Looking for a splurge worthy of the price
My girlfriend and I will be in NYC next month for a wedding. We both have a few big milestones coming up ourselves and decided that instead of celebrating these events separately, we'd splurge while we're in town. We aren't well off people by any means but cooking and dining out are our most passionate hobby and I'm sure our tax refunds will help us out with this dinner.
We are just looking for a splurge worthy location that people have said, you know what, that was a lot of money but it was freakin worth it. We love all cuisines. Right now, we are most considering Brooklyn Fare. I have long dreamed of going to Le Bernadin, any of the Momofuku's, WD50, Eleven Madison Ave. If you want to add your opinion based on the restaurants listed - awesome! If you had another place in mind that wasn't listed, please do mention it and we'll do our research.
Seeing as how we love dining out you think it'd be easy to pick a place but it's always pretty overwhelming!
If I had to pick one Momofuku place it would be Ssam. As far as splurges go, I wouldn't pick Ko. My favorite places so far: LB, Corton, EMP, JG, and The Modern - in roughly that order. Haven't done Per Se yet, hoping to get there in the next month or two. Del Posto is a very good restaurant, but yeah probably a pass in this case.
Following are splurge worthy IMHO,
Per Se or EMP... a toss up
EMP, more fun factor and gimmicky.
Per Se, slightly more subdued but better tasting food.
Le Bernadin - last time I ate there, I was disappointed because the amuse bouche and the appetizer courses were almost identical, the latter just bigger portion only!! Lobster was overcooked.
Actually, personally, I prefer Daniel since I like more 'traditional' French execution. Taste profile more complex. But then that's me.
Jean George, I wasn't impressed at all since I find the seasoning used sometimes 'go out of whack', with spicy heat components overwhelming some of the main ingredients?!
Haven't been to Brooklyn Fare due to distances.
Lastly, heard Atera is very very good but hard to get a table?!
When are you in town for the wedding? Is your free evening a Friday or Sunday? Not all of the choices you listed are open on Sunday (EMP, Le Bernardin).
Brooklyn Fare opens up reservations 6 weeks out every Monday morning. They book up very very quickly -- it's only 18 seats.
Some of your other choices like Eleven Madison Park also book up fast (within an hour of opening up dates), especially for weekend nights. EMP opens its books 28 days in advance (including the current day) at exactly 9am. So four weeks in advance -- for example, for the Friday night you want, you book 4 Fridays in advance.
Le Bernardin's books for March opened a few days ago -- Feb 1. Beginning on the first business day of each month, reservations can be booked for that month AND the following month. So on Feb 1, they started booking all of March.
I've been to Le Bernardin, all the Momofukus, WD-50, and EMP, but not Brooklyn Fare. My favorite of those was EMP (but I haven't been back since the menu revamp) -- they served us a liquid nitrogen cocktail in the kitchen and we got to meet the chef. They do lots of nice little touches before, during, and after your meal.
Le Bernardin was excellent but I'm not the biggest fan of their more restrained style of cooking. I also really enjoyed my last meal at WD-50 but it's not for everybody. Wylie is pretty experimental when it comes to flavor combinations -- sometimes it doesn't really work for some dishes IMO.
Of the Momofukus, only Momofuku Ko would be considered a splurge. But it's not very luxurious or elegant or pampering, if that's what you want. It's a bit on the austere side. The chefs serve you and they're not really bubbly or over-friendly people. The seating is backless stools, the lights are bright, you sit at a long wooden counter, and the soundtrack is playing rock music. But the food is excellent (the shaved foie gras alone makes it worth it) and if you like that vibe, you can have lots of fun there.
I'd definitely work Momofuku Ssam into your schedule as a "normal" meal if you can.
I think you shouldn't merely consider C.T.B.F., you should just do it. IMO it blows away all the other options you've mentioned, and I haven't even been there. If Eric Ripert calls Chef Ramirez a genius, that's an easy way to prioritize your dining options.
But you do want to keep your options open, just in case. I like Per Se a lot more than Le Bernardin, but it seems (especially with these several restaurants) that people who prefer one don't necessarily like the other, and so on.
Atera is supposed to be amazing...ABC is great, a little less high end than some (but not all) of the others you mentioned. I prefer Daniel to Bernadin, although I think others might disagree. Marea is terrific also, but I haven't been there for a while.