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Marea and Babbo and Le Bernardin and Jungsik?

Would it be crazy to try to do all of these in 5 days? I have reservations at all four at the moment, but it wouldn't be right to sit on a reservation we know we can't use.

I wasn't expecting to find an opening at Marea. Could we reasonably plan to eat appetizers and share an entree or two at Marea? In other words, could we get out of there for under $150 for 2 with tip?.I had been searching for a less expensive destination for this night.

Is it rude to skip wine or cocktails (and just drink water) in order to afford to dine in these restaurants?

Between Marea and Le Bernardin, which one would we be most sorry to miss? What about Jean-Georges instead of either of these (openings still available with $50 on a credit card to hold)?

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  1. >> I wasn't expecting to find an opening at Marea. Could we reasonably plan to eat appetizers and share an entree or two at Marea? In other words, could we get out of there for under $150 for 2 with tip?.I had been searching for a less expensive destination for this night. <<

    For dinner I don't think you can stay within your budget since Marea is pricey and their portions are small. Lunch might be a better option. Or try Lincoln.

    >> Is it rude to skip wine or cocktails (and just drink water) in order to afford to dine in these restaurants? <<

    Not at all. By all means skip wine and cocktails if you wish.

    >> Between Marea and Le Bernardin, which one would we be most sorry to miss? What about Jean-Georges instead of either of these (openings still available with $50 on a credit card to hold)? <<

    Le Bernardin > Jean-Georges > Marea (in my opinion)

    7 Replies
    1. re: Scott_C

      I don't think anyone should ever feel obligated to drink alcohol. It's not rude. You could be pregnant, it could be for religious reasons, you could be a recovering alcoholic, be a designated driver, have diabetes or liver issues, etc. I think it's rude for restaurant to PUSH alcohol.

      1. re: Pookipichu

        I was dining at tocqueville with my husband. I was about 5 months pregnant at the time. We ordered a half bottle for my husband since I techinically shouldn't be drinking...but i still had a few ounce...after I emptied the wine glass, our sommelier came to our table and asked if i wanted another pour. I said, I'd LOVE to but I am pregnant so I really shouldn't...she asked me again, are you sure? I said, alright, so i had a few more sips of wine and my little one is perfectly normal! =)

        1. re: Monica

          That wasn't a condemnation of those who drink while pregnant, it's about someone not feeling pressured to drink if she is avoiding alcohol while pregnant. It's about respecting people's choice and not made to feel like I have to drink alcohol to be entitled to eat somewhere fancy.

          1. re: Pookipichu

            I know..just reminded me of my incident. that's all. =)

        2. re: Pookipichu

          You're right, of course, Pookipichu! But they will probably see the longing in my eyes, lol! It will help that my son doesn't care much about drinking.
          The wine pairings almost double the cost of these high-end meals.

        3. re: Scott_C

          Thanks, Scott_C! You confirmed what I was already thinking. I'd really like to try Marea but since I got that reservation unexpectedly, I felt I should at least go there wth the intention of staying within a budget.

          I'd rather not do lunch at any really high-end place. We have a huge list of casual-to-mid places all around town.on our lunch list. Plus, we won't be dressed for those venues in the daytime. Still pondering a sushi lunch-time omekase, though, if I can narrow down the options. Masa and Kurumazushi are out, I'm afraid. But, at the moment, our lunch plans are flexible, eyes on tthe weather and the wallet, etc..

          I've had the LB reservation since 30 days before the date we'll be there. I wish it were not for a 9:30 seating, but I was shocked I even got in! I had already resolved myself to spending $500+ there (oy, vey!)

          Maybe I should consider skipping Marea since it and LB are both seafood restaurants. I mean, we'll probably eat seafood at nearly every meal, anyway. Still, it might be better to just go with one of our original plans for the Sunday we arrive: 2nd Avenue Deli (save the pastrami for Katz's on a different day), food carts, or a few mini-meals along 9th Avenue..
          However, if I could find a way to get into Per Se that night (and pay for it later), I would.

          I'll be with my adult son who isn't much of a drinker. I guess I can play along... Someone wrote that the high end places may let you pre-pay for the wine pairing over the phone to sort of soften the sticker shock of the tab (and prevent having to drag out multiple credit crads in the dining room.) That might be asking for trouble on a travel day, though. ?

          1. re: jilkat25

            Per Se also does a la carte in their lounge.

        4. 4 restaurants in 5 days are definitely doable. I don't see why not.

          My honest suggestion is, don't go to a restaurant just so that you can say I went to the restaurant. If you can't really try the best of what the restaurant has to offer just because your budget is limited, I don't see the fun of going to that particular restaurant. I rather go somewhere more intimate that still serves great food...which is possible in NYC.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Monica

            I agree with Monica, it would be silly to have some marvelous dish and not have a glass of wine with it in the interests of economy. Just hit two or three and do it up, I personally would recommend Le Bernadin over Marea and you could go to Nougatine instead of Jean Georges which is less expensive.

            1. re: bronwen

              "it would be silly to have some marvelous dish and not have a glass of wine with it."

              this is exactly why I have wines when dining out despite the fact that there is a high markup on wines...and i am a value oriented person.

              1. re: bronwen

                I agree with shelling out for at least one glass with your dinner, just to round out the experience. Also agree with Monica that you shouldn't visit a restaurant just to say that you've been there.

                However, I'd avoid Nougatine at all costs and overlook JG as well. If you've got your sights set on Marea and Le Bernardin, why not do both? The lunch menu at Marea is under $50 for two courses, so you should have some room left in your budget for wine!

                1. re: zeeEats

                  I've actually been into cocktails with restaurant dinners lately. It will no doubt be easier to pace myself with a few bar drinks, anyway. My son (30) would stop at one or two glasses of wine, or one or two cocktails, max, I've heard that dinner at Le Bernardin can run up to three hours. I'd end up drinking most of the wine by myself :)
                  (I'm kidding. I'm all about self-control (most of the time.)

                  Maybe we'll do the wine pairing with one meal. I wonder which one of those restaurants has the best pairings? And, which has the best cocktails?

                  1. re: jilkat25

                    None of your choices are really known for outstanding cocktails though I've had some good ones at Babbo and Le Bern should be solid as well.

                  2. re: zeeEats

                    What is your favorite place, zeeEats?

                2. re: Monica

                  Thanks, Monica! I wouldn't go anywhere just to say I've been there. In fact, I feel a more than a little guilty indulging in such expensive food when so many people are hurting.
                  I won't even tell many people I've been to Le Bernardin (Chowhounders understand, so I make an exception.) But, I love to taste things that are masterfully prepred and then go home and try to replicate them! If I cannot recreate something, I know I have spent my money well. .

                3. Finding an opening at Marea isn't terribly hard - certainly easier than Babbo (which is one of the toughest rezzies in town) or Le Bernardin.

                  At Marea, if you were to order the two cheapest antipasti, the two cheapest pastas as you main courses, and split one dessert, it would come to $141 after tax and tip. Add a drink and you've broken your $150 budget. It's not really the kind of place to go on a budget.

                  Now, mind you, at Babbo for around the same price you could have two antipasti, split one pasta as a mid-course, get two secondi, and split a dessert. Depending what you order, you could even possibly go 2-2-2-1 or 2-1-2-2 on the courses for that price.

                  It's not rude to skip cocktails or wine anywhere. Just say you don't drink. Or, if you like beer, many places have good beer selections much cheaper than wine by the glass.

                  If I were to skip Marea or Le Bernardin, it's hard to say - if budget is your main concern, Le Bernardin, as they're by far the most expensive of the lot - without drinks, they'll be around $330 or so after tax & tip.

                  But since you've already got Italian in Babbo on your list, Marea might be the one to drop since it's another Italian, and IMHO a step down from Babbo - they're not bad, but Babbo is simply one of the great gems of NYC dining.

                  So were it up to me, if I were to only drop one, I'd cancel Marea. Do something cheaper that night, that way you don't have to skimp and wallet-watch the other nights. Nothing takes the wind of one's sails so much as constantly worrying about the budget. It's not like you can't find a fabulous meal among our city's cheap eats options, and it might be nice to not do "fine dining" every single night.

                  Where are you coming from? Maybe there are some cuisines here that you don't have back home, a chance to check out a little ethnic eatery of some kind? Or a place that serves fun, creative food but without the high-falutin' atmosphere (and accompanying prices) of some of the above. like a Momofuku Ssam or Marc Forgione or something (not that they're cheap, just cheaper than Marea.)

                  Which is the night in question? We can look on opentable to see what's available, would make it easier to figure out a good alternate option.

                  As to replacements for Le Bern - again, knowing which night it is would help - I'm admittedly not the biggest Haute French nut, but certainly have mad respect for Ripert and Jean-George alike. JG would be a little cheaper.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: sgordon

                    I think you're right, sgordon. Marea might be a bit redundant and maybe not "the one" considering the price. I totally agree about not blowing the budget on the first night. I only booked it (on Open Table) because I was surprised it had any openings at all. I would like to stick to Midtown, Hell's Kitchen, and Theater District (broadly) that first night, I think. We could take a cab to 2nd Avenue Deli (probably the one on 33rd St.)
                    That night is Sunday, by the way, which, unfortunately, eliminates any of the top-flight sushi restaurants (even if I could afford them.) Looks like they're all closed Sundays.

                    My original idea, which my son really liked, was to go to 2nd Avenue Deli that night and only get things we won't be eating at Katz's and Russ and Daughters later that week.

                    My next idea was to head down 9th Avenue, and hit Pure Thai, Empanada Mama, maybe some tapas place, or Indian snacks, and have a few mini-meals along the way. I figure we have from about 5:00 until we just can't go another step. Since it's a travel day, I don't think I'll last very far past midnight. Seven hours is long enough to grab a small bite or two at several different restaurants, right?
                    I haven't forgotten the Halal Guys, either.
                    I made a reservation for breakfast at Norma's Monday morning but might go Weds instead if at all.
                    Lunch Tuesday will be Chelsea Market. Really looking forward to that!
                    We're staying at the big Hilton near Rockefeller Center, coming from Texas. My son lives down the street from Uchi (29 Zagat points) in Austin (I've never been) and he goes there, and to its sister, Uchi-ko, for happy hour pretty often. I live in Richardson (home of Texas Instruments) where the cuisine of the entire Asian continent (Turkey to Japan) is represented. Even so, there is nothing on the upscale level of JUNGSIK here in the Dallas 'burbs. I mean, there are many Korean BBQ places, just no 5 star $300+/pp places. I'm glad I have the reservation there, but it is so expensive compared to the types of Asian food we're used to. JUNGSIK may be the meal I'm most nervous about. I can easily see my tab there ticking up uP UP, but I'm really drawn to it. I think my son and I would both really love it. Both Momofuku Saam and Marc Fogione's new place (not the eponymous one) are kinda in that same category, semi-Asian, but I think JUNGSIK is the one unless I go broke before we get there.
                    On the opposite end price-wise, I liked Prosperity Dumpling a lot. For like $15 my daughter and I got way more food than we could eat. This time I'd like to try a really good hand-pulled noodle place-Tasty Hand-Pulled, Xi'an Famous Foods?, especially if we can watch someone make them. Not sure we'd have room for dim sum, too, but we'll be in the neighborhood.

                    I mentioned Empanada Mama above. We do not need to eat Mexican food in NYC (sorry), but I'd drop by EM for those Caribbean empanadas with figs in them.

                    1. re: jilkat25

                      "My next idea was to head down 9th Avenue, and hit Pure Thai, Empanada Mama, maybe some tapas place, or Indian snacks, and have a few mini-meals along the way. I figure we have from about 5:00 until we just can't go another step. Since it's a travel day, I don't think I'll last very far past midnight. Seven hours is long enough to grab a small bite or two at several different restaurants, right?"

                      >> Pure Thai, Danji and Ippudo are all solid choices, though I know you said Asian food is heavily represented in TX. There's also Don Antonio if you're thinking of getting pizza. I personally don't find Empanada Mama to be special, although they do deliver 24/7 fwiw.

                      "I haven't forgotten the Halal Guys, either.
                      I made a reservation for breakfast at Norma's Monday morning but might go Weds instead if at all."

                      >> Halal guys isn't open til later into the evening from what I know... Why did you decide on Norma's? Only due to proximity? I'd suggest somewhere like Sullivan St Bakery for lighter breakfast and save room for lunch/dinner.

                      "Lunch Tuesday will be Chelsea Market. Really looking forward to that!"

                      >> Chelsea Market is great for snacking and grazing. The new taco stand Los Tacos No 1 is great (may rival any taqueria you'd find in TX; trust me I'm from LA). Lobster Place, Liddabit Sweets, L'Arte del Gelato.

                      "We're staying at the big Hilton near Rockefeller Center, coming from Texas. My son lives down the street from Uchi (29 Zagat points) in Austin (I've never been) and he goes there, and to its sister, Uchi-ko, for happy hour pretty often. I live in Richardson (home of Texas Instruments) where the cuisine of the entire Asian continent (Turkey to Japan) is represented. Even so, there is nothing on the upscale level of JUNGSIK here in the Dallas 'burbs. I mean, there are many Korean BBQ places, just no 5 star $300+/pp places. I'm glad I have the reservation there, but it is so expensive compared to the types of Asian food we're used to. JUNGSIK may be the meal I'm most nervous about. I can easily see my tab there ticking up uP UP, but I'm really drawn to it. I think my son and I would both really love it. Both Momofuku Saam and Marc Fogione's new place (not the eponymous one) are kinda in that same category, semi-Asian, but I think JUNGSIK is the one unless I go broke before we get there."

                      >> Have you considered adding a more "farm to table" restaurant or Spanish into your itinerary? Seems like it would be a nice change from the other places. Say, ABC Kitchen, Tertulia, Little Owl...

                      "On the opposite end price-wise, I liked Prosperity Dumpling a lot. For like $15 my daughter and I got way more food than we could eat. This time I'd like to try a really good hand-pulled noodle place-Tasty Hand-Pulled, Xi'an Famous Foods?, especially if we can watch someone make them. Not sure we'd have room for dim sum, too, but we'll be in the neighborhood."

                      >> Skip dim sum. There is a new Xi'an Famous Foods in midtown now, though I don't think you can watch them make the noodles.

                      "I mentioned Empanada Mama above. We do not need to eat Mexican food in NYC (sorry), but I'd drop by EM for those Caribbean empanadas with figs in them."

                      >> Again, Empanada Mama isn't all that great... what about Empellon Cocina? I'm sure it's unlike most Mexican restaurants in TX.

                      1. re: zeeEats

                        The Halal Guys have multiple carts. Some are open during the day.

                         
                        1. re: zeeEats

                          Wow, zeeEats, I just looked at the menus at Empellon! They both look really good! 8 different salsas!

                          Empanada Mama is a place I would try if it were down the street from me. I like "grab n go" snacks sometimes. Most of the time if I get a craving for arepas or empanadas, I just make them at home. I just thought it would be fun to try some different fillings and things.

                        2. re: jilkat25

                          Skip Norma's. It's pricey and not really good.

                          1. re: jilkat25

                            I just wanted to point out that while the chef of Jungsik is korean, the restaurant is not particularly asian. In fact, the first time we went, my wife was speaking with the Maitre'd about the cuisine. He characterized it as more spanish influenced than asian. You will see some definite korean influences, but I don't think you will come away saying that its particularly asian.

                            If you are thinking about Ssam Bar, I would suggest swapping out Marea for Ssam Bar especially if you are going to LeB. Ssam Bar is very reasonably priced in my view and the food has never disappointed me. Probably the number 1 spot for my wife and me when we want a casual but really good dinner.

                            1. re: jilkat25

                              Marea receives a lot of adulation on these boards, I do think it's a very good restaurant but I've had clunkers (my uni pasta barely had any uni or uni flavor) and the pricing can be a little wacky. I would put LB at a notch above.

                              If you are interested in dim sum, there's nothing like Hakkasan in TX.

                          2. Do Marea for brunch. Prices were reasonable and the best items are still on the menu.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: melpy

                              Marea brunch could be a perfect solution!

                              1. re: melpy

                                melpy, I wish we had more days up there! Son wants to explore Central Park one of our days. Maybe Marea would be an idea for that day. Do they take walk-ins?

                                1. re: jilkat25

                                  They do but we've always had a reservation.

                              2. I rank them this way:

                                1. LB
                                2. Marea
                                3. JG

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  ipsedixit. I'm getting the feeling JG is not a favorite for a lot of people.

                                  1. re: jilkat25

                                    JG has it's ups and downs, It's been around for so long. I had a lovely meal there recently but a mediocre ones 3+ years ago, great meals 8+ years ago.