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jplombardi

Seating Advice at the Met

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Posted (edited)

Hello all, I'm new here. :) I have read through some of the other threads about Met seating, and I wasn't sure whether to bump an old one or create a new one, so hopefully I made the right choice.

I would like to take my mom to the June 25th performance of Don Quixote for her 60th birthday. We are coming to NYC from North Carolina specifically to see Daniil Simkin before he departs for Berlin. It will be our first time for both the Met and an ABT performance. This was a last minute plan, so we are trying to scramble for tickets. I have called the box office and searched the web, but I am having trouble making a final decision on the tickets that are left. We want to be close enough to the stage to see the dancers fairly well, but not so close that we cannot see their feet, full view of the stage, etc. At this point, tickets are very expensive and we want to try to get the best view possible for this special (possibly once-in-a-lifetime) trip. Of the remaining options, which do you recommend?

  • Orchestra Row G seats 113 and 114 (close to center of center section)
  • Orchestra Row M seats 5 and 7 (side section but close to the aisle)
  • Orchestra Row O seats 117 and 118 (center section but on the aisle)
  • Orchestra Row R seats 117 and 118 (center section but on the aisle)
  • Grand Tier Row D seats 106 and 108 (center section near the center, but 4th row back)

Any dinner recommendations prior to the performance would also be much appreciated. Is the Grand Tier Restaurant good? Other options nearby? Many thanks!

 

Edited by jplombardi
Improved grammar

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Posted (edited)

Welcome to Ballet Alert jplombardi.   Seating tends to be very personal--everyone has different preferences, and at least one person on this site has posted that she thinks every seat at the Met is a "compromise." I agree.

But here are my thoughts on the seats you mention:

First: banking at the Met is not great and in the first 8-rows or so, there is none at all or none to speak of. As someone relatively short, I personally would avoid row G. (For some people being close up is such a pleasure they don't mind the interfering heads, and you know yourself and your mother best, as well as how tall you are.) For myself, I would try M 5-7 as I think with the side sections it's actually a little easier to angle oneself to look between heads. I have also sat a bit further to the side than 5-7 in rows M, N, and O and lost next-to-nothing of the stage action. M is about as close as I can get to the stage at the Met without having problems with seeing over people--maybe L too. Others have had success closer than that, so it's just my experience. The center section on the aisle seats you mention sound good as well. 

Grand Tier gives you an excellent view of stage and seeing over heads shouldn't, except in very rare cases, be a problem though I must admit I have only sat in Grand Tier row A. However, the Met is huge and even though there are many seats that are much further away than Grand Tier Row D you may still discover that you feel a bit far away from the stage. But it's more of a guaranteed good view of the entire stage than orchestra seats--and many people prefer that overview to being close. A good pair of opera glasses can be helpful too. So think about what your mom and you would enjoy!

Restaurants? Shun Lee West is highly regarded and most people find the food pretty fabulous--they also have a Dim Sum cafe which is a different reservation/room. Both "Shun Lees" are nice places to go and more or less across the street from Lincoln Center. (I actually prefer simple or casual food before a performance because I'm often worked up with excitement, so I've mostly given up on Shun Lee West, but I would still recommend it. However, I'm not really a gourmand, so others may have better-informed ideas or know about the Grand Tier Restaurant.)

Hope you have a great trip.

Edited by Drew

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I suggest orchestra G or M. G being best. Orherwise I think it gets too far away to see faces.

Bar Boulud across from Lincoln Center is excellent. Great food and service and they have a reasonably priced pre-theatre menu.

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Thanks so much, everyone, for your prompt and thorough responses so far. My mom and I are both only around 5'4, so given Drew's initial feedback row G is probably not for the best. :)

Between Row M in the side section near the aisle, and Row O in the center section near the aisle, which would you think? Or is this really a negligible difference? More center would be nice, but I am also concerned about the raking/height of other patrons issue.

The ballet we attend in North Carolina is in much smaller venues, so while our season tickets here are actually balcony, the seating capacity is only 600. In the larger venue (1-2 ballets a season), we are in the orchestra center about 20-21st row, but again the capacity isn't as large as the Met (2,277). We can still see faces, but not exceptionally well. We try to balance the full tableau and the intimacy, and are seeking to do the same at the Met. It's very difficult to get an idea about the size and distance. I just don't want to make a bad choice. :(

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Posted (edited)

I also agree that center orchestra G and M5 and 7 are the best. I like to see the dancers' facial expressions, and for several years had subscription seats in center orchestra row G. As pointed out, however, up to row M it is flat so you take your chances on whether a tall person or one with a lot of hair will partially block your view. BUT there is a solution: downstairs in the cloakroom you can borrow (for free) a velvet seating cushion, which will elevate your view. They keep them for  kids but they are unlikely to need their entire supply on a Monday evening for this ballet. You need to leave your driver's license, which they will return to you when you return the cushion after the performance. 

Second choice for me is M 5 and 7. Very good seats and the first row on the incline, so unless the person in front of you is extra tall, your view should be good. Also a good compromise between seeing the dancers up close and seeing the patterns of the corps on stage.  But you are a little further back. 

i think these are your best bets. It's a great, rousing ballet and you will both love  it.

i usually eat at a casual place like Le Pain Quotidien, which is fine for a casual meal. For a birthday, I second Bar Boulud. Friends just ate there before a performance and raved. I found Fiorello overpriced for what you get.

Have a great evening!

 

 

 

 

Edited by CTballetfan
Cobweb reminded me Le Pain Quotidien is the restaurant I meant, not Au Bon Pain.

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11 minutes ago, jplombardi said:

We try to balance the full tableau and the intimacy, and are seeking to do the same at the Met. It's very difficult to get an idea about the size and distance. I just don't want to make a bad choice. :(

The Met is huge. Really huge. I can’t be as specific as the others about rows and raking, but if you don’t want to feel like you’re a mile away, you should probably choose closer. 

For a casual meal, I like the Le Pain Quotidien at 60 W 65th St, right across from Lincoln Center. I have spotted dancers in there several times. 

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It seems the Row O seats are now gone, so Row M seats 5 and 7 it is! Thanks, everyone. Feel to continue with restaurant suggestions, as I am still researching. :)

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Posted (edited)

I will not under any circumstances sit closer than orchestra row M, and usually sit further back than that.  There simply isn't enough of a rake to see over the heads in front of you. 

If you don't mind walking a few blocks to get to the theater from the restaurant, there are a few stalwarts to consider:

Molyvos (Greek)

Gabriel's (Italian)

Robert in the Museum of Art & Design on Columbus Circle is good if you can book a window table - fabulous views of Central Park.

The Leopard at Des Artistes (formerly the legendary Cafe Des Artistes) where you can dine while gazing at Howard Chandler Christy’s famous, fabulous and naughty murals of nymphs and satyrs.

 

PS - I will second the recommendation for Boulud Sud and Bar Boulud.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell

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I found Boulud Sud overpriced for what you get. Before the theatre they force  you to order their three-course prix fixe for $65, which when  you add something to drink and tax and tip is getting perilously close to $100.

I also really like Le Pain Quotidien for a more casual meal.

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Posted (edited)

I'm in some agreement with kbarber, though I've had delicious cous-cous and lobster risotto in Boulud Sud in years past; but Kathleen O'Connell was talking about Bar Boulud, which I haven't tried (yet).

Likewise, I also like Le Pain Quotidien, for a leisurely breakfast or quick lunch. 

My friend from Beijing says there are too many regions represented on the menu at Shun Lee West for them all to be authentic, but that doesn't mean they can't be good.  Quality ingredients carefully handled, not your downscale Chinese restaurant, but maybe less ambitious than Kathleen's beautiful-looking choices (which I must try next visit, thank you, Kathleen). 

Visiting for Workshop ten days ago, I revisited some old faves at SLW, like Soupy Dumplings - there's hot soup inside each one, so close your lips over it in your mouth and bite it open - and aptly named and very delicate Heavenly Fish Filets.  For stronger flavors, Twice-Cooked Pork, Crispy Whole Sea Bass.  

Edited by Jack Reed

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2 hours ago, kbarber said:

I found Boulud Sud overpriced for what you get. Before the theatre they force  you to order their three-course prix fixe for $65, which when  you add something to drink and tax and tip is getting perilously close to $100.

I also really like Le Pain Quotidien for a more casual meal.

During the summer, if you sit in Boulud Sud’s outdoor seating, you can order a la carte! I’ve done so multiple times this season. 

I alternate between Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud—enjoy both but Boulud Sud is my favorite. my sole meal at Fierello’s was AWFUL, would never go back. 

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If you like sushi, I highly recommend the Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill at Columbus Circle.  It's located on the ground floor of 308 West 58th Street, the 6 Columbus Hotel (opposite the Time Warner Center).  There's no signage out front, but it's easy to spot by the giant number "6" on the hotel's front marquee.  It's not inexpensive, but the food is top quality and ultra-fresh.  It's as if the fish jumped out of the ocean and onto your plate.  My family, friends and I often stop in there for a bite before heading over to a Lincoln Center event, a quick 15 minute walk away.

https://www.blueribbonrestaurants.com/restaurants/blue-ribbon-sushi-bar-grill-ny/

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I second, third, and fourth the recommendation for Blue Ribbon.  I only eat fish that looks like the picture you draw in third grade, but my friends who like shellfish and other non-kosher types of sea life rave about the extensive selection they have.

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Just a couple of comments on my restaurant suggestions above:

The food is fine at all of them, but, despite the fact that none of them are inexpensive (and frankly not even moderately-priced except by NYC standards), it is not ethereal. For that, you'd need to make other choices. If you wanted the latest word in tip-top, celebrity Italian near Lincoln Center, for instance, you might opt for Marea ... but ... the antipasti are in the high $20s, the pastas are $36, and the meat and fish courses are in the $40 - $65 range. And it's not the kind of restaurant that can hustle you out in time for a show.

One casual option: Sit at one of the lovely bar tables at Molyvos (they're all by the big front window) and order a few small plates or appetizers with a nice glass of wine. I frankly prefer that to a regular sit-down dinner there.

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Posted (edited)

I heartily recommend dessert from the gelato cart, L'Arte del Gelato, on the plaza outside Geffen Hall. They will put two flavors in a small cup, and three in a large. My favorite combo is coffee and chocolate. They say the chocolate is milk chocolate but it tastes dark to me. And it's not too sweet, like some of the other flavors. For me, a trip to Lincoln Center isn't complete without the gelato. Be sure to ask for extra napkins.

 

Edited by angelica

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13 hours ago, Jack Reed said:

Likewise, I also like Le Pain Quotidien, for a leisurely breakfast or quick lunch. 

I'm glad somebody else likes Le Pain! Plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, if you are looking for that. One of my favorite places in the Lincoln Center area:

http://www.lepainquotidien.com/store/lincoln-plaza/

65th Street, right around the corner from Brooks Brothers.

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I liked Pain Quotidien just fine until they started to show the calorie count for their yummy desserts 😉

It really is a fine stop for a no-fuss bite. We used to grab a quick dinner at the one near Carnegie Hall, then go across the street to Petrossian and have a glass of champagne at its super-swanky, deco, feels-like-a-1930's-luxury -liner bar*. Alas, it appears that Petrossian's main restaurant has closed. 

* Here's the website's description: "Designed by Ion Oroveanu, the restaurant features Lalique crystal wall sconces, bronze sculptures from the 1930's, etched Erte mirrors, Limoges china, Lanvin chandelier and pink Finnish granite."

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In a private internet group I'm on, we joke that "All threads turn to food."  I'm salivating at the thought of the ballet+the food.

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I can't thank everyone enough for their feedback. Although we have each been to the city several times, it's never been without a resident guide, so this whole process -- from public transportation/city navigation to dining to other recreational activities -- is quite overwhelming. I'm a bit of an over-planner/vacation perfectionist, so the short notice and unknown variables are giving me fits. Haha!

I think we would like to do a special dinner, for the special evening, so I will look into the some of the fine(r) dining options in the area. The rest of our trip will be as casual as possible (and as much delicious NYC pizza, Chinese food, and bagels as possible :)). Most importantly, I want to be sure we have sufficient time to eat, get to the venue, procure some bubbly, and be seated.

For those that partake, do you normally order champagne ahead via the website? It sounds like a great way to manage intermission crowds, and I am sure the pick up places are clearly marked.

Are there any other Met "traditions" we shouldn't miss? I love hearing about yours.

angelica, the gelato sounds divine! I hope it's open after the show.

 

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4 hours ago, angelica said:

I heartily recommend dessert from the gelato cart, L'Arte del Gelato, on the plaza outside Geffen Hall. They will put two flavors in a small cup, and three in a large. My favorite combo is coffee and chocolate. They say the chocolate is milk chocolate but it tastes dark to me. And it's not too sweet, like some of the other flavors. For me, a trip to Lincoln Center isn't complete without the gelato. Be sure to ask for extra napkins.

 

Yes, my mouth is watering. A couple of weeks ago, my most recent trip to see NYCB, the gelato cart was just rolling up to the plaza from the street about 45 minutes before curtain, and I raced over to get my favorite combo too, coffee and chocolate. Rich and delicious, better than dinner. That evening a graduation ceremony for Cardozo Law School was just letting out of Geffen Hall onto the plaza and the graduates and families were queueing up for gelato too. Very festive!

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14 minutes ago, jplombardi said:

angelica, the gelato sounds divine! I hope it's open after the show.

Oh dear, Jp, I don't think I've ever seen the gelato cart after dark. Has anyone here?

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52 minutes ago, jplombardi said:

For those that partake, do you normally order champagne ahead via the website? It sounds like a great way to manage intermission crowds, and I am sure the pick up places are clearly marked.

Are there any other Met "traditions" we shouldn't miss? I love hearing about yours.

angelica, the gelato sounds divine! I hope it's open after the show.

 

I never usually order champagne ahead of time, though I generally sit close to an aisle and can make it to the bar rather quickly. (Also, I go down to the basement bar, which is generally less crowded than the orchestra-level one.) And the bar lines seem like less of a problem during ballet season than opera season. Not sure it counts as a Met tradition, but there is a huge wall of photos of present and past Met stars down by the basement-level bar that I always enjoy looking at. And definitely keep an eye on the chandeliers in the auditorium as the lights go down. It can also be nice to walk up to Parterre level during intermission to hang out on the terrace.

If you want a snack during intermission, I'd recommend picking one up beforehand at Le Pain Quotidien, Epicerie Boulud or Maison Kayser (if you're near Columbus Circle). I love the brownies from both Le Pain Quotidien and Epicerie Boulud. And the Met has never had an issue with me bringing in small food items in my bag, as long as they are only eaten during intermission, outside of the auditorium. 

Hmm...I feel like I've seen that gelato cart still going after a ballet performance; not sure. They'd also have gelato across the street at Epicerie Boulud till 11:00 p.m. I've never tried it, but all their other sweets are pretty fantastic.

Probably my favorite finer dining spot near Lincoln Center would be Boulud Sud. It's true the pre-theater prix fixe isn't cheap, but the food is high-quality. The grilled octopus appetizer is to die for. I also really like Bar Boulud, and the prices are a bit lower.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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