We've been to and enjoyed Per Se, Daniel, Bouley, Jo-Jo, Town.
Want a 'big name', NOT trendy place that definitely offers the option to order a la carte. Had the tasting menu at Daniel, which was great, but do they offer a la carte? And does Le Bernardin? Of course, Per Se doesn't, nor Ducasse or Masa....
We both get a little antsy when dinner starts to get beyond an hour and a half, and we like a cocktail first at the table. At Per Se, dinner was exquisite, but it did take us 3-1/2 hours.... not always what we are looking for.