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Le Bernardin or Dovetail?

My husband and I will be celebrating our 15th anniversary in NYC this weekend. We have reservations for EMP on Saturday and are trying to decide between Le Bernardin or Dovetail on Friday night.

I hear consistently good things about Le Bernardin and mixed things on Dovetail. We originally thought we would ditch the pricey meal at Le Bernardin once we got EMP reservations, but when I do the math, we are likely to spend near the same amount at Dovetail. If we take the money out of it, are we just crazy to pass on Le Bernardin? Maybe we shouldn't be doing two stuff tasting menus in a row anyway (and will just bum around on Sunday night for that reason) and eating a la carte at Dovetail would be more satisfying.

This comes down to subjective personal preference I guess so maybe I just need to flip a coin :-)

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  1. I haven't been to Dovetail so I can't give you advice between one vs the other. What I would suggest is that you go to Le Bernardin and NOT have the tasting menu. Just go with the prix fixe and the problem is solved in the same way.

    I continue to believe that for restaurants like Le Bernardin and Daniel, which are more traditional in nature, the tasting menu is more of an afterthought and the true highlights are found in making the right choices off the prix fixe.

    My most recent meals at Le Bernardin: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/861084

    5 Replies
    1. re: fooder

      Thanks, yes, we may just do the prix fixe. What I am worried about is that Le Bernardin is sort of stuffy and overrated, but that is not what I am seeing on boards. We have been burned in the past going to "the best" only to have it be sort of stuffy, bland, overcooked.

      We do already have Le Bernardin reservations. That is why I want to figure this out today, so I can be nice and cancel if necessary.

      1. re: sarah_nc

        Maybe the new room and other renovations they have done alleviate the "stuffy" feeling a bit?
        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/07/din...

        Overall I found the flavors at Le Bernardin to be subtly delicious. Not bold and in your face, though. However nothing seemed underseasoned or overcooked. Their technique is not something I'd worry about.

        1. re: sarah_nc

          The food is subtle, but not bland. A lot of work goes into the sauces. Definitely not overcooked. And at this level, almost anything that comes out subpar in any minor way can and should be sent back without a worry. The service can be a bit stuffy and the room is not what I would call charming, but the food is legit.

          I don't know what your experience has been regarding going to "the best" places, but Le Bernardin is not just "the best" of NYC or some city but often on "the best in the world" lists. I do think that makes a difference.

          1. re: fooder

            Thanks! Yes, I think it is safe to say the Le Bernardin is in its own league. My dining experience is mostly the relative backwaters of Boston and DC save for a few vacations. My dud experience was in Boston when we lived there.

          2. re: sarah_nc

            Stuffy and overrated? Quelle horreur!! Quelle damage!!!

            In short, worry not!

        2. Do you already have a reservation at Le Bernardin? A quick OpenTable search reveals many tables left at Dovetail and none left for Le Bernardin ( at least on OpenTable).

          Le Bernardin books its tables on the 1st of the month for the entire following month, so tables for May 31 were available via phone starting on April 1st.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kathryn

            We called April 1st at 9am and kept trying for 45 minutes. Finally got through!

          2. Keep the Le B rez and as others have suggested do a la carte. Dovetail is actually very very good but the experience is not on the same level as Le B.

            1. I think there's no comparison.

              LeB is an order of magnitude better.

              (There is absolutely no need to do their tasting menu.)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Sneakeater

                You have a type. There should be an "s" at the end of the word "order"!!

              2. Thanks to all. We kept the Le Bernardin reservation and are looking forward to our weekend of eating in NYC!