Hi, I’ll be coming to NY in May, staying and working most of the summer, but I am staying for 4 nights with my father. This is my first time in NY. Thus, I have a ton of questions.
The first being, I have decided on my dinner restaurants for the three nights that I will be going out with my dad <Arriving late the first evening from France, means I will be ordering in > which are: Le Bernardin; Le Cirque; and either Nabo or Inagiku… Are these good restaurants? Are these worth going to? What times do people typically eat dinner at these types of Restaurants. I am currently living and going to school in Paris, and dinner doesn't start until after 8. Second, Where is the best shopping? Third, is there any way of getting Letterman tickets this late? Forth, I've decided to take the shorter 2 hour circle line boat tour, but what other tours are worth doing? And lastly, I will be staying in the Rockefeller Center area – Are there any good Sunday Brunch restaurants in that area? I am asking about nice, fancy, you can bring your dad for his birthday, type Sunday brunch… (possibly not too late of a Brunch, because he has a flight out of JFK at 2 that Sunday)
After my dad leaves, I will be staying the NYU dorms, on Union Square. Can you tell me what night life there is in the area? Bars/Clubs/Restaurants/etc.
Mar 22, 04, 6:26 pm
Welcome to Flyertalk. Ill take a shot at the restaurants part of your question. For French food, both of the ones you mentioned are quite expensive, although perhaps you know that. They may start a bit before 8 but NY dinners, even at nice restaurants can start quite late as well, not much unlike Paris in that regard. I have been to the old LeCirque (they moved a few years ago) once and to LeBernardin on several occassions. Of the two I would prefer LeBernardin, although in fairness I havent been to LeCirque in a while. The maitre 'd at a three star restaurant in Paris told me a few years ago that he thought the food at LeBernardin was as good as any in Paris, but the service was not quite up to the same standard. If I was picking any French restaurant in NY it would, however, be Alain Ducasse NY. I think it is quite a bit above the others in both food and especially service. I would put LeBernardin second and Jean George third. Alain Ducasse is even more expensive than LeBernardin or LeCirque. I saw an interview with Ducasse on CNN in which he said they targeted about $500 per person for dinner in his NY restaurant. That is consistent with my experience with 3 or 4 visits, perhaps even a bit on the low side. If you want a cheaper, more informal French restaurant, I would highly recommend Balthazar which is downtown, closer to NYU. I saw a poll of French expat citizens living in NY and it was a runaway winner as most authentic everyday French restaurant in NY. I like it a lot, reminds me of a brasserie rather than a 3 star.
As to Japanese, I havent eaten at either. My wife thought Nobu was terribly over rated. For Japanese I would recommend Kai on Madison Avenue which serves kaiseki meals (a version of them at least) or Honmura An in Soho. The latter does a large business with Japanese and is one of my favorite restaurants of any kind in NY. They have some wonderful sushi and appetizers and then their own udon and soba, which you can watch them make in a glass window to the kitchen. A wonderful place, the owners family has a similar restaurant in Tokyo. It has for close to 10 years been consistently rated as a top NY Japanese restaurant. Kai is newer. For sushi in NY I would recommend Sennin on 34th street. I ate there for the first time last week and was completely blown away. It isnt a fancy place but the sushi is spectacular. I recently ate at one of the most noted sushi restaurants in Tokyo and some of the stuff at Sennin was better. Particulary the blue-fin tuna toro and white salmon. Unbelieveable quality sushi. Enjoy NY!
Mar 23, 04, 8:36 am
Nobu is very, very good.
It is worth going.
Mar 23, 04, 1:19 pm
Flying out at 2 means you will want to get to the airport around noon, meaning you will proabaly want to leave the city by 10:30 or 11, probably 10:30. It may be a very easy trip, or there could be consrtuction or traffic depending on what's going on.
That will make brunch very diffucult, it's just too early. You will want to keep that in mind as you plan.
Mar 23, 04, 7:01 pm
Have you been to Ducasse in Paris (in the Hotel Plaza Athenee) or to Le Louis XV in Monaco? If so, perhaps you should skip Ducasse in NYC and go to Jean-Georges in the Trump International or Restaurant Daniel which I think is one of the best French restaurants in the world. (I've been to Taillevent, Louis XV, Pierre Gagnaire, etc). I think Le Bernardin does seafood better than Goumard in Paris.
Balthazar, or its sister restaurant in the Meat-packing district, Pastis, are excellent choices.
Vong, French-Thai fusion by Jean-George Vongerichten (he has Market, in Paris) is quite good; but even better, I hear, is Spice Market.
Nobu is worth it as long as you don't order "traditional" Japanese food -- the fusion food, tiradito, etc, are worth it. For excellent sushi, my favorite so far is Sushi Yasuda -- just like being in Tokyo!!
I think you should try for Restaurant Daniel -- it is equivalent to a Michelin 3 star restaurant in France, in my opinion. Daniel Boulud is a very personable man who often patrols the dining room during dinner.
Enjoy your trip.
P.S. For a NYC experience, try Gotham Bar and Grill -- excellent food and a great dining experience!!
Mar 23, 04, 7:27 pm
you will need reservations at each of those restaurants. Book weeks in advance if possible.
Sara Beths on the upper east side is a good place for brunch. Madison and 91st I believe. Take a cab.
Lettermen - you used to be able to get there around dawn and get a stand by ticket. They want the audience full, so they issue stand by tickets for no shows. They give out 100 standby tickets at 10AM, but you need to get there much earlier. Usually about the first 50 standbys get in, but it varies.
Union Square - there are lots of places to go out in that area, particularly if you are in your 20s. The current recommended places change frequently. Ask someone at NYU. That is probably an ideal neighborhood to stay for nightlife.
Shopping - 5th Avenue and the 50's based on your choice of restaurants and price range. Otherwise, checkout boutiques in Soho.
Mar 23, 04, 8:11 pm
Cant believe I forgot Daniel. Perhaps since I was only there once, and that for Thanksgiving dinner, it didnt think of it. But luxury is right, it is excellent. I probably prefer LeBernardin to the others since I love seafood. As to Ducasse, I have actually skipped his place in Paris since I have been to the one in NY so I could understand that. I think it is the best of the group but we obviously have personal preferences here that are drawing very fine lines between a group of really supurb places. Another one to add is JoJo which is a smaller less formal version of Jean George which is also excellent. A personal favorite of mine is Picholine by Lincoln Center, I think it is quite under appreciated. luxury also made an excellent suggestion concerning Gotham Bar and Grill. Being from Paris, if you wanted a more NY type experience either Gotham or the Grammercy Tavern would be great choices. They have excellent food and service and are clearly New York restaurants. Many of the staff in Ducasse, LeBernardin, etc are from France so if you are from there it will be more familiar and certainly less "New York".