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What's the second tier?

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Maybe some of you would consider this third tier after splitting out GS and JR below... but anyway, what places are just below these guys? Maybe not quite the 3 star service level or the over the top preparations

Guy Savoy, Twist, Le Cirque, JR, e, Picasso, (Alize?)

I have a 30th birthday celebration reservation at Le Cirque but thinking of switching it out for two less expensive meals or just adding another "half-blowout" at a place maybe a little less spendy. thanks!

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  1. I would consider Sage to be below GS and JR in price and complexity but still providing a great experience. Other restaurants that I think are a tier below but still terrific include Scarpetta and Bouchon.

    I've eaten at all of your choices except Le Cirque and e. I really enjoyed GS and JR, but they are very formal (delicious, great food and amazing service); I'd say Twist, although still great, is a little less so. I would not recommend Picasso, although it could be worth stopping and having a drink if you are a huge fan of the art.

    1. Seconding Scarpetta and Sage, and adding American Fish.

      1. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon is JR's little brother, but still excellent. The action is around a food bar -- I don't know how many people are in your group, or if that's your idea of appropriate seating for a birthday celebration. It's very expensive, but a lot cheaper than JR.

        Jaleo might be an interesting choice. It's a branch of the Washington, DC restaurant that was in part responsible for the popularization of tapas. The food is very good and very interesting -- not in the class of your listed places, but it's also a lot less expensive. The atmosphere is informal and fun. I think that would be good for a birthday celebration, but others would call it loud.

        1. I realize that this board is not as active as most others but this thread wasn't very helpful, pre-trip. Last couple posts have added some valuable info so I'll jump back in...

          We ate at Le Cirque (possibly the best meal of my life, every bit worth the $600/couple), Yellowtail (non-sushi was OK, sushi wasn't good, very bad value-wise), Jaleo (excellent, exactly what I was looking for in a "second tier" place), Public House (awesome beers, couple apps that were OK, great attitude on the bartenders).

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          1. re: Beachowolfe

            I know that I was hesitant to respond to you because I had no idea what "first tier" and "second tier" meant. I assume this was related to Michelin-like fine-dining ratings, but "first tier" implies qualitative differences.