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40th birthday dinner in October

My husband is turning 40 in Oct & we'll be in NYC for 2 days to celebrate. Please suggest dinner spots with combo of great food & great ambience (at least OK service) anywhere in Manhattan or Brooklyn. Looking for truly unique "destination" spots. Prior NCY faves have been Gramercy Tavern & The Modern; we liked Lupa, Artisanal and Fleur de Sel; we found Cafe Boulud a bit of a yawn (food was excellent, just not interesting). He is a major wine fancier so a place with a great wine list and/or pairings would be a bonus (but not at the expense of a less than superb kitchen). We probably won't splurge for J-G or Per Se but otherwise price is not an issue. Ethnic is great, but only if the room/experience lives up to an important celebration. Really appreciate your thoughts as I am not "up to date" with the current dining scene

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  1. Here are my suggestions in order of preference:

    Cru (amazing wine list with chef to match)
    Bouley (fabulous food with a decent wine list)
    Eleven Madison Park (new chef creating massive buzz; same owner as Gramercy Tavern)
    Gotham Bar & Grill (Chef/owner Portale is a consistent winner)
    Blue Hill (May use freshest ingredients in town; own a farm upstate)
    Babbo (upscale version of Lupa)

    1. Le Cirque a real WOW, beautiful space, good food and very good service.

      1. I think Cru is a great recommendation, especially if the wine list is important.I believe they may have the largest selection of wines of any restaurant in NYC. They also have a nice tasting menu with wine pairings.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bobby06877

          I have to agree. Cru's tasting menu w/ wine pairings is a wonderful and memorable experience

        2. I would recommend Aureole (the best sommelier and great food), Bouley and Danube.

          1. I was in this exact situation last year and had my 40th at Keens Steak House and it fit the bill perfectly. The food is great and it's the unique destination spot/ambience you are looking for. They are renowned for their whiskey/bourbon collection, so I haven't paid much attention to their wine list.