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Another 40th birthday in NYC...Bouley and Empellon Cocina? Help!

Hello. I posted on here in Jan. for my hubby's 40th and in April for a visit with in-laws. Now it's time for my 40th in November. As much as I would love to revisit Ssam Bar (for the 3rd time), I feel the need to try some new flavors and venues. Our first night will be in Brooklyn, with one night in Manhattan. I just read about Bouley's 5 course lunch and it looked lovely. Would that be too much to pair with a dinner at Empellon Cocina...or Louro...or Minetta Tavern...or (insert your fabulous suggestion here).

I really just want to eat while we're here (which is why we're not headed to the Adirondacks or Vermont or anywhere else within a 3 hour radius)...so any input would be appreciated. For my 40th dinner I would like good food, good (not stuffy) atmosphere, inventive cuisine, with the price topping out at $150-200 for 2 (dinner, drinks, tip).

Thank you!

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  1. Ooh, another lunch idea would be to browse and sample at Eataly. Have never experienced that....

    1. If you do an early-ish lunch and then dinner around 9pm you would have an excellent day.
      Any favorite cuisines or cravings?
      Since you enjoyed ssam bar so much maybe try ma peche this trip....

      1. If you love Ssam Bar, look into Montmartre. The chef used to be the chef at Ssam.

        The food at Pearl & Ash also reminds me a bit of the Momofukus. Don't miss the octopus.

        6 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          Arrgh! This is so hard. Too many tasty choices. I have been checking out menus all day and looking at past CH threads. I am sort of stuck with wanting to try the lunch tasting menu at Bouley. Especially after seeing the prices for dinner. It seems like a lovely way to spend the middle of the day. If we were to do that, are there any places that focus on simple, small plates for our dinner later on? That way we could eat lightly if need be. We are aiming to stay in Soho or near Washington Square, haven't booked yet.
          Also, does anyone know if there is a Brooklyn food tour (a la Kathryn's West Village tour)?

          1. re: saintp

            You could go Tertulia or Otto near Washington Square Park. At Otto, you could order salumi, cheese, some of their excellent vegetable antipasti, split a pasta, maybe share a gelato (skip the pizzas). At Tertulia, they have jamon iberico, excellent croquetas, deviled eggs, some various toasts.

            For Brooklyn, you need to post on the Outer Boroughs board. Brooklyn is also pretty large & I'm not sure what neighborhoods you plan to visit (or if you're looking for a recommendation).

            1. re: kathryn

              You had me at deviled eggs! I'll check that out, for sure.
              We'll be in Williamsburg for one night...I will def. post there.
              Great suggestion for Otto as well...I've been there once and we enjoyed everything we had, especially the broccoli rabe, which was wonderful.

              1. re: saintp

                Will you be here in time for Smorgasburg before it closes Nov 23-24?

                1. re: kathryn

                  Yes, we'll be there the weekend of the 15th. What is Smorgasburg?

                  1. re: saintp

                    Brooklyn Flea's giant open air all-food market, featuring 100 vendors. Every Saturday in Williamsburg by the waterfront, while the weather lasts.

        2. Bouley's 5 course lunch is certainly doable paired with another tasty dinner, perhaps after 8:30 or 9pm. This is a celebration after all, right?

          I was a huge fun of Empellon Cocina but has found the service and food to be on a bit of a decline recently. Empellon Taqueria in the WV is better IMO. Other recommendations would be Perla, Tertulia, Piora, or Charlie Bird, based on where you're staying near Washington Sq Park.

          4 Replies
          1. re: zeeEats

            Also, another heavy hitter near Washington Sq Park: Babbo.

            1. re: zeeEats

              We got a 12:00 lunch reservation at Bouley. Cannot wait.

              Tertulia sounds perfect. And a nice contrast from Bouley. I think we'll try that.

              Babbo is on my list...one of these days we'll make it there.

              Have to say thank you to the Manhattan boards....I posted a question on the outer boroughs board and haven't heard a peep yet! Thank you for steering me in the right direction for Manhattan!

              1. re: saintp

                Here's one:

                Perhaps more people would has responded to your inquiry if you'd added a neighborhood to your post title.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Oops. I added the details in the text. Should've known better.

            2. Resting now after our fantastic lunch at Bouley. From start to finish it was a truly memorable meal. We love good food, but have never been to a restaurant of this caliber and it was a lot of fun to watch how it was run. From the entrance with the fragrant, bountiful apples, to the elegant (but not stuffy) interior, it was all lovely. We both ordered the tasting menu. To start, they brought out a tiny bowl of a pureed tomato soup with day boat lobster and a little crunchy toast (I am sure this is not what it was called!) with Aligote and black truffle...I could have eaten 10 of those. Such intense flavor. Then we started the tasting: I had the blini of scottish smoked salmon (which literally melted in my mouth), my husband had the big eye tuna (with a green apple foam)...a mix of flavors that I never would have thought to put together, but was so interesting. Next we had the black cod and the Connecticut Farm egg. Again, lovely. I really don't have the proper words to describe it. Then my husband had the salmon and I had the duck. All perfectly prepared. The service was impeccable, the atmosphere was comfortable and warm, very impressive. If there was a downside, it was the gentleman seated nearby who talked nonstop in a very easy to hear voice, all the while name dropping every famous chef that he knows....it was hard not to listen as he described in detail Charlie Trotter's funeral! But really, maybe that just added to the experience.
              I would highly recommend this place...loved it!!!

              2 Replies
              1. re: saintp

                I just looked at the lunch tasting menu and it's scrumptious. And quite the deal IMO. Thanks for taking the time. We haven't been to NYC in over three years and are going to be there in February. I think this sounds perfect.

                1. re: saintp

                  Thanks for your report. I've been a long time fan of Bouley, but have only gone for dinner. I made a lunch reservation for December, and am looking forward to it.

                2. One more review. After our lunch at Bouley, we walked all over the place (my legs/feet are still a bit sore) and enjoyed the nice weather. Then we went to the Blind Tiger for a beer around 6:00....it was packed. But we scored one stool at the bar and quickly started talking to the people around us. Such a friendly place. Love it.
                  After that we walked over to Tertulia, to meet friends for dinner. We were seated near the back (4 of us) and proceeded to have a great dinner. We ordered what seemed like a lot, but we managed to finish everything. Standouts: the deviled eggs (could have eaten about 6), the crispy brussels sprouts, the smoked bluefish, the meat and cheese selections, the croquetas....the food was interesting and really flavorful, the prices seemed about right, the service was great, atmosphere was fun....all in all we loved it and are looking forward to coming back. Thanks for the suggestion....another meal that I wouldn't have had without Chowhound!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: saintp

                    Thanks for the reports and glad you had a nice time!