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Best 3-Day Itinerary Option?

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Hi all! I'm always grateful for this board- every year before our annual trip to NY, this is where I find the most useful information.

After conferring with my dining partners, I came up with 3 options that all fall roughly around the same budget. For the life of me I can't decide between the three.

Help please!

#1

THURSDAY
Lunch: EMP
Dinner: Babbo

FRIDAY
Lunch: Pizza at John's on Bleecker
Dinner: Minetta Tavern

SATURDAY
Lunch: Russ & Daughters Bagels or Locanda Verde brunch

#2

THURSDAY:
Lunch: EMP
Dinner: Pizza at John's on Bleecker

FRIDAY:
Lunch: Del Posto
Dinner: Minetta Tavern

SATURDAY:
Lunch: Babbo

#3

THURSDAY:
Lunch: NoMad
Dinner: Babbo

FRIDAY:
Lunch: Pizza at John's
Dinner: Minetta

SATURDAY:
Lunch: Bouley

My husband and I will either celebrate our anniversary during an EMP lunch or a Bouley lunch.
We dined at EMP last year and had an absolutely fantastic time. But we were considering Bouley because of the deal (and because they said they'd be willing to add their seared foie course to our lunch tasting menu if we so desired). I really can't decide between having that glorious experience we had last year again, or to try something new....

Also, if we did a Babbo lunch instead of dinner, I'd be kinda bummed that the octopus, pork, and pumpkin lune aren't on the menu...would the mozzarella, beef cheek ravioli & bolognese suffice? :) Or should we definitely try to get a dinner reservation?

Minetta is the only absolute "must" because my husband will cry if he doesn't have the NY strip and I'll cry if I don't have the burger and coconut cake.

Which option would you all choose?

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  1. I would definitely do Babbo for dinner and not lunch.

    Minetta serves brunch but doesn't have the NY strip available then, but they do have the burger and the coconut cake (which BTW is also available at Balthazar Bakery -- so you could conceivably get a slice as a snack any time of day).

    For itinerary #1, EMP *and* Babbo in the same day seems really overwhelming to me.

    For itinerary #2, if you're already going to do Babbo for dinner, Del Posto seems kinda redundant to me.

    For itinerary #3, that would be my preference. The NoMad during the day is really nice, especially in the Atrium.

    13 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      I was also leaning towards #3.

      I guess I'm concerned that, although I'm sure Bouley will be romantic and lovely, I'll miss going to EMP again.

      1st world problems.

      1. re: eviemichael

        Assuming you can get the EMP lunch res (not sure when your trip is)!

        1. re: kathryn

          The past two years lunch was easier to book than dinner...but it's probably gotten more difficult.

          So if you were me, you'd bump EMP and celebrate at Bouley?

          1. re: eviemichael

            Welcome back! Tough choice between EMP and Bouley since I adore them both. Bouley's lunch 5 course tasting menu for $55 in comparison to EMP for $225 (new price at both lunch and dinner). I plan to be returning to EMP next week for dinner. I find Bouley's dining room to be more romantic and beautiful. I've always had great service at both. If you've dined at EMP in the past year and have enjoyed the clambake, carrot tartare, picnic basket, egg cream and chocolate card trick, you'll get to enjoy them again. I actually find them to be the most fun part of the menu. Bouley will be the easier reservation to obtain, so if you don't get a reservation to EMP, Bouley would be a spectacular 2nd choice.

            BTW, Russ & Daughters is take out only. They are planning to open a cafe nearby.

            Have you considered Picholine? I just had a wonderful 8 course tasting menu at dinner (not open for lunch).

            1. re: ellenost

              Thanks ellenost! I know, it's such a tough choice. I'm sure it'll be great either way, but I think this trip may be our last hurrah for a few years since we're starting a family soon.

              Some of my favorites from EMP last year were the sturgeon, duck, and picnic basket, but we didn't have any foie courses...I hope that wouldn't be the case if we went again this year. :)

              I was planning on getting take out from Russ & Daughters for our friends to enjoy with us in Gramercy park (we're staying at the Gramercy Park hotel).

              I'll take a look at Picholine, thanks for the recommendation. But I imagine I'll still be torn between EMP and Bouley... :-)

              Will you report on your EMP experience here next week?

              1. re: eviemichael

                I will.

                1. re: ellenost

                  Great, looking forward to it.

                  1. re: eviemichael

                    I had a terrific dinner last night at EMP. Food was delicious and creative, and service was very friendly and attentive. The attached was my menu. I love the NY themed dishes; I've had them a few times, and love their interactive aspect. The menu may change somewhat by the date of your meal. BTW, I made a lunch reservation at Bouley since it is such a great deal, and I've only gone to Bouley for dinner. Look forward to reading your reviews. Have a great time!

                     
                    1. re: ellenost

                      Thanks so much for reporting back! I'm glad you had such great experience.

                      DH still wants to try Bouley instead of going back to EMP, but I haven't decided yet...This menu makes the decision a lot easier as far as I'm concerned...

                      We'll be trying for reservations in a few weeks, fingers crossed!

                      I will definitely report back on each culinary stop we make.

                      One question: Was venison also offered along with the duck and beef?

                      1. re: eviemichael

                        There were only 2 choices to make: cold or hot foie gras prep; and either duck or venison (no beef).

                        You'll have a wonderful time at either EMP or Bouley. Since you're thinking about lunch, the only real differences are the price ($55 for Bouley and $225 for EMP) and # of courses 5 (+ amuse/mignardises) at Bouley; 16 (including amuse/mignardises) at EMP.

                        1. re: ellenost

                          Now I'm picturing myself supplementing BOTH the cold and hot foie prep as well as the duck and venison! I've clearly been on a diet too long...:-/

                          Good to know that either way we'll have a great time. Bouley also agreed through email to add the seared foie course to our lunch if we like, so that would be nice.

                          1. re: eviemichael

                            Just noticed that in addition to the duck, there was a mini barbeque of a skewer of duck heart, duck sausage, onion that cooks at the table. Also the chocolate trick isn't listed either.

                            1. re: ellenost

                              Drooling....
                              :)

    2. Came up with a 4th option, realizing that Minetta's lunch offers the same food we'd order at dinner:

      THURS
      Lunch: Minetta
      Dinner: Babbo

      FRI
      Lunch: EMP
      Dinner: John's pizza

      SAT
      Russ & Daughter bagels and babka picnic

      Out of the now 4 options...which would you all choose?
      Thanks!

      2 Replies
      1. re: eviemichael

        I think I'd still do #3. Minetta's atmosphere (also total lack of natural light) really lends itself to dinner.

        1. re: kathryn

          We have loved our dinner experiences there...

          Thanks for the input, kathryn!

      2. #3 seems pretty great...

        1. If you can fit in Lincoln restaurant for lunch , please book one. I had the most amazing lunch yesterday..After my recent meals at jean George and Bosley , both my husband and I thought the Lincoln had the best food. Everything was really delicious especially the quail dish, lobster pasta and Tiramissu desserts and most of all, what a bargain it was. Cocktails were amazing too.

          12 Replies
          1. re: Monica

            Did you have any of their customizable negronis? So good.

            1. re: kathryn

              I had the rum based cocktail with passion fruit puree..first one on the menu..loved it even though I am usually not a big fan of cocktail in general. husband got the procecco based cocktail.

              I meant to write Bouley not Bosley..stupid auto correct fuction on my phone..

              we ordered two pasta dishes for the little one but she ended up eating all my quail dish..I couldn't believe two courses were only $36...I am sure they lose money on the food and make up on alcohol....

              1. re: Monica

                Do you mind describing your experience at Bouley?

                1. re: eviemichael

                  We were seated in their downstairs dining room which I thought was too intimate...maybe it's the low ceiling, maybe it's the lightning, I don't know but the whole experience was very awkward and not comfortable at all. The waiters and the staff were very awkward too.
                  Their signature dishes were good but others were just decent. nothing too memorable. Now I wonder if things would have been different if we were seated upstairs.
                  Food at both Bouley and Jean Georges were just ok...the service at JG is amazing. If good service if your thing, go to JG, if good food is your priority, I'd suggest Lincoln.

                  1. re: Monica

                    Sorry you had an underwhelming time. If we go to Bouley, I'll ask specifically for the upstairs dining room.

                    I'm never going back to JG- we had a very disappointing dinner there a few years back with awful service.

                    1. re: eviemichael

                      I've dined in the downstairs room (Mother's Day and a business dinner), and find the room stunning. Felt like I was dining in a castle.

                      1. re: ellenost

                        Yes the room itself is beautiful but I felt like I was dining at a rich uncle's big mansion for the first time without him being there. Lol awkward and uncomfortable.

                        1. re: ellenost

                          Is this a correct pic of their downstairs room?

                           
                          1. re: eviemichael

                            Nope, that's a picture of the Red Room in Bouley's previous location. Never liked it; preferred the White Room.

                            Go to Bouley's website, click on Private Dining, and click on Red Room which will give you a few pictures of the downstairs dining room which is used mostly on holidays/very busy nights or for private dining. If you don't like the room, simply request to be seated in the main dining room.

                            1. re: ellenost

                              Thanks for the help ellenost

                  2. re: Monica

                    btw, I went to Epicerie Boulud after lunch and bought 4 kinds of pate, some blood sausage(rare treat for sure), some cheeses, fig jams and some sweets to have. Thanks for the recommendation. It was MUCH much smaller than I thought it would be though. It was also kind of sad to see American style apple pies and pumpkin pies there. I wanted to see more varieties of french style desserts and food items.

                2. re: Monica

                  Thanks for the tip. We're already going to have an Italian meal the night before at Babbo, but I'll keep it in mind. :) Menu looks great.