Thank you NY-chowhounders, for some scintillating suggestions. We are back in LA after a Manhattan-jaunt. Closing impressions:
BLUE HILL - I was in heaven for two hours. I love that this is a celebration of the Hudson River Valley as well as seasonal foods. Started with a seared foie gras in a broth of baby vegetables made rich my an infusion of red wine, went on to their signature duck, and closed with a chestnut theme - not too sweet, which I loved. Service was on the mark. I recommend Maureen. Wine pairings were my only criticism. The staff quickly addressed this, however. Great room. I like sitting on the banquette to the left as you enter.
CAFE SABARSKY - Wonderful Sunday brunch in a 1920's Viennese room. Enjoyed the minted pea soup and vegetable spaetzle the most as well as the cakes and coffee (served with sides of schlagsahne). Hostess looked like she walked out of a Klimt painting. Check out the fascinating Neue Gallerie in which Cafe Sabarsky resides.
SARABETH'S at the WHITNEY - How can I ever have chicken pot pie again, after this? It was light, with a beautiful aroma and you can easily remove the "hat" and not eat all the dough. Great service. Great host - can't remember his name.
GRAMMERCY PARK TAVERN - Life at the bar was jammin.' Spirited service, decorated seasonally. Put me right in the mood. Went back twice. Would actually prefer to eat in the bar, than in the "we reserved a month in advance" dining room. Good nightcap is a Kentucky Cappucino.
FLUTE. Champagne bar next door to GPT. Bad service, Dirty, Uppity clientele. No thanks.
CITY BAKERY. So bummed that I didn't love this. I don't like the new set up - so sterile. Several of the breakfast pastries were really dry. Will try again next visit.
Thanks, everyone. Happy New Year.