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Big Name Restaurants?

New York
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Big Name Restaurants?

Hi there. I have noticed a lot of buzz about restaurants like Buddhakhan and Morimoto - just wondering if it's worth the hype. For the most part, I prefer mom & pop/casual, but good food kind of restaurants. We'll probably end up staying at Sofitel and I have some good recommendations for Italian (from another thread) and Bishops near the art museum. We also love Indian food. At any rate, please advise if you think Morimoto or Buddhakhan are worth a visit or whether there is a better place to have our weekend "special meal". Thanks.

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Morimoto
Morimoto
907 Reviews
Philadelphia, PA
Bucks County...
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1. Re: Big Name Restaurants?

They are both good for your "special" meal. They are both owned by the same owner, Stephen Starr, who has many other nice places- all with good reps and reviews. Most are on the expensive side. He has a few that aren't as pricey, and tend to be more casual: Continental (2 locations), and Fork.

West Chester, PA
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2. Re: Big Name Restaurants?

Pretty sure that Stephen Starr doesn't own Fork, though it's a very nice restaurant all the same. He does own Pod (sushi), Jones (comfort food), El Vez (mexican), Tangerine (moroccan), Alma de Cuba (cuban) and the two Continental restaurants. All of these are fun restaurants with great decor and good food, though Jones, El Vez and the Continental restaurants are more casual.

Morimoto is the fanciest restaurant in his "empire", followed closely by Buddakan. Both are nice for a special meal, as is Tangerine. If you're looking for upscale dining, we also have Lacroix, The Fountain Restaurant at the Four Seasons, Susanna Foo (one of my personal favorites), and Brasserie Perrier. Le Bec Fin and Vetri are our most highly touted restaurants, but the former is prohibitively expensive and the latter is very small and can be hard to get a reservation.

Another thing to consider are BYOBs. We have a lot of great ones here, and it's a somewhat unique experience. Matyson is one that's talked about a lot, though there are plenty of others.

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Pod
Pod
369 Reviews
Philadelphia, PA
Morimoto
Morimoto
907 Reviews
Philadelphia, PA
Fountain Restaurant
Fountain Restaurant
183 Reviews
Philadelphia, PA
Vetri
Vetri
301 Reviews
Philadelphia, PA
Matyson
Matyson
155 Reviews
Philadelphia, PA
philadelphia, pa
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11 reviews
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3. Re: Big Name Restaurants?

Certainly both places will provide you with a great experience, in addition to a great meal. If you are into Sushi, certainly Morimoto is top notch.

For a great BYOB ( although it is not Italian ) try Django or Lolita ( BYOT ~ Bring your own Tequilla).

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Morimoto
Morimoto
907 Reviews
Philadelphia, PA
Lolita
Lolita
302 Reviews
Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia...
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4. Re: Big Name Restaurants?

I find most of Starr's restaurants to be too gimicky. Even if the food is excellent, I don't care for huge see-and-be-seen restaurants. (Although Tangerine is so dark that you can barely see your food, much less other people.)

My suggestions for a "special meal" are

Fountain Restaurant in the Four Seasons if you want something a bit more formal. Awesome combination of New American and French

Vetri - Northern Italian and one of the best in the country, warm, casual decor makes you feel like you're eating in the chef's kitchen. Incredibly innovative but seats only 36 so book early.

XIX (Nineteen) - a seafood newcomer on the 19th floor of the Hyatt Park Bellevue. Very hip, very cool. Non-seafood dishes excellent, too. Great deserts. Incredibly inviting bar room.

Fork (no, not a Stephen Starr) - not quite as upscale as the others but a really nice atmosphere that epitomizes casual elegance. If I had to eat at the same restaurant every day for a week I'd choose Fork.

Karma (Indian) - 100 block of Chestnut. Excellent and a lovely lunch buffet with more selection than I've seen elsewhere.

Lynn

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Fountain Restaurant
Fountain Restaurant
183 Reviews
Philadelphia, PA
Vetri
Vetri
301 Reviews
Philadelphia, PA
philadelphia
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5. Re: Big Name Restaurants?

Not as upscale as the other recommendations, but definitely where we go for special occasions is Mamma Maria's on Passyunk Avenue. For set price your meal includes antipasta, soup, pasta, main course, salad, cheese/melon plate, dessert, wine, coffee, etc. and after dinner cordials. It's a complete, 3 hr. (approx.) Italian dining experience. On Saturdays, there's even a singer/accordian player, who performs Italian songs (and even takes requests). If you go, be sure to make a reservation and definitely eat only a light lunch to save room.

New York
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6. Re: Big Name Restaurants?

Great suggestions everyone. Thanks so much!! I am getting excited. This forum in an invaluable resource -- hotel recommendations, getting around town, wine bars, restaurants ... it's awesome!! Thanks and take care.

Cherry Hill, NJ
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7. Re: Big Name Restaurants?

I personally like Morimotos for the Chef's Plate (Omikasa). If I am not looking for that, I don't usually have that on the top of my list.

One I find overrated, but many people love is of course Le Bec Fin. I'm just not a huge fan of french cuisine.

Dearborn, Michigan
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8. Re: Big Name Restaurants?

Mama Maria's fits your preference for "mom & pop/casual". It is one of dozens, but a good value (about $50 per person, plus tip) for the fixed price menu. Have eaten there 3 times, most recently on a Philly trip in Oct 2006; more Italian home cooking style than haut cuisine, but then so is the price. Bear in mind that you get multiple courses, as well as wine and liqueurs. On a 1 to 100 scale, I would rate the food about 85; good but not exceptional. Liqueurs are good, homemade and they are proud to serve them to guests, even leaving about 5 bottles (varied flavors) on the table for you to sample at your leisure.

On my last visit, there was some sort of neighborhood event going on and a girl about 8 came in wearing a costume. She may have been the owner's grandaughter but, in any case, was welcomed warmly by all of the staff and some of the patrons before retiring to a back room, which may have been living quarters. The whole scene was heartwarming, fun and could have been out of a movie. My guest was visiting Philly for the first time and simply was blown away with the the place and would love to go back.

Philadelphia...
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9. Re: Big Name Restaurants?

tre3orsi-

Depending on how long you will be in Philly you may want to buy Zagat guide. It's very handy to have with you (and not as bulky as the NYC edition) should you stumble upon a restaurant that looks interesting.

Lynn

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Philadelphia...
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10. Re: Big Name Restaurants?

My take:

I actually really like the majority of the restaurants in the Stephen Starr empire and have never been disappointed by any of my experiences there. True, they are trendy "to-be-seen" places, but they deliver on the food level in a big way and that's huge. My favorites are Buddakan, Tangerine, El Vez, Continental Midtown and Alma de Cuba. I say if you want a trendy atmosphere and a splurge meal, Buddakan is probably your best bet. Believe me, I am not discounting the likes of the Fountain Room at the Four Seasons (in my opinion, the classiest restaurant in the city with the best food), but it is not trendy, so if that is the atmosphere you desire, then the Fountain Room would not be your place.

Re: Mamma Maria. I've been there close to a half-dozen times and for what it is, it is a neat experience. True, it is not haute cuisine as another poster mentioned, but honest food at a great price and a fun experience. Definitely worth a visit and a huge amount of food, so don't eat much before you go!

Good luck!

Suzanne

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Mamma Maria
Mamma Maria
43 Reviews
Philadelphia, PA