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Birthday Dinner Celebrations in town Feb 2nd

We're combining three birthdays (all siblings, in fact) and a congratulations on a good friends' fabulous new job with a saturday dinner in philly. The goal is to A)have a meal to remember...B)get seating for at least 8 of us(1 or 2 more are undecided)...C)not have the bill be astronomical...D)optional - a BYO.
we have already done fork, karma, django (in it's previous life), marigold kitchen, tangerine, buddakan, vietnam, penang, continental (the first one), and amada!!!
all things being equal amada was the first choice even tho it fails one and just manages past another criteria...but it's booked!! :(
all this is a lead up to asking for recs,,,i've read of at least one other worthwhile tapas place but cannot recall the name. other ethnic suggestions are appreciated, but with the mix of types going opening the envelope, let alone pushing it will be a challenge. i personally would like a tad more adventuresome than itialian food (which i love, but it's become our failsafe when this group gets together to go out)

your suggestions are welcome and appreciated

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  1. is downtown philly a requirement? does anyone know if carmine's creole is still open through the end of february in narbeth, or if they will have moved by then?
    for my birthday (right around the same time as yours) i was hoping to have the tasting menu at carmine's creole cafe in narbeth. it is my super-special occasion place, but it's relatively inexpensive and it is a BYO.

    last year for my birthday i went to morimoto, which was fun too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rabidog

      I have been wanting to try the Carmines tasting menu and se their new space (I have not been to Carmine's since it was located in Havertown). I just went online and saw that Carmines is now a bar? Is it no longer BYO?

      1. re: AmblerGirl

        well, i was just about to post that they were still BYO when i visited last august, but it appears the rumors on this board were true: their grand opening in their new bryn mawr location is TOMORROW and the website now states they have a blues bar. oooooooooooh!
        http://www.carminescreole.com/

        definitely, definitely try their tasting menu. after doing a dinner there for the SO's birthday last august, i was unable to discuss ANYTHING else in coherent fashion for at least a week. the strawberries in aged balsamic & mascarpone are one of the best foods you'll ever eat!

    2. Matyson - if you can get a reservation. It's usually a problem, but this is restaurant week and they aren't doing it, so you have a chance. Topnotch BYOB.

      Estia - mostly fish/seafood, but there are other options. Look at the menu on line. Great atmosphere, very good food.

      Waterworks - didn't get a great review from the Inquirer, but most people like it very much. Nice ambience, parking lot.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sylviag

        definitely Matyson if you can get in. We enjoyed our Waterworks dinner a while ago but recent reports have been bad. I believe that they lost their chef after the Laban review. A shame since he seemed very talented.

      2. Try something different...Copper Bistro (BYO) in Northern Liberties...walk up the street and bowl at North Lanes...could be festive...

        1 Reply
        1. re: LDI

          north bowl, not north lanes. :)

        2. I have heard terrible things about Copper, from the quality to the price. If you are willing to spend that kind of money I would try some of the places listed above.

          1. bar ferdinand is probably the other tapas place and it is hella good. ansill also does tapas and is alot smaller and i doubt you'll fit your group in well or easily. bar ferdinand can have a very lengthy wait on saturdays, but there is a bar just next to it that can keep you drinkin until dinner arrives. for a group of your size, i would always think a place where you can go and share your food, i.e. chinatown. it seems that you opt for slightly more extablished/trendy places, but eating and sharing at a big table is always fun.

            1. Bar Ferdinand is fun, lively and great to look at BUT it's very expensive. The cost per plate is less than Amada, but the portions are VERY small, so it's incredibly hard to get full.

              1. I hear Branzino has a nice back room for larger groups - you could call and see if that would be an option ...

                1. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but February 2nd is part of Restaurant Week http://www.centercityphila.org/restau... so it may be pretty hard to snag a reservation at this point in time. That being said, Estia has a fabulous deal for that evening.