Fancy restaurants in NYC
September 5, 2011 5:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations for a really nice restaurant in NYC to send my parents to as a thank you.

My parents are taking my 3 siblings and I to Florida and NYC in November/December this year - we'll be in New York for a week from November 26. I want to send them to a really nice dinner, I'm looking at about $250, but would spend more for the right place. It would most likely be a Monday night (since the other nights are probably going to be spent bingeing on Broadway), and we're staying near 33 St Subway - but location isn't really an issue.

I'm looking for something with good atmosphere, good food and nice wine. They were sent to a dinner at the Gramercy Tavern about 5 years ago by a company that my dad had been working for, and they really enjoyed it (they still talk about it). So I'm thinking something along those lines - but I'm in Australia and have only ever been in NY on a backpacker budget so I have no idea where I should be looking. They are open to most cuisines, and enjoy spicy food, but that's not a requirement.

I'm asking now in case there are places I should be looking at that get booked up way in advance, and I know it is the week after Thanksgiving so I assume the city will be busy.

Thanks in advance!
posted by cholly to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Why not Le Cirque?
posted by paulsc at 5:18 AM on September 5, 2011

For different reasons, I love these very New York spots:
Per Se
Le Bernadin
Peter Luger's
The Waverly Inn
Union Square Cafe
posted by thinkpiece at 5:20 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would recommend Keens -
it is pretty close to where they are staying.

The food is amazing - but the atmosphere and history can't be beat.
There are smoking pipes hanging on the walls, as men used to leave a pipe at their favorite restaurant, and then smoke their own pipe after dinner. Buffalo Bill, Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, William McKinley, and many more have pipes on the wall.

And it is the best mutton in NYC. Keens is an experience.
posted by Flood at 5:26 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would recommend Dovetail on 77th and Columbus for a Monday night dinner as they have a $46 prix fixe, an extensive wine list, and very helpful and friendly staff. I've been twice recently and loved it each time.
posted by stachemaster at 5:29 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Four Seasons (Pool Room!)
posted by houseofdanie at 5:46 AM on September 5, 2011

Easy one. If they liked Gramercy Tavern, then go to Eleven Madison Park. Both are owned by Danny Meyer and focus on excellent hospitality as well as outstanding cuisine.

Also, fwiw, Eleven Madison Park is one of only six restaurants rated four stars by the New York Times.
posted by mark7570 at 6:02 AM on September 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

posted by Splunge at 6:30 AM on September 5, 2011

Seconding Eleven Madison Park.

NYT article on Danny Meyer.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:04 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing Le Bernadin and 11 Madison Park

WD 50

My best overall experience (service and food) was at Le Bernadin.
posted by brujita at 7:09 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I also had a wonderful dinner at the bar at Blue Hill.
posted by brujita at 7:10 AM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Keens for sure.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:44 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love Keens (LOVE Keens) but it would be a weird choice for this. It's still a banker's chophouse, and the location is so eh. The meat is fantastic and it's super groovy and I honestly love going there but it's... kind of a bro-down. Also, sure I love a blue cheese and iceberg lettuce wedge but.

I would say one of these two places, 100%:

• The Modern—in the back room, the "dining room," not the bar room. It's exquisite, the food is incredible, it looks out onto MoMA's sculpture garden. (The bar room is also beautiful and the food is A++ and the service is great, but the dining room is... some next level stuff.) You can tell them this is a special meal for your parents and they'll be very kind to them.

• Craft. It's not only gorgeous, and the food is terrific, they're EXTRA-sensitive to people calling and saying things like "This is a special thank you dinner for my parents, could you be extra nice to them?" They live for that kind of thing, and will totally indulge them.

If you need help with/have questions about reservations at these two places, email me. (You also probably couldn't go wrong with 11 Mad, but it's not my thing. Per Se is extremely over the top but they might enjoy it. (Most people I know have thrown up or very nearly thrown up after an 11-course, five-hour meal. SORRY TO BE GROSS.))
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:54 AM on September 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Recette. Charming ambiance, feels cozy and intimate, and the food is superb.
posted by prefpara at 8:05 AM on September 5, 2011

The meal at 508 I had a year or two back was very, very tasty.

The Ricotta dish was basically transcendant.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:26 AM on September 5, 2011

I should add that I suppose it's more trendy than fancy.

I'll add that what I really liked was that although it was trendy, the staff were really very friendly. Also that ricotta. Oh man, the ricotta. And looks like they still have it on the menu!
posted by Deathalicious at 8:33 AM on September 5, 2011

Just be wary that all of the very high end places people are naming (EMP, Le B, Per Se, The Modern) will run you far north of $250 for two w/booze. Also your dad might feel out of place w/out a jacket - although I think none of those named still requite a jacket ex-Le B. I think The Modern just dropped their requirement. I mean they are all worth dining in, but just need to caveat the recc.

Agree with RJR re-Keens. Actually I think it would be a very cool place for all of you to go one night - and get the mutton chop - it is exceptional (though I think its pretty mild for mutton)

Annissa is nice, and they give a great well priced fine dining option in a nice room. Blue Hill Washington Square is sort of halfway between Annissa and Gramercy Tavern ambiance wise. I'm also a big booster of Aldea, but its in a blah nabe, as opposed to all of the other options.
I'd also consider Hearth - its in the Craft/GT school of cooking with a more Italian twist and a really interesting wine program.
posted by JPD at 8:46 AM on September 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh also - on the ressy side - none of these places are that hard to get bookings at these days - but anyway depending on the place you can't really start booking until either October 1 or two months out from the day of your booking. It will vary by restaurant - but really getting the table shouldn't be a problem anywhere named here ex-Babbo.
posted by JPD at 8:50 AM on September 5, 2011

Perry St is lovely and in the right price range.
posted by shivohum at 10:24 AM on September 5, 2011

Many good suggestions above. I want to add Mercer Kitchen to the list as well as nth the Danny Meyers restaurants.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:23 AM on September 5, 2011

Response by poster: There looks like so many fantastic recommendations, thanks so far. I'll have to wait until after work to check them out, but please keep them coming if you have more.

My parents normally treat themselves to a nice dinner while o/s so dad usually has a jacket with him.
posted by cholly at 2:53 PM on September 5, 2011

Le Bernardin opens its books on the first of the month for the following month. For example, you'd need to call on November 1st for a December booking.

All of Danny Meyer's restaurants (Union Square Cafe, Eleven Madison Park, etc.) take reservations four weeks I'm advance.

Per Se changed their reservations policy last fall to be one month in advance. Previously it was two months in advance.

Babbo is a bit of an oddball for reservations. You must call one month in advance to the numerical date. For example, today they started taking bookings for October I believe all Batali restaurants are this way (Lupa, Del Posto, etc).

Most other restaurants take reservations 31, 30, or 28 days in advance. If you have your heart set on a place, call at an off hour and ask the reservation how far in advance you need to call and at what time. You can use OpenTable too but some of the high end places only put the 5pm and 10pm tables on the site.
posted by kathryn at 8:17 AM on September 6, 2011

Argh, hit submit too early. What I meant to write:

Babbo is a bit of an oddball for reservations. You must call one month in advance to the numerical date. For example, today (September 6th) they started taking bookings for October 6th. If you want a table at Babbo for November 29th, you'll need to call on October 29th at 10am Eastern.

Additionally, they take reservations in person -- if you have a friend here, send them to Babbo at 9:45am on October 29th, and avoid the redialing.
posted by kathryn at 8:21 AM on September 6, 2011

I'd add - I've only had success doing the in-person thing at Babbo. I no longer consider it worth the hassle.
posted by JPD at 8:51 AM on September 6, 2011

Keens' chop is actually lamb. Still good.
posted by brujita at 9:37 AM on September 6, 2011

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