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How to impress a southern woman? Help me chowhounds!

Visiting NYC this weekend to meet for a first date of sorts with a lovely young woman who is originally from the South, and a relative newcomer to Manhattan.

Planning on heading over to the DUMBO arts festival in the afternoon on Saturday - What can chowhounds recommend in the neighborhood for lunch and/or dinner that is bound to impress?

Some place, a true chowhound place, that will make her wonder..."How did HE, who doesn't even live here, know about this great place in this neighborhood?"

It'll be our little secret. ;)

Thank you in advance.

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  1. Go to Jacques Torres and order her a peanut butter iced-chocolate. Then go across the street to Almondine for the ham and brie sandwich. If she doesn't like either, you don't want to be with her.

    1. DUMBO...River Cafe for dinner if you're looking for upscale, views, romance...the whole nine yards.
      If you want to head out of DUMBO , a few suggestions in the surrounding areas:

      Noodle Pudding...Bklyn Hts...amazing rustic Italian, hard to find little place that is romantic and warm.

      Crave...Cobble Hill...awesome eclectic American tasting menu with wine pairings. Intimate setting where the service is impeccable and the chefs are first rate. For the quality, it is surprisingly reasonable.

      Convivum Osteria and Al Di la...both Park Slope...not to be missed if you're in Bklyn this weekend, or ever again.

      All of these places have been thoroughly covered on this board. Just do a search and you'll see a myriad of opinions, mostly positive if not obsessive!
      Good luck!

      1. No no no on River Cafe. It's great, but very formal and expensive--and you will be surrounded by dressed-up couples celebrating their anniversaries or proposing marriage--way too much for the early date stages (where it sounds like you are.) Instead, try Superfine, a funky/cool restaurant and bar practically under the Brooklyn Bridge that has an American/Mediterranean menu with some Southwestern touches (they also do a great bluegrass brunch on Sunday mornings, should the date last that long....) Or, you can go to Rice, a small Asian-fusion place. Not far from Dumbo is a great new "gastropub" in Bklyn Hts called Jack the Horse--more upscale food than you'd expect, decent prices, and a pleasant, lively, bistro-ish atmosphere.

        I do second snacks and chocolate from Jacques Torres and sandwiches/pastries from Almondine!

        2 Replies
        1. re: dixieday2

          I went to Superfine once years ago and if it hasn't changed, I think it's a good place for you. It had the feel of a secret (but friendly) neighborhood hangout. Informal, welcoming, very good food too. And it's actually in DUMBO! (126 Front St)

          Is Between the Bridges bar any good? That used to be a dumbo hangout. (63 York St)

          1. re: Brian S

            Between the Bridges has been closed for about 4-5 years.

        2. I would agree with Noodle Pudding, though I'm not sure if they take reservations and can be a wait. Other nearby places would be Henry's End (also no reservations) which is cozy and has an American menu and has a strong mae menu during the fall/winter. Finally, Five Front in DUMBO would be a nice meal, and then you can walk down by the Waterfront to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for some great homemade ice cream or to Jaques Torres for chocolates.

          1. DUMBO has only a few restaurants and there's not much else within walking distance. Here are my picks:

            In DUMBO:
            Five Front. Great food, lovely rooms, not too expensive, a great date place. Second choice would be River Cafe, but it's WAY expensive and requires a jacket on men. You could always start with a drink at their bar though and then walk 3 minutes up to Five Front

            In Brooklyn Heights (one neighborhood away):
            Really, there's only one choice here for a date: Noodle Pudding. It's great straighforward italian. Not too pricey, but they only take cash and they take no reservations. A 45 minute wait may kill the mood.

            If you're willing to hop in a cab:
            Well then, this changes everything. 8 minutes away are a number of solid choices on Smith St., Court St., and Union St. 15 minutes away in Park Slope and Prospect Heights are 10 more good choices. Even Red Hook has one or two good ones.

            If a cab is an option, post here (and post your budget) and a bunch of us will dive in with recommendations. In the meantime, I'm gonna throw out a curve ball.

            What do people think of his taking a cab to Red Hook and taking her to 360 Van Brunt?

            It's very affordable ($25 prix fixe with a very wide set of choices), great wine list (but even better, the owner likes to choose your wine and therefore you can avoid looking like a wine idiot), takes reservations (no wait), it's pretty much a guarantee she's never been there, and it's in the middle of nowhere so it adds an air of mystery... (where the heck are we??! Oh my god! Look at that charming little restaurant!) Oh, it's cash only though so come prepared!


            1 Reply
            1. re: Peter

              If he is visiting from out of town, this is not a good idea at all. 1) Not that easy to hail cabs in brooklyn. 2) cab driver may not know how to get to Van Brunt Street and he certainly can't guide him 3) he'd have to have a car servce to pick them up. Even a local trying to impress a woman would have a hard time with 360. Bad idea.

            2. If you REALLY want to impress this fine daughter of the Southland, then just be honest with her and tell her that you don't really know your way around ... THEN ask what SHE would prefer..THEN go off and explore TOGETHER. IMHO you will make a far better impression on her by treating her with consideration and respect for her opinions and wishes than by finding the best Fried whatever in Brooklyn..besides, if she is from the south, just get her a good Pizza Margherita...there are absolutely no good Pizza places south of the Mason-Brooklyn line.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Jimmy

                You are surely quite right, sir! Definitely not my intention to play the role of the know-it-all.

                However, I do want to have at least some points of reference so if I am called to place the mantle of the "Man" on my shoulders, I can be adequately prepared.

                There is a fine balance to be struck between expectations of the North and the South, no? ;)

                1. re: Greg Matthews

                  Take her for drinks at the River Cafe. You'll need to wear a jacket. Do it. The view is one of the best in the world and if she's not impressed by that you've got the wrong woman.

                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                    I haven't been in a few years but you used to be able to sit outside in the afternoon at River Cafe and have a drink without being dressed up, on a nice day you'd be better off outside anyway.

                    1. re: sadarami

                      Still can. There is an enclosed terrace, too, generously proportioned and kind of pleasanter than the bar bar. Quieter. The view is the same and you wont need a jacket out there.

                  2. re: Greg Matthews

                    You defnititely want to have some places in mind, since she has no idea about NY, it WOULD NOT be fun to wander around aimlessly. NYC is not Paris, there are many many bad restaurants and neighborhoods that are just ugly. So, good luck!

                2. what about Grimaldi's Pizza down by the brooklyn bridge? not exactly a fancy date but it's a very fun Brooklyn-y experience and the pizza's killer. and then you can walk down by the water and get ice cream at the brooklyn ice cream factory which has roughly the same view as river cafe but without the jacket or the formal atmosphere - much better for a first date in my opinion.

                  or you could bring the jacket for river cafe and grimaldi's address and just ask her which she's in the mood for once you get down there...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hopalong

                    Well, it does obviously depend on what kind of lady she is...but for a first date, I'd say either Five Front or Grimaldi's, and then a walk to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. There's something very "first date" about getting ice cream, it keeps the mood informal, and the ice cream is awesome...as is the view. Enjoy, and good luck!

                  2. Talk about a wait killing the mood...standing on line for Grimaldi's will definitely do that. Go to Five Front instead (they have a lovely garden with heaters) then go over to Brooklyn Ice Cream factory and enjoy the view.

                    1. Be careful, the arts festival brings a lot of people into the neighborhood and wait times at nearby places with a no reservations policy will be worse than a normal weekend which can be bad enough.

                      I would either go to one of the recommended places in Brooklyn Hts/Dumbo and have a reservation or get there real early, like just before they start seating for dinner. You can have the best recommendations in the world but if you can't get in, or have to stand around for an hour making conversation, what good is it. Henry's End has the game menu at this time of the year but again, no reservations unless you are three or more diners.

                      You are getting rec's all over the place from formal River Cafe to Grimaldi's and Ice Cream Fac. You should really tell a little of what kind of atmosphere and price range you're looking for.

                      If you both enjoy walking and exploring you can get the view by doing the promendade and walk to Queen which is somewhat less than a mile each way or one of the places on Atlantic Ave which would be a little more than a mile. The weather will be brisk, 50's, low 40's at night.

                      1. I'm not sure why so many people are plugging the River Cafe. The view is the only good thing about the restaurant. The food is horrible. A real waste of money. You're better off with Grimaldi's if you're looking for a place close to DUMBO and just walking on the Promenade which has spectacular views of Manhattan. Or, if you want to spend money, spend it on a cab to either Taro Sushi on Dean Street off Flatbush Ave or Tomasso on 84th Street between 14th Ave and 16th Ave which has the best pollenta (topped with gorgonzola) and pan seared goose fois gras I've had. This may also sound crazy but I find bringing women who are from out of state to the Gray Papaya's on W 72nd and Bwy in Manhattan always seems to impress. They love the gritty ambience and the great tasting dogs.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: bigmackdaddy

                          You're the first person I've seen calling the food at the River Cafe "horrible." I had a great meal there, but it was several years ago, so it could have easily gone downhill in that time. Anyone else think the food at River Cafe is horrible???

                          1. re: Pan

                            We've been there this year and I wrote it up. It was (surprisingly) very good. Even at its worst, the food was above mediocre but below price point. Our last meal was right on price point, even without the view. The chef either had a very good night or is hitting stride. I'm one of those that recommend it.

                            1. re: Pan

                              While I would not call the food at RC "horrible" I would certainly call it average. What I can't understand is how RC obtained it's status as the most over-recommended restaurant on this and over boards. And if there is a bigger tourist place outside of Times Square I don't know what it would be.

                              1. re: livetotravel

                                It obtained its status when it was the only classy restaurant in Brooklyn with Forgione, Burke and then Palmer in the kitchen producing "NYC Top 10" food. It continues to be a solid restaurant, surely not a top 50 any longer & not even the best food in Bklyn. But that doesnt mean that the food isnt good or that it's a tourist trap. My recent experience showed the food to be every bit as well prepared as other middle range restaurants and we paid less than we would at Danube or similarly over-rated places. Add the view and I dont see why there isnt middle ground between lauding it and unfairly belittling it.