Can anyone out there suggest a romantic bisto-type spot that is both quiet and not terribly expensive? The $150 for two including a bottle of wine range would be perfect. Any area of Manhattan would be fine as well.
I always say it, but I think IL Bucco on Bond St. it the most romantic, cozy restaurant in the city. By selecting from the long list of starters in can be affordable. It is not French, but calling it an Med-Bistro is not a stretch.
Romantic + bistro is a challenge - the one I know that comes closest is Capsouto Freres On Washington/Watts just below Canal.
My other rustic romantic favorite is La Boite en Bois on the UWS.
I'd say that La Mangeoire, on 2nd Ave. in the low 50s, is a cozy French Provençal spot. There are a couple of smallish dining rooms, so I'd ask when making the reservation which they thought of as more romantic. Probably not the room that you walk into from the street, although there's certainly nothing wrong with that one, either.
In the West Village, there's a tiny place that's mentioned here with some frequency: Le Gigot, on Cornelia Street. Quite small, very intimate.
Both of these places would fit into your budget.
Bianca on Bleeker would be a nice fit as would Da Andrea on Hudson. They are both nice and quiet with a romantic feel and a decent wine list at a very good price. Bianca is cash only and does not take reservations. These are not french but fit your requirements otherwise.