For several years, my wife and I have been going to EMP for our anniversary. Neither of us like the sound of the changes there and we're looking for an alternative this year. Anything on the newish side that jumps to mind? We don't want too stuffy, but also want something celebratory. If possible, we'd like to keep it more downtown.
I'll assume you want to keep it around the price point of the old EMP four-course (as opposed to the tasting menu, which I guess is what you don't like the sound of?) - which, at $125/pp menu price, pretty much includes anywhere downtown.
Not stuffy + great food + downtown + new... not too much on or approaching the EMP level. At a slightly higher price point there's Atera, but it's another tasting-menu-only place. Same to be said Corton and WD-50, any of which would provide a great experience, but if you're not into TMs, I suppose they're out. For a TM of a different style, there's the Kaiseki menu at Kyo-Ya. Extraordinary, and would really mix things up.
Jungsik might also work - and while they're not stuffy, it's certainly a little more sedate than EMP.
Otherwsie, there are some good older places, the usual suggestion for downtown high-end eats:
Babbo, or Del Posto for something a bit fancier (though I prefer the food at Babbo)
Marc Forgione (Maybe too casual a vibe? Though the food is top-notch)
Nobu or Morimoto (I prefer the latter of late - though the room has a bit more of a "clubby" vibe, don't know if you'd want to do an anniversary there)
That aside, we had one of the first incarnations of the "New York" menu on my birthday last February at EMP, when they started trying out the theme, and I can attest it's pretty dang great. Unfortunately, the VERY NEXT DAY is when they added the smoked fish course, so we missed that part of it... grr...