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Biltmore Room, Bouley, Per Se or Spice Market?


rich
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My wife is celebrating a major birthday Monday, July 12th (she'll kill me if I say which one). I have four dinner reservations for that evening (I will cancel the other three a week out). Here they are: Biltmore Room, Bouley, Per Se and Spice Market.

We have already eaten at Per Se and dined at Bouley's old establishment, but have not been to the Spice Market or the Biltmore Room. If you would be so kind and give your opinions about what would be the most appropriate, I would appreciate the input. There's another couple coming with us - so this is not a romantice type dinner - just looking for something special and/or different.

Thanks.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Just had dinner at the Spice Market this past Saturday. While both the food and service were good, of the two, the service was better.

I'm afraid, at least for me, the Thai, Asian fusion flavors have become cliche and a bit tiresome.

The restaurant itself is a pleasant bustling place in the old meat packing district and attracts a well-heeled class of Jean Georges devotees.

The wine list, while thankfully small, is quite impressive for its broad representation of wines that go well with the menu selections. While I ejoyed myself and ate without complaint, I won't make a return trip anytime soon. Nothing I sampled was outstanding. :sad:

Jay

You are what you eat.

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First decision: Spice Market or not Spice Market. It's more of a "fun/unusual" experience, while the others are luxury fine dining.

If not Spice Market, then second decision: Per Se or not Per Se. You've already been there. You know the drill. It's rated higher than Bouley or Biltmore by just about everybody, but perhaps you want somewhere you haven't been.

If not Per Se, then the choice is Bouley (inconsistent, but near the peak of the city's restaurant hierarchy when at its best) or Biltmore Room (very good, but few would put it in the Daniel-Bernardin-Bouley class).

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As a person who has eaten at the Spice Market four times since it opened, I'd say go with one of the other three. Unlike Jay, I think the service at the Spice Market was terrible. I was charged for entrees and desserts that I did not order, and my repeated calls to the manager after that went unreturned. The waitstaff was not very accommodating and seemed more interested in hurrying us out and turning the table instead of getting us what we wanted. The food at the Spice Market cannot be compared to Bouley or Per Se (I've not eaten at the Biltmore Room), because it's basically Asian Street Food, and not executed very well at that. Certain dishes lacks the overall finess of fine dining and a lot of the what came out of the kitchen was sloppily done. Having said that, it is a very pretty restaurant and the ambience is pretty trendy (if you are into loud places), and if you are a guy, the waitstaff is easy on the eye.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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We just ate at The Biltmore Room last week (for our anniversary, actually). I'm about to start a thread about the place.

The short answer to you is: Very, very tasty, very, very gussied-up food. A lovely but rather loud room in which conversation is possible but not optimal. Good wine list. Much as I love Gary Robins (for whom I worked at 3 different places), I'd put it as the last possibility on your list.

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Spice Market...probably the most over-hyped place I've spent a lot of money at in years! Bad service (waitstaff reaching over you to over-fill the unbelievably cheap-assed wine glasses without as much as an "Excuse me", wrong plates placed in front of you and YOU'RE supposed to move them around, items not ordered showing up at the table...blah, blah, blah!), food I would call average at best and so loud you need a megaphone to be heard! Yes, it's a great looking room, but I don't eat rooms! And seeing Jennifer Love Hewitt didn't add to my dining experience.

Biltmore Room...Very good experience both times I was there, especially the second time when I asked for a pillow to put under my ass! What's with those chairs anyway? Don't they know if everybody has to ask for a pillow so that they can reach the top of the table they just might have a problem?!! And I'm 6'2"...imagine what it's like for the short folks! The food is excellent but as some have already said, not in the Bouley/Per Se orbit, but so what...the bar area is very nice, the room is great, even romantic in a certain way...I'd say since you've already tried both Bouley and Per Se the choice is obvious.

BeeT's

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Get a drink at Spice Market -- then it's a tossup -- I'd say Biltmore Room if you want something a little different. The food can be very, very good...I had a rather serious service issue the first time that I went but I don't see any reason to assume that it'll be replicated.

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My wife is celebrating a major birthday Monday, July 12th (she'll kill me if I say which one). I have four dinner reservations for that evening (I will cancel the other three a week out)...

Perhaps other people are too polite to mention this. I'm not.

I think it's a serious breach of restaurant etiquette to make 4 restaurant reservations for a particular night - knowing that you will cancel 3. What if everyone did that? And I called up one of those restaurants trying to make a reservation - only to be told that the restaurant was fully booked - when - in reality - none of those reservations was made with good intentions.

I don't live in New York - so when I make reservations at high end restaurants in New York - I do so well in advance. And if I can't make the reservation (we're booked) - that's the end of me.

How would you feel if a high end restaurant booked 4 groups for each table at 8 for Friday a month from now - knowing that it would call 3 of those groups a week in advance to cancel? Robyn

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i dont think there is anything terribly wrong with making the four reservations especially since the reservation is so far in advance. I would say though with respect to robyns opinion and teh fact that i work at bouley i would decide more then a week ahead and cancel the other reservations.

By the way i would recomend bouley or per se.

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robyn, those points, and the fact that you don't live in NY, which you seem to make clear every other post, would probably make for an excellent thread. athough i'm pretty sure it's been covered. try the search function on the "general" board.

Edited by tommy (log)
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imho, people who make several reservations for the same time slot and then cancel them make it easier for the rest of us to get a last-minute table (and that includes tourists). I don't see the problem. It's not rude to the restaurant, they're going to get those tables filled, so who really loses?

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Perhaps other people are too polite to mention this. I'm not.

I think it's a serious breach of restaurant etiquette to make 4 restaurant reservations for a particular night - knowing that you will cancel 3. What if everyone did that? And I called up one of those restaurants trying to make a reservation - only to be told that the restaurant was fully booked - when - in reality - none of those reservations was made with good intentions.

I don't live in New York - so when I make reservations at high end restaurants in New York - I do so well in advance. And if I can't make the reservation (we're booked) - that's the end of me.

How would you feel if a high end restaurant booked 4 groups for each table at 8 for Friday a month from now - knowing that it would call 3 of those groups a week in advance to cancel? Robyn

us new yorkers, as a whole, tend to be a whole lot more flexible.. of the four restaurants listed, at least three either over book knowing there will be cancellations and a high number of walk ins, or maintain waiting lists for people who would like to enjoy a nice meal but refuse to make a ressie 60 days in advance..

in fact, there's an entire science given to same day reservations based upon cancellations and held back tables..

but then again, you'd probably be aghast at my suggestion to grease a host for a table while i don't think twice about doing so..

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Perhaps other people are too polite to mention this.  I'm not.

I think it's a serious breach of restaurant etiquette to make 4 restaurant reservations for a particular night - knowing that you will cancel 3.  What if everyone did that?  And I called up one of those restaurants trying to make a reservation - only to be told that the restaurant was fully booked - when - in reality - none of those reservations was made with good intentions.

I don't live in New York - so when I make reservations at high end restaurants in New York - I do so well in advance.  And if I can't make the reservation (we're booked) - that's the end of me.

How would you feel if a high end restaurant booked 4 groups for each table at 8 for Friday a month from now - knowing that it would call 3 of those groups a week in advance to cancel?  Robyn

us new yorkers, as a whole, tend to be a whole lot more flexible.. of the four restaurants listed, at least three either over book knowing there will be cancellations

That's as much support as Robyn can hope to get, in my opinion. Just the thought that rich may be responsible for my having to cool my heels at the bar is enough to make me find the practice objectionable.

The absurdity of rich's post is that at least one of those restaurants reads eGullet. I don't mean to imply that there's a likelihood that at least one has staff who read eGullet, but that a staff member of one of those restaurants has mentioned comments made here about the restaurant. The likelihood is that they all lurk here.

It's also pretty much a fact than many restaurants keep reservations and diner information on a computer and there's a great chance one is building a record of one's cancellations.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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It's also pretty much a fact than many restaurants keep reservations and diner information on a computer and there's a great chance one is building a record of one's cancellations.

time might tell if there will/can ever be fallout from that practice. although i've never heard even a whisper about the possibility someone being denied a reservation based on one's "record" or history. and if you're not using opentable, or some system that ties you to a specific account based on name/phone number/SSN, etc., then it really doesn't matter if they tried to deny you a reservation, as you'd be temped to make it under "Bux" if necessary.

besides, i've been making all of mine under "plotnicki" for 3 years now. seems to work pretty well. :laugh:

Edited by tommy (log)
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Unless you want a really loud environment, I would not suggest dinner at Spicemarket, lunch is much more enjoyable. Night time there is the equivalent of a night club. I would say have dinner somewhere and swing by for a drink because it is beautiful inside

I had dinner at Bouley 2 years ago and it wasnt my favorite meal, however I recently had 2 meals at Danube that totally blew my mind. Food, Atmosphere and Service were all impeccable.

I ve never been to the Biltmore room,,,,,,,,

Good Luck with your choice!

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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Unless you want a really loud environment, I would not suggest dinner at Spicemarket, lunch is much more enjoyable. Night time there is the equivalent of a night club. I would say have dinner somewhere and swing by for a drink because it is beautiful inside

I had dinner at Bouley 2 years ago and it wasnt my favorite meal, however I recently had 2 meals at Danube that totally blew my mind. Food, Atmosphere and Service were all impeccable.

I ve never been to the Biltmore room,,,,,,,,

Good Luck with your choice!

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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I guess if one doesn't dine out a lot, or at least if one has no intention of becoming a regular at a restaurant there's no harm in using fictitious names or cancelling under your own name. The only loss would be that at some of the best restaurants, there's a degree of VIP treatment that comes as early as the second visit in less than a year.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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My wife is celebrating a major birthday Monday, July 12th (she'll kill me if I say which one). I have four dinner reservations for that evening (I will cancel the other three a week out)...

Perhaps other people are too polite to mention this. I'm not.

I think it's a serious breach of restaurant etiquette to make 4 restaurant reservations for a particular night - knowing that you will cancel 3. What if everyone did that? And I called up one of those restaurants trying to make a reservation - only to be told that the restaurant was fully booked - when - in reality - none of those reservations was made with good intentions.

I don't live in New York - so when I make reservations at high end restaurants in New York - I do so well in advance. And if I can't make the reservation (we're booked) - that's the end of me.

How would you feel if a high end restaurant booked 4 groups for each table at 8 for Friday a month from now - knowing that it would call 3 of those groups a week in advance to cancel? Robyn

Robyn,, though it may not be nice, people do it all the time, that is why high end places like Ducasse require credit card numbers.

If you cancel the week of the event, i see nothing wrong with it as there are always people dying to go. I had 3 reservation for my birthday that i made a month in advance, i cancelled the other 2, three weeks before my birthday which was plenty of time to get those seats rebooked.

I worked at the Striped Bass - in Philly- where graduation @ Penn was the "big culinary event" of the spring. People would make reservation at Striped Bass, Le Bec Fin and several other places so, finally, we started taking down cards and charging them unless they gave us enough notice.

Its worse when people dont call to cancel at all and you are left hanging, but making a few reservations and cancelling with enough time for them to rebook isnt a big deal to me,..........

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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juuceman! :shock: That's going too far. I find it works just to pull out a reporter's pad and start writing. :biggrin:

Just joking. But it might be worth a try. :wink:

I ve jotted down notes at places for mere posting on this board and its so funny how people react,,,,,,,,,,,

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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although, even people who do dine out a lot and do becomes regulars at high-end restaurants often cancel reservations. i've done it. plans change. clients flake out. etc. i've always gotten the impression that restaurants, even the better ones, understand that and don't take it personally. and as someone else suggested they don't seem to be suffering if there's a big walk-in or last minute reservation business. and a week's notice seems reasonable to me in NYC.

it's the small guys i worry about, because they can get screwed on last minute cancellations. but we're not talking about them here anyhow.

Edited by tommy (log)
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as an ex reservationist at mercer kitchen and striped bass, the open table system pretty accurately track cancellations, lateness and no shows. at SB under Stein, I would defianately take note of the amount of cancellations for a Saturday night if that person was dddddddddddying to get in,,,,,

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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Guys, we're getting a little too carried away with this. I only did this because of two factors: 1. restaurants "make" you reserve two months in advance and if you miss by a day or two, there's nothing left. Per Se and Bouley were two months and the other two were a month. and 2. It's a very special occasion and I wanted to give my wife a choice. ( I don't do it often - one other time in the last year.)

I don't believe anyone is going to get hurt or forced to miss a reservation (or need to cool their heels) . As I stated, I will cancel all of these at least a week out - more if possible. If a restaurant chooses not to give me a reservation because I cancelled one or two in the past, then so be it. They certainly have that right. (What would they do the person who just doesn't show? Is public flogging still legal?)

However, the three I cancel will fill their seats, especially since they're getting a week or more notice. I was aware that the restaurants probably read these boards, but they over book and/or hold back tables and we book multiple restaurants on the same night. That's the way the game is played - like it or not it's reality.

This practice goes on all the time and if someone wasn't aware of it, they're suffering from the ostritch syndrome.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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but then again, you'd probably be aghast at my suggestion to grease a host for a table while i don't think twice about doing so..

It's done - and I've done it when people who came to visit wanted to dine in specific busy restaurants that: 1) didn't take/honor reservations; and 2) I knew the grease would work - and how much was necessary. On my own - I make a point of avoiding those restaurants. Robyn

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This practice goes on all the time and if someone wasn't aware of it, they're suffering from the ostritch syndrome.

No one implied they weren't aware of the practice or that they didn't know it went on all the time. What some people said was that there's a domino effect precisely because it goes on all the time. You may not agree with some of the posts here, but that's no excuse to accuse the posters of being ignorant of common practice.

That the restaurants will fill their seats or that last minute diners will find open seats is fine, but there are also others whose wives are having birthdays and who would like to make reliable plans in advance. There are three desireable two tops that are being held for another week or two and when they're released someone else may have settled for second choice. One man's gain may be another's loss, but each action we take has reprecussions. You can defend your ethics without being in denial of other people's educated opinions.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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there are also others whose wives are having birthdays and who would like to make reliable plans in advance.

And they have reservations at the other three restaurants as well. :laugh:

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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