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Special Foodie Experience- need recco, please!

I have a friend who is the quintessential foodie. Roberta's tasting table, he's done it. Brooklyn Fare, he's done it. I can go on...I want to get him something special for his bday/ Hannukah and I would love to do something different and special. I'm cool going up to about $700 for the both of us. I did Ko last year, and although I love the ambiance I thought it was lacking when compared to my experience a few years ago. Any thoughts? Thanks so much in advance for your help guys.

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  1. What date do you want to do this on? Or are you flexible?

    $700 for two, does this include tax, tip, wine/drinks?

    If so then that is about $270pp for food AND drink.

    You'll need to figure out how much of that is for wine/drinks. Any special interests in wine or beer? That may help--for example Eleven Madison Park can do beer pairings with a meal.

    Any special interest in sushi? Molecular cooking? Or favorite foods?

    Maybe an IOU for one of Empellon Cocina's push project dinners? They are doing one tonight with Grant Achatz, no pre-announced menu. $325 all inclusive.

    1. If you like Ko, you might enjoy Jungsik. Their 10 course tasting menu is just $155pp, so that should leave you with plenty to spend on either beverage pairings or a couple nice bottles.

      Has he been to Atera? Not sure what your time frame is but The Elm's tasting menu at the chef's counter (Little Elm) is supposed to open this fall.

      1. $700 = about $271 per person combined (food & bev) menu price before tax/tip. That pretty much leaves everything open but Per Se, EMP, CTBF, Masa...

        Something different from the usual western places might be Kyo Ya's kaiseki menu - exquisite, transporting.

        If you haven't done Atera yet, they could be an option. As I recall, it comes to just under $700 for two with the wine pairings, after tax/tip.

        For something more adventurous, Aska's extended 10-course tasting (only available Fridays and Saturdays) is $125. Not sure how much pairings are, but certainly it'd come in under $700 total.

        Or REALLY surprise him - relive the old days of Momofuku Ko and go visit the original chef Peter Serpico's new place in Philly - $30 round trip on NJTransit/SEPTA, then order nearly everything on the menu and still be under budget. Sleep off the food coma on the ride home.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sgordon

          Serpico in Philly is very good but more in line with Ssam Bar than Ko. It's not on the same level as Brooklyn Fare and the other restaurants that the OP mentions.

          $700 would be a nice splurge for two at the Per Se, with minimal drinks, or the Salon if you order the glorious risotto with white truffles.

          1. re: darren425

            I wasn't totally serious about Serpico - obviously, very different, not a tasting menu, and given that one risks the wrath of the Chowhound moderators for even mentioning Brooklyn on the Manhattan board.... More just a silly idea to take the giftee somewhere they REALLY wouldn't expect. My first thought was round-trip airfare to Chicago and lunch at Hot Doug's.

            (And really, if they were to go to Philly for one meal it should probably be Vetri, not Serpico...)

            1. re: darren425

              I've dined three times at Per Se's Salon (the first two times were lovely since I was seated at my own table; the most recent visit I was seated at the communal table, and even though no one else was at the table, the seating is less comfortable, and everyone passes by as they enter the main dining room. Since Per Se keeps only a few of the tables for the Salon dining, it could be a disappointing experience for the OP to spend a lot of money and be seated at the communal table.

              For the OP's budget, I highly recommend Atera, Jungsik and Ko (maybe for lunch if they've already had dinner; lunch is a 3 hour 16 course food extravaganza for $175 per person).

          2. The james beard foundation hosts dinners with visiting chefs, among other unique events:
            http://www.jamesbeard.org/events

            5 Replies
            1. re: Ttrockwood

              I attended the James Beard Foundation's "Taste America" hosted at Riverpark not long ago, which featured Daniel Patterson (Coi, SF). It was unfortunately very underwhelming for the price paid, though it was for a good cause.

              I'm not sure if you're referring solely to the dinner series at the James Beard house, Ttrockwood? I can't really speak to those dinners but the benefit-type events may not be what the OP is looking for.

              1. re: zeeEats

                I've gone to 2 of the dinners at the James Beard House. They're "okay" (was going for a specific chef/group of chefs). Too much of a mob scene for the passed hors d'oeuvres (need to position yourself at the door). The tables are pre-assigned so you may or may not care for your table partners. I was lucky both times to have a nice group of people.

                1. re: ellenost

                  That's how I felt. I basically just gave up on trying to get in on the passed hors d'oeuvres. I also find that the quality of the regular dinner menu is compromised as they're pushing out so many orders at once.

                  1. re: zeeEats

                    Totally agree with the comments about dinners at JB House.

                2. re: zeeEats

                  Was referring to the guest chef dinners vs the benefits, the dinner on 11/22 with the visiting chef from australia has a kangaroo tartare on the menu..... Could be interesting.

              2. Another rec for the previously mentioned Jungsik.

                Maybe look at Juni and/or Betony, both of which have gotten lots of love recently here.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Juni and Betony are excellent suggestions.

                  1. re: ellenost

                    Why am I not surprised you say that?

                    :-)