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Finalizing 15th Anniversary Dining Trip...

Lawshark Aug 2, 2012 05:12 PM

Thank you for earlier feedback...and I think we have decided on the 3 nights of dining...but not sure on the order. Coming up on reservation windows...so I need to finalize choices/nights.

Original idea was Babbo/Le Bernadin/WD 50...with Bernadin on our anniversary. Yes...we do love seafood and the haute French would be appreciated...not exactly much of that here in Portland, Maine :).

However...I've taken the urging about EMP to heart and think we'd prefer that to Babbo (and the reservation race). Moreso...as I've read more about it...I think that would be a better choice for our anniversary dinner itself...especially if we are able to do a kitchen tour. Agreed?

We'll be dining Wednesday/Thursday/Friday...with Thursday our anniversary.

I'm thinking Le Bernadin on our arrival day Wednesday...then EMP...and finishing with WD50 on Friday.

Also...any recommendations on requested reservation times? While I am far more of a night owl than my wife...I'd also prefer to not be falling asleep toward the end of the courses after a serveral hour evening.

We'll be staying at the Ritz on the Park...I assume best to ask the club level concierge to make the reservations?

Thank you very much for any feedback...

  1. t
    thegforceny Aug 2, 2012 08:36 PM

    Make your reservations yourself and NOW - or according to the 30 day in advance policy of each restaurant. DO NOT rely on a concierge.

    There are all sorts of posts on the reservation policies on this board; or just call.

    12 Replies
    1. re: thegforceny
      Lawshark Aug 4, 2012 06:14 AM

      Well...one ressie is booked...barely. I hadn't seen a definitive answer on the booking window for Le Bernadin...of course no hints were provided on their website. Several spots indicated a 30 day window and Open Table seemed to confirm that. I had seen a post indicating that the following month opened on the first of the prior month though...

      Guess which one was accurate? Oops. That is what I get for being too busy at work to stop and take the time to call the restaurant.

      We secured a 9:30pm ressie which is a bit late for us non-New Yorkers...but will probably work out quite well. We arrive at JFK around 2pm...so this will give us time to settle in.

      The opening of the window for EMP and WD50 are blocked out on my work calendar and I'll be ready to go...

      1. re: Lawshark
        kathryn Aug 4, 2012 09:03 AM

        I was the one who posted that it was the first of the month for the following month. I called and asked shortly after their recent renovation. If you are booking by phone at Le Bernardin, the rules may be different than for OpenTable. Some restaurants restrict what is on OpenTable (which is probably what happened to you).

        1. re: kathryn
          Lawshark Aug 4, 2012 07:39 PM

          Kathryn...that sounds like exactly what happened...a split between open table and phone. Luckily I asked my wife to call since I was running between meetings...she said that the woman who answered the phone was exceptionally nice and helpful. Not at all stuffy and formal. :)

          1. re: Lawshark
            Sneakeater Aug 5, 2012 12:02 PM


        2. re: Lawshark
          Lawshark Aug 9, 2012 06:15 AM

          Son of #%&(*...called EMP this morning at 9am when the window opened...and was informed that they will be closed on my date. Arrgh...did not see that anywhere on their website or other searches.

          Of course...this was the night of our actual anniversary. Back to the drawing board in a panic...

          1. re: Lawshark
            kathryn Aug 9, 2012 06:42 AM

            :( Yikes! What about their other restaurant, the NoMad?

            1. re: kathryn
              Lawshark Aug 9, 2012 03:21 PM

              Well...I took several deep breaths...started looking at other restaurants we had considered...Per Se (ha!) Babbo (Ha ha!)...and some other ones we hadn't seriously considered like Del Posto, Grammarcy, etc...and we realized that the 3 restaurants that we settled on were the ones we wanted to try.

              So...I switched our WD50 ressie to our anniversary night on Thursday instead of going Friday...and I will be speed dialing EMP tomorrow at 9am to secure a Friday ressie.

              We wanted something that would be a home run type meal for our anniversary...and understand that some of the WD50 dishes may NOT hit the mark for us...but since marriage is an adventure...why not make the anniversary dinner an adventure? We were really looking forward to experiencing WD50...so why not that night? Plus...everyone says that they have kick@ss cocktails...and that isn't a bad thing.

              So...hopefully all goes well tomorrow at 9am...

              1. re: Lawshark
                sgordon Sep 6, 2012 10:10 AM

                I think WD/EMP will be a good comparison. Everyone will agree, I think, that EMP will be more of an "experience" - but they'll be a good pair, as they share similar playful philosophies about food, both work with a lot of modernist techniques, both embrace many different cultural influences in their cuisine, etc. And even if EMP is an overall four-star experience while WD might be more a three, there are those liittle things that WD actually has the edge on - cocktails (though EMP's ain't shabby) and desserts (Pastry Chef Livingston is arguably the best in NYC right now, for that style) - if I was going to do two back-to-back tastings in NYC right now, those are probably the two I'd do. Either that, or go for two drastically different ones (i.e. either of the above with, say, the kaiseki at Kyo Ya)

                1. re: sgordon
                  Lawshark Sep 7, 2012 10:42 PM

                  We dined at EMP tonight and you were completely on point...WD50 was a good foil for tonight. Very similar whimsical approach to the food and dining experience and we loved both for different reasons.

                  WD50 is totally a neighborhood hangout and the service was friendly and fun...our dinner last night was simply FUN. the food was very good...but a couple dishes simply missed the mark for us (not always the same dishes for each.)

                  EMP Service was great and more polished...but they were obviously trying very hard at it...sort of amusing to watch the dance as they circulated the room. Servers were very friendly...but felt a bit more scripted.

                  Food at EMP was simply more consistently good...only one miss for us in the mix. The "clambake" course was fun...but the clam in the bowl was...not good for me. The clam chowder was good...as was the oyster on the chip...but no good on the third component. A great presentation nonetheless. Loved the hot rocks, seaweed and teapot with the chowder.

                  The smoke dome course worked very well...and the three card monte desert was cute. Noticed lots of happy exclamations over the "trick"

                  Once I am off my iPad and aback to a full computer will post more...

          2. re: Lawshark
            ciaobaby Aug 10, 2012 07:47 AM

            Sounds like that 9:30 table will be perfect, given your arrival time and the fact that your body clocks will be 3 hours behind EST.

            1. re: ciaobaby
              Lawshark Aug 10, 2012 06:15 PM

              Ah...actually...we are living in the ORIGINAL Portland...Maine! :)

              If any of you on the East coast are looking for a side trip...you could do worse than Portland. Great small city and the food scene is extremely energetic.

              I did have success with EMP this morning...but holy cow do the reservations go quickly. I started dialing just before 9am and got through at 9:04...asked for an 8am ressie...was offered 8:30 or 7:30...and when I immediately said 8:30 was told that it was just taken. I'm good with 7:30...

              Should be interesting to be there on the first night they unveil the new direction on the menu (it appears that is why they are closed that week). I did request a kitchen tour if possible...so we are hoping for the best.

              1. re: Lawshark
                Lawshark Sep 5, 2012 10:09 PM

                Just a very abbreviated review of Le Bernadin tonight...did the chef tasting with pairing...holy crap was it good!

        3. k
          kathryn Aug 2, 2012 06:04 PM

          EMP is changing to a tasting menu only format (~4 hours) shortly after Labor Day, BTW. Not sure what will happen regarding the kitchen tours.

          Both Babbo and EMP have been pretty hard to get into for a while now, so you're not really skipping the "reservation race" by doing one over the other.

          For Le Bernardin, you have a choice of a prix fixe or a tasting, so you have more flexibility if you want a shorter meal.

          For WD-50 you have the choice of two different tastings. If you are wondering how long each one takes, I'd call them up and ask.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kathryn
            Lawshark Aug 2, 2012 06:54 PM

            Thanks...I didn't make that clear enough. I don't want to avoid a long meal...just want to plan accordingly. 4 hours or so is perfectly fine...it's just that I'll make a 7pm ressie...not 8.

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