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Birthday dinner recommendations in Philly

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I am looking for places to take someone out for their birthday next Friday or Saturday night in Philadelphia. The neighborhood doesn't really matter that much but I was thinking more along the lines of Rittenhouse, Old City, or Center City. I guess I am somewhat open to the type of food although I know that I don't want anything asian. Maybe something like American, Spanish, or Italian. I'd like to try to stay in the price range of something less than $150 for everything including tip and drinks. I have read several reviews about the quality of food at various restaurants but I guess the reason that I am asking is that I think that for an occasion dinner I would be more inclined to put an emphasis on the atmosphere than having the absolute best food possible. In other words, I am looking for something that's more romantic/quiet but still worth going to as far as the eating is concerned as opposed to a noisier place even if the food is better.

I also need to find a place for good dessert as I may possibly take her out to dinner on Friday night and then some place else for dessert in the city on Saturday. Suggestions are welcome and very much appreciated.

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  1. I like Dessert. I think it has the atmosphere you're seeking (near Little Fish in Queen Village).

    1 Reply
    1. re: JanR

      The one and only time I have been to Dessert, the coffee was lukewarm and there was a hair in my cake that didn't belong to me. The atmosphere is nice, though. It's too bad Cafe Sud is closed, their desserts were great.

      For a very nice, romantic dinner in that price range, the best place I can think of is Gayle, on 3rd St. between South and Bainbridge. You can definitely do almost as well for a lot less money though. There's a little place called Salt & Pepper at 6th and Fitzwater that is fantastic, there are only 6 or 7 tables, so it's cozy, the chef is 8 feet away from you in an open kitchen, and it's BYOB so you won't be paying superinflated wine prices.

    2. I think Beau Monde is very romantic, but it's less than your price range. It looks like you are looking for something much fancier. You can get an excellent meal, drinks and desserts for $80 for both of you.

      1. Overtures is probably right up your alley. Continental fare, nothing nouveau here but very good. Lovely atmosphere. Ask for the main dining room.

        1. Friday Saturday Sunday would be a good choice--very nice atmosphere, especially if you get a corner table, which is nicely tucked away for a very romantic feel. The wines are priced only $10 over retail, so it is a good deal.

          2 Replies
          1. re: casspants

            I disagree with Friday Saturday Sunday. I am not a fan of the food quality.

            1. re: saturninus

              Absolutely. Don't go to Friday Saturday and Sunday.

          2. Pif. Delicious food, quiet place, intimate, lovely and safely in your price range.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Adrienne

              Yes, Pif! Perfect choice. In addition to everything Adrienne said, romantic French music.

            2. Thanks for the recommendations so far...I really appreciate them. What type of place is Matyson? I see that a lot of people on this board seem to like it and I looked at the menu and it looks ok and actually seems reasonably priced as well. My main question was regarding the atmosphere and would we be overdressed if we were wearing say like dress pants and a nice button up shirt for me and something similar for her. Sorry I'm probably sounding kind of dumb but I don't go out to eat that much in the city so I don't really know. I just remembered reading a review in which the reviewer said that they felt it was more on the casual side than some other places and not as appropriate for a special occasion.

              1 Reply
              1. re: dave80jc

                The food at Matyson is great, but it definitely does not have the atmosphere you're looking for for this occasion. I'll go along with Pif, it's a great recommendation.

              2. Buckethead is on target. Matyson is great, but noisy and not what you're looking for.

                Pif sounds good, and I think Overtures would be perfect. It's beautiful, quiet, and romantic - and the food is good. BYOB.

                You don't need to be "dressed up" - jacket and tie - hardly anywhere these days. About the only place would be a hotel dining room or Prime Rib. A shirt or sweater is just fine.

                Enjoy your occasion!

                1. Matyson is our favorite restaurant, period! But I did not recommend it because of your requirements for a romantic quiet atmosphere. The food and service are excellent but it is not quiet. Think bustling. Tables are close together. We do go there for special occasions because we love it.

                  1. What about these places?

                    Ristorante Panorama
                    Positano Coast

                    These were recommended to me by people that I work with so I thought I'd get your feedback first before really considering them.

                    I was thinking that maybe I should stick with italian because her favorite food is Penne Vodka. Panorama looks pretty nice inside and the food looks reasonably priced but I'm not sure how expensive the meal will be with the flights of wine - perhaps someone could elaborate more on that concept. Do they basically choose a recommended wine for the type of food that you get or how does that work? Thanks again for everything.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: dave80jc

                      There is a reason these places don't get press on this board. The last time I was at Panorama the food was highly mediocre. Very expensive for what you get. Wines ok. Atmosphere fine.

                      1. re: dave80jc

                        Positano is not bad, but it's definitely not the atmosphere you're looking for. It's closer to a club than an intimate dining place like Overtures or Pif.

                      2. Ok so I have reservations for both nights this weekend. Friday night (her birthday) we are going to Overtures. Saturday we are going to the Reading Terminal Market for a while and then dinner at Matyson. I wanted to have one night where it was more quiet so that's why I chose to go with the recommendation of Overtures for Friday and then I think I am taking her to Helium Comedy Club on Saturday night so I wanted something a little more casual and in the area and with all of the reviews on this board that is why I chose Matyson.

                        I just have two other questions now. Is Matyson a place where we wouldn't feel uncomfortable if we wore jeans and a nice sweater or nice button-down shirt? I guess I just wanted to be more comfortable at the comedy club and would prefer wearing this if we wouldn't be out of place. The other question was if anyone could give me any good recommendations for wine, as I do not drink it (beer only usually) and have no clue what to get, although I did tell her that we were going to a BYOB so she could pick out a wine that she likes.

                        Thanks for all the advice so far and I'll let you know how it turns out.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dave80jc

                          Good choices, Overtures is nice and quiet. As someone else said, make sure you get seated in the main dining room, not in front (close to the street). You'll be dressed fine for Matyson.

                          Though I really really hate the PA State Wine and Spirits shops, the wines that are 'Chairman's Selections' can usually be counted on to be good, and a good deal. Whatever you do, don't ask one of the employees to recommend a bottle, 99% of them don't know anything about wine. At all.

                          Do you plan on drinking wine with dinner, or bringing beer for yourself?

                        2. Good choices. You'll be fine in Matyson with what you mentioned in terms of attire. I'm also a beer drinker but I guess it depends on what your girl likes for the vino. I like the sweeter vinos, lambrusco and concord for example, they are basically grape juices with alcohol. They are more of dessert wines but it doesn't matter if that's what you like.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Tonyjlive

                            Don't know if they will comply, but you could call Matyson and ask them to fax you their current menu. Then she could have a better idea of what she might want to order and a wine that would go well with it.

                            1. re: JanR

                              I think they would but if they aren't willing to do that, they might still offer you good advice about what wine to buy. Definitely let them know why you're asking if you make this request.