Challenge - Sunday midafternoon (plus more limitations!)
I usually don't post these sort of requests, but I'm just stumped at the moment and so need to call on Chowhound's collective wisdom. Here's what I'm looking for:
-a restaurant for seven women who usually do a potluck dinner once a month to instead go out to as a farewell celebration for someone who's moving to So America.
-biggest problem: the only time we can do it is on a Sunday at 3 when not many places serve.
-somehow celebratory or interesting/fun place. Doesn't have to be high-end at all, but should be a good experience. In fact, I was thinking about Balthazar or the Tavern room at Grammercy Tavern but I don't think we want to spend that much.
-so, it should be under around $30/person for a light meal, but including wine for the table and tip (or would that be ok at Balthazar or GT?)
-not So American food, and probably not Spanish or Italian either. Asian, middle eastern, french, would all be good. (if it was for dinner, we might have done Indian. North African would be good too.).
-could be all vegetarian, doesn't have to be veggie at all, but probably not a totally meat-focused place.
-small plates might be good considering the odd time of day, but not necessary at all.
-anywhere in Manhattan.
-most importantly, not just somewhere where the kitchen might stay open to serve us at 3, which I'm having enough trouble finding, but somewhere where we won't be lifting out legs for them to mop under while we're sitting there. Somewhere, in other words, that will actually welcome for us mid-afternoon.
-I'm willing to sacrifice a bit on the deliciousness scale in order to meet these requirements, but it does have to be GOOD food if not fabulous.
Check out Blue Ribbon Bakery in the west village. They have a very cozy room downstairs (it's their wine cellar, and it's also near their ovens) with a lot of character. Their food is excellent and would be at the high end of your price range. The room downstairs has one big table that would fit the 7 of you, but you would need to have a reservation. Their thing is brunch, so 3pm on a Saturday would still be a busy time for them. They have good plates to share (cheese and meat plates), great breakfast items and very interesting American entrees, including wild game and plenty of delicious veggies.
El Charro Espanol at 4 Charles Street (at Greenwich Ave). Food is always wonderful, Place is warm and cozy, and you'll have a great meal and a great time! They take reservations, and for that odd time of day, I think I'd be sure to call. Just tell them what's going on. Over the years, I've walked in at all sorts of odd times on weekend afternoons and gotten great service.
Schiller's at the LES, the cheaper sibling of Balthazar may suit and they are open at that time for brunch/lunch and technically will not close but, will halt accepting brunch/lunch menu orders around 5pm. It's a festive place with a great vibe and interesting lay-out. The food is good too...do not forget to order the "Sticky Toffee Pudding" for dessert. I was also thinking that Cafe Sabarsky would be another good spot to go. The Spotted Pig might work too but, I am not sure if they can accomodate a group of 7 at 3pm as they do not accept reservations...but, it is an off hour for them for sure.
Darna, on 2nd Av., b/t 34th & 35th Sts., is an under-the-radar Moroccan/French restaurant. Very tasty food, snazzy Middle Eastern-style decor, and appropriate music. There are large booths in the back that can accommodate groups. They are open throughout the day on Sunday. Prices would fit your budget
Just wanted to pop back into this thread to say, first, thank you, and that in a surprise twist, we were able to find an evening everyone in my group could make so we aren't going to be able to use these great recommendations. But, the great thing about Chowhound is who knows who is reading along now or will unearth this thread in the future and profit from the advice!
re: The Turtle Bay Dove
It might be challenging to find a place on your budget in the evening. Brunch/lunch would have been easier at $30 pp (including wine & tip!). Cornelia Street Cafe (American) has a prix fixe dinner in the $20s. Lavagna (EV) also has a prix fixe dinner in the high $20s (on Sundays?). Schillers (LES) may still be a good option. I'm sure others will have many more ideas for you.