Originally Posted by marc237
I would suggest you might also want to re-think the choice of restaurants. All of the three you suggested are wonderful places for food, but are not necessarily the most fun choices around. For example, I find Le Bernadin to be a bit austere and a bit cold at times. Bouley and Daniel can be a little impersonal in the service.
There are certainly other wonderful restaurants in NYC. One of the things I would recommend is deciding first on the kind of food you might prefer and then working from there. The three that you have chosen are much more French than anything else.
As to tipping the sommelier, it is not required and increasingly rarely done. However, if you were ordering a particularly expensive bottle of wine or s/he had been particularly helpful and attentive, a percentage of the alchohol charge is certainly welcome.
I actually ended up choosing Bouley. Factor #1 was that it was the only open place (of the three aforementioned) on Sunday, which was the only day that worked for both of us. I also liked the menu, which was predominantly seafood oriented, which my mother likes. The reason I was looking at the three was because Per Se is impossible to get reservations for, and I really wanted to stay in the top restaurants in Zagat food ratings, since i don't have too much experience with them, and I wanted to try good French food. Since I have very little experience with French food, I thought it would be the path of least resistance. While the ratings aren't everything, it does make for a pretty convenient shortcut and guarantee at least decent quality of food. Me, not being too fussy, will probably find any of those sublime in terms of taste.
As for enjoyment factor, I feel that it's just one of those things you have to try out on your own before making the determination. So this will be a first foray. I will probably be more adventurous (or go to Per Se) for my next choice.