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Three top Manhattan restaurants to kick off 2013 including NYE

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I've been a Chowhounder for many years now but have never had to post a new thread until now. I've been through all the existing threads on this subject but can't find what I'm looking for, so I'm hoping you can help.

My partner and I are travelling to the US from Sydney in late December and will be spending three nights in NYC arriving NYE. We're staying at the Library Hotel in Midtown but are keen to check out other areas, so don't let location restrict your thinking.

The first question is where to dine on NYE's night. I've been liaising with Concierge and he recommended Aureole, which by all accounts reviews very well. Their first sitting is extremely/too reasonable at $125pp but it's too early for us. The second sitting, on the other hand, is $395pp plus $150pp for wine pairing. The package includes entrance to their cocktail party, valued at $225 for those not dining, which is obviously the reason for the price hike. The problem is we're not fussed about the cocktail party, so I feel like I'm paying for something I don't want. The initial brief to Concierge was a restaurant with excellent food and wine but most importantly somewhere with a great atmosphere.

Other options I've been looking at for other nights but which we'd be open to for NYE's are The Breslin, Del Posto, Grammercy Tavern and the Spotted Pig. We're also keen to experience Daniel but at $625pp plus wine pairing at $220pp on NYE, I think we'll dine there another night.
I'm also intrigued by Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare and Per Se, if either were felt to be better than Daniel. My other half doesn't appreciate pretentious food e.g. Gilt was too limiting and fussy, so that's the only other watch out.

With most restaurants taking bookings only one month out, I'm keen to solve this challenge ASAP and get it locked away. And any other suggestions for brunch/lunch when we're there would be much appreciated, although I know there have been a few threads on this lately. The issue I'd we're limited by time, so only the top favourites please.

Thank you all in advance, I know you won't let me down.

Cheers
C

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  1. My vote goes to Gramercy Tavern, if you can get it.
    Aureole serves good food but IMO it's not particularly interesting. GT, on other hand, fully justifies its Michelin star. It not only has the flair to match the occasion but also passes the 'pretentious' test for you and your partner. Del Posto I would put on equal footing with GT as a NYE option for you. Really depends on your Italian/non-Italian preference. In my estimation, the level of cooking is ever so slightly higher, barely, at Del Posto, though I imagine that Gramercy Tavern somehow would have a much more lively, engaging, festive dining scene for a NYE dinner.

    FWIW, if Gilt was too high on the 'pretentious'/limiting/fussy scale, you should not consider Daniel, at all.

    I'm slightly confused over your request for 'brunch/lunch' suggestions -- if you're arriving NYE for three nights, you'll only be in NY during weekdays, so no brunch options. That said, a few lunch options for you to check out:
    The Breslin/The Spotted Pig, for the burgers
    The NoMad, for the chicken for two
    Jean Georges, for the lunch menu (2 plates/$38, $19 per additional plate, or tasting for $108)

    I can't imagine you would want a food lineup purely white table cloth meals of the French/American/'Western' persuasion, so if you have any preferences/expectations for other cuisines, that would certainly be helpful. Just to get you started, here's a 'poutpourri' grab bag of some obvious / established / Chowhound-beloved considerations:

    Katz's
    Russ & Daughters
    Xi'an Famous Foods
    Momofuku Ssam Bar
    Jungsik

    steak
    ramen
    sichuanese
    bagels
    pizza

    2 Replies
    1. re: ramenbound

      Thanks for the speedy response and recommendations. I'll check out what GT and Del Posto are doing NYE's night, and will make a call.

      You're absolutely right re brunch. I'd forgotten you only use the expression for weekends and we're only there during the week. Thanks for the reccos for lunch. We're absolutely open to other cuisines, especially Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican and Chinese, so thanks for that little grab bag, it's a good start.

      1. re: cbmasterson

        Actually, that's not true. You can have brunch on weekdays, just in fewer places and often with fewer items on the menu. I'd say that you need to look at kathryn's huge brunch thread for 2012, but the search function on this site seems to be inadequate for me to find it easily. I hope kathyrn posts to this thread.

    2. On New Year's Day many places will be either closed or serving a brunch menu. Contact any restaurants you are interested in beforehand if you can. It's also likely to be fairly crowded as everybody has the day off, so you might want to do a no reservations breakfast place the following day.

      For weekend brunch, no reservations taken (some of these will likely be open New Year's Day for brunch):
      Prune
      The Breslin
      Joseph Leonard
      Public
      Spotted Pig

      Takes reservations:
      Minetta Tavern
      Locanda Verde
      North End Grill
      Union Sq Cafe

      Best weekday breakfast (try some of these on Jan 2):
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8330...

      Best weekend brunch:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831766

      Also, I'd look into uniquely NY and uniquely American foods. Here's a recent thread with some suggestions for London Hounds:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/874155

      Here's what I wrote in the above thread, which I think will apply to you:

      Missing from your list: some classic NY foods and places such as Russ & Daughters, Katz's Deli, black and white cookies, pickles, egg creams, halal carts, hot dogs, pretzels, cheesecake etc.

      What about Southern, BBQ, seafood? I might look into Pies 'n' Thighs, the Redhead, Blue Smoke, Hill Country, Brisket Town, Luke's Lobster, Pearl Oyster Bar... USA foods you probably can't find at home.

      1. I think just about anyone would say that Brooklyn Fare and Per Se are better than Daniel, though the prices are accordingly higher. (Myself, not such a fan of Daniel to begin with... too stuffy, find the food a bit boring.)

        Just about any fancy place is going to jack up their NYE prices. Some others to look into are the usual four-star crowd: Le Bernardin, Eleven Madison Park, Jean-Georges. Del Posto is part of that group as well.

        Keep in mind those places are going to book up for NYE fast, so be ready to make your rezzies at 9:00AM US time on November 30th (or December 1 - whichever way they do it)

        Kathryn's brunch choices are right on - Public is a personal favorite (they're also great for dinner) and the chef actually has a bit of Aussie/NZ influence (as well as Southeast Asian) so it might give you a little taste of home. Those influences show up more at dinner (if you're hankering for kangaroo...) but his brunch is among the best, most creative in the city by far.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sgordon

          Another point to make is that, not only will they jack up their NYE prices, but they will serve dumbed-down fixed menus, keyed more to the convenience of the kitchen in churning out dishes than to quality or interest, on the assumption that most people going their for New Year's are not experienced or frequent diners. It is a very BAD night to sample restaurants -- and a waste of money at most expensive ones. (Per Se is probably an exception here.)

          1. re: Sneakeater

            Excellent point Sneakeater. Always important to check with a restaurant if they also offer their normal menu on a special occasion.