Since my brother and his family live in an town where dining out means going to the Olive Garden, he likes to eat well when he visits me here in Manhattan. Over the past four years, I have encouraged his efforts by getting him a gift certificate to a great NYC restaurant as a combined Christmas/birthday present. Past picks have been Daniel (right when the new one opened), Gotham, Babbo, and Craft. He's also already been to Gramercy Tavern, Aureole, and Union Square Cafe.
So where should I get his gift certificate this year? Things to consider: (i) I'd prefer to send him somewhere that's generated recent foodie buzz (as opposed to buzz for atmosphere/hipness, like Butter), although I can't think of any place other than Craft (in the tier of restaurants I'm considering, anyway) that's generated that kind of buzz lately; (ii) no sushi (although a place like Nobu could work, if it weren't for the fact that it's impossible to get through there); and (iii) my brother and his wife prefer casual to stuffy, although again outstanding food is the number one criterion. I'm leaning towards Jean-Georges, although I'm concerned that my gift certificate will barely cover a bottle of wine there (similarly, ADNY is out of my price range). All suggestions welcome.