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Canadian hound in the hot seat

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I'll be in NYC with 6 people for an extended weekend in mid Sept. and need help in avoiding a wasted dining experience. I used to travel to the city regularly for business, but haven't been much in the past few years so most of my food recollections are a bit dated. Regardless, I've been chosen to make all the restaurant reservations for the group and I'm going to be held accountable - please help me look good.

Here's what I'm looking for:

A light dinner for either before or after theatre - tapas / small plates for sharing would be ideal. Can be outside of the theatre district if it's open late (Saturday night). $50 - $60 per person.

Our dinner centric evening - a relaxed, enjoyable atmoshpere with interesting menus would much more important than hitting one of the star chef restaurants. Craft and BLT Steak were two big hits for me previously. $100 + pp.

A unique dining experience - either the room/location or the food or both. Must have good cocktail / wine selection. Would prefer something downtown. Flexible on price.

Constraints - would like to avoid italian, sushi and traditional asian (fusion OK). We all get a ton of that back home.

I've either had recommended or seen on the boards the following restaurants, which I'd love comments on - Buddakan, Whym, Veritas (is 6 too large a group?), Degustation, Eleven Madison Park.

Also - good brunch spots in between times square / columbus circle would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance

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  1. Re: Tapas. Tintol, in the Theater District, opened within the past year and has gotten positive reviews on this board. I've not been yet, but if you do a search, you can read what others have had to say about their experiences. Hours are from noon to midnight.

    http://www.tintol.net

    Re: Brunch. Two spots in the Times Square area that I like are Marseille and Le Madeleine.

    http://www.marseillenyc.com
    http://www.lemadeleine.com

    Veritas is one of my favorites. Chef Scott Bryan's cuisine is first rate, and the wine list is, of course, one of the best in the city. Service is friendly and professional. The contemporary decor is soothing, lighting is perfect, the noise level is conversation-friendly, and there are 2 or 3 round tables that comfortably accommodate 6 diners.

    http://www.veritas-nyc.com

    That said about Veritas, if I had to choose just one upscale dining experience right now, without any doubt it would be Eleven Madison Park. Chef Daniel Humm came on board earlier this year, and the change in the cuisine is nothing short of astonishing. I've had dinner and lunch there since his arrival, and his French-inspired cuisine is, in a word, sensational! Service, which has always been excellent, continues to be so. The ambiance is totally different from the small sleekness at Veritas. The space at EMP is huge and gorgeous. Seating is in sections, which does help to provide a bit more of an intimate feeling.

    http://www.elevenmadisonpark.com

    If you plan to go to either Veritas or EMP, you should make your reservation asap.

    Hope you and your companions have a great visit to NYC. Bon Appetit!

    1. I second Eleven Madison Park. It's quite simply an A+ dining experience all the way around. Loved it.

      WD-50 would do nicely for your eccentric dining experience. It's located on the Lower Eastside. It's pretty pricey though.

      1. Tia pol in Chelsea for Tapas. Not far from the theater districts. although the group size may be an issue...Call ahead. I would stay away from Morimota, Buddakahn etc...a lot of hype and $$ with not much substance.

        Try Mas in the Village for somehthing with a good mix. Also might want to give a classic like Jean George a try..nothing bad there. Gotham never dissppoints for a good mix of everything