Went back to EMP this weekend. First time back since they have gone to tasting menu only format. I couldn't find the thread but there was someone asking about EMP and a few other place as an option for his wife's birthday dinner and wanted an update on the atmosphere.
I would say the scene is pretty lively for the tax bracket most EMP denizens inhabit. Crowd is a mix of families (like we were), young and older couples celebrating and groups of friends. Didn't seem like much in the way of the expense account crowd since it was a weekend dinner. It was lively but you could easily have a conversation so I think it would be a great place for a fun 40th birthday celebration as long as you weren't planning to drink the champagne from your wife's shoe.
The staff was as accommodating as ever. Very friendly and informative. Has to be the most polished FOH in the city. Somm was great. We did the wine tasting with dinner.
I won't go into the menu very much as its pretty changeable. We had very good dishes but I wouldn't say that anything was memorable other than the pastrami interpretation of NY deli. I would love an entire sandwich of that stuff. Katz's has nothing on this stuff. Some of the gimmicky elements I had heard about like card tricks didn't seem to be present. The closest it got to that was when they brought out the cart to make the waldorf salad as well as an original copy of the waldorf cookbook. That was an interesting book for our table to look at. It was inscribed with an 1898 date.
The wine pairing was very good and they were generous with the pours.
While the food with one exception wasn't outstanding, it was very good and the combination of everything made it an outstanding evening. The only thing I would add is that dinner is a marathon. 13 courses took nearly 4 hours. I'm exhausted.