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NYC - nice and fun, but not over-the-top dinner recommendation

NYC - nice and fun, but not over-the-top dinner recommendation

Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 10:21 AM
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NYC - nice and fun, but not over-the-top dinner recommendation

Hi all,
My husband and I will be taking his brother and his wife out for dinner on Saturday, Feb. 10th. This is to celebrate my b-i-l's 40th birthday.

We aren't looking for something as fancy as Jean-George at Columbus Circle. Ideally the atmosphere would be more relaxed and fun and the menu not quite as French. Looking for AMAZING food!! but not necessarily fancy. We really enjoyed our food at Craft, and also the atmosphere but want to try something new.

In terms of food, we'd eat any type of cuisine, but probably aren't looking for Italian.

The places I can get reservations for that evening are:

* Country (in the cafe... but is this nice enough, perhaps the restaurant with prix fixe menu would be better). Got this idea from the link to Michelin * restaurant list through open table that mclaurie posted.

* Matsuri

* Bar Room at the Modern (read a NY Times review that makes this seem really fun - sounds like it is small plates, which means you can try more things. I like that idea).

* Spice Market (only able to get a 6:30 pm reservation which isn't ideal, so if the other options seem better, please say so, or if Spice Market is THE place, then we can go and then have drinks somewhere after)

* Lever House - (my sister-in-law's pick)

** am on the waitlist for Veritas and Eleven Madison Park.


Any other ideas for us? Looking to be in the $100-150 pp range.

THANKS

I'd like a nice
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Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 11:58 AM
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mmm - fun . . . and amazing food. I've had lunch in the cafe at Country and thought the food was terrific - casual atmosphere, actually appeals to me more than the upstairs restaurant. Would be a good choice.

Although I live 2 blocks from Matsuri and go out to dinner at least 2 nights a week - I've never been there. . . says something, yes?

The Bar Room at the Modern has very good food - but it's not exactly "fun' or too relaxed- it's very pricy, with wine and tips you'll be at the top of your budget.

Spice Market is really fun (when you can get a reservation) but the food doesn't amaze me - good but uneven.

Lever House might be the best pick of your list to combine quality and fun factor - real midtown NYC scene.
Eleven Madison just got a great review in the NYTimes - very adventurous, exciting food, a little formal atmosphere, IMHO

Veritas - i went there for a birthday a few years ok - food was good but not amazing - but if your a wine enthusiast, that's the place.

Other ideas - Bar Americain; Artisinal; Tabla; Aquagrill; Danube;Telepan; Red Cat; Picholine
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Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 12:25 PM
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Red Cat, Blue Ribbon, and Landmarc are all go-to's for me.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 12:28 PM
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Among the places on your list, I'd pick Lever House but it's a bit on the expensive side. I'm not a big fan of Eleven Madison... it's been a while since I went there but I was never amazed by the place. Matsuri's interior is amazing but food is average. Good place to have a drink so that you can take in the magnificent room & then head elsewhere for dinner. I agree with mp's views of Veritas, Spice Market etc.

Cookshop, a relatively new American restaurant on 10th Ave. has impressed me consistently. Reasonable prices too!
If you've never been to Gramercy Tavern, go there. You're pushing the budget at $150 pp, but it is easily possible to keep it to that amount if you don't get a very expensive wine. Worth every penny & memories of that meal will stay with you for years to come!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2007, 01:17 PM
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Of the places on your list, I'd say 11 Madison Park or Country would be the tops for food. The chef at 11 Madison Park is new and amazing. However, it's hardly relaxed and fun, so I don't think it even comes close to the kind of experience you want because it's almost as formal as Jean-George ... and I'd say the same about Lever House. Country might work better in that regard.

Now Tabla is a different story; it's much more relaxed, and I love the food there, but it's not to everyone's tastes (Indian-accented, French-influenced). I was there recently, and I had a great time.

I can't say anything about Matsuri so I won't. I'd love to try the Bar Room at the Modern, but I don't think it's conducive to conversation ... it's very loud and pretty cramped and busy.

Everyone I know who's been to Spice Market loves the vibe but has never been impressed by the food.

I might also throw out one of the BLT restaurants (BLT Fish or BLT Prime being my favorite ... and to be honest, the menus are so similar it hardly matters which you choose). These are really relaxed places with excellent food, though you'd at the top of your price point.

I'm having dinner at Danube on the 10th, so I can give you a report then (but not now). I do think Artisinal or Telepan could be on your short list ... with the caveat that Artisinal can be a bit noisy. However, if you are even remotely interested in the idea of cheese or fondue, it's amazing there (either for dinner or dessert).
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 11:00 AM
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I love Danube and rank it as among the most beautiful restaurants in the city. But it is not really "relaxed and fun." Have you considered Perry Street?
Hearth? Telepan? Blue Hill?

I would give Spice Market a miss.
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 12:42 PM
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I love Artisinal and Blue Ribbon.

Also, love to eat in the tavern at Gramercy Tavern.
 
Old Feb 4th, 2007, 04:48 PM
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Thanks everyone for all of the recommendations. I am embarrassed to admit that I now have more than a few reservations made at various places... will have to cancel those we won't use and keep THE ONE. Not sure if it completely uncool to make multiple reservations, but everytime one of you recommended something I thought, yes, that sounds perfect and figured I'd better reserve the table.

My plan is to present my brother in law with his options and have him choose. His wife says he is a big fan of the Spice Market... too bad the food is so inconsistent - I just don't understand how such a top rated chef could have a restaurant with such mixed reviews - what a disappointment!

I just made a reservation at Telepan - but could only get 9:30 pm.

Quick question: We are staying at the St. Regis hotel - would the concierge be able to get us a reservation at a certain restaurant or at a more optimal time than we could get ourselves? --- I was thinking that if we could get into someplace like Telepan more in the 8 pm hour, or some other place that is fully booked that would appeal to my b-i-l, that would be great to know.

I typically don't use the concierge where we stay to book things for me as I enjoy all of the planning aspects of a trip too much to give it over to someone else, so I am not sure what their capabilities are.

thanks!
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 02:28 AM
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No, there is nothing wrong with multiple reservations as long as you cancel the ones you aren't going to use in a timely fashion (as you have indicated that you plan to do).

You have gotten dome great suggestions here, have fun and be sure to report back in!
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 03:40 AM
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The concierge could very well be able to help. Why don't you ask?
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 04:07 AM
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I also would call the concierge asap. Just to answer your question, I doubt if Jean Georges has been in the kitchen of Spice Market recently. He was, however, watching over the tables at Jean Georges on the night I was there recently and I was surprised and pleased. Telepan is a chef-driven place and I would expect Bill Telepan to be on premise as well. I do think you should decide as soon as you can and cancel the others.
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 05:35 AM
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If anyone in your party has a Platinum Amex card, they can call the Amex concierge service and see if any tables are available.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 05:56 PM
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hi all,
just wanted to check back in and thank you again for all the great recommendations. the concierge at the st. regis was very friendly and open to helping... we had a nice conversation - he suggested a few places, made some calls and called me back at home within a couple of hours. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get better timeframes than what I had... he did suggest another option, which is a restaurant called Town, in the Chambers hotel. I wasn't able to find much out about it.

I think at this point we are between Telepan and Spice Market (a favorite of my brother in law's), but still open for suggestions if you have any.

thanks again.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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Town is fabulous.

The last time I was at Lever House, my sister, Jennifer, sent back her fish. It can be fun and loud. A glass of Champagne is $40 there, by the way.

Balthazar is fun and noisy and a scene. If you get stuck at a tiny table, you will be uncomfortable, however.

I would not describe Picholine as fun. Great food, though.

Tabla is very fun.

Has anyone been to Chinatown Brasserie? My friend, Christina, who is in for Fashion Week text messaged me that it was sooooo good and fun!

Thin
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 07:07 PM
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Chinatown Brasserie is fun and the food is great, but the service is a bit scattered, to say the least.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 07:30 PM
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Chinatown Brasserie is fun, the food is good, but not on the same level as say, Artisanal, Telepan, Picholine or Country. Chinatown Brasserie and Spice Market are similar in the sense that the emphasis is more on drinks and atmosphere - the food and service are kinda secondary . . .

I've actually never been to Town, although my husband has several times for business - he says the food is very good, the atmosphere sorta wannabe hipsters with more money than taste . . . . sorry if that's a little snarky . . . the OP requested AMAZING food, more relaxed and fun than Jean-Georges, an atmosphere like at Craft.

I really like the food at Telepan, but the few times I've been there (granted, pre-Lincoln Center or theatre) the ambiance was decidely older, Upper West siders. Maybe around 8:00 or so it gets going. Town will have more energy, I think. The cost is about the same, Town maybe a little pricier . . . hope my humble opinions help . . .
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 01:31 AM
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Post here from the lucky recipient of this very generous night out gift for dh. thanks to my wonderful sister in law (op) and thanks to all you responders. Just to claify, we have never been to spice market and dh wants to go there.

And yes, Jean Georges is in his namesake restaurant almost every single night. I live accross the street, so what has been said in this thread about him not being in kitchen at spice is only a slight exageration and totally accounts for the food. he has several restaurants in ny and a wife (and i think kid) so there is no way he gets to them all. he is always at jean georges, never at vong, sometimes at jojo. i have seen him there twice. i am a big fan, as you can tell. I love his restaurant and am excited to try spice market. thanks to sil.
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Old Feb 11th, 2007, 04:04 PM
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thanks to all for your recommendations.

we ate at Spice Market.... what a space!! They simply do not have restaurants in Boston with this type of architecture and vibe. It was very conducive to a relaxed and fun evening.

We ordered a lot of different items from the menu. I LOVED the ginger fried rice - it had a fried egg and crispy bits of ginger on top and you chop the whole thing together. The chicken Samosa appetizer was excellent - very spicy. We loved the Beef Short Ribs and also the Curry Broccoli and Baby Corn vegetables.

I would say the only things that were a bit of a disappointment were the Apple Dumpling dessert (on the other hand, the chocolate and pecan was one of the best desserts I've had ever!!), and the Vietnamese Spring Rolls (I think they should have been fresh, not deep fried).

The ginger margarita i had to start was phenomenal.

All in all a great take.

Other food we enjoyed during our short stay in NYC (these trips are never long enough for all the gastronomic experiences we want to pursue, but we do our best!!): loved the cafe at MOMA for a quick bite before seeing the museum. We had three small plates, brussel sprouts with pancetta and onions, roasted root vegetables, and this yummy pasta with fennel, squash, currents... absolutely delicious.

We also made a visit to the Bakery at Bouchon (in the Time Warner building) before heading to the airport to take some sandwiches and pastries out. What a lovely way of displaying the food. Such nice packaging and presentation, not to mention delicious food.


Thanks again for all of your suggestions.
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