I'm about to join an informal food club that will infrequently be going to fancy restaurants.
I wonder which big-deal restaurants in Manhattan are chowhounds most fond of. Although I've admired my meals at Le Bernadin and Bouley, and have been largely indifferent to the fare at Lespinasse, Lutece (even in its so-called prime), and Chanterelle, the one big-deal restaurant I've always felt comfortable about is Aureole. To me, Charles Palmer is clearly a chowhound at heart. His food is gutsy and funny and never boring. I've also greatly enjoyed meals at Gotham, Acquavit, and Gramercy Tavern.
What should be our first restaurant? We were thinking about Jean-Georges or Daniel, but would be interested in any great restaurant not listed above.