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Trying to Impress - Trendy& Delicious?

I'm taking my closest male friend (who I've always been slighly in love with) out to dinner for his 26th birthday. He loves trendy, hot scenes with beautiful people, the 'in places'. He will probably want to wear jeans, an untucked button-up shirt, and a blazer - hopefully you're getting an idea. However, we both love good food and don't want to sacrifice taste either (think fresh, clean, unexpected flavors, nicely presented). No price limit and any cuisine although I think we're going to Nobu the night before, so maybe not sushi, but that can be changed.

So thoughts? In the past we LOVED Hearth and Public, Kittichai and Cafe Grey were having off nights, and Balthazar just wasn't our kind of food. I've heard that the meat packing district has a lot of hot, new restuarants and then I've also come up with these possbilities but I have no idea if they would be too stuffy/old: Telepan, Cru, Aquavit, WD~50

Dinner is Feb 17th so I know I need to decide soon!

Thank you in advance!!

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  1. Much as I like both Telepan and Aquavit - I don't think they would fit the trendy part of your criteria - though at Aquavit I've only sat in the front room. Haven't tried the other two places.

    1. I can relate here. Aquavit is amazing food, but is going to be a bit older/more stuffy that you're looking for. I might recommend E.U. (European Union) in the East Village...definitely leans way towards the hip/trendy side of what you're looking for, food is a B+ but not the reason you'd want to go there.

      I was telling a friend last night that i think my favorite restaurant in the city is Aquagrille. The Harrison in Tribeca could also be cool.

      1. You might really like Craft, if you can get a reservation. Definitely a people watching destination where the food is equally as appealing as the clientelle. Great trendy food staple.

        1. Jean George: formal but relaxed:

            1. re: intrepid

              Trendy? It's so trendy it's shuttered. (Unless it's reopened.)

              1. re: serious

                Seriously? Where have you been hiding? Waverly Inn reopened (w/o the "Ye") in about October and is the talk of just about everywhere/everyone. You can't get much more trendy right now.

                1. re: Lucia

                  I thought I read just the other day (now, maybe I was going through my old stack of magazines and didn't realize it was an old one) that it hadn't actually opened yet?

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Yes, while not officially open and not taking reservations over an official phone line, Waverly Inn has been in business for several months, and there have been several blog and other reviews.

              1. Downstairs at La Esquina

                1. WD50 would be a great choice. I don't know how 'in' it is, but it is very cool and very good.

                  1. I'd steer away from Cru & similarly formal places. WD-50 is good, if a little small to do too much people-watching. The Orchard might be a good choice, as would The Harrison and La Esquina, as other people have suggested.


                    NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

                    1. You have to go to Japonais. I love almost all the restaurants you mentioned (Kittichai, Cafe Grey and Public) and I don't care for Balthazar as well. I've been there twice, first time I was completely underdressed but the matre'd did not bat an eyelash and seated us in the lounge area upstairs. To top it all off, he checked in with us towards the end of our night and was sincerely delighted to talk to us about our experience there. Service had been excellent throughout the night, and the food had been amazing (other than the pork buns, which were very dough-y). Drinks were also very good. There's a salmon/shrimp roll that's to die for. I wouldn't say this is the best Japanese restaurant I've been to, but definitely the best overall experience of any restaurant in NY that I've been to, with Kittichai a close 2nd.

                      Some other places you may want to consider:
                      THOR - in The Hotel on Rivington (similar scene as Kittichai, but New American cuisine). Best lobster bisque I've had in my life. Very good waitstaff, attentive without being smothering.
                      Earth NYC - Meatpacking District. I think they are trying to serve 'world' cuisine, but it's mainly Indian with some Southeast Asian dishes. Very nice interior and I think it becomes a nightclub after 10 or 11. Probably slightly more 'pretentions' scene than the rest, but definitely a scene. Very good food, though the SEA fare is probably not as autentic (though very tasty nonetheless).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: iloveguacamole

                        I was very underwhelmed by the salty food and insipid, expensive cocktails I got at THOR. My take on it (granted, in one trip) was that there isn't much substance there.

                      2. Dressler in Williamsburg meets your criteria perfectly.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: nola17

                          I love this spot. If it was a little more convenient, I'd eat there all the time.

                        2. A few questions - What about Babbo (if I somehow can manage to get in?)

                          or either jean george - which was recommended above- or one of his other spots like Perry St. or Nougatine or Mercer?

                          Orchard and Harrison both look great too!

                          Thanks for all the help! Deciding is going to be difficult!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Hungryfina

                            Babbo would be a great choice if you can get in. The food is good. The wine is good. I have to say, however, that it has become a completely overheated hypefest. There are plenty of other great Italian restaurants in NYC. But it will make your date happy as you will definitely get a celebrity sighting or two (I ate at the bar midweek last week and Edgar Bronfman came in).

                            I think getting in to Ye Waverly Inn would also be fun as I have heard the food is decent and if all the food blogs are right it is also quite a scene.

                            I think Buddakan in the meatpacking district is great for what it is. A fabulous "big box" dining experience. I went with low expectations and had a great time. Get seating in the sunken main dining room if you go.

                            1. re: Hungryfina

                              Babbo is amazing and would be a great place to take a great friend. It is hard to get in, so if you want to try to get anything for feb 17, call NOW!

                            2. Mai House, Nobu's Vietnamese sibling just around the corner from Nobu on Greenwich may suit and they serve interesting cocktails. August may work too now that they accept reservations.

                              1. Not as sophisticated as some of these other places, but Schiller's could work - it's always full of trendy "beautiful people" and the food is surprisingly good.

                                1. I would suggest WD-50 - and in particular the tastting menu. The food is exceptional and interesting in its presentation and unexpected pairings. Definitely not stuffy, although it is probably not too trendy. However, the neighborhood is full of trendy bars and sceney joints for cocktails afterwards: stanton social,
                                  Schillers, Verlaine, etc. etc.

                                  1. Judging by what you're looking for, I'd steer clear of Jean Georges, definitely too old of a crowd. I think your best bets are Buddakan, Morimoto, or Stanton Social. Great scenes at all places, with at least above average food.

                                    1. I would second stanton social. I had a fantastic meal there, and it definitely fills the hip/trendy/beautiful people criteria

                                      1. After the many good nods I heard to Cru, I found it REALLY stuffy. I like most of the fine dining places in the city (including Jean Georges, Le Bern, etc. but this place was really oversubdued.

                                        1. Mas. Great service, fun, sophisticated menu, sexy atmosphere and it won't look like you're trying.

                                          1. So- I managed to get a 9pm reservation at Babbo and since it has always been on my list, I think I am going to have to go and then we might travel to stanton social afterwards for drinks. I'm also going to definitely make it to Harrison during my visit and Mas really soon too - Thanks for all your help!! Now I just wish dinner wasn't a month away . . .

                                            1. I concur that Babbo doesn't attract a hip crowd but the food is really good and your moving downtown to party somemore anyway. If you do decide to eat downtown..the Orchard may provide the right food to hipness ratio that your looking for.

                                              1. I would go for Buddha Bar, Morimoto, Stanton Social, or Dylan Prime. They will all have a young, trendy crowd and are places to be seen!

                                                1. For his 26th birthday?? Ha, ha. Being rich and young is fun, isn't it? Not having to explain yourself to your parents and all...

                                                  I'll cross my fingers for you since you have a crush on this guy. My fiance, who was only a friend at the time, and I had the best dinner ever in Atlanta one night on one of our "date nights" as friends only to realize that we weren't just friends. I hope things work out for you the same.

                                                  I agree with the recommendations: Dylan Prime and the Harrison would rank at the top of my choices with drinks at Stanton Social just as you mentioned.

                                                  Have fun!!