re: my romantic restaurant post- please read whole thing and help! Am being nutty.
Ok I am being a bit of a nut here but i feel the people on this board are restaurant-y and must know what they're doing and i desperately need advice. After reading the responses to my romantic restaurant post I made two more sets of reservations for saturday :
6:30 = (only time I could get at ) One if by land, two if by sea
7:00= Central Park Boathouse
I had originally picked the boathouse bc I thought it would be romantic if it was a nice night. i also decided to reserve a gondola ride for 9pm (bf already knows i am hopelessly cheesy) at the boathouse. I have been weather.com-ing and I am paranoid that rain might ruin the night i have planned (boathouse and boat ride). Sooo I thought well if i make reservations at a diff restaurant, then i have a backup. Anyway. I am torn. I suppose what I am asking is, what would you do if you were me?? Thanks!
I'd grab a drink at the King Cole Bar. have two, maybe three red snappers and then head over to the Boathouse. The limo driver will casually remind you to look through the windshield and not the rear-view mirror. but hey, you already knew that.
Tocqueville is elegant, relatively small (though I think they have recently expanded), serious (though not severe at all), adult. By far the best food of the places you are considering.
Honestly? I'd cancel all those options (Sorry!).
I know what it's like to feel torn betw things you haven't done but here are the points against your choices:
1) One if by Sea has universally bad reviews for its food. Decor is supposed to be nice though.
2) While Tocqueville has the best food of your options, everything I'm reading (and the pictures I've seen) of the new place make it seem like a cold "grown-up in the bad way" joint. Search for the newest chowhound review on it if you want....but if nothing else comes your way, stick with this maybe? and then go out for your romance...
3) The gondola idea ain't bad....but so many things can go to make it less than fun: weather that's too hot, buggy, rainy, etc. If it's driving you insane to plan this and make sure it doesn't fall apart on you, maybe you'll want to find a more surefire bet? p.s. weather.com was wrong about today. didn't rain during the day at all!
So what about alternatives, you say?
1) Check out the numerous cool things going on on Sat in the city. Search for live music, those summer night cruises with music, summer stage (went to Noche Flamenca this past wknd - it was awesome!), free movie showings on the water, etc. You could pack a really nice meal or go elsewhere to eat before/after.
2) Once you've found an event that gets both of you going, find a dinner place with great food & the ambience you want near that locale. Come search Chowhound for reviews and recs!
some restaurant ideas to get you started if you want romance gimmicks: Casa la Femme (pros: dim lighting,bellydancers, your own private veiled tent and a different scene - not grungy like le souk. cons: pricey for what you get, food isn't that that great). Rooftop dining somewhere? River Cafe on the water in Brooklyn (Food isn't the star here but the view is wonderful and the place will make it feel like a special occasion).
I actually like sitting in the back bar room booths... I think it has a sorta romantic, cool, old world feeling and can be interesting... The food is not bad at all if you order correctly... I had a wonderful fresh pea soup recently and I usually have the escargot (though it was off the lunch menu recently). Can't go wrong with the salmon or the lobster salad (again summer lunch menu). Haven't done dinner in a while so I am not sure of the summer dinner menu.
And, it is a short walk or cab or carriage to the boathouse for the boat ride, weather permitting.
What about 11 Madison Park? I've been reading overwhelmingly great reports on eGullet about the cuisine of the new chef there, and the room is beautiful!
I've been to the River Cafe only once, about 3 1/2 years ago, so while it was great then, I can't offer any current information, except that I've read good reports from people I respect who've been there within the past few months.
I really can't recommend enough AGAINST One if by Land, TIBS, and Cafe des Artists. How they consistently get listed as "romantic" boggles the mind. Maybe 150 years ago yes, otherwise, both are stale and serve mediocre, overpriced food.
Depending on what you consider "romantic" I'd go with Bouley, 11 Madison Park, Lupa, Babbo, Nougatine...anywhere with nice lighting and where you two can talk over great food. Lupa and Babbo are on the louder side, but I'd take that over One if by Land and Cafe des Artists anyday. Those two restaurants are on the short list of places I wish I never went to...along with Tavern on the Green. I put them in the same category. There's nothing less sexy than mediocre, over-priced food in staid surroundings.
I would have recommended Tocqueville and Aquavit before their respecive moves but I don't know what they're like now in terms of ambiance.
I was recently scouting places for a group outing and was sent to Il Buco (47 Bond St.) and it looked terribly romantic. I cannot comment on the food, but the ambience seemed very romantic.
I would love to know how the food is there, in fact, if anyone can comment.