13th & Broadway
Gosh--not crowded around 9 p.m. on a Saturday night in the East Village? And you want a recommendation??
There are literally hundreds of choices. Let's see. . . There's a very good place called POP on Fourth Avenue between 12th and 13th (one tiny block from 13th and Bway), and although it looks crowded up front, it's spacious and not crowded in back (at least not lately--I live nearby). Prices are moderate and food is pretty terrific.
If that's too crowded, head down Fourth and bear right to Lafayette, pass the Public Theater, and try Serafina's Fabulous Grill (on East Fourth at Lafayette, across from Tower Video), which is absolutely huge and has a very comfortable atmosphere--booths and tablecloths and some of the most interesting pizza in town. (Potatos and caviar, smoked salmon and mozzarella, etc. etc.) Quite affordable, and it should be relatively calm. I say relatively, because most places around here are jammed on Saturday night. Both places have liquor licenses, of course, and both are under a year old.
You don't NEED a reservation at either place, but if you'd rather, Pop is 767-1800, and Serafina is 995-9101.
Hope this helps. Bon appétit!
re: Tom Steele
Glad you liked POP, Glenn. Yeah, it isn't doing nearly as well as it was, and I can't figure out why. They do have a new chef now, and I haven't been since he started, but the American-with-a-French-accent fare WAS wonderful, and I gather it still is, and it IS reasonable (though not cheap). The place couldn't look any tonier. Does the waitstaff still wear that trippy walky-talky headgear? (To communicate with the kitchen, which is downstairs.)
It's the only restaurant on Fourth Avenue (other than the expensive Italian place that keeps changing its name and its hours--used to be Siracusa, can't think of its current moniker--and fast-food places like Pintaile's pizza, Blimpies, Fresco Mex). I guess Fourth Avenue is still "defining" itself during the Union Square renaissance.
I'd guess you were at the movies (corner of 13th and Broadway = Union Sqauare 14 cineplex). That brings up the question: Where DO all those moviegoers go for dinner after the movies?? Steak au Poivre? Union Square Cafe? Blue Water Grill? Why not POP? It's closest.
I know the overhead at POP is astronomical. I really hope they make it! It's nice to have it in the neighborhood.
re: Tom Steele
[I think everyone's at the Hamptons this weekend, which is fine by me. Incredibly, we were the only people in the balcony at the Union Sq. showing of "Steal this Movie". So much for wasting my $$ on advance tickets with moviephone. And not to stray too far off topic, I have never qualified for Amex's bonus movie program anytime I used my card. Is this a sham, or what?]
I loved the decor at POP, so, um, pop. However, the menu was a little confusing, leaving no indication where the appetizers stopped and the entrees started. I wonder if this is now the trend. The food was very good, though nothing to rave about. It was pure Americana to me. . I couldn't detect a French accent. The most interesting dish was the shrimp pizza we had as an appetizer. Anabelle's ravioli and my steak sandwich were good, but not overly exciting.
As you might expect on a slow evening, the service was excellent. However, I had to ask every time (about 4) for a water refill. No headphones for the waiters.
Reasonable prices, though, as you say, not cheap. Total not counting tip, which includes one appetizer and one dessert, no soft drinks or liqour, was $63. I will return and order something a little more adventurous.