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Our sample NY itinerary


Simon_S
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Indeed, Simon. I would add at this juncture that we had a fabulous trip, and did some wonderful dining. Our last gastrotrip which was to Lyon was similarily peppered with some highs (Nicolas Le Bec) and some serious Lows (Bocouse)....

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I'd say your assessment of Daniel, while somewhat amplified by your fullness and the early FOH blunders, is highly accurate. I still think it's a great restaurant, but like some of the other four stars it lacks some of the legendary magic it is known for.

Regarding the wine thing, there could be two explanations. Daniel is known for trying to turn tables, so that may be it. More likley, however, is that they were going out of their way to make sure you didn't feel neglected. People often do order bottles of wine before they know what they're eating, which I personally find very strange, but at least by asking they're not leaving you without the option to order (and spend more money).

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Regarding the wine thing, there could be two explanations.  Daniel is known for trying to turn tables, so that may be it.  More likley, however, is that they were going out of their way to make sure you didn't feel neglected.  People often do order bottles of wine before they know what they're eating, which I personally find very strange, but at least by asking they're not leaving you without the option to order (and spend more money).

That sounds perfectly reasonable, and given the fact that I had looked at it and then put it down, that could easily be considered as a sign that I wanted to order something.

One point I should have included in my comments above is that we never felt even the slightest bit rushed. Not prior to ordering, not during service, not after dinner. For my money, the pacing was just right.

Si

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Your comments and thoughts on the various restaurants you visited are well thought out and presented. I have had similar experiences at various restaurants myself, where I have been disappointed for various reasons, not all of which are the fault of the restaurant. I think it is especially true when traveling since so many external variables come into play including too much food over a short period of time and simply being tired. Of course the truly great meals still stand out, but the little things become so much more magnified in that context - at least in my experience including my most recent trip to Spain.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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In many ways Daniel felt like a private members' club that I had been allowed into for the evening. The tables seemed to be filled with regulars who could be seen hugging various members of staff and who were visited by the chef on his rounds (our table wasn't included in his perambulations). I'm smart enough to realise that people like me aren't really their primary earner, I'm never going to spend enough there to put their kids through college, but I was somewhat surprised at the 2-tier feeling. Of course, on the other hand we were comped extra courses, and some of the waiters were genuinely warm, friendly and interested, so maybe I'm just being silly.

I could not have put it better myself. We have experienced this at Daniel ourselves. Go there with someone connected and the experience is 2-3x the normal. We have been in both tiers and experienced the difference. To be fair, if you know the restaurant owner, you will be better served at pretty much any restaurant. But the difference seems to be bigger at Daniel.

Appreciate the thread and the perspective much. Glad you guys enjoyed your stay.

Edited by vivin (log)
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Saturday was my 31st birthday and we celebrated with the last of our planned meals, dinner at Eleven Madison Park. Given my struggles the night before, we were careful not to eat too much during the day, a plan that worked pretty well until about 5pm. By then we were both really starting to flag and the hunger pangs were revving up again. Our reservation wasn't until 9, so we popped into a restaurant across the road from the Mercer (whose name may have been Zoe?) in search of lite bites. We sat at the bar, had a beer, and shared various tasty snacks -- lobster crostini, prawns, calamari and some others. Concern that the previous day's heartburn might make a reappearance turned to dread when our friendly barmaid poured me a small amount of a couple of whiskeys on the house. I valiantly drank them with no adverse effects, so I knew I was ready to face dinner!

I'd read contrasting views about the room at EMP, and certainly I wouldn't be an enormous fan on the basis of our night-time visit. I loved the high ceilings and big windows, and I loved the fact that I could see the (iconic to me) Flatiron Building from my seat. I kinda liked the buzz, although it was maybe a little louder than I was expecting, but all-in-all I couldn't shake a vague feeling that I was in a very nice company canteen -- it doesn't really feel "special" in the way that fine dining places usually do. There certainly wasn't any air of exclusivity about the place, which could either be viewed as a refreshing change or a slight disappointment. I decided I'd go with the refreshing change option, not least because this was the first of our serious restaurants where women seemed to have a sizable representation among the waiting staff. I hadn't noticed before, but Hazel pointed out that in our various "formal" restaurant visits we hadn't once had a female server, a fact that is somewhat surprising.

We had been perusing the menu for a good 5 minutes before I noticed the message printed across the top: "Happy Birthday Simon!" I must have mentioned this piece of information at some point during the booking/confirmation process, but this was a very nice touch. When I finally spotted it and pointed it out to Hazel, our waitress came over smiling broadly and said that she wondered how long it was going to take us to see it. We said that where food was concerned we're both inclined to get tunnel vision, and we'd been far too interested in the descriptions on the menu. A good sign, I think you'll agree.

Even though we had intended to do the "Gourmand" menu, we just couldn't face it. Still, we aren't the type to go for half-measures either, so we asked if it would be possible to ignore the appetiser section and go for one fish and two meat dishes each instead. We were told that would be a $15 supplement on the usual $96, but it was no problem, so Hazel opted for

- Atlantic Halibut

"Mi-cuit" with asparagus, black truffles and Sauce Vin Jaune

- Four Story Hill Farm Veal

Herb roasted duo with garden peas and oregon morels

I had:

- Mediterranean Loup de Mer

Slow cooked with saffron endive nage and piquillo peppers

- Vermont Farm Suckling Pig

Confit with cipollini onions, dried plum chutney and five spice jus

We shared a dish for two:

- Grimaud Farms Muscovy Duck

Glazed with lavender honey and spices.

After an extended consultation with the extremely helpful and friendly sommelier we settled on a bottle of 1997 Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet and a half-bottle of 2000 Pomerol from Gombaude Guillot. She kindly decanted the Puligny and it continued to open out beautifully during the meal. It was really enjoyable, if expensive, and the Pomerol was fine as I recall.

Honestly, the food here was really delicious -- beautifully prepared, unfussy in presentation and with gutsy flavours. The real highlight was the duck, which counts as the best I've ever eaten. Asking the chef afterwards, he mentioned that they air-dry it themselves, and that accounts for its marvellous combination of taste and texture. I am still fantasising about that duck, and it was probably one of the most memorable things we ate on the trip. There maybe wasn't the complexity of cooking here that we'd experienced in J-G (or Daniel for that matter) but that was no harm. Everything I ate was focussed and well-executed. Strangely, I can't remember sampling Hazel's dishes (with the exception of a morel or two), but I know she really enjoyed everything too, and was similarly blown-away by the duck.

Still on the crest of that particular wave, I decided I was going to do something I'd wanted to do for years, so I ordered a glass of 1996 Chateau d'Yquem. It was as sublime as I expected -- next time it will be a bottle!! This was a fitting end to an excellent meal, and it made sure I'll remember this night for a while. I had dessert with it, but who really cares!

Special mention must go to the service here, especially our excellent sommelier. By now, I believe she's probably working at Lupa since she was due to finish up soon after our night there. In fact, all aspects of service were really good, with many small nice touches adding to the experience (in contrast to Daniel the night before). On leaving, we were presented with our menus, the labels from our wines laminated onto a card, and a large brioche. We couldn't have been made to feel more welcome.

EMP was an excellent experience for a variety of reasons. The food, while obviously not Michelin 3-star level, was really well-prepared with excellent ingredients. The service was very friendly with a level of polish that belied its informality. My misgivings about the room aside, this restaurant ticked many boxes, and seemed a fitting last dinner in NY. Next time I'll make sure to go for the Gourmand menu.

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... Our reservation wasn't until 9, so we popped into a restaurant across the road from the Mercer (whose name may have been Zoe?) in search of lite bites. We sat at the bar, had a beer, and shared various tasty snacks -- lobster crostini, prawns, calamari and some others.

Nope, it was called something like Zoop (I think it rhymed with "loop")...And it was delicious.

Concern that the previous day's heartburn might make a reappearance turned to dread when our friendly barmaid poured me a small amount of a couple of whiskeys on the house. I valiantly drank them with no adverse effects, so I knew I was ready to face dinner!

Interestingly, the barmaid mentioned that one of her Colleagues was highly involed in the development of the bar/bar list at one of Ireland premier and recently renovated and re-opened Hotels, the Shelbourne.

EMP was an excellent experience for a variety of reasons. The food, while obviously not Michelin 3-star level, was really well-prepared with excellent ingredients. The service was very friendly with a level of polish that belied its informality....

My only complaint is the number of different waiters and waitresses we had. While we had an excellent experience with an extremely competent, friendly and enthusiatic Somelliere, there was a certain degree of randomness as to from whom and when your next course might arrive. It made the experience a little Canteen-like, disorientating and perhaps impersonal (super-somelliere aside). It's a very small criticism mind.

Fabulous meal....with the best duck I have ever eaten. I also liked the way that before the duck was served, it was presented to us, whole, with a big bunch of lavender prettily inserted. Amazing.

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.....actually, I should add that I had a unique cheese board experience. I'm a total cheese fiend, and as usual ordered the selection of cheeses. These came nicely presented, with each cheese being accompanied by it's own complementing dash of "gel"....It really livened up the cheeses, and made a change from the usual grapes/fig and almond cake experience.

I was tickled to note that one of the cheeses was Cashel Blue, not just an Irish cheese, not just a really, really good blue cheese, but made in the town where we're getting married! :biggrin:

http://www.cashelblue.com/

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Happy birthday, Simon!

PLEASE tell me you're having a wedding cake made out of wheels of Cashel Blue...

I love CB. It's one of my "desert island" foods. (with crunchy apples).

This thread is porn to me. Pure and simple. I hope that doesn't make you feel awkward in any way...

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[...]I was tickled to note that one of the cheeses was Cashel Blue, not just an Irish cheese, not just a really, really good blue cheese, but made in the town where we're getting married! :biggrin:

http://www.cashelblue.com/

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! (He agreed, right? :laugh:)

I'm really enjoying your reports.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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On leaving, we were presented with our menus, the labels from our wines laminated onto a card, and a large brioche. We couldn't have been made to feel more welcome.

EMP was an excellent experience for a variety of reasons. The food, while obviously not Michelin 3-star level, was really well-prepared with excellent ingredients. The service was very friendly with a level of polish that belied its informality. My misgivings about the room aside, this restaurant ticked many boxes, and seemed a fitting last dinner in NY. Next time I'll make sure to go for the Gourmand menu.

This is exactly what makes Meyer's restaurants (except for solo diners on Valentine's Day :hmmm: ) special...

Congrats to you both and this was a great read!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! (He agreed, right? :laugh:)

I'm really enjoying your reports.

I beg your pardon?!?!?! He had to bring me to Louis XV in Monaco to make sure I said yes! :wink:

Seriously, glad you're enjoying them!!!

Edited by HannaBanana (log)
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Happy birthday, Simon!

PLEASE tell me you're having a wedding cake made out of wheels of Cashel Blue...

I love CB.  It's one of my "desert island" foods.  (with crunchy apples).

This thread is porn to me.  Pure and simple.  I hope that doesn't make you feel awkward in any way...

Not entirely out of Cashel Blue...but it WILL feature :biggrin: (and by sheer co-incidence, I emailed Sheridans about a wedding cheesecake only yesterday! None of the fruit cake malarky for me)

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Love your report! It seems as though you both had similar experiences as Lorna and I had last December at many of the same places. This makes me curious since all of the factors that go into how a restaurant is experienced are so variable and subjective. I wonder if these places are so consistent with what they are doing that two couples can visit 6 months apart and have almost exactly the same experience.

Makes me wish we took everyone's advice and hit EMP as well! :wink:

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I've been meaning to finish this report properly for days, but the opportunity hasn't arisen. Now I have 15 minutes before Ramsay's F Word starts, so let's get on with it...

After EMP we finally made to Pegu Club, something I had looked forward to for months. We needn't have bothered, filled as it was with marauding students packed 4-deep at the bar. When we made it to the front, I asked the barman what he'd recommend for a thirsty Irishman. "A Guinness", he responded. I laughed, ordered a Pegu Club, drank it, didn't especially like it, and we left. The barman was right! Death & Co. was definitely much more my cup of tea.

On Sunday, the day of our flight home, we had linner at Spice Market. It wasn't on our itinerary, but we'd gone to the Meatpacking district for a look, we were hungry, fancied Asian food, and there it was. Starters were good, mains less so, and on balance the meal was no more than competent. Not really a fitting end to NY, but them's the breaks. To be honest, at that stage I couldn't have faced anything more serious. Unfortunately, I could taste the garlic all the way back to Dublin, which was no fun for me, and I'm sure was no fun for the people sitting near us on the plane!

On our final morning, we went to the Bodies Exhibition at South Street Seaport. I spent quite a bit of time in the "obesity" section, looking at various slices, cross sections and organs of obese former humans. Given the tightness of my jeans by that point, and the memories of the uninhibited gluttony of the previous few days, I decided, and Hazel very much agreed, that all the high-level dining on the trip was really too much for us. We're not the robust gastronomes we like to think we are, and certainly not up there with the Daniels and BryanZs of this world. My cap is doffed to those guys!! I think your perceptions are definitely changed by having so much food in a short space of time. As pointed out above, small things take on extra significance, and aside from this, it's somewhat disheartening to go to really nice, expensive restaurants and not be hungry. Having said all this, I regret nothing!!!

To close then, you've probably already surmised that we had a really great time, and that there were quite a few notable culinary highlights, and very few lowlights. I feel compelled to point out that, despite the New Yorker reputation for rudeness, we encountered nothing but friendliness at all times, from restaurant staff, from fellow restaurant guests, from people on the street, even from cab drivers on one or two occasions. It was a pleasure.

Another random thought is that, despite my fears about the whole tipping culture (and me getting it all drastically wrong) it all worked very smoothly. My sense is that, while 20% may be expected, it is nonetheless very much appreciated when given.

One thing I learned on this trip, and I don't know how much interest this will be to people on the NY forum, is that we really do enjoy excellent quality ingredients here in Ireland. This is in no way a slight on the quality of ingredients we enjoyed in NY, but things like scallops (and other fish), lamb, beef and vegetables were notable by their very normality. This was surprising to us, but maybe it shouldn't be. In any case, it goes without saying that the *breadth* of choice was far more than we're used to, but it's nice to know that what we do we're actually doing quite well.

We so enjoyed this trip that we're hoping to return for a few days before Christmas, and maybe try to be more regular visitors to NY. To all those who helped with the planning of this trip, we offer our thanks, and a request that you keep an eye out for the inevitable "part 2" later in the year. We'll definitely sample sushi next time, pizza will have to feature, and a trip to some of the other boroughs is definitely in order. Until then, all I can say is that it's just as well I don't live near Momofuku Ssam. I'd weigh 300 pounds before year-end.

Over and out!

Si

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thanks for your report!

Pegu Club is a disaster on the weekends (through no fault of their own). for whatever reason it's on the B&T/weekend warrior go-to list...and it's filled with vodka tonic orderers on Friday and Saturday evenings (although it has to be great for the bottom line!). the thing about NY is that most professional drinking is done during the week...thus the famous (albeit not quite true) line that "NY'ers don't go out on the weekends"

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thanks for your report!

Pegu Club is a disaster on the weekends (through no fault of their own).  for whatever reason it's on the B&T/weekend warrior go-to list...and it's filled with vodka tonic orderers on Friday and Saturday evenings (although it has to be great for the bottom line!).  the thing about NY is that most professional drinking is done during the week...thus the famous (albeit not quite true) line that "NY'ers don't go out on the weekends"

That makes perfect sense. It certainly didn't have anything like the atmosphere described here on a regular basis. We did well to go to D&C on a Thursday in that case. Result!

Si

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  • 2 months later...

I'm bumping this thread since we're going to be back in NY for a couple of days next week, and this time we don't want to make any reservations in advance.

So, for walk-ins without too long a wait expected (at weekends) where would you recommend? Thusfar I'm mulling over Bouley upstairs, Bar Room at the Modern, Gramercy Tavern, Lupa, Spotted Pig. There will, of course, be the obligatory Momofuku Ssam return visit.

We're there for 2 nights and 3 days, staying in Soho (if it matters) and want to stay away from restaurants we visited before (Momofuku aside). Is there anything new that I should know about since our last visit?

Si

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I'm bumping this thread since we're going to be back in NY for a couple of days next week, and this time we don't want to make any reservations in advance.

So, for walk-ins without too long a wait expected (at weekends) where would you recommend? Thusfar I'm mulling over Bouley upstairs, Bar Room at the Modern, Gramercy Tavern, Lupa, Spotted Pig. There will, of course, be the obligatory Momofuku Ssam return visit.

We're there for 2 nights and 3 days, staying in Soho (if it matters) and want to stay away from restaurants we visited before (Momofuku aside). Is there anything new that I should know about since our last visit?

Si

I think Lupa and Spotted Pig will be zoos on the weekend - just because NYC'ers may be out of town won't make them any easier to get into.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I'm bumping this thread since we're going to be back in NY for a couple of days next week, and this time we don't want to make any reservations in advance.

So, for walk-ins without too long a wait expected (at weekends) where would you recommend? Thusfar I'm mulling over Bouley upstairs, Bar Room at the Modern, Gramercy Tavern, Lupa, Spotted Pig. There will, of course, be the obligatory Momofuku Ssam return visit.

We're there for 2 nights and 3 days, staying in Soho (if it matters) and want to stay away from restaurants we visited before (Momofuku aside). Is there anything new that I should know about since our last visit?

Si

I've never waited too long at Bouley Upstairs (its basically like Ssam Bar in terms of wait). Bar Room at the Modern is never a wait...especially if you're willing to eat at the bar (though pretty much after 9 or so there are always tables available). Lupa and Spotted Pig are always packed but two people shouldn't wait too long for the bar...tables are another matter (and the bar upstairs at Spotted Pig is always easier than downstairs). Gramercy Tavern front room shouldn't be much of a problem.

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