I probably should have posted this in the "Danny Meyer restaurants" thread, but I didn't want my praise of these two restaurants to be lost in the crowd.
Mom, sis and I visited NYC for the first time last week (stayed at a hotel by Times Square), and after months of research and Chowhound queries, I narrowed our three dinners down to The Bar Room at the Modern, Victor's Cafe, and Eleven Madison Park. When I confirmed my reservations at The Bar Room a few days beforehand, I spoke with the manager, Jason, and he was more than friendly. I had a few questions about the menu that he cheerfully answered, and it was then I learned EMP was also a Meyer restaurant. He told me he'd be at TBR the night of our meal and would see us then. I didn't think much of it, but shortly after our arrival he greeted us at our table and chatted us up, even hand wrote a list of bars in the area he thought we might be interested in. Jason really took the time to make us feel welcome. And the food...THE FOOD! Oh, Lord, to die for. We all shared our meals so we were able to try so many different things. The foie gras was absolutely sublime. With each bite, I had to close my eyes and fully enjoy the experience. The service was impeccable.
When the three of us went to EMP a few nights later, turns out Jason had called ahead to inform the staff of our arrival (even though we're not "somebody," just three plain Janes out for a nice meal). I don't know if the servers were going out of their way to treat us as they did because Jason called or if that's just the way they treat everyone, but the service at EMP was even better than TBR. The sommelier was the first to greet us, and she gave my sister and mom some wonderful recommendations for their meals (I'm a martini girl). We were treated to delightful hors d'oeuvres and a tomato basil gazpacho amuse bouche that made us giddy. We probably snacked and sipped for an hour before we even got to the prix fixe menu.
Thanks to all the Chowhounders who helped me with my restaurant decisions, as all three were home runs. Thanks especially to Jason and his staff for the royal treatment. Our dining experiences won't soon be forgotten.
As for the rest of our trip, we also had cupcakes from Crumb, a black and white cookie from Junior's in Grand Central Station, pastrami sandwiches at Carnegie Deli, and a combo over rice at the street vendor on 53rd and 3rd (?) - you know the one, where the customers line up halfway down the block at 2:00 a.m. I even tried a hot dog from another street vendor (but it paled in comparison to Chicago's hot dogs; what's with the soupy onions?).
For the little time we had to spend in NYC, we crammed as much activity as possible - Metropolitan Museum of Art, two touristy bus tours, Central Park, Battery Park, a play at the Music Box (August: Osage County - so good!), Grand Central Station. All in all a really great trip!
My only gripe - I guess bleu cheese olives (for martinis) are another Chicago thing, because I got some funny looks when I inquired of them. I'll pack them in my purse for the next visit.
Thanks again, everyone!