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So many options, which is the best?

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Ok, I need the advice of the people who've actually been to these restaurants.

My one year anniversary is coming up soon, and I know it might be a bit much, but I want it to really be something special. I've already got tickets for the broadway show, thats all set, now all I need is the perfect dinner to go with it. I want good food, and the perfect romantic atmosphere. I've asked around and these are the restaurants I've been able to find so far, take a look at the list along with my own thoughts and if you have the time just let me know which place you reccomend along with any place you think would be better than isn't on the list.

-The Place- 310 W 4th Street. This is the best example of the sort of atmosphere I could find so far.

-Viceversa- 325 W 51st Street. Great looking menu, but for some reason I just feel it's too bright for a romantic dinner.

-One if by Land, Two if by Sea- 17 Barrow Street. Again, good looking menu, just not too sure of the atmosphere and I think I've heard a few bad reviews.

-Delmonico's- 56 Beaver Street. Yea, I've just heard good things.

-Tia Pol- 205 10th Ave. Again, just heard good things

-Le Petite Auberge- 116 Lexington Ave. Who knows...

Thanks to all who respond!

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  1. I can at least say don't bother with Le Petite Auberge. It's incredibly ordinary and beyond that ... food isn't well prepared. A better choice? Try I Truuli -- they have a beautiful fireplace and a very cozy ambiance.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kodothedrum

      I must emphatically disagree about La Petite Auberge. We have been going there with some regularity since they first opened (this year marks their 30th anniversary), and the reason it has lasted and why we keep returning is that one can always depend on the food being well-prepared and delicious. It isn't creative or avant-garde, but it isn't supposed to be. What you do find there are solid bistro classics. We also enjoy the charming interior, which is like a cozy little inn in Britanny.

    2. At One if By Land you are paying mostly for the atmosphere (which, I admit, is very romantic) but the food, eh--not incredible.

      1 Reply
      1. re: abud

        Definitely agree on that. The food is just not impressive or cheap. The place has old charm, but will provide disappointment on the food.

      2. IMO, food at One If... is very pedestrian. and the prices are HIGH, HIGH, HIGH! It bills itself as the most romantic restaurant in NY, and I just don't get that, either.

        Delmonico's is mostly a "business lunch" place, and to me, the steaks (which are supposed to be tieir specialty) are very ordinary. In that area I much prefer Bayard's.

        Why don't you go take a look at the places you think you'd like in person?

        f I'm planning a romantic idinner, I want THAT to be the event. To me, trying to do a B'way show on the same night is overkill, and probably will have you rushing from one place to another.

        ...when I think "Romantic Dinner" my first thoughts are La Grenouille... and in a lower price range, Gascogne. Check those places out.

        1. I like La Petite Auberge, but I don't think it's right for this occasion--the atmosphere to me is stale, not romantic. I didn't think the food at The Place was very good. I haven't been to One of By Land Two if By Sea, but the general consensus is that the food is bad. If you're willing to pay OIBL prices, then why not go to one of the other, better high end restaurants like the always romantic Bouley.

          1. Looking at the list it seems like location is not a big issue for you - appears that you are willing to go up/down/mid town for the dinner. I would highly recommend Eleven Madison Park (EMP), which I considered as one of the best restaurants nowadays in NYC minus the Per Se price tag. Bouley is also great but if I have to choose one I will choose EMP.

            I agree with ChefJune on Delmonico's and One If - they are famous but food was not exciting, and hence felt overpriced. Tia Pol is for tapas, so I wouldn't necessarily think that it is romantic, but it is fun and good for sharing food.

            Along the line of tapas and sharing food, I love Degustation which serves innovative tapas (not really spanish-inspired), and their seatings and food are designed in such a way that it is the best for a pair to share their dishes. It is also reasonably priced and I enjoyed my dinner there very very much!

            By the way, how many days are you staying in NYC? That might help us to select a few choices for your trip.

            3 Replies
            1. re: kobetobiko

              Sorry all I should've given a bit more of an explanation. We'll be in NY for a week and it probably does make more sense for me to plan the dinner on another night because romantic dinner and a show is too much.

              While I love all the amazing complicated French dishes and restaurants I'm seeing, please realize, my girlfriend isn't exactly an adventurous eater, she'll definitly try things once and a while but I want to make sure that she'll actually be able to eat a full meal. So I'm a bit afraid these dishes might scare her just a bit. I put Delmonic's on there simply because while it was the wrong atmosphere, but I knew she'd be able to eat/enjoy almost everything on the menu.

              As for actually checking out the restaurants in person, if only it was that simple, I was born and raised in NY, but both her and I go to school in MD so thats why I'm asking for help from all of you.

              Please, feel free to give any and all names of what you might reccommend.

              1. re: hungry_fox

                Hi hungry_fox,

                Great to hear that you are here for a week! Then we will have a lot more to choose from. Food in EMP and Bouley should not be intimidating at all, so I think they will be good for your dinner. Tia Pol and Degustation have a lot of dishes that are innovative in the cooking / presentation method, and they use a variety of ingredients ranging from shrimps and seafood to sweetbreads or offal meat. So if you are worried that your girlfriend may not like it, you may need to check out their menus first (most of them available on their own websites or menupage).

                Now understanding that you are staying for a week, there are a few places that serve good french food with a prix-fix lunch menu (so you can enjoy good food everyday without breaking the bank). Fleur de Sel, Perry Street, Jojo (I think), all have a 3 course prix-fix lunch (~$25) and the food is always great! It is a good way to sample good food without paying a hefty price (and yes, the dishes are not intimidating at all).

                If you have more specific things / food that you are looking for, you can always list them out and we can suggest accordingly!

                1. re: hungry_fox

                  If steak is what you want to gow ith because its "safe," and you want romance, I'd suggest you take her to Beacon. The wood-fire roasted meats are sublime, and the upstairs rooms can be quite romantic, altho I prefer eating downstairs near the open kitchen. Beacon is at 25 East 56th Street, between 5th and 6th.

                  Or, I'd choose Keens or Gallaghers, both old timey New York steak houses with great steaks and lots of "New York" atmosphere.

              2. Actually I think I'm on the right track, I still haven't found exactly what I'm looking for yet so please, continue to throw suggestions at me if you have the time.

                I'm still mainly looking for a place for a romantic dinner, but if you have any suggestions of where to go for maybe a nice lunch I wouldn't complain.

                1. Oh one more thing, is there any place like Bouley but isn't Bouley? I know it's strange, basically I like the look of Bouley and all, but I was hoping for a menu that wasn't focused on seafood (hense why I put Delmonico's steak house on the list earlier). She grew up in Baltimore, it's pretty much all she ever had.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hungry_fox

                    Danube?
                    Maybe Aureole, although the chef just recently left.
                    As far as steakhouses, I've often heard Strip House described as a good steakhouse for women. It's decor is red with pinup photos on the wall. Some find it sexy, I find it tacky.

                  2. i think landmarc in tribeca is terrific. chef murphy gets it right in my view. they do an increible bone marrow for the foodies, but other accessible meat, fish, fowl... for less adventurous. i love the energy, wood burning oven in the back for great extra flavor and friendly and casual, yet authentic greetings when you enter. i have sent many there and they concur...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jsmitty

                      The problem with Landmarc is that it doesn't take reservations, not a good thing for a romantic night out.

                    2. Carmines. Family style italian. You get one plate of Spaghetti and Meatballs, instant Lady and the Tramp. My boyfriend and I go here all the time and though a bit noisy, I find it to be incredibly romantic and some of the best italian food I've ever had. It's a bit pricey, but you get what you pay for, and you'll be eating leftovers for a week. There's one in the theater district. Check it out. You can find it on google.

                      1. Romantic = Raouls
                        Best Steak Au Poivre in the city.

                        http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/...

                        Also, look into the Central Park Boathouse

                        http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/...

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: jenniebnyc

                          Last time I tasted or heard, food at the Boathouse was awful.

                          Raouls surely is romantic! Take her to a French bistro like Gascogne or Le Gigot. They always have steak frites on the menu, if that's what she's in the mood for, and the ambiance at both places is romantic.

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            Le Gigot is lovely, if a little cramped. In the same vein, AOC Bedford is romantic and serves a continental menu; their signature dessert is a classic crepes suzette prepared tableside, and as the evening wears on, the low blue flames and the aromas that waft around the restaurant are positively erotic.

                            1. re: Striver

                              What's AOC stand for?

                              1. re: hungry_fox

                                Here's the definition from their website (aocbedford.com):
                                "A.O.C in France, D.O.C in Italy, and D.O in Spain are terms used to
                                designate products, which exhibit the finest qualities and characteristics
                                of the geographical area, including natural and human factors.
                                Its use is strictly regulated."

                                Designated items are noted in their menu. The restaurant is charming, and the food is very good.

                                1. re: Striver

                                  Wow, odd timing, the same day you post saying aocbedford, another post appears in the general board saying how terrible this place is. Anyone else have opinions of aoc bedford?

                                  1. re: hungry_fox

                                    The "terrible" was about the service - the poster left without eating. Frankly, I can't excuse the service as described, but can only say I've eaten here several times and neither I nor anyone in my party (which included people who have eaten there on other occasions without me) has ever had a problem with the service.

                            2. re: ChefJune

                              We had lunch at the Boathouse at the end of August '06, and I thought the food was very good. Delicious soup and an excellent fish dish. Comfortable seating and the lake view is beautiful. If there was downside, it was lack of good service. Our waiter was awol too much of the time.

                          2. Hey all I know this post has been goin for weeks, but please, feel free to keep putting up ideas, the more the better!

                            1. The Place is a very sexy spot, and the food is quite good. Not too convenient for your Broadway show though.

                              1. The show is on Broadway but it isn't in the theater district, I think it's just south of Times Square give or take; so no worries about location really. The more ideas the better!

                                1. Cafe Gray is fantastic & romantic and they both a la carte and a pre-theater menu. Amazing short ribs!

                                  1. Either it's my computer or the website, but the Cafe Gray site is coming up as just a grey page with the words "Cafe Gray" can you tell me a bit about it?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: hungry_fox

                                      It's a pretty intimate place, with great views and an open kitchen. The service was fantastic and we had the somelier pair each of our courses with a glass of wine for us which was spot on. In fact, my short rib pairing has become one of our favorite drinkable wines and always have at least a few bottles on hand. As I said, the short ribs are fantastic as was the mushroom risotto appetizer. I believe my husband had the shrimp and crab salad and loved it too. We've had the Key Lime and Pecan desserts, both were excellent and well worth the indulgence.

                                      It's probably the flash causing you problems, so here are the 2 menus:
                                      Pre-Theater:
                                      FIRST
                                      TRUFFLED BUTTERNUT SQUASH POTAGE-chestnuts and pumpkin seeds
                                      SHRIMP AND KING CRAB SALAD-peppers, fennel and saffron
                                      RISOTTO-mushroom fricassee
                                      STEAK TARTARE-tenderloin carpaccio and ketjap manis
                                      BIBB AND ROMAINE MÉLANGE-avocado, pickled squash and poppy seed vinaigrette

                                      ~
                                      SECOND
                                      ISLESFORD LOBSTER RAGOÛT-pearl noodles and green curry
                                      GRILLED SNAPPER-pea shoots, jicama and young ginger bouillon
                                      SPICED VENISON MEDALLION-riebele, brussels sprouts and sour cherries
                                      BRAISED SHORT RIB OF BEEF-soft grits and meaux mustard
                                      ROASTED PORK LOIN AND CRISPED BELLY-sauerkraut and champagne emulsion

                                      ~
                                      DESSERT
                                      COFFEE TOFFEE CRÈME BRÛLÉE-red wine simmered berries
                                      CHOCOLATE PASSION FRUIT TART-pomelo and meyer lemon syrup
                                      CARAMELIZED KEY LIME PIE-candied grapefruit zest and schlag
                                      SORBETS & ICE CREAMS
                                      $62
                                      ---
                                      A la Carte
                                      FIRST
                                      CURED ARCTIC CHAR-bay scallops, calamari, soy and kalamansi-24
                                      TRUFFLED BUTTERNUT SQUASH POTAGE-chestnuts and pumpkin seeds-18
                                      QUAIL, FOIE GRAS AND BEET SALAD-mache and walnuts-25
                                      SHRIMP AND KING CRAB SALAD-peppers, fennel and saffron-24
                                      RISOTTO-mushroom fricassee-26
                                      STEAK TARTARE-tenderloin carpaccio and ketjap manis-20
                                      BIBB AND ROMAINE MÉLANGE avocado, pickled squash and poppy seed vinaigrette-18

                                      ~

                                      SECOND
                                      WINTER VEGETABLE STEW aromatic rice broth-26
                                      ISLESFORD LOBSTER RAGOUT-pearl noodles and green curry-43
                                      STEAMED TURBOTIN-lentils, leeks and caviar beurre blanc38SAUTEED COD potato, cipollini onion and mussel chowder-33
                                      SEARED DUCKLING-spaetzle, red cabbage and cranberry glaze-39
                                      SPICED VENISON MEDALLIONS-riebele, brussels sprouts and sour cherries-41
                                      BRAISED SHORT RIB OF BEEF-soft grits and meaux mustard-39
                                      PORK LOIN AND CRISPED BELLY-sauerkraut and champagne emulsion-35

                                      ~
                                      WINTER SPECIALS
                                      PARSNIP AND ALMOND VELOUTE-herb gnocchi-15
                                      GRILLED SNAPPER-pea shoots, jicama and young ginger bouillon-33
                                      CARAMEL BANANA MILLE FEUILLE-rum and vanilla16

                                      ~
                                      DESSERT
                                      HUCKLEBERRY PECAN CRUMBLE-sour cream ice cream-14
                                      COFFEE TOFFEE CREME BRULEE-berries rote gruetze-16
                                      CARAMELIZED KEY LIME PIE-candied grapefruit zest and schlag-15
                                      RED WINE POACHED FORELLE PEAR-nougatine glace and walnut crisp-15
                                      SORBETS & ICE CREAMS-16
                                      CHOCOLATECHOCOLATE - PISTACHIO SOUFFLÉ-amarena cherries and raspberry coulis-18
                                      BITTER, WHITE AND MILK CHOCOLATE COUPE-pineapple confit and clementine jus-16
                                      CHOCOLATE PASSION FRUIT TART-pomelo and meyer lemon syrup-15
                                      CHOCOLATE RUM TOAST-bananas and rum raisin ice cream-16
                                      CHEESE SELECTION-Café Gray-19

                                      1. re: downtownstefanie

                                        oh yeah, and in addition to their good wine selection, they have some tasty cocktails (we've tried a number of them).
                                        WATERMELON LIME DROP-Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka, Fresh Watermelon, Lime Juice, Cointreau-14
                                        PIMM'S SUMMER TEA-Pimm's No. 1, Muddled Lemon, Mint, Cucumbers, Lemon - Lime Soda-12
                                        ZURRA BLANCA-White Summer Sangria, Paumanok Demi - Sec Riesling, Apricot Brandy, Kaffir Lime Syrup, Kalamansi Juice, Fresh Berries, Citrus, Stone Fruit-12
                                        GIN & GINGER-Junipero Gin, Fresh Ginger Syrup, Lime Juice-13
                                        PASSION FRUIT MARGARITA-Herradura, Cointreau, Passion Fruit Puree, Lime Juice-15
                                        MANGO COSMO-Mango Puree, Vodka, Cointreau, Cranberry-12
                                        KAFFIR LIME MOJITO-10 Cane Rum, Fresh Mint, Kaffir Lime-15
                                        PLUM BLOSSOM-Plum Sake, Stolichnaya Vodka, Cranberry, Pineapple, Lemon Juice-14

                                    2. I'm going to chime in with a recommendation for Blue Hill http://www.bluehillnyc.com/

                                      And actually Cafe Grey is a great idea also.