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Jan 4, 2013 08:57 AM

Visiting from Toronto: reservation advices?

Hi everyone, I seldomly post, but roam this board a lot in preparation of my trips to NYC in the past! (a big thank you for guiding us to great eats at The Modern, Saam & Degustation during our last visit in 2010!)

My husband & I will be visiting for 3 days, starting Feburary 16 (Sat, Sun & Mon). We would like some advice on reservations for these restaurants, as I came to realise that some/most of them should be booked at midnight, 30 days in advance.

Here's the list of restaurants we are considering for this trip.
We only have 2 dinners & 3 lunches, but haven't narrowed our choices down just yet.

Dinner: (open to trying these at lunch)
- Minetta Tavern
- le Bernadin
- Casa Mono

- Shake shack (pre-theatre) - no reservations of course, but is this a sit-down-casual-service style, or counter-line pick-up and sit-yourself style?
- Jean Georges (sunday for brunch!)

Other under consideration:
Paradu (for foie!)

Thanks in advance for your input!

Oh, some background info:
We'll be staying in the Hells Kitchen /Times Sq area, and am open to taking subway/taxi and walking. Will want to stay in the city, but may head to Queens on a whim to look at the MIB spaceships (sorry don't know the name of the location!).

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  1. FWIW - I've done Le Bernardin for lunch and dinner and I enjoyed dinners much more than lunches (not sure why but I have). If you love fish then Le B needs to stay on your list.

    We love Jean George and daytime is a great time to be in their dining room. With Central Park so close it's also great to stroll before or after your meal.

    Maybe you want to go to The NoMad for brunch (fantastic brunch spot) and Jean George for a regular lunch.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Spiritchaser

      I was drooling over the NoMad brunch menu, so will likely tak your advice, and leave JG for monday lunch.. =D

      Thanks for your input!

      1. re: urbanhaze

        Just had brunch at the NoMad. Great cocktails. Definitely make a reservation. Skip the mushroom omelet. The smoked fish was excellent.

        1. re: kathryn

          And the chicken sandwich is, IMO, one of the best things I ate last year (at least in it's respective category). And you cannot miss the roasted squash and truffle.

    2. Seeing a choice of Shake Shack and Jean Georges certainly are 2 ends of the spectrum.
      I love Jean Georges. I hate Shake Shack.
      You should be aware that Paradou's foie gras tasting is really good. It does that include a seared foie gras. They do not make a seared foie gras there. Jean Georges seared foie gras is excellent. Cercle Rouge ( casual) seared foie gras is excellent, so are their burgers including salmon burger.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodwhisperer

        We're watching Phantom, so shake shack is our quickest and easiest way to get a "welcome to NYC" burger fix. =D

        Thanks for the tip about foie @ JG and Paradou - this gives me a lot to think about!

      2. Minetta serves weekend brunch (different menu), no Monday lunch. Also there's no steak for two at brunch.

        Le Bernardin doesn't serve weekend lunch and is closed Sundays. So your only options are Sat dinner, Mon lunch, or Monday dinner. Also it books on te FIRST of the month for the month following. So they likely started taking reservations for ALL of February on Jan 2nd.

        Casa Mono is way less crowded for lunch and easier to get in, it also serves the same menu all day.

        At Shake Shack, you order at the counter, go to the pickup window, and then seat yourself.

        3 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          Thanks for your input Kathryn, it's exactly what i was hoping for!

          Should I be calling Le Bernadin for reservations then? I have yet to get a reservations thru Open Table, since I believe their policy is 30 days in advance only.

          1. re: urbanhaze

            Yes, call directly as the phone policy is different from the OpenTable policy.

        2. As someone who is from Toronto, but lives in NY, a big welcome to you! I think your list (and others that people have recommended) are good - Toronto is a great food city, especially for the value and mid-range, but what it lacks is the inventiveness / calibre of the very high end.

          Even getting tasting menus at places like Splendido, Scaramouche, Canoe, etc. just don't compare to the 3-star Michelin restaurants in NY, though they try and charge similar $150+ prices. I would add Eleven Madison Park to your list - it's been my favorite tasting menu in NY to date (have tried Per Se, Le Bernardin, JG and Daniel) and I really like the ambiance. If you do EMP, ask for a kitchen tour - they have the best one I've seen with a designated "viewing station" where they whip up a liquid-nitrogen drink for you.

          Are you and your husband at all interested in sushi? That's another thing that I think at the high end, Toronto can't compare. Take a look at getting omakase at 15 East, Neta, Yasuda or Ushiwakamaru. Only comparable sushi meal I had in Toronto was at Sushi Kaji, and still not quite the same.