Fine dining in NYC

NYC has always been a Mecca for foodies, especially for those who enjoy the finer things in life. Unfortunately, not all fine dining are created equal and with a limited budget, it’s nice to know what to expect from the various institutions and what not to expect from others. I will begin with five that I recently dined at: Megu, Morimoto, Daniel, Jean Georges, and Le Bernardin.

Perhaps it’s my bias towards Japanese food, particularly sushi, that made these two meals especially memorable for me. The sushi at both Megu and Morimoto were extremely fresh, flavorful, crisp and basically melt in your mouth. While both restaurants offer an Omakase, tasting menu, I recommend you order a la carte. Ordering everything on the Omakase menu is similar in price to ordering a la carte and let’s face it, you don’t always crave all the dishes on the tasting menu.

Megu also offers a sake pairing with the Omakase. If you ask nicely, they will actually let you order the sake pairing without the Omakase, which I strongly recommend. Megu has two locations, one in Tribeca and another in Midtown East by the United Nations. The design and ambiance of both locations were almost identical but for the three-four feet Budda ice sculpture in the middle of the restaurant in Tribeca. My boyfriend and I both agreed that the food at the U.N. location was much better. A few of our favorite dishes were: the Sashimi Tasting, Yellowtail Carpaccio, Megu Kobe Beef Carpaccio, Salmon Tartare, Megu Kobe Beef Slices Ishiyaki, and Silver Cod with Yuzu Miso.

The decor at Morimoto was probably the most open yet intimate I’ve seen. From the impressive collage of beer bottles, I think, to the frosted glass partition between the booths, I couldn’t help but be in awe. The fish was equally as amazing, however, with the recent departure of their chef de cuisine and sous chef, I am uncertain about their non-sushi dishes. Our favorites at Morimoto included their Lamb Carpaccio, Hamachi Tartare, Toro Tartare, Crispy Rock Shrimp Tempura, Sashimi Salad, and the Wagyu Beef.

Of the five restaurants in this review, Daniel was probably the most disappointing in terms of food. Daniel offers a three course pre-fixe, a six course tasting, and an eight course tasting. We did the six course tasting, and truth be told, by the fourth course, we just wanted it to be over. Honestly, the only dishes we enjoyed were the complimentary palette cleanser and the Wild Herb Ravioli with Dancing Ewe Farm Ricotta. What Daniel came short in food was made up with service. Every server was attentive. They help you get up and seated every time and all servers were made aware of my allergy to crab, so much that when I picked at my boyfriend’s shrimp dish, one of the servers nearly dashed over to make sure that my allergy was only limited to crabs. Regardless of if they were your server or a server for another table, they will happily pour more wine when they saw the glass emptying. My only recommendation for dates is to request for a table along the walls because couples can sit next to each other on a cushioned bench as opposed to across from each other. It made for easy snuggling. I don’t think it deserves to be the best restaurant in NYC or the 8th best in the world. On another note, I was overally disappointed in the Daniel Boulud brand. We also paid a visit to DBGB, Boulud’s gastro pub, and aside from the sausage, everything else on the menu was a disappointment. Dishes were too salty or flavorless.

Of all the restaurants reviewed in this piece, Jean Georges has to be the one with the worst service. My boyfriend told our waiter that it was my birthday and requested them to bring out a candle with my dessert. The dessert came out without a candle and she completely forgot about my boyfriend’s request. Keep in mind this was a relatively small restaurant and she only had to wait on two tables or so. My boyfriend was very upset and had to remind her to which, she unregrettably admitted she “forgot”. The food was very good; every dish was impeccable, but we don’t plan on going back due to the poor service, alone. When we sat down to order, she was very condescending thinking we were only going to share an appetizer, order two mains and one glass of wine or something. Her attitude obviously changed when she realized we were spending real money on two tastings and two wine pairings; apparently not enough to remember the birthday request, however. Needless to say, you should go if you want to go because it’s Jean Georges, but otherwise, your money is better spent on better food and service elsewhere.

This leads me to Le Bernardin. The decor can use a bit of updating with maple wood overwhelming the restaurant. All of the other four restaurants boast modern or beautifully renovated traditional styles, but Le Bernardin was a little “tacky” for me. Being regarded as third best restaurant in NYC and 15th in the world, Le Bernardin was truly bang for your buck. Not only was it the cheapest, it was also the best! In addition to amazing food and bargain prices for what you get, the service here was by far the best. All the servers work together to serve you. They anticipate your every need before you even knew you needed it. Every dish there was amazing and creative. Our favorites include: Tuna, Oysters, Scallops, Caviar Wagyu, Lobster Carpaccio, Striped Bass, Lobster, and the Venison.

Hmm, all this talk about food is making me hungry. Gonna make myself some ramen now!


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