[AUS] New Years Outings
"Blasphemy!", say the hounds. "You'll never find a good meal on NYE!"
I know, I know. I've never once gone out on NYE for dinner, but I'm thinking this year may be the year. Mostly because a couple of friends and I would like to go out that night, but not to a bar that is going to be jammed to the gills with a ridiculous cover charge and mile-long waits for a drink. On the other hand, we don't necessarily want to just go to a restaurant, eat a multi-course meal, and be whisked away at 12:01am. Now I'm not sure if it exists, but it would be ideal to find a restaurant that is serving dinner and then after dinner will remain open for a lively party atmosphere, but without the suffocating crowds.
I don't expect scrumptiousness, but if the food is decent I'll be happy. I hate New Years (now the 30th, that's the night to celebrate), but it would be nice to find a place that'll be tolerable.
Last year I was able to get a large party in to Green Pastures NYE Dinner (Fixed Price); I didn't make a reservation until the the day itself.
The food wasn't fantastic, but the atmosphere was great. The crowd (not too dense, I might add) mix of dressed-up hipsters and couples over 55.
Other plusses include: The parking lot is huge, and you're far enough from downtown to avoid the amatuer night zaniness.
...and therein lies the rub: you don't want someplace overly crowded, but you also don't want to be whisked away at midnight. The places I can think of that are open late night (none of which have stellar food) would be:
El Gringo: away from 6th street and they have a separate bar
The Belmont: definitely going to be crowded but you can hang-out after dinner
Lambert's: MIGHT have the upstairs bar opened later on NYE
Starlight: but then you're dealing with the warehouse district.
It's a shoddy list a best, but the last time we ate out on NYE was about 6 years ago when we went to Ranch 616, and they pretty much herded us out the door at 12:15...good luck.
This sounds like a utopian, brigadoon-esque NYE scenario. You said you weren't sure if it exists, and in my experience, what you are describing doesn't....at least not here in Austin. All the destination restaurants will be slammed and sub-par, all the clubs will be slammed and about par.
Your idea about the 30th sits well here...the holiday buzz is still in full swing, sometimes you get really good specials without the long waits, the boosts in price and the madding amateur crowds that come the next night...but since your dilemma is on NYE itself....sheeeesh....I love the dumb TV ball and some good take-out...but you want to be O-U-T on N-Y-E...
My sage advice for a slightly festive, slightly mellow, not necessarily delicious NYE...check the Chron - they usually have a bunch of ads the THU before NYE...pick the one that seems least offensive.
I would be willing to bet that this year the 30th (Saturday night) will be even worse thant the 31st. Sounds like your expectations are pretty low since you use phrases like "decent" and "tolerable" but don't complain when that is all you get. Follow your instincts and my habit--NEVER dine in a restaurant on New Year's or Valentine's Days! Why would you go to a restaurant when you know that tolerable is all you are going to get?
As I said earlier, the 30th is more just a night that I personally have more fun on. Not talking chow.
Regarding the 31st, without going into a lengthy explanation about why my options are limited, I'll just say that they are. Friends visiting, they want to go out, I'd rather not, so it's about finding any place that fits the aforementioned criteria of reasonable food & drink, with a non-suffocating atmosphere. As I said, I've never dined out on NYE (or V-day for that matter), but thanks for your tip (or lack thereof) anyways. So just to re-iterate, I am fully aware that I'm not going to be dining well, but am looking for hound help to make this as painless as possible.