family went to Asiate for Mother's Day but they couldn't give us window seating due to the number of people and peak reservation time. When they called to confirm I asked a second time and the reservationist did try to see what he could do but no dice unfortunately. He did try accomodate the request though.
I've been to Gilt once and Asiate twice. I found our servers at Gilt much more personable than at Asiate. Asiate was more perfunctory imo and it seemed like our bread server hated his job and didn't want to be there, lol.
We haven't been to Asiate, but we have been to Gilt -- once. The dining room is gorgeous, but we found the food to be shockingly disappointing.
I would recommend The Modern Dining Room. The food is superb, service is excellent, and the huge wall of windows provides a lovely view of the Sculpture Garden.
Photos of our most recent meal in The Modern Dining Room: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/sets/72157629896589860/
I loved Gilt - fantastic service, enjoyed the room, found the tasting menu to be really well composed and delicious and the wine pairings both interesting and well-matched. It's one of the best meals I've had in NYC recently; I'd put it ahead of the two EMP dinners I've had in the past year, for half the price. Our meal there was a real standout. I've only been to the Modern once and haven't been to Asiate but from my own experience at Gilt, I'd recommend it highly (over EMP for the price, over my meal at Daniel).
Based on my personal experiences:
The Modern Dining Room > Gilt > Asiate
As RGR said, the Modern has the best food of all three.
The Modern Dining Room = Gilt > Asiate
* Ambience (I prefer views to nice interiors)
Asiate > The Modern Dining Room > Gilt
But then again, as mushroomaffairs pointed out, window seats are not always guaranteed at Asiate and you might end up with no window seat + so so food.
Therefore, I would recommend The Modern Dining Room as well for a safe bet.
I wanted to thank everyone for their contributions. I wound up going with Gilt and honestly could not have been happier. While we both found dish after dish to be exceptional, a specific stand out for me was one of their amuse's. It was crab dish with popcorn and a cantaloupe sorbet scooped on top. A specific stand out for him was his appetizer of wagu beef tartar. The explosion of flavor and textures was one of the most interesting I've experienced. Gilt truly made the evening special for us, and the meal did nothing short of wow us both. Thanks again!!