HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Are you making a specialty food?

do high end restaurants sell "gift cards"?

dayexday Oct 1, 2013 07:45 PM

i want to get my sister and her fiance an engagement gift and have no idea what and figure a gift card to an excellent restaurant would be a good one. Do any top rated restaurants do something like that? thanks in advance for your time

  1. v
    valerie Oct 1, 2013 07:52 PM

    Yes, here are a few.




    1. t
      tex.s.toast Oct 2, 2013 07:42 AM

      we're finally using our Le Bernardin gift card this month that we got as a wedding gift last summer.

      1. Spiritchaser Oct 2, 2013 08:02 AM

        Most do but I wanted to point out that gift cards do not guarantee a reservation (I only mention because I remember someone being annoyed they couldn't get the reservation they wanted but thought it was part of the "deal").

        One of Valeries links (for USHGNYC) is a grat idea because their gift cards can be used in any of the groups restaurants.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Spiritchaser
          villainx Oct 2, 2013 08:18 AM

          I concur with spiritchaser. It's frustrating to get a gift card to a top restaurant but have to go through the call/place on hold/call again/place on hold routine.

          The thought is still nice, but it's frustrating.

          1. re: villainx
            foodwhisperer Oct 3, 2013 04:43 AM

            That makes no sense to me. If you want to go to a restaurant you have to make a reservation. If you get a gift card you have to make a reservation. No difference.
            Sounds like you want the gift card giver to make a reservation for the gift receiver, which is ridiculous.

            1. re: foodwhisperer
              kathryn Oct 3, 2013 06:22 AM

              Where are you getting that from?

              Both of them are just pointing out that a gift card doesn't guarantee you a table. That's all.

              A gift giver who doesn't live in NYC might not know that it's hard to get a reservation at a specific restaurant.

              1. re: kathryn
                Spiritchaser Oct 3, 2013 06:52 AM

                Thank you kathryn, that was pretty exactly what I was alluding to.

                1. re: kathryn
                  foodwhisperer Oct 3, 2013 07:36 AM

                  I thought they were expecting a guaranteed reservation to automatically come with a gift card. I thought they were complaining that you have to call for a reservation that you may not get . Which is how it always is, gift card or not. If i misinterpreted , well then, i'm sorry.

                  1. re: foodwhisperer
                    kathryn Oct 3, 2013 07:53 AM

                    Yes there was one poster here in the past that thought having a gift card got them priority in getting a reservation (or something like that). But that ONE person is probably an outlier.

                    1. re: foodwhisperer
                      villainx Oct 3, 2013 05:09 PM

                      No worries. I just think it's ridiculous for some places that are booked for the month, within the first hour of availability, for example, to be selling gift card "experiences." At least slap a premium on it, and allow the user to have some way of actually dining at the restaurant. 5 minute earlier call time, or ability to email three sets of dates for further out, or something.

                      I speak specifically of Per Se. Yes, it was a wonderful gift. But it was very frustrating to actually get the dinner. In the end, after trying for 2 months, we were flexible and just told them to put us on a cancellation list. But I can only imagine folks who have more rigid/limited schedules, and how it works out for them.

                      And yes, to repeat, a lot of the frustration went away after enjoying a great meal.

                  2. re: foodwhisperer
                    Sneakeater Oct 3, 2013 10:38 AM

                    It totally IS a pain in the butt to get a "gift" that consists of an expirable credit at a place that you have to redial for an hour on a certain morning each month to even have A CHANCE of getting into -- and which you might NEVER be able to get into.

                    1. re: Sneakeater
                      tex.s.toast Oct 3, 2013 10:50 AM

                      you could offer to do the redialing as part of your gift (assuming the recipients of said gift could tell you their desired reservation date/time)

                      1. re: tex.s.toast
                        Sneakeater Oct 3, 2013 11:30 AM

                        THAT would be a gift!

                      2. re: Sneakeater
                        Pookipichu Oct 3, 2013 11:15 AM

                        Cash is better, never liked giving or receiving gift cards. I've only ever gotten gift cards from people in the US and at the end of the day, it's really not more thoughtful than just giving cash, it's actually a pain in the butt, especially when you have to make a res. I got a gift card to a spa and their schedule was booked/incompatible with when I was free and I wasn't able to get an appointment within the year it expired, no extensions allowed.

                2. Motosport Oct 2, 2013 09:21 AM

                  I would guess that most high end places do sell gift cards but be aware that some will have an expiration date.
                  We were given a gift card to one of our favorite places and after a year we went to use it but it had expired. The restaurant did honor it.
                  A good alternative may be to purchase an AMEX gift card at your bank and give it to your sister with a printed menu from the "excellent" restaurant. You may pay a small fee to AMEX but it will be much more versatile.
                  Some banks let you buy a gift card without a fee if you are a "preferred" client.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Motosport
                    foodwhisperer Oct 2, 2013 09:36 PM

                    Jungsik has them with no expiration. And they keep it in their computer in case you lose it.

                    1. re: Motosport
                      bronwen Oct 3, 2013 10:43 AM

                      I think this an excellent idea, you could even print out several menus from top restaurants to enclose with it.

                    2. boredough Oct 2, 2013 12:07 PM

                      Tocqueville offers on-line gift cards as well. It's a CH favorite, and seems to be fairly easy to get a reservation.

                      1. Ziggy41 Oct 3, 2013 05:15 AM

                        I got one from Jungsik which I already used, and got one in the wallet for Minetta which I just looked and there's no expiration on it. Can I assume it doesnt expire?

                        And yes, just because you have a gift card doesnt mean easier resvs

                        1. d
                          dayexday Oct 3, 2013 02:37 PM

                          thanks so much for all the suggestions, special thanks for the people who took time to post links, much appreciated :)

                          definitely never thought about the difficulty of procuring a reservation at some of these places and how a gift can soon be a burden... so long story short, don't know what to do. have to get something and would be disowned if i just supplied cash/regular gift card.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: dayexday
                            tex.s.toast Oct 3, 2013 02:48 PM

                            how about a gift card to eataly? not entirely sure if they work this way but it would allow them to either eat at one of the restaurants within the complex or treat themselves to some (very) fancy kitchen staples if they felt like cooking at home.

                            1. re: dayexday
                              kathryn Oct 3, 2013 03:12 PM

                              The posters above are talking about a VERY small group of restaurants. Eleven Madison Park and Per Se come to mind. Where even if you plan ahead and call precisely at 9am 28 days ahead, there's a chance they'll be fully booked within minutes.

                              The Union Sq Hospitality Group one is still a great choice because all their restaurants have a bar/front room where you can walk in, or some tables reserved for walk ins in the front of the restaurant.

                              Union Square Cafe takes some walk-ins in the front of the restaurant & you can eat at the bar. GT has the Tavern Room which is walk ins only, and you can eat at the bar. You can walk into Blue Smoke and it's also not too hard to make a reservation if you plan in advance. It's not that hard to reserve at The Modern, either, or to make a reservation (or walk in) and visit their Bar Room (which has a separate menu). Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 are at the MoMA and don't take reservations. Maialino has a lovely front room and bar as well. North End Grill isn't too hard to reserve either. (Unfortunately you can't spend it on Shake Shack any more, which is how I basically used most of a gift card over the course of one year.)

                              1. re: kathryn
                                valerie Oct 3, 2013 03:41 PM


                              2. re: dayexday
                                villainx Oct 3, 2013 05:13 PM

                                Sorry, as others have said, it's only small select group of restaurant that have difficult reservations.

                                If you have a favorite high end restaurant that you think they will enjoy, that might be a great choice.

                                But otherwise, there are also other top NY restaurant that are super delicious and super customer welcoming.

                                1. re: villainx
                                  jilkat25 Oct 4, 2013 08:07 PM

                                  This Tuesday I went on the Le Bernardin website/reservations and it said something to the effect that "beginning the first day of each month, reservations can be made for the entire following month." So, I called them, and to my great surprise, I managed to get a reservation for an evening we'll be in New York! Granted, it's at 9:45 on a weeknight, but, even so, my knees were rattling when I got off the phone! Of course, when I told my husband how much it could cost us, he hit the roof (he won't be there, just our son and I), but, hey, I have a month to convince him it'll be worth it...right?

                                  1. re: jilkat25
                                    kathryn Oct 4, 2013 08:14 PM

                                    Yes, Le Bernardin is not that tricky to reserve, especially if you know their reservation policy and don't rely solely on OpenTable.

                              Show Hidden Posts