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30th Birthday Dinner on Sat. night - where to go????

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Hello! We are two food lovers heading to Manhattan from DC for an impromptu birthday celebration. Restaurants that appear to have availability are:
Fleur de Sel, Centovini, David Burke & Donatella, Dona, Cafe Gray, Wallse, and a very late opening at Blue Hill. Or, walk-in at Lupa?

I'm looking for something that - although not the best restaurant in the city - will really make us feel like we're celebrating something special, unique. It's not just food but ambiance. I'm tempted to head to Lupa since I hear great things and just want a great dinner where my love and I can celebrate the coming year. I know Babbo is supposed to be stellar but no availability of course plus VERY mixed reviews. Later that night we're celebrating with friends but wanted somewhere wonderful and unique and celebratory for just us. "expensive" is OK but not necessarily Per Se level expensive. We're both from San Francisco, love great food, good service, good wine, not necessarily the hottest scene. Setting, food and the spirit of a place are the most important - and oh yes, if possible, a great view with which to observe the horizon of the decades ahead!
THANK YOU for your HELP!

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  1. Hearth also has availability at 7:30. Thats a great option.

    1. Great food, great service great wine- Cru. If you look you can find my previous post from my dinner there. Congratulations!

      1. Saturday night at Lupa you'll have a long wait unless you show up at 6 p.m.. After that, your wait will easily be an hour or two, and the bar tends to be saved for eaters, so you'll have to stand, which may put a damper on the evening. I'd second the Hearth recommendation -- you might want to see if you can get the seats at the kitchen pass, saved for walk-ins, from which you can watch the chef at work!

        1. GO TO BLUE HILL!!! It's such a lovely lovely restaurant in all respects. Wonderful food, wonderful service, the dining room is the epitome of warmth and comfort. Great spot for a birthday celebration, it has been my first choice for all manner of small celebrations for a year now.

          1. The only two on your list I've been to are Fleur de Sel and Blue Hill. Between those two, no contest for me: Fleur de Sel. Not only is the food there, in my view, far superior to Blue Hill's (FdeS's chef/owner Cyril Renaud was, at one time, chef at the famous, now-defunct La Caravelle), but the overall ambiance is so much nicer. Tables at Blue Hill are extremely close along the banquettes, which is where couples are always seated, and the decor is rather nondescript. Fleur de Sel's small space has stylishly attractive decor, less tight and very comfortable seating, and just the right lighting to give the room a romantic feel. If you go, ask for what I think is the coziest table for two, the one just in front of the window.

            http://www.fleurdeselnyc.com

            Happy Birthday to whichever of you is the celebrant and Bon Appetit!

            1. Hearth. i just sent 2 chicago foodies there and they had an incredible experience.

              always good.

              1. I have eaten at Centovini, Wallse and Hearth. Centovini is not a good choice. It is a nice wine bar/restaurant but not Birthday dinner material.

                Hearth would be a good choice. The wine list is very unique, service and food very good. Wallse is terrific as well. The food is sort of new age Austrian.

                Blue Hill gets great reviews. MY birthday is next Thursday and I am going for the first time. Pls post if you try it!

                1. You may want to try Bellevitae as well, or Malatesta in the West Village. Both or Italian and are great for groups. Food is rustic and delicious.

                  1. Blue Hill would not be my choice for a celebratory dinner. I've been there a few times and while the food is good (I had the best.shortribs.ever. on a tasting menu) the atmosphere is very sterile. I always felt like I was in a corporate dining room. Cru or Hearth would be more pleasing.