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best fine dining in New York?


I started a thread above about the best place to eat within a reasonable distance from where I am in Madison. Someone recommended that I just catch a flight and make the trip to New York since I have never been there before and that I should try to get reservations at Eleven Madison. It is supposedly the best restaurant in New York and the USA for that matter as well.

Well, I looked up flight prices and it is about a $400 four hour flight from Madison to New York. They said it is worth it but they also said I should try Alinea in Chicago as well. My question to you native New Yorkers is is Eleven Madison really worth the expense that I would have to go through?

If so, I was thinking fly out there and during the day eat the most exotic ethnic foods that New York has to offer that I can't find back home in Hawaii and then eat at Eleven Madison for dinner. Then head to the airport and return to Madison. What do you all think? Thank you!

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  1. While I like EMP I would not consider it the best restaurant in New York. The S. Pellegrino rankings should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. For me Per Se was a more memorable experience than either Alinea or EMP.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Scott_C

      It (Per Se) certainly is the most expensive of the bunch by far.

    2. Did you just win a lottery or are you dying?
      otherwise, i don't think it's worth the trouble.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Monica

        I'm just trying to live a little more and enjoy life. I can't take this money with me so why not spend it on good food is my current take on things for now. I would like to travel to somewhere more remote like Indonesia or somewhere in SE Asia but I can't find the time for it since its so far away.

        1. re: bloodboy

          Why travel all that distance just to eat one meal? Why not spend a few days and eat at EMP, Per Se and a few others?

          1. re: bloodboy

            Yes, live a little more and take me, a fellow Kanaka along! I'm from Kalihi and now live in da big apple!

        2. Just saw your other thread on the Chicago board...

          I can see the temptation to so this since you're on the Mainland now and not Hawaii.

          Doing this all in one day is risky especially due to traffic in and out of Manhattan, earlier luggage check in times in NYC than smaller airports, and weather related delays (esp in the summer). You could easily miss your flight home or be delayed coming to NYC.

          Are you certain your flight times will actually work out the way you want? EMP opens at 5:30pm, you'd be done with dinner at 9:30pm, and then MAYBE you'd be able to catch a 11pm flight. IF they offer NYC-Madison that late. I couldn't find flights that late just now.

          Looking at Google Flights, it looks like $800 or more total to do this in one day. Taxi fare to and from JFK, LGA, and EWR isn't cheap either.

          1. A friend of mine used to fly to Las Vegas just to dine at Guy Savoy and Joel Robuchon. If you have the time, energy and resources to do both EMP and Alinea then by all means go for it.

            1. I would at least stay a night... And this way you could shower and change instead of either spending all day dressed up or going to EMP in the same clothes you put on 12hrs before...(on Air b n b you can find a place to stay cheaper than a hotel)
              You could do (smaller) ethnic eats during the day so you're still hungry for dinner, pass out for the night, and then visit a few gourmet shops or whatever the next day before leaving...

              It's your money, but yeah, you only live once....

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ttrockwood

                I agree. Why would you want to rush out to catch a flight immediately after such a memorable meal? Stick around and spend the night... relax and process the wonderful experience.

              2. Strictly my personal impression:
                EMP > Per Se = Alinea

                I have been to EMP and Per Se multiple times and Alinea only once.
                EMP better than Per Se because Per Se's desserts have become seriously dull these days. If you are not a dessert person, however, you will like it.

                1. If this is your only real chance to get to EMP then I say go for it with the overnight stay suggested by others. Adding my two cents; GF and I have done Per Se several times but have done EMP many more times and that is based upon, IOO, EMP just being the better of the two and the best in the city. Don't get me wrong, Per Se is fantastic but EMP is the better overall experience. If you go ahead with your plan you can snack during the day but don't go into EMP without being hungry, the 16 (+ or -) courses equates to a lot of food.

                  1. Agree with the others that you should plan to stay over in NYC after your dinner at EMP. Even if you had a 5:30 reservation, you would probably not be done with dinner until after 9:00 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Unless your flight was scheduled after 11:00 p.m./midnight, you would be in serious risk of missing your flight.

                    As my esteemed colleagues on this board have pointed out, EMP is somewhat superior to Per Se for overall dining experience: food/presentation/service (Per Se is still wonderful too).

                    BTW, based on my one dinner at Alinea two years ago, both EMP and Per Se are much better than Alinea (service staff way too serious; meal was rushed to 2 hours).

                    1. My impression from your other post was that you might need to do this trip asap- if that's the case, you are likely to have trouble getting into any of the high-high end places, which all book out several weeks in advance. If you give us the timeline, we might be able to come up with places that are likely to have seats (though it's always worth checking with the emps/per se's to see if there have been cancellations).

                      If you can book multiple weeks out in advance, and are staying the night... I'd throw out Brooklyn Fare as a place you should be looking into; consistently has been the best meal i've had.

                      Also, I hope you made it to Vintage Cave before you left; Chris Kajioka, a Per Se alum, was doing stellar food over the last year and a half, but alas is leaving (or may have already left). If you did do VC, i'd say Per Se should be less of a priority; even if Per Se is better, you'd find EMP much more novel at that point.

                      2 Replies
                      1. I just wrote a post about the latest Eleven Madison Park Spring 2014 menu here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/978936

                        I do think EMP is a destination worthy restaurant, but when you ask "is it really worth the expense that I would have to go through", it comes down to what is of value to you. To me, it is one of the most enjoyable dining experiences as a whole, but if you're more interested in food and in what's new and exciting, it may not be enough for you.

                        Yesterday, my friends waited 7 hours for their Daniel Humm burger at Shake Shack. It was absolutely delicious, but was it worth 7 hours of waiting in line? Is there any food worth waiting 7 hours in line?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: fooder

                          While I adore Chef Humm's cuisine, there is no way I'd stand in line for 7 hours. I'm sure I'd have a much shorter wait time for a seat at the bar at EMP for a proper meal.

                        2. i think that all the 3 star restaurants are super though I have not tried Posto, the most controversial of the lot.

                          11 Madison allows you to bring your own wine, which is a plus if you fancy fancy wine.

                          1. I read your post about your fine dining experience at Vintage Cave in Hawaii:


                            Based on your comments that you did not like the dress code requirement and are a "very heavy fatty meat eater", are you sure you want to go to more tasting menu-type restaurants? A lot of them tend to be pretty light on the amount of meat you get (ie small portions) and most, but not all, have some sort of dress code. Maybe your tastes are changing, but you could be having another similar experience at per se, EMP, etc.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: cobpdx

                              EMP does not require a jacket. So that is something...

                            2. I have decided to not make the trip. There have been some very informative posts here and I spoke with my girlfriend about them since she is the one I went to Vintage Cave with. I wasn't impressed with VC and we spoke about it afterwards a lot since it was so expensive. We also spoke about this recent idea of mine.

                              I think the issue is (and others have made mention of it as well) I just don't like the 'fine-dining'/French type of cuisine. Kinda like I don't like Chinese food. It's like I am trying to force myself to like it for some reason but I just don't. Being from Hawaii, I am always looking for sticky rice and some type of soup and tons of meat with my meals.

                              So, I have decided to just stick to what I know from now on and as far as food goes I will continue to cook but I will start to experiment with exotic meats. I saw a thread here on chowhound about exotic meats like zebra, yak, water buffalo, snake, lion, etc. Instead of spending money on this fine dining that I just do not find palatable, I can order some exotic meats and have fun with that.

                              Only issue with that is ascertaining if what I am ordering is really what they say it is. I am thinking about ordering a ton of meats from these sites:

                              And a couple of other places, but I will create a separate thread for that. Thank you all!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: bloodboy

                                You're making a mistake to not go and sample a meal at a New York restaurant, it's a marvelous food mecca. I'm confused, you asked about fine dining and then said you don't like fine dining . . . .

                                1. re: bloodboy

                                  Self-awareness is always good. Thanks for the update.