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Dec 20, 2006 04:26 PM

'Nice Casual' wedding celebration

My uncle just offered to take me out for dinner in the new year to celebrate my recent wedding. Cost isn't really a factor (ie: I already made reservations @ Per Se in case he says 'wherever you want'), but there are some other considerations. I'm fine with stuffy pretension in fine dining, but my wife much prefers a more casual atmosphere (think: the front tavern @ Gramercy Tavern). However, for this occasion I'm looking for something a little more formal than that without getting so formal that my wife is uncomfortable. Also, American cuisine is preferred. I'm thinking about Blue Hill, but I would love some other suggestions. Thanks!

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  1. Veritas would be my pick. Chef Scott Bryan's New American cuisine is superb; the wine list is, of course, one of the most extraordinary in the city; service is cordial and professional; the dining room has stylish contemporary decor with lighting that is just right; and the overall atmosphere is relaxed. You will see a range of dress from formal (tie & jacket), to smart casual, to totally casual (jeans & a sweater) -- the the first two predominate. As the French would say, "Comme vous voulez." Veritas is a great place to go to for a celebration, or when you are just in the mood for a very fine meal.

    Congratulations to you and your new bride, and Bon Appetit!

    2 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      and Eleven Madison Park is definitely not casual.

      1. re: meb903

        The o.p. specifically stated that he wants a "casual *atmosphere*," i.e., nothing stuffy, and in that regard, EMP is a perfectly good fit because it has a very relaxed feel.

    2. Blue Hill is a good idea. Veritas too. Also consider Craft and Eleven Madison Park.

      1 Reply
      1. re: gutsofsteel

        I would have suggested Eleven Madison, but redearth329 said that he preferred American. While Chef Humm's cuisine is fabulous, it's decidedly French-inspired and, in my view, quite different and more "complicated" than what is served at Blue Hill.

      2. EMP may be French-inspired, but it is much less complicated than what is served at Blue Hill, in my opinion. Blue Hill, under Juan Cuevas, is serving some of the most sophisticated food in the city.

        2 Replies
        1. re: gutsofsteel

          To be fair, our dinner at Blue Hill was several years ago, and I was not bowled over by the food. In addition, we had a serious problem with our main course (we both had the duck) and had to send them back because they were served at an incorrect temperature. Not good for a restaurant of that supposed caliber and not an incentive for a return visit.

          1. re: RGR

            Completely different experience now. Juan Cuevas was not the chef at the time. The food is excellent, and the service is top notch.

        2. The Harrison or Red Cat.
          And...... Country or Country Cafe

          1. Thank you for the suggestions! I was also thinking about Country, although I've heard compaints about the service there. I haven't heard anything about Country Cafe, though --what's that like? Also, what about Town... too formal?

            1 Reply
            1. re: redearth329

              Cafe at Country is Country's more casual, less costly, though not inexpensive, counterpart. It's a big room with a huge bar in the center and table seating all round. The food was delicious, service was first-rate, and the noise level, though a bit high, was tolerable. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the second dinner we had there a few weeks ago. This time, we took our daughter and her boyfriend along.

              For starters, it was a Tuesday and the place was mobbed, strangely more so than that first time which was a Saturday night. To the restaurant's credit, they honored our reservation, and we were seated immediately. But it was immediately apparent that the way higher noise level, not helped by loud music coming from speakers directly above us, was going to be much more of a problem.

              We soldiered on only to encounter huge problems with both the food and service. All of us ordered soup for the first course, and all four soups arrived at the table cold. Our waitress was nowhere in sight, but we finally got one of the runners to return the soups to the kitchen. The kitchen started them from scratch, and they were returned piping hot. However, not one word of apology from our waitress although the runner who returned the soups did say he was sorry about what happened.

              Then, we had barely put down our spoons and taken a breath when the main courses arrived -- a severe lapse in timing which we chalk up to our waitress not advising the kitchen that they needed to hold up our main courses. Worse, a couple of the main courses could have been warmer, but we decided not to send them back.

              While three of us had dessert, my husband ordered only tea. That didn't arrive until we had finished the desserts. Just as the tea was served, the waitress showed up, saw that we had finished the desserts and scooped up all the silverware, including my husband's teaspoon. When I told her that she had taken the spoon he needed for his tea, off she went to get another spoon, with not a word of apology.

              Needless to say, the tip we left reflected the level of service. And when one of the managers happened to pass our table, we flagged him down and took the opportunity to advise him of all the things that had gone wrong during the meal.

              While we might, at some far future date, give the Cafe another shot, these two experiences indicate major inconsistencies. So, I would definitely *not* recommend it for your wedding celebration.

              One more thing. Country is located on the upper level, and while I've never dined there, I understand that the noise from downstairs does travel up there. Considering how expensive dinner there would be, a word to the wise.