Lincoln VS La Grenouille VS Daniel VS Bouley
It's my mother's birthday, and here's what I'm thinking thru:
-she likes seafood and beef. Food with clean flavors really appeals to her. Can't deal with excessive salt
- Looking for French or Italian
- a lovely atmosphere for her 60th would be great!
- Don't want to do a full-on Per Se multiple-course offering. 3-course max.
Any ideas which of these options would be better? Thinking Lincoln, La Grenouille, Daniel, or Bouley...
There is something about La Grenouille that just says "Mom's birthday" to me...I would be thrilled if my kids took me there. While it is traditional haute French, I do not find the food at all heavy. The Dover sole with mustard sauce on the side is to die for and they also have a range of other dishes that are on the lighter side, such as chicken and salmon, wonderful salad starters, and you can always ask them to go light on the salt and serve sauces on the side, which I always do. The flowers make it special, exquisite food and surroundings!
"Clean flavors" and Haute French don't really go together in my head, as it tends to be quite rich, heavy on the butter and reduction sauces, etc. Italian tends to be a "cleaner" cuisine in that sense, as far as letting the ingredients shine. So for that reason I'd go with Lincoln, of the above four - also, I think Chef Benno probably has the lightest salt-hand of the group. Certainly lighter than Bouley, whose food I occasionally have found skirting the edge. Daniel I haven't been to in some years, since I kind of hate the place, but the times I went I found the food overly rich / heavy-handed (and the service awful, to boot.) La Grenouille I haven't been to in some time, either, so I won't weigh in on them. It's not the most creative food, but for what they do they do it well, I suppose.
So, I guess I'm saying Lincoln of the four. Bouley would be my second choice, the other two I can do without.
You could also look into some other high-end Italian options: Del Posto (nice atmosphere - on paper it's four courses, but they're not HUGE so it's more like a normal three in terms of overall amount of food.) or Scarpetta (which is a la carte) perhaps. Though excellent (and for my money the best Italian in the city) Babbo might feel a little too casual/boisterous for the event, given the places you're currently considering.
Highly recommend Bouley. Celebrated my 53rd birthday last night at Bouley, and it was exquisite. While I had the multi-course tasting menu, Bouley also offers an a la carte menu. Bouley is French food, in a most beautiful setting, with friendly and attentive service. The Bouley website has recently been updated, and now provides their current menu on-line.
I haven't been to Lincoln myself, but several friends have, and I get mixed reports. One or two of them enjoyed the food and the experience; most thought the food wasn't special enough to justify the high prices and excuse the snooty service.
In the Lincoln Center area, I've had excellent meals in Daniel Boulud's two local eateries, the Bar Boulud for a light meal (outstanding charcuterie, a memorable coq au vin) and Boulud Sud around the corner for a proper dinner Mediterranean style. The prices are upscale but well below Lincoln's.