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Mar 17, 2013 08:49 AM

Top High-End Spots for Visitor

Hi everyone,

I am doing some very preliminary planning for a trip to NYC from Toronto, and I know the first step is to decide/ book a few special meals at the hard-to-reserve spots.
Last time we visited EMP and WD50, so I want to maybe pick 2 other restaurants that are of similar calabre.
Price is no object, and we like all types of food (though I think it seems most of these tasting-menu Michelin star establishments serve continental type fare). We just want the best meals possible.
I will have many more follow up questions re: other meals throughout my stay, but for now I just want to nail down the biggies.

So what are the BEST of the best then (other than the above mentioned). Some ideas based on my research are:

Per se
Jean Georges
Brooklyn Fare

Any other big ones I've missed?
We now have a Momofuku in TO (which Ive been to and didn't LOVE), and while I have heard you're Ko is superior, I think we would like to try something else.

Thank you so much in advance, looking forward to getting back to the city!


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  1. I really like The Modern and Picholine. Neither is a very difficult reservation. Jungsik is also very good and a bit different from the standard French,. and is a very easy reservation.

    4 Replies
    1. re: rrems

      +1 for Picholine and Jungsik.

      Love both Per Se and Bouley.

      1. re: rrems

        We went to the moderne a few years ago. I will check out the other two. Would you choose those over some of the Michelin stars I've mentioned?

        1. re: hungryabbey

          I prefer them to Jean Georges. I haven't been to the others on your list (except Bouley, but it was many years ago). Daniel gets mixed reviews on this board.

          1. re: rrems

            Ok thanks! I don't think Daniel is high on my list anyway. We've been to many of his restaurants and our last experience here in TO was not great. Now I know they are in different tiers, but still.

      2. Three starred Michelin restaurants in NYC:
        Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare
        Jean Georges
        Le Bernardin
        Per Se

        17 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          Ok so working from this list then, how do these stack up?

          1. re: hungryabbey

            Is price truly not an object? Cost-wise, Masa is in its own tier. Per Se and BF are also very pricey. The tasting menus at JG and Le Bernardin are closer in cost to EMP.

            Masa is very, very expensive. The most expensive restaurant in the city. Dinner for two, after tax and tip, is about $1,160. It is $450pp. Wine and cocktails, of course, are extra. You could go to some of your other choices twice for that.

            When is your trip? Are you considering tasting menus only?

            For booking Per Se, don't rely just on OpenTable. Two separate sets of friends have gone recently and both were able to get their desired dates via phone (though they ended up with 5:30pm tables this ended up being a blessing as they were done eating by 9:30ish). Make sure you call right at 10am on the day that they open up the books for the date you need. It's $295pp including gratuity, so with tax, a total of $642 or so for two.

            Brooklyn Fare on the other hand is troublesome to book, though, because on every Monday morning they open up an entire week. Unlike the others, where you could try again the next morning for a new date. It's also very seafood heavy some have reported. $225pp plus a mandatory 20% gratuity, and you must prepay a week ahead. So that's $579 or so for two before any alcohol.

            Le Bernardin actually books on the 1st for the entire month after. So on April 1, they open the books for all of May. It's not terribly difficult to get a reservation there if you plan ahead and know when to call (don't rely on OpenTable). The food is excellent but the service is a very different model. Much more reserved than, say, EMP. The flavors are also much more reserved. Depends what you want. I preferred the food at my meals at Ko, JG, the Modern, EMP, etc more (haven't done Daniel or Per Se yet).

            1. re: kathryn

              I am thinking early May, though it may change to later.

              Gotcha. Well I dont think Masa would be worth it for me at this time. I'm not a sushi fiend (I prefer it for a quick casual meal) so I doubt I would know the difference between a $500 meal and a $250 one. So lets scratch that.
              I do think I want one night to be Per se. Brooklyn Fare is interesting to me but if they are seafood heavy, may not be my favourite. I prefer more balance and I eat a lot of fish at home so I like to go more with meat/game when I'm out.
              I am thinking 2 tasting menus, and maybe a more fun but really happening/buzz worthy dinner meal. Something a bit more unique, fun and interesting (ie. not basic continental), but still professional and somewhat high end. I just want to see something unique that I haven't seen in every other big city we've been to. Even our meal at The French Laundry I was a little underwelmed just b/c it felt like I had seen all the dishes before- Yes they were perfect, but a bit boring.
              If LB is reserved in flavour like that then its probably not the one either.
              In contrast, for example, we recently came back from Jerusalem and our meal at Machneyuda was incredible. It wasn't very expensive, but the experience was fun, interactive and unique. I would like my 3rd dinner choice to be like that.

              1. re: hungryabbey

                Well, if French Laundry left you cold, not sure I'd recommend Per Se! In fact their current menu shares a dish or two at the moment.

                Off the top of my head, I'd say to look into the new Kappo tasting menu at Ma Peche.

                The Chef's Tasting at Torrisi may also be up your alley:

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  Take a look at Atera; definitely unique and interesting meal & dining experience.

                  1. re: Gonzo70

                    Sounds interesting! I will check that out! That might work as a good spot for a more unique meal after something a little more classic. Is it hard to get in?

                    Of per se, jean George, Le Bernadine and bouley, what do you think is the all around best meal?

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      I love both Bouley and Per Se. Bouley will end up costing 1/2 the price of Per Se.

                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        +1 for Atera. I haven't been to Per Se, but between the other three you listed I would go with Le Bernardin, with Jean Georges second. Bouley a distant third. I would recommend Bouley for lunch though. They do a $55 lunch tasting menu. It's an excellent value and many dishes overlap with dinner.

                        1. re: hungryabbey

                          Per Se for the total package. We've been to the others several times and you wouldn't go wrong at any of them but Per Se is the best of the bunch if you are okay with the cost.

                          1. re: Spiritchaser

                            Okay so I've decided on Atara and per se, now for one more dinner. What else should I NOT miss that is great for dinner?

                            1. re: hungryabbey

                              Do you have a way to get out of the city? I'd suggest going to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. If not, and you don't mind going down scale a bit (actually a lot in terms of formality) how about something like The Spotted Pig?

                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                Are you looking for a 3rd tasting menu? Or something lower end?

                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                  There are so many possibilities, what price range do you have in mind for this dinner?

                                  1. re: rrems

                                    I'm open. It could be a tasting if its going to be incredible or something more casual that is not to be missed.
                                    I want to stay in the city for sure, especially at night.

                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                      If you enjoyed WD-50 and EMP last time, and are planning Atera and Per Se this time, I'd mix it up a bit and do something Italian or Asian for the other meal.

                                      Have you been to Babbo?

                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                        Some to consider:

                                        The Marrow

                                        1. re: rrems

                                          My favorite right now is The NoMad...and L'artusi for Italian.

                    2. Second for NoMad

                      Why would you go to Per Se if you thought French Laundry was boring?!

                      I thought Ko was delicious and unlike any of the other Momofuku restaurants, but reservations are generally hard unless you get lucky. Do they have the special dinners in TO (the duck is what I was thinking of)? Just booked Kappo so can't recommend it just yet...

                      Second the question on Babbo.

                      Also Lincoln is delicious and a unique setting.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: saregama

                        I decided on per se because my SO really wants to go. I can't have my way every day ;) but also, I figure one classic meal would be nice if we're doing atera which seems a little more unique and experimental.

                        I haven't been to Babbo, is it a really good special NyC experience ? I know it's very famous.
                        As for Momofuku - yes, they have special meals. Can someone tell me more about the duck and kappo options? Are these in their 2nd tier restaurant or part of Ko?
                        I was also considering the Breslin, spotted pig, grammercy tavern.
                        Are any of these superior dinner options vs maybe doing lunch?
                        Lincoln looks like nice italian, but is it a unique special experience?
                        I guess rather than just a good meal, I'm looking for something that says "new york city must go". An experience, I guess.

                        1. re: hungryabbey

                          Per Se and Atera are excellent choices!

                          The rotisserie duck at Momofuku Ssam Bar is excellent. If you go at lunch, Ssam Bar has individual portions available. At dinner, Ssam Bar has the large format duck available for 3-6 guests which requires a reservation. Side dishes are included.

                          The kappo at Ma Peche is a counter seating 8 guest multi-course (I think 10) dinner for $95 per person. Reservations are needed. Dinner is at 7:30. This is another excellent dinner.

                          1. re: ellenost

                            Well there's just 2 of us, so I guess the duck ssam won't work.
                            Hm, any hints as to what's served at kappo vs Ko? I am jut concerned by something I read about it kind of being a mini version of Ko. If thats the case, I would rather just go to Ko.

                            1. re: hungryabbey

                              They're 2 completely different menus, and I love them both equally! The kappo dinner does feel a bit more personalized and intimate since there are only 8 guests, and Chef Paul Carmichael is a sweetheart! Kappo is definitely not a mini version of Ko since they both have about 10 courses. Unfortunately both are difficult reservations to obtain.

                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                They serve the duck over rice at Ssam Bar as single person portions at lunch. You can't make reservations for this. They ALSO have a large format duck over rice meal just for big groups. You CAN make reservations for the large format version.

                                Kappo links:

                                From what I've read Kappo seems much more personalized/customized to your preferences, and you're at the chef's counter in a much more bustling, normal dining room. Whereas basically everybody (ex allergies) gets the same one menu at Ko.

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Sounds really cool- I will look into that.
                                  If I can't get a reservation, how long a wait is it at lunch ?
                                  How hard is it to get a Rez at per se and atera ?

                            2. re: hungryabbey

                              One more option for a place that is getting some really good buzz, Manzanilla, Spanish cuisine but not tapas. We have not been yet but a friend who's opinion we value says it is wonderful.

                              And FWIW, you could never go wrong with The NoMad.

                              1. re: Spiritchaser

                                Are you referring to the nomad in the hotel?

                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                  Yes, not to be confused with restaurant of the same name. The difference is The NoMad (hotel restaurant) has "The" and uppercases the "M".

                                  1. re: Spiritchaser

                                    Lol thanks for clarifying. I looked at the other one and thought, hm, how boring looking lol

                          2. I love Bar Room at the Modern, and I loved my meal at Louro in Feb.
                            +1 for Le Bernardin.
                            La Grenouille is another top high-end spot that's been around for decades.

                            1. Okay I'm back after some reflection. So here's where I'm at (obviously these are pending reservations etc.)

                              1. per se
                              2. atera
                              3. kappo ma peche

                              1. grammercy tavern
                              2. babbo
                              3. spotted pig (maybe would like to do brunch on the weekend- any recommendations on the best day/time to go here to avoid a line?)
                              4. ????? (another great lunch/brunch option?)

                              Breakfasts/other snacks:
                              Probably need 2-3 possible breakfast/brunch/mid-day snack options.

                              I think for these other meals, we go for really fun, unique, casual. Possibly street food if there is something that's really reliable and amazing. Thoughts?

                              Thanks all!

                              16 Replies
                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                GT: Did you mean the formal dining room or the more casual tavern room? The dining room only does Mon-Fri lunch. The tavern room doesn't take reservations. Also they will be closed May 27-28 for Memorial Day. Not sure when your trip is.

                                Babbo: they only serve lunch Tues-Sat so plan accordingly.

                                Brunch at Spotted Pig: I'd show up just before they open.

                                Or try the Breslin on a weekday. Though the wait wasn't too bad for 2 people a few Sundays ago (though I could blame the St Patrick's Day hangovers). It is certainly fun, unique, casual.

                                Your itinerary seems heavy on fine dining/gastropub/Western cuisines, though.

                                I'd also consider an interesting Asian lunch, such as Mission Chinese, dim sum at RedFarm (weekends only), Kin Shop (they have a daily prix fixe), Danji (M-F only), the duck over rice lunch at Momofuku Ssam Bar.

                                Don't forget to check out a bunch of "Only in NY" type foods if you haven't: bagels and smoked salmon, pastrami on rye, pizza, hot dogs & papaya juice, black and white cookies, cheesecake, egg creams, pickles, halal carts. Russ & Daughters (takeout, bagel sandwiches, eat them open faced, very busy on weekends), Katz's Deli (pastrami on rye, famous from When Harry Met Sally), Papaya King etc. (not gourmet but iconic), William Greenberg's black and white cookies, Junior's cheesecake, egg creams from Gem Spa or Ray's, Pickle Guys, the Halal Guys (53rd and 6th SW corner after sunset and SE before sunset), are all iconic sorts of places.)

                                Another option is to do some American type foods, like fried chicken (Redhead, the Dutch, Pies 'n' Thighs), lobster rolls (Luke's Lobster), BBQ (Mighty Quinn's is great).

                                Prix fixe lunch specials/deals:

                                For great weekend brunch, no reservations taken:
                                The Breslin
                                Joseph Leonard
                                Spotted Pig

                                Excellent weekend brunch & reservations:
                                Minetta Tavern
                                Locanda Verde
                                North End Grill
                                Union Sq Cafe

                                Best weekday breakfast:

                                Best weekend brunch overall:

                                Notable food trucks/carts:

                                Do note that a lot of the more modern trucks are on a schedule and are in Midtown on weekdays (to feed the office crowd) and elsewhere on weekends (or closed/in the garage), and they also switch up their schedules a lot, due to parking complications, etc

                                You may wish to consider a self-guided noshing tour.
                                I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles and note that Economy Candy's address is incorrect:

                                Maybe scoopG's self guided Chinatown tour:

                                Here's a similar food tour I put together for the West Village:

                                The possible stops are:
                                Washington Square Park
                                Mille-Feuille Bakery for croissants
                                Third Rail Coffee
                                Blue Ribbon Bakery Market for their housemade matzoh
                                Victory Garden for goat milk soft serve
                                Famous Joe's for a slice
                                Grom for gelato
                                Rocco's for freshly filled cannoli
                                Amy's Bread
                                Murray's Cheese
                                Faicco's Pork Store
                                Bosie Tea Parlor for cookies/macarons
                                Blind Tiger for beer
                                Joe the Art of Coffee
                                Jeffrey's Grocery for oysters and beer
                                Taim for falafel
                                Magnolia Bakery for ice box cake
                                dell'anima for a Negroni Sbagliato cocktail
                                Chelsea Market/Friedman's
                                The High Line

                                An East Village food crawl, too, perhaps? Just on East 7th Street, there is Porchetta, Butter Lane, Luke's Lobster, Caracas Arepa Bar, the Big Gay Ice Cream shop, the Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream shop...

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  wow, thanks for the amazing recommendations. I have studied your options...and..
                                  Here is my first draft itinerary keeping in mind the 3 dinners (IF i can secure reservations) will be Perse, atera, and kappo at ma peche in some order, depending on availability.

                                  Hotel: Four Seasons: 7 East 57th Street

                                  1. Thursday lunch – Gramercy Tavern Restaurant not the tavern space (11-12 if possible) – 42 E 20th St (Flatiron)

                                  2. Thursday snack possibly – Big Gay Ice Cream (125 East 7th Street East Village or 61 Grove Street at Seventh Avenue South in West Village), OR Egg Cream at Ray’s Candy Store (113 Ave A, East Village)) or Gem Spa (131 2nd Ave, East Village) and/or Pickle Guys (49 Essex St, Lower East Side)

                                  3. Thursday dinner TBA

                                  4. Friday breakfast - Momofuku Milk Bar (which location?) OR Russ and Daughters (9-10 am) - 179 East Houston Street (Lower East Side between E Houston & 2nd)

                                  5. Friday lunch – Babbo – (1-2 pm) - 110 Waverly Pl (Greenwich Village)

                                  6. Friday late dinner TBA

                                  7. Saturday brunch – Spotted Pig – (11 am) - 314 W 11th St (West Village)

                                  8. Sat snack - Momofuku Milk Bar OR snack from list above

                                  9. Sat dinner TBA

                                  10. Sunday brunch - Pies and Thighs (11 am) - 166 S 4th St (Brooklyn Williamsburg)

                                  11. Sunday late lunch/early dinner – Katz (3-4 pm) 205 E Houston St (Lower East Side) OR Carcasa arepa bar (93 1/2 E 7th St, East Village OR 291 Grand St Brooklyn) OR possible food truck ??

                                  - How difficult is it to get lunch reservations for Gramercy and Babbo?
                                  - Is my order of meals completely wonky in terms of their location? Anything you could switch or swap so I'm not literally running from one end oft city to another to make the next reservation/meal? (note- i know katz and russ/daughters are close.. I specifically chose not to put them together b/c we did that a few years back and it wasn't a great idea. We ended up having nothing to do while waiting for katz to start serving/and waiting for us to get hungry again for lunch so it wasn't very enjoyable- that is, if i even decide to do katz or R&D again)
                                  - Thoughts on Sunday late lunch/early dinner before our flight? Do any food trucks serve on Sundays?
                                  - Which location would make most sense for my momofuku snack fix?
                                  - any recommendations on what to do/see on route to the next meals?

                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                    Thurs lunch - GT's formal dining room does not open until 12pm.

                                    Friday breakfast - the Midtown Momofuku Milk Bar will be closest to where you're staying.

                                    Sun brunch - the line can be quite long for Sunday brunch at Pies 'n' Thighs, BTW. Consider doing this on a weekday.

                                    Lunch reservations for GT and Babbo should be fairly easy to get especially since you want to do a weekday -- when most people are at work.

                                    Hard to say if stuff is wonky in terms of location since you don't know when you're doing Per Se, Atera, Ma Peche. Per Se and Ma Peche are relatively close to your hotel, Atera is not. Also I'm not sure what else you'll be doing while you're here... this site is typically limited to food and drink discussion and not general sightseeing.

                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                      One option for the Russ & Daughters, Katz dilemma is to book a tour at the Tenement Museum between breakfast and lunch. But if you want to do that, make sure you book ahead online, especially if it is a weekend.

                                      1. re: cobpdx

                                        Lol we did that last time exactly. Believe me, I did my research. But even that was only one hour and then we were like "well, now what?" I of course was fine to eat again, but my SO has a less gluttonous appetite and so Katz was a bit of a waste on him. lol
                                        Okay so then that's fine, GT will have to be at noon then no prob.

                                        Re: Pies and Thighs- ah unfortunately I dont think I can move it to thurs or fri unless I lose one of my other lunches since Gramercy and Babbo don't do sunday. How long are we talking for two ppl? Any other equally amazing sunday brunch places for Chicken & Waffles. I was just REALLY sold on their branding because it's pretty much exactly like mine ( note the site will be down tonight as we move over to my new hosting).

                                        As for orientation.. I just mean orientation in the day since we will always come back to the hotel before dinner.

                                        Another question re: Momofuku, ha, maybe this is silly but I have always wanted to go.. and in the event that I decide I want to try one of their ice cream/shake items at 9 am, will they be on offer? lol I know, not the healthiest morning option but it's a food holiday!

                                        And other input on the food truck question? What do ppl think about the arepas place? I LOVE me some good arepas.

                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                          I am not a fan of the Pies and Thighs chicken and waffles because the fruit compote really shouldn't be there and last time I had it, they used a nonstandard buckwheat waffle. And cinnamon butter. It's an odd take on the dish.

                                          Try Amy Ruth's?

                                          1. re: kathryn

                                            Sold. Looks awesome. They don't take reservations, I'm assuming right?
                                            How long of a wait will that be on Sun?

                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                              Per Eating in Translation's web site:

                                              "If you have your mind set on Sunday brunch at Amy Ruth's, arrive in the morning, before the nearby church services let out, or wear comfortable waiting-line shoes."

                                              1. re: kathryn

                                                Lol so what time do they get out? (I'm Jewish- I don't know these things!)

                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                  I would personally aim for 10:30-11 or so.

                                          2. re: hungryabbey

                                            You mean Caracas Arepas? I haven't been there in years even though it's quite close to where I live, because it got to be more expensive than I wanted to pay for the value. So unless it drastically improved, I would suggest that you skip it. However, if it's at the same level it was the last time I was there, it certainly won't be bad, and if you do go, the arepa I always thought was the only great one there was the jardinera.

                                            1. re: Pan

                                              Hm that doesn't sound too promising. Maybe we will stick with Katz unless there's another really great Latin type spot open Sunday

                                              1. re: hungryabbey

                                                You might want to consider going to some of the Latin neighborhoods in Queens for South American food, and for that, post to the Outer Boroughs board for specific advice. If you want to stick to Manhattan, you could consider Caribbean Hispanic food, such as Puerto Rican food at Casa Adela. I've only been once but was pretty impressed. It won't be like having high-end food, though; it's just very good home-style food. Manhattan also has Dominican and Cuban food. I don't know of any great Cuban restaurant, but I patronize Guantanamera now and then and it's perfectly good. You might not find it exciting, though (if you go and feel like spending about $17 a shot, try some Zacapa rum from Guatemala; it's my favorite). I also like the rotisserie chicken at the various branches of the Dominican restaurant, El Malecon, but almost everything else (with the possible exception of their chicken soup) is a big dropoff. The best Dominican food is probably in Washington Heights, but I can't attest to that from personal experience.

                                                1. re: Pan

                                                  Great suggestions. For this particular meal I do want it to be close to our hotel as depending on timing we may need to then go to the airport. I am actually leaning towards trying to find a food truck - I did some research on the best ones, now I just hope they're open on Sunday around 4-5.