I'm very excited to be visiting New York again in September, and once again I could use some advice.
I'd like to plan one or possibly two special dinners but the catch is that my partner is vegetarian (dairy and eggs ok); he's not really into food (he eats to live and I live to eat) but he is willing to accompany me anywhere, and as long as there's at least one non-salad vegetarian dish on the menu, he's happy. (as you can imagine, he eats a lot of pasta primavera when we are at restaurants since most places are willing to throw something like that together.) He's also very thrifty, and even though I will be paying for these "special" dinners, he's not going to be comfortable if the meal costs > $500 for both of us (he doesn't drink, though I think wine is an essential part of a great meal - so that keeps the cost down). And one further complication is no suit or tie required; The most I can count on is "business casual".
Now before you say "everywhere will make at least one veg dish", I want to point out this isn't always true:
a: Pearl Oyster Bar has NO veg entrees. a few salads and sides, and that's it. It looks like no Pearl visit for me this trip :(
b: we had dinner in New Orleans in May at a place with no veg entrees on the menu; when we asked the waiter if they had anything for vegetarians, he said "the door". I think he was trying to be funny, but it still surprised me.
In addition to planning one or two "really nice" meals, I'd like to plan some other meals - places that maybe we could drop in without a reservation, places for breakfast, etc.
I am considering the following places, and I would love to get advice as noted:
EMP: I had never heard of this place but in reading posts on this board it seems to be the chowhound consensus for a splurge "great" meal. So a couple questions: Is no tie or jacket ok here? Will they have any trouble with a vegetarian? What's the cost approx going to be?
Craft: He does enjoy watching Top Chef with me, and so I think it would be fun for him to eat at a restaurant owned/run by Tom Collichio. Again, vegetarian tolerant? Too dressy? The reviews for Craft (on this site) seem to be mixed, but mostly positive, and, if anything, it seems to be getting better lately - at least, that's what I seem to notice as a trend in the postings here, though I obviously haven't read ALL postings and I might have the timeline wrong.
Degustation: I think this would probably be too wierd for him but it sounds intriguing to me, so I thought I would throw this out there.
Any other places I should consider?
I really love tasting menus but I think most places only serve tasting menus if the entire table participates. I would be willing to go with a vegetarian tasting menu - I don't need to eat meat - so if there is a place with an outstanding vegetarian tasting menu (Per Se is out of the question; $300 per person is just too much money) I'd love to hear about it.
I also have questions about breakfast, pastries, but maybe I'll post that in a separate thread. We are staying downtown (near wall street) but don't mind traveling anywhere in the city.
By the way, on a past trip I had dinner at Daniel and I absolutely loved it, probably the best meal ever. I also had lunch at Le Bernadin and it was ok, but not as special as I expected. Though my DC at the time thought it was better than Daniel. And about 15 years ago I had dinner at Vong and thought it was out of this world, though I must admit it was the first time I ever ate at a "special" restaurant so who knows if it was objectively good. Oh, and dinner at Babbo was just "ok" - but maybe it was an off night. I think that's the extent of my NYC high-end places.
Thanks in advance for your help. By the way, I did search for "high end vegetarian", etc, but didn't come up with much; and really, I'm not looking for a vegetarian restaurant - I'm looking for a vegetarian-tolertant restaurant.
Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011