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Jul 25, 2013 04:51 PM

Momofuku Ko or Tocqueville for anniversary dinner?

We're a couple who used to be really on top of the NY restaurant scene, but who hasn't been able to get out as much in the past couple years since we had a baby. Our anniversary is next week. The babysitter's booked, and we're looking forward to a romantic, really delicious, and if possible, mind-expanding meal. We have dinner reservations to both Momofuku Ko and Tocqueville, neither of which we've tried. I've been wanting to go to Ko for a while, but I'm worried that the communal seating will make romantic dinner conversation awkward. Still, I'm really tempted by the food. That said, I booked Tocqueville as a back-up based on some really stellar Chowhound reccs. If you were us, which would you pick?

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  1. For an anniversary that says "romantic and it's about us" the atmo at Ko would be counterproductive.

    1. Tocqueville will be more romantic in the traditional sense, as far as ambiance and whatnot go, but not remotely mind-expanding - not to say they're not good, mind you.

      Ko, on the other hand, is one of the toughest reservations in town. And if you've never been, certainly mind-expanding. Heck, even if you have been. The shared experience of a meal that exciting can be romantic in and of itself. And the famous Ko foie gras course, assuming it hasn't changed, well... it's romantic. Sort of. (I believe my description of it, back when they first opened, was "it's like eating a bowl of dirty sex")

      Anyway, very different experiences, those two places. But I'd go with Ko, personally, especially as who knows when you'd get another rez there? The seats are spaced far enough apart that you're not elbow-to-elbow with your neighbor. You can swivel around in your seat without hitting anyone. It's easy enough to have your own intimate meal without feeling as if you're intruded on by the next folks over. You can (possibly) request the end seats on either side, as well, so you'd only have people on one side - doesn't hurt to email and ask.

      1. I personally don't think a dining counter is appropriate for an anniversary, since your focus is on the kitchen instead of each other.

        OTOH, if this is some advanced anniversary and you're both sick of each other, a dining counter might just be the trick.

        1. I fully agree that if you are looking to replicate the days when you were up on the NY scene and want to blow your minds,, go the way of KO.

          Why not book the sitter for Sunday, too and go somewhere else that's cheap and romantic? One of your old favorites?

          If I had another res at KO, I wouldn't turn my back on it. If you go w Tocqueville, I'd happily use your KO spot for you :).

          1. I wouldn't say that Ko is "romantic" per se. Having said that, I went the first time with my S.O. and we still talk about it fondly to this day. Truth be told, I barely noticed the patrons to our sides. We have had anniversary dinners at more traditionally upscale places like Manresa, French Laundry, Providence, Spago, and Menton. And in the end, Ko is where I wish to return most of all.

            3 Replies
            1. re: djquinnc

              you would rather return to KO over the French Laundry???? wow , that is shocking. I would rather return to the French Laundry over any restaurant in the world.

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                Yes, I would. And it has everything to do with personal preferences. I had an amazing meal at TFL and would totally go back, preferably with teleportation powers and someone else's pocketbook. I prefer a meal that is satisfying rather than gut busting, and more casual than formal. Although I probably had the best preparations of lobster and steak (at at $100 upcharge, mind you) in my life at TFL, the flavors at Ko turn me on more, generally speaking. And there is a feeling of warm containment at that tiny room that sets me at ease for some reason. That is all.

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  There wasn't anything wrong with my meal at the French Laundry, but it's one of the few 3-star places I would not return to. Even if someone else was paying, I would tell them that their money was better spent at either cheaper places in the Bay Area or on a flight to any number of 2-star places in Europe or Japan.

                  I know everyone's got different tastes, but I kind of agree with djquinnc's points. Nothing "wowed" me and everything felt tired like some places in France, Spain, and Italy that have held 3-stars for decades (I went during the previous Timothy Hollingsworth's tenure as CDC). A lot of the preparations are no longer that unique and could be had for much, much less at a number of places run by Chef Keller's disciples or elsewhere.