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Aug 28, 2013 03:54 PM

Per Se or Eleven Madison Park?

I'm taking my boyfriend out for dinner for his birthday at the end of November. I'm concerned both about the dress code and the ambiance because we're both in our early twenties, and I'm not even entirely sure he owns a decent suit. The restaurant I choose should have incredible food, but a more relaxed atmosphere. It will just be the two of us, and he prefers French cuisine (though I doubt he'd be picky). Thoughts?

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  1. Per Se is jacket required but EMP is jacket preferred.

    Is he in for a birthday dinner where he may be expected to wear a jacket? What's his preference?

    Per Se posts their menu online with the extra cost for supplements, so you can see what kind of dishes you can expect. For EMP, how do you feel about a themed tasting with more "show" aspects?

    1. I've been lucky to dine at both Per Se and EMP in the past month, and I love both of them. I've seen couples in their 20s at both restaurants. I would give the edge to EMP for a more playful spirit. Dinner at EMP will also be considerably less expensive. However, I did choose to dine at Per Se for my birthday last week, and it was an incredible dinner. You'll have an amazing dinner at either restaurant.

        1. I like both, but I think EMP is a little bit more fun and palyful. They also invite you to the kitchen and make molecular cocktails in front of you (In very rare case that they don't, then by all means ask them and they will gladly accommodate you).

          Considering your comments that you want a more relaxed atmosphere, I think EMP will be slightly better for you than Per Se (which is not to say that Per Se is in any way stuffy or too formal. Per Se is also a very relaxed and cheerful place, although their desserts leave something to be desired these days)

          1 Reply
          1. re: kosmose7

            EMP never invited me into the kitchen. WD 50 did recently and that was interesting, like a well oiled machine.
            EMP was cold and quiet last I was there , but that was 3 years ago. They were very accommodating however, for non meat eaters in my party.
            Per Se seems more special to me. I love that place. But it is not fun nor playful. ( French Laundry is way better
            Didn't wear a jacket at EMP. Wore a Jacket at Per Se, and also Jean Georges,

          2. I would quickly note that EMP's dress code is not, to my knowledge, Jacket Preferred - they technically don't have a dress code at all, except maybe "smart casual" or something vague like that. I actually remember the first time I went I called to ask, since the website said nothing, and the person on the phoned just laughed and said "dress however you want."

            The last time I ate there I wore my usual jeans, and a black Uniqlo cardigan over a black Earnest Sewn t-shirt.

            Which would also be exactly what I wore the previous time I dined there, or perhaps I left the cardigan at home if it was summer. Can't remember the date. In fact, it's more than likely what I wore every time I've been there. Because I have the least varied wardrobe on the planet.

            If he doesn't own a suit, he's probably going to be uncomfortable in one - which as nice as the staff at Per Se might be, would probably still leave him a bit... well, less than relaxed.

            I think for you guys (and personally, for me as well) it's EMP by a mile. (I have other issues with Per Se I won't go into here as I've said my peace on them numerous times in the forums...)

            3 Replies
            1. re: sgordon

              "Jacket preferred" is the exact phrase the woman on the phone used when I called a year or two ago.

              1. re: kathryn

                Hm. Well, thus "to my knowledge" I guess. I'm guessing they're not terribly consistent about how they present it. (On Opentable they go with "smart casual")

                When we were last there, I can say in our section there were only two men wearing jackets, to maybe three or four without. Suppose it varies by night.

                Anyway, point being - far more relaxed an atmosphere than Per Se.

                1. re: sgordon

                  I have never gone with a jacket at EMP and it was never an issue...