Egged on by Nina W.'s recent posting, I returned to Daniel this week and dined in the main dining room. I agree, the kitchen is in fine form these days. I had a very enjoyable meal. I'd particularly recommend the "salad" of Scottish langoustines and various other shellfish, which was a special that night. I'd recommend against the citrus-marinated fluke, which I had hoped would be intensely flavored and ceviche-like, but in fact turned out rather bland. Service was fantastic, and very down-to-earth -- no stuffiness at all. The meal was on a par with recent experiences at Jean Georges, and I couldn't really recommend either as offering the superior cuisine at this point. I must say, I still prefer the dining room at JG. To me, Daniel's room, while more visually impressive and beautiful, feels just a little bit cavernous and overly packed with tables, and it gets a little noisy sometimes. But it's still very nice, and I'd definitely recommend the main dining room for a first-time diner.
In light of our recent thread about the lounge at Daniel, I scanned the lounge more carefully than usual on my way out, and spoke in detail with the man who seemed to be in charge of seating there. There was a preponderance of female diners on this particular night, but of the four gentlemen I saw, only two wore jackets. Indeed, one wore a quite casual sweater that seemed a bit out of place. The man in charge told me that jackets definitely are not required in the lounge, and I personally would feel comfortable if I were "dressed up for a night out," if you know what I mean, though not wearing a jacket. Reservations are encouraged for the lounge, but are much easier to come by than are reservations in the main dining room (I would note that I usually call just a few minutes before arriving, and I've never had any problems being seated). Contrary to my earlier beliefs, the staff is quite happy to serve a full three-course meal in the lounge. They're also happy to serve just cheese or just dessert, and I have been there for nothing more than a nice bottle of wine as well.