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Mar 13, 2014 11:16 AM

List of restaurants in NYC--which should we try?

From the list below, which should we go to?
Del Posto

Friday night, 4 adults, my husband and I are picking the tab for all four so I'm hoping that WD-50 is not everyone's favorite because its sooooo $$$$ for 4 people.

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  1. I vote no for Gotham Bar & Grill, had a really atrocious experience there not too long ago. Mediocre food and horrible service, but expensive bill.

    27 Replies
    1. re: Pookipichu

      I had a feeling that it was one of those sorts of places. Snooty but not tasty. Which do you think I should try instead? Or is there another New American place you like?

      1. re: abbydh

        I politely declined drinks twice and finally had to tell the waiter I don't drink alcohol, he was so aggressive about pushing alcohol and snatched the menu from my hand when I said I don't drink alcohol. I never saw him again until after we flagged down someone for the check. The food itself had problems too, greasy fingerprints over the plate, sauce that had been hastily wiped leaving unintentional streaks (I'm not talking artistic smears).

        For American, I'd recommend Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, NoMad, Blue Hill. Not a fan of Mas Farmhouse even though it's highly rated, the food I had there was very mediocre.

        1. re: Pookipichu

          SO aggravating! I'm totally not going there now. I hate that sort of behavior. I'll look at the others. Is NoMad in a hotel?

            1. re: abbydh

              I've had lovely meals at Del Posto, the environment and service and food are very good... I just don't think it's a great value if that makes sense. I wouldn't go unless someone else is paying. Similar to Marea, only the ambiance at Marea is much less impressive and the food is even worse value.

              1. re: Pookipichu

                that does make sense! I have a reservation there and at Union Square--I'll have to decide between the two....yikes!!! you are super helpful. do you live in NYC?

                1. re: abbydh

                  Del Posto is more special but I like Union Square Cafe because the food is solid, the service is friendly and it's a nice place for a family meal that is relaxed. It depends ultimately on what kind of experience you are going for.

                  Yes I live in NYC :) Where are you coming from?

                  1. re: Pookipichu

                    We're coming from Houston (blach!!!) --my husband, baby and my mom, and my brother and his new girlfriend from Boston. Mom's staying with the baby and we're going out. we want to have a unique, non-traditional experience.

                    1. re: abbydh

                      Maybe WD-50 would be a better choice, it's less traditional and has the most unique food out of the places you listed (I haven't been since the change to prix fixe though).

                      Del Posto would also be a more unique experience. Union Square Cafe is like a really great neighborhood restaurant that doesn't step too far out of the box.

                      NoMad is a great restaurant and would probably also be more of a non-traditional experience.

                      I haven't been to Dovetail or Aldea.

                      1. re: Pookipichu

                        WD-50 is $155/person. waaaaay too expensive! that's nuts, right?

                        1. re: abbydh

                          Well how often are you going to be in NYC? :)

                          If it's worth it really depends on a lot of factors, what you like to eat, what kind of experience you are looking for, and of course your budget.

                          If you love Italian food, I think you'll have a very special time at Del Posto.

                          NoMad if you love new American.

                          WD-50 for molecular gastronomy and some food that you wont see in Houston.

                          1. re: Pookipichu

                            yeah, Tex-Mex definitely will never provide the molecular gastronomy that WD-50 does...I just wish we could afford the nearly $700 tab (excluding wine!). I think I'm set on Del Posto. Many, many thanks!!

                            1. re: abbydh

                              I hope you have an amazing time in NYC :) Do report back.

                              1. re: Pookipichu

                                definitely will! thanks so much! :)

                              2. re: abbydh

                                Del Posto gets 4 stars from the Times, but it is the most controversial choice among the 4 star restaurants. I have never tried it.

                                1. re: abbydh

                                  You know that del Posto offers two menus at $126 and $179, correct? With wine, drinks, tax, tip you're looking at $800 most places.

                                    1. re: abbydh

                                      IL MENÙ DEL POSTO $126 FIVE COURSES
                                      BIS: Two Tastes of Pasta
                                      Shared by the Entire Table

                                      Please note that Il Menù del Posto is for the entire table’s participation. Each guest will have his / her choice of antipasto, secondo and dolce from the full menu, and the table will select two pastas to share.


                                      CAPTAIN'S MENU $179 EIGHT COURSES
                                      Wine Pairings are available for an additional $155 per guest. For Reserve Pairings from the Coravin Cellar inquire with your Sommelier.
                                      Please note: the Captain's Menu is for the participation of the entire table.

                                      1. re: abbydh

                                        I think $155 at wd-50 (a restaurant that is truly one of a kind) is much more worth it than $126 at Del Posto, JMO.

                                        Also, you mention $500-600 budget further down the page, but you're pushing $600 at Del Posto without wine, cocktails, etc.

                                        1. re: loratliff

                                          Well over $600, really - with tax and tip, dinner for four (food only) would hit $650. That said, dinner for four at WD would be $800 if doing the current tasting. (The "vault" menu would be around $460)

                                          The thing with wd-50 is, do you want everyone to have the same tasting menu, or would you and your guests prefer to be able to order what you like? I find tasting menus fine for dining alone, or perhaps with a date, but for a group a bit less exciting. Especially if everyone's a good dinner companion (i.e. a sharer) you can get just as many dishes ordering a la carte, and to your own tastes, as you would on a tasting menu.

                                          While I think of the OP's original options Del Posto and WD-50 are the best restaurants overall, given their budget (if they don't want to splurge for Del Posto) I'd lean towards Dovetail. The prix fixe is a great deal - $88 for four courses ($450 for four after t/t) - and the food is excellent and creative. As regular NYC 'Hounders know, I prefer Babbo to Posto, regardless of price. But DP is a more "special" experience overall, what with the fancy room and everything.

                                          1. re: sgordon

                                            Just curious, have you been to Babbo recently and what your thoughts were?

                                            1. re: Pookipichu

                                              I've been to Babbo about three or four times a year for the last decade. My thoughts were, obviously, that I freakin' love that place.

                                              I think the last time was January or so? Still good, no complaints. I've found them very, very consistent over the years. At this point I know the menu pretty well, which dishes I'm less enthusiastic about, which ones I love. If I never have the calamari again I'll be fine. I'm not crazy about the mint love letters, either. In general I find some of the stuffed pastas could be stuffed a little fuller. The bread is never terribly exciting, pretty run-of-the-mill - that's one thing I really wish would change. They should bring in Iacopo Falai (since his place closed) or someone to do breads for them.

                                              Pastries are generally just fine, but the crostata is always great if I've left room dessert.

                                              But I love the vibe, most dishes are very good and some are knockouts, and there are some bargains on the wine list if you know where to look, and the somms know their stuff if you don't.

                                              1. re: sgordon

                                                Thank you, I was there in January for a celebratory dinner and I actually enjoyed the mint love letters and the service was excellent, the vibe was excellent but I had some highs and lows with the food. The chianti stained parpadelle with wild boar ragu was one of the worst dishes I've ever had in a fine restaurant. The pastas also got repetitive after a while, I agree that I wished their stuffed pastas weren't so flat. I also agree that the breads are not exciting which is a shame because I love Italian breads.

                                                The highlight of the meal were the lamb chops, mostly because they were tasty, well executed and a generous amount of meat for a very reasonable price.

                                                I think I was expecting to be wowed and I was sort of roller-coastered. If I skipped the multiple pastas (especially the parpadelle) I would have had a better impression. But the parpadelle was seriously acrid, like they accidentally dropped chlorox or 409 in the pasta dough and I'm afraid to order the dish again to see if it was a fluke or if it's intentionally that gross.

                                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                                  Two pastas is my max, any more is overkill. If I'm with a date, we might split one as a mid-course, if three or four people we'll get two and share them. I always see people getting the pasta tasting menu, and I can't imagine it.

                                                  Portions are very generous for the price. People I go with, if it's their first time, are always surprised that most of the pastas are under $20, entrees rarely break $30, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. Compared to, say, Scarpetta, where entrees can break $40 and most pastas are in the $20s. I wonder if their rent is low or they own the building outright.

                                                  Bummer about the pappardelle. I've only had it once or twice and I don't recall any notes of Clorox in it. I'd have sent it back, they're very gracious about that sort of thing, they don't take offense.

                                                  I agree on those lamb chops - fantastic. Did you try the octopus or lamb's tongue? Those are some pretty wow dishes, though some find the tongue a bit -too- intensely lamby.

                                                  1. re: sgordon

                                                    I didn't try the octopus or the lambs tongue, I had so many pastas lol. I'll try the lambs tongue next visit as I do like lamb :)

                                2. re: abbydh

                                  Did you also look at Alder, as a more casual alternative to WD-50?

                  2. re: abbydh

                    I've been to Gotham and Del Posto. Gotham was good, but not memorable. Del Posto was very good; I'd be quite happy to make a return visit or three if it didn't cost about the same as uber-tier places like Daniel/Le Bernardin (either of which I prefer by a fair margin).

                    The NoMad, as suggested, is outstanding and would be an excellent choice - the food is outstanding and I enjoy the atmosphere. If you do go, the roast chicken gets a lot of hype . . . and more than lives up to it.

                2. You should consider The NoMad; recently had a great (and not too expensive) dinner there for a group of 4, and everyone loved it.

                  40 Replies
                  1. re: ellenost

                    is NoMad in the hotel? the parlor?

                      1. re: Pookipichu

                        which would you do--Union Square or Del Posto?

                        1. re: abbydh

                          Union Square Cafe - but that's a personal choice. I've been to Del Posto and wasn't wowed and it will cost you a decent amount more. Given your preference for out of the box, I'm not sure Union Square Cafe or Del Posto would fit the bill.

                          I'd instead say The NoMad, ABC Kitchen (not so out of the box but lively, trendy, and delicious), Estela, Pearl and Ash, Ma Peche, Gato (haven't been yet but it's brand new) or something like that, but it may be difficult to get reservations depending on the date you are looking to dine.

                          1. re: Barcelonian

                            oh lord, Pearl and Ash looks awesome, but the chairs have no back. Seriously!? who wants to sit like that?? sorry...random rant, lol!

                            1. re: Barcelonian

                              I think the food and Pearl and Ash is fabulous - but it is a totally different kind of experience from the others on your list. what about Marc Forgione?

                              1. re: JC2

                                it the chair thing--did you see what those chairs are like?

                                1. re: JC2

                                  Marc F. looks awesome--but no tables :(

                              2. re: abbydh

                                I've not been to Del Posto. Union Square is good, comfortable and reliable, but not exciting. NoMad is wonderful and quite reasonable for the food quality and ambience. Are you concerned about it being in a hotel? If so I think that is unfounded.

                                I have never found Gotham great, and Dovetail went downhill years ago. We used to like Aldea, but the menu doesn't change so we tired of it.

                                You might want to check out Betony, Rouge Tomate, Annisa, and Riverpark.

                                Aquavit is also great and can be reserved through Savored at a 30% discount, if you are willing to go at 6 or 9 pm.

                                1. re: rrems

                                  yeah, it was the "hotel lobby restaurant" that sort of weirded me out, but it sounds like that's not an issue in NYC?

                                  1. re: abbydh

                                    No, these days, a restaurant in a hotel is not necessarily the old idea of a "hotel restaurant". NoMad is not "in" the lobby. It is a beautiful space.

                                    1. re: abbydh

                                      Some of the best restaurants in Manhattan are related to & attached to hotels. The Breslin, NoMad, Maialino...

                                    2. re: rrems

                                      +1 aquavit is really underrated- creative but not in a wd-50 way

                              3. re: ellenost

                                To piggy back on a thread. Is the NoMad worth it in a week where we are doing EMP as well? Clearly very different restaurants but I usually avoid going to multiple establishments from the same people just for variety's sake.

                                Our other big meals currently are Daniel, Ssam and maybe Del Posto.

                                1. re: ManInTransit

                                  NoMad's worth going to, sure, but how many nights will you be here? If you're definitely doing EMP, Daniel and Ssam I would probably say Del Posto over Nomad just for variety's sake. (I'd consider Babbo & Lincoln as well for Italian) - either that or high-end Japanese like Kyo Ya or Soto or something, to do something very different.

                                  1. re: sgordon

                                    Thanks very much for the response. We've 7 nights so a decent stint. We were avoiding Japanese as my wife's pregnant and doesn't really fancy it otherwise 15 East and many others would be very high up the list!
                                    Think I've missed my shot at a Babbo res so Del Posto it is. Was just a bit concerned it seems slightly overpriced.

                                      1. re: ManInTransit

                                        Babbo takes walk-ins (if you're willing to wait), and also posts cancellations to their Twitter account.

                                        1. re: ManInTransit

                                          Del Posto has a three course $39 lunch pre fixe which is a crazy bargain compared to dinner there

                                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                                            All booked for our last day. Especially with the exchange rate it looks a crazy good deal.

                                          2. re: ManInTransit

                                            Del Posto's price makes sense in context - there's significantly more pomp to the proceedings than at Babbo, obviously, and there are lots of little extras outside the four listed courses. I do prefer Babbo, personally, as I'm decidedly not much for pomp. Lincoln is a great middle ground - more refined / fancified but very reasonably priced ($60/ 3 courses, $75/ 4, if I remember right)

                                            Both Il Bucos (the regular and Alimentari) are pretty great but I'm not sure I put them -quite- on the same level as the above. And I'd recommend Scarpetta more were there not one in seemingly every major metropolis at this point. (I just feel that when in NYC, go to places that are unique to NYC.)

                                            That aside, as many have said before, Del Posto's lunch deal is a steal. Good way to check them out at less than half the price.

                                            Also might consider Aquavit or Aska (if they're open) for something a bit further outside the usual boxes without going all the way to Asia. Aska's menu might be pretty set in stone, but I'm sure Aquavit has pregnancy/allergy/etc substitutions for their menu - and their seven(?) course tasting is only a few bucks more than the regular four course prix fixe @ DP. Acme (because we can't have enough Nordic restaurants that begin with "A") is also a great choice for something more casual, similar to Ssam.

                                            1. re: sgordon

                                              Thank you - I've booked the del Posto lunch menu for our last day which seems like a nice compromise. In London we do have some Nordic and a lot of Nordic-influenced places so not desperate to find it and none jump out unequivocally.

                                              1. re: sgordon

                                                Apologies, on re-reading my response looks ungrateful for such a helpful post. I've looked into Aska and Aquavit but they didn't seem hugely appealing - not least because that sort of cuisine often means a lot of substitutions for a pregnant woman. acme does look very nice though, maybe another lunch option.

                                                1. re: ManInTransit

                                                  Acme is fun, but they don't do weekday lunch I don't think - they do brunch on the weekends, though. Also for brunch, Public might appeal to you. Very creative, not your typical eggs n' pancakes.

                                                  Aska is definitely not for everyone - they're much more experimental than most, kind of depends on how adventurous you are. I like them, but I'm not even sure if they do substitutions.

                                                  Were you thinking of Ssam for lunch or dinner? Their lunch is very good, but dinner is where the kitchen really shines, I find. Lines are longer at dinner, obviously, but on a weeknight the wait for a two-top wouldn't be too long.

                                                  1. re: sgordon

                                                    Aska sounds like the sort of place we would love - but perhaps one for either 10 weeks ago or 7 months' time!

                                                    We've got an apartment just west of Union Square so we can be very flexible - was thinking Ssam for lunch but you and Kathryn have both suggested dinner so perhaps turning up at opening on a Monday evening would mean a very short wait.

                                                    Is Daniel really that bad? We can only get a Betony res at 915 and we both (but particularly my wife) weren't as keen on the Betony menu and the options with the restrictions.

                                                    Maddening this... we've not had a dietary restriction between us in a decade of eating out together so it's come as a bit of a shock to the system.

                                                    1. re: ManInTransit

                                                      Daniel is, hands down, the most controversial of the Haute French fancy-pants joints. I'm not a fan, as I've said, though I do like some of his other places. I think the plethora of opinions regarding the service isn't so much that some people like their style and others don't - it's simply that they're very inconsistent, that some diners get treated lavishly (if you're a regular, or order a couple three-digit bottles of wine) while others get something that, if they're lucky might be perfunctory, but at worst can be out-and-out snooty. If I'm dropping mad bank on a meal, while I don't expect to be treated like the only table in the room, I better not feel like an afterthought while they're kowtowing over those who happen to be dropping mad-der bank.

                                                      So, it's a risk is all. You won't know until you're seated which category you might fall into. And unfortunately it can be VERY palpable when you're in the "lesser" category. I would hope since the Times review brought to light what folks like us have been saying in forums for years that they've stepped up their game. But personally I'm not enough a fan of that style of cuisine to bother finding out.

                                                      And there are just better options, food-wise, IMHO, even within that style - I'd take Jean-Georges or Bouley over them, and even Boulud's "second-tier" Cafe Boulud as I said, as long as Chef Kaysen is still there. I haven't been to Betony yet, but I think any of those three (particularly the first two) would be more comparable.

                                                      But, obviously, a lot of people LOOOOOOOVE Daniel. So, your mileage may vary.

                                                      1. re: sgordon

                                                        Cheers much appreciated. Found The Times review very interesting and surely they would have stepped up their game after it. That sort of place drives me a bit mad but we both went a bit nuts (in a good way) looking at the menu and I have never actually tried the American take on classical French cuisine, always chalked it up as not worth it vs e.g. Jungsik, WD-50 and Peter Luger given we live 2 hours from Paris itself so keen to see something of it but maybe Bouley is the answer.

                                                        We are only 3 weeks out now so reservations at alternatives might be something of an issue but Bouley does look very interesting (I might just look longingly at the Brushstroke curtain)

                                                        1. re: ManInTransit

                                                          Bouley's a bit more creative than Boulud, I find. I mean, I'm not a Haute French guy, so maybe my opinion isn't the best, but I find both Bouley and JG much more interesting than Daniel.

                                                          I don't know that I'd call Daniel an "American" take on classic French, though - I mean, he's French.

                                                          1. re: ManInTransit

                                                            If you're looking for classic French, check out Tocqueville. I don't know why it gets such short shrift around here, but it's a beautiful room with outstanding food and great service.

                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                              Thanks June, Tocqueville looks an interesting place and just so happens to be 100 yards from our door... will see if a reservation is available - starting an itinerary is easy, pinning down the last little bits is tough! Hadn't realised they owned 15 East as well.

                                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                                Does it get short shrift? I've seen it get a lot of love here.

                                                                I will say that I've been there only for lunch - 3 or 4 times, and had the prix fixe. The first 2 or 3 times, it was fantastic, almost perfect, really. The last time (a few months ago), I was quite disappointed, as the food was merely buttery, not full of wonderful tastes as before. I wouldn't mind giving Tocqueville another chance, but given the number of choices I have in New York, I won't rush.

                                              2. re: ManInTransit

                                                I love both restaurants but they are very different. The only things in common that they both have are delicious food with excellent service. I'd have no problem dining at both EMP and The NoMad on consecutive nights.

                                                1. re: ellenost

                                                  That's great thanks to you and Spiritchaser - I think that lunch at the Nomad is perhaps the answer, as long as I can still get the chicken....

                                                  Will report back.

                                                  1. re: ManInTransit

                                                    To make things more dificult I think you should add Betony to your list : ).

                                                    1. re: Spiritchaser

                                                      It was on my radar... Truth be told I didn't find the menu all that appealing but have read your recs over several years so should follow.

                                                      The only slot I've available now is to potentially replace Daniel which gets the most variable reports but which I want to think well of.

                                                      1. re: ManInTransit

                                                        Wow, what a great compliment, thanks for that.

                                                        Personally I really like Daniel, never had a bad experience there and since it is so different than most other fine dining places in NYC (IMO it's the rare, over the top fancy in a good way kind of place) that you may want to keep that dinner BUT I agree that many people on this board have had negative comments.

                                                        If you choose not to do Betony this time it has to be on your lsit for next time.

                                                    2. re: ManInTransit

                                                      I believe the roast chicken for 2 is available at lunch (Monday - Friday), and the delicious chicken sandwich is available for brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

                                                      Agree with Spiritchaser that Betony is great too!

                                                      1. re: ellenost

                                                        I think we're there on our list but there are some spots I was saving so will look at Betony but more likely as a possible Daniel replacement.

                                                        Louro, Empellon taqueria, Mighty Quinn, Momofuku Ssam, EMP, Daniel, Del Posto.

                                                        1. re: ManInTransit

                                                          Highly recommend replacing Daniel with Betony.

                                                          1. re: ellenost

                                                            Highly recommend replacing Daniel with Shopsin's, for that matter.

                                                            But not to knock on Boulud too much - Cafe Boulud is very nice, and it might be the last chance to get Gavin Kaysen's creations there before he leaves. They'd be a good substitute. And I quite like Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, and Bistro Moderne. It's only his flagship and DBGB that I'm down on.

                                              3. Del Posto is a very special, memorable place in every way -- delicious, inventive, beautiful food, gorgeous decor, and great service. One of my favorites!

                                                1. May I ask why those 5 restaurants in particular?

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    its from a list I got from online reviews on --I narrowed it down by what looked good, menu options, prices, etc.

                                                    1. re: abbydh

                                                      Time Out is, frankly, terrible as a source for current information. As one example - their review of Aquavit, which Ttrockwood mentioned above, is dated 2012, yet it makes mention of at least two dishes that had been excised from the menu as of 2010, and one that was gone as of 2009 as I recall. It's like someone wrote it two or three years earlier (at a point the restaurant was still in flux between chefs) and only got around to posting it years later, after the entire menu had changed. The review of WD-50 is similarly suspect - it's dated 2010, but I'm pretty sure the "pizza pebbles" mentioned in the very brief blurb were from, like, 2008 or so. Could be wrong on that date, though.

                                                      I know some critics keep a few reviews in the pocket for a week when they don't feel like writing - which is fine, for, say, a restaurant where the menu doesn't change much (like a Babbo or a Balthazar) - but it doesn't really work for places that are in constant flux.

                                                      There's always going to be some lag between an archived review and the current state of a restaurant, no need to exacerbate that by posting reviews that are already outdated when they first hit the page.

                                                      Of the various NY food sites - Eater, Serious Eats, NYT, Grub Street, etc - Time Out is easily my least looked at / referenced. I never found Jay Cheshes a terribly interesting critic, either. Or maybe our tastes just didn't overlap well.

                                                  2. I know is not in your list but should definitely try Daniel.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Lovelyday

                                                      Doesn't seem to fit the budget..