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I Want To Wow My 14 Year Old Niece!

I am fortunate to have a great relationship with my nearly 14 year old niece. She is almost certainly visiting my husband and I next weekend for a few days and most likely, one of those days will be spent doing something uniquely NYish (Broaday, MOMA, Soho shopping perhaps, haven't quite got that part figured out - it's all up to her whims - we'd like to try and cater to what her interests are).

We'd love to take her someplace for lunch which will open up her eyes and palate, but isn't so far out there that she might be unsure about ordering or wind up not eating what she ordered.

She pretty much eats anything, that much I know and I know she is very big on seafood. I don't think she is up to fussy complicated dishes yet since she comes from an area where that kind of food is few and far between (let alone her parents wouldn't ever spend the money to introduce her to this kind of dining anyway).

I'm trying to come up with someplace with a modern vibe, interesting decor since she's from a small suburb down at the shore in NJ. You know, give her an experience she can take away with her and rave about to her friends. Someplace with killer eye-catching deserts would be a huge plus - that much is certain.

Again, nothing overly fussy or fancy - none of us are going to be dressed up. Suggestions can be made all over the city from upper east/west side to downtown, since we don't know what we're doing yet. We may even plan our day around the meal, who knows?


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  1. If you are going to be in SoHo, why not try Balthazar? It looks like the lunch menu can accomodate slighly pickier palates, but is still a New York-ish place.
    Also, I would suggest Blue Ribbon Bakery in the West Village. Good food, and nice neighborhood to walk around in after.
    lucky niece!

    1. Balthazar is a nice choice - especially since we've never been there and I've always wanted to try it. And I like the idea of Blue Ribbon, since the Village is one of the places I thought she'd enjoy browsing through.

      Thanks for that recs!


      1. You might want to check out Mary's Fish Camp if you're looking for seafood.


        1 Reply
        1. re: subinai

          Wow, she'd love that, so would I. I looked up their website, it's a seafood wonderland! But only if my landlubber husband isn't with us. There isn't one single item he would eat - alas, he eats no seafood at all.


        2. It's not seafood, but she might like Serendipity. It's touristy, but she's a tourist, and the deserts are teenage heaven. I think they have a website if you google it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: LloydG

            Unfortunately, I think she'd have to pay ME to go into Serendipity. What a nightmare - I'm getting a migraine just thinking about the noise level!


            1. re: sivyaleah

              In that case, then, bring your earplugs when you go to Balthazar.

              1. re: RCC

                Kids on a sugar rush noise, that's the problem!


          2. Serendipity is fun, but I don't think it's the right place for this dining adventure--the food, other than desserts, isn't exactly what I would call "eye-opening". It would be good for desserts after a long day of shopping, though! (near bloomies).

            3 Replies
            1. re: jessica

              How about some of the mod thai places? Highline, Prem en Thai, Klong or Planetthailand212?? None of these is very pricey.

              1. re: xavier

                I'm not familiar with any of those, could you tell me a bit about them? My husband and I are big on thai food, don't know about her but I could find out and it would be good to know anyway, since we're always on the look out for new thai to try.


                1. re: sivyaleah

                  They're all fairly stylish, but modestly-priced places. A fair amount of energy but without much of a "scene" (except, perhaps, Highline in the Meatpacking District)

                  Prem en Thai is almost in Soho, on Houston between Sullivan and Thompson; Planetthailand212 is a branch of a highly-regarded Williamsburg, Brooklyn place that opened recently on 24th(????) between 6th Ave and Broadway. Klong in on St. Marks Place. I'd take a hip-aspring 14 year old to any of them. All would also have plenty of seafood on the menu.

            2. All these suggestions are great, but they are all very "adult" places - she won't exactly be with her peers.

              I know I've said this before, but my guess is she would appreciate going to one of the "hang out" places in the East Village, like Cafe Mogador or Yaffa. Sure, its not NYC dining at its finest, but there will be people there she can relate to, doing things she's either doing now or will be soon. Plus, if she doesn't get to NYC very much, its a great place to visit anyway and you'll probably get hungry after walking around there.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cheapskate

                Well she won't be with her peers anyway - she's going to be with us, her aunt and uncle. And she actually enjoys us and finds us worth being with - we're the "cool" relatives.

                As cool as we are, we certainly aren't letting her off a leash to run amock in the city alone! Yikes!

                However, I always enjoyed Yaffa myself - so taking her someplace trendy, hip and cheap could work for us too.


              2. i agree that Balthazar is a great rec, as it fits all the criteria...she'll be wowed by the tiers of seafood and the vibe (you may even see a celebrity or two)...and they have luscious desserts...

                it's also near fun Soho shopping/windowshopping...and if you need a break for tea or coffee, i recommend the bookstore/cafe that's on the south side of Prince St. between Lafayette/Mulberry as a mellow place to read a magazine and chill (forgot the name of the place though)

                Also, i strongly recommend avoiding those trendy Thai places mentioned above...most Thai food in Manhattan is mediocre-to-disgusting, and the upscale places merely add insult to injury by charging more...

                3 Replies
                1. re: Simon

                  Balthazar seems to be the most likely choice thus far. She actually loves croissants - every time I visit her family I try and remember to bring some with me because they can't get good ones down where she lives. And she'd be thrilled to have someone allow her to order lobster without complaining about the price for a change :-) My sister thought she might enjoy just shopping around Soho, although she also thought I might send her back more of a brand-name snob than she is already becoming. I told her to get used to it - she's raising a teenager now LOL.


                  1. re: sivyaleah

                    If she loves croissants, you can also go to Balthazar's little bakery, next door, after she eats, and she can get one or two to go, or perhaps pick up a pastry or tart to bring back home with her. Shopping just east of Soho, in Nolita, would be fun for a 14 year old, seeing the new boutiques and even a cool consignment shop or two. If you're interested in a snack while touring that 'hood, you could get a scoop of gelato at the Ciao Bella window on Mott St, just below Houston, which she might really like.

                    1. re: ABT

                      Umm! Ciao Bella! My Shop-Rite in NJ actually carries their ice creams! Love them!


                2. I just took my 16yo niece to 'wichcraft. She requested it - she's hooked on Top Chef.

                  1. What about Village Yokocho - a Japanese Izakaya? There are some experimental dishes for her, such as okonomiyaki and safe dishes such as yakitori. And the room is really cool, as is the clientele.

                    1. I would also add two restaurants to your choices, Otto or Lupa, which would be an eye-opening experience to italian food. Also places you in the heart of the village - no better way to experience than a stroll through Wash Sq Park before or after the meal.

                      1. 14 yr old niece..Serendipity. Of course you won't be amused but that's not the point! I agree a walk around the East Village or lower Broadway will also provide entertainment for a 14 yr old, end that Broadway walk in Chinatown.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: serious

                          You do have a point - but actually, all things considered I think my husband would enjoy Serendipity more than her or I. He loves that places - especially their frozen hot chocolate.

                          Chinatown, now there's something I think she'd love seeing. Definitly like nothing she's ever experienced before. Actually, doing dim sum might be an idea - I'm glad you reminded me about the area!


                          1. re: sivyaleah

                            I will be the one to say that New York Chinese isn't worth a trip. When I first started visiting NYC as a teenager I was impressed with Odeon, Fanelli's, Solera, and the late Mie. I think Odeon is still a great scene (prefer it to Balthazar) and would recommend tapas at Tia Pol instead of Solera--or perhaps even to do a tapeo, as a recent poster has discussed. On the whole, if you are interested in expanding her palate, I would focus on places where you can order small plates. Bellavitae could be a good option. How about an izakaya (instead of sushi, since your husband doesn't care for fish). Shake Shack could be a lot of fun too, if the weather is nice.

                        2. Since your niece likes fish, why don't you take her to Sushi Samba...very good cuban/japanese fusion, funky decor and it has a youngish/hip vibe that a 14 y/o from jersey will like (it was on Sex and the City so she'll probably even like that more)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Jacey

                            That's an interesting idea too. Too bad she won't know the Sex and the City connection tho - since it's been off since 2004.
                            She was only about 12 when it went off the air. A tad too young.


                            1. re: Jacey

                              I went to the W Vill outpost on Sat for the second and last time (it wasn't my choice). Everything was mediocre and overpriced, and the incredibly rude and inattentive service just put the experience over the edge. We paid $90 for 2 drinks, 1 app, 1 roll, and 1 sushi combo. Never again.

                            2. my aunt and uncle always took me to places they considered important: 21 Club, King Cole Bar, Four Seasons, etc. I didn't get it at the time. I do now.

                              1. Gyu-Kaku around Astor Place, Cooper Union where you can grill your own food and even have s'mores afterwards. may be such a novelty for your niece? www.gyu-kaku.com

                                Pearl's Oyster Bar is fun, in the village, sit on stools at the counter or at a table, great steamers, clam chowder, affordable lobster rolls, friendly staff

                                Petit Abeille around 14th and 1st is always hopping, moules frites very popular, lots of Belgian beers for adults

                                Menchenko Tei midtown, www.menchenkotei.com, has the most exquisite noodle soups, onigiri

                                1. I agree with the person who remembers 21, King Cole Bar etc.
                                  My 12 Year old and 9 year old Granddaughters loved 21 for "cocktails". From there we went to Cipriani when it was at the Sherry Netherlands. They loved all the fuss and felt very grown up.

                                  We also dined at Grenouille and Le Cirque with the 12 year old.
                                  She adored every minute of it. If your niece is anything like my granddaughters, you can start with a shopping spree, mainly Juicy couture.
                                  For a really WOW experience, lunch at the new Le Cirque. She will feel like a princess and auntie and uncle will enjoy as well.

                                  Whatever you decide, enjoy.