Trying to decide on a special dinner
I just finished graduate school and am going (with my mother) to NYC for a celebratory trip. We want to have one really special dinner (on Saturday March 24th), and I think we're looking at around $150 or so for 2 people, and in Manhattan. Here are some of the places I'm considering. Please let me know which you'd choose and why. I am not really into pasta, (though I do like Italian). Also, I need to keep fairly low carb in eating for health reasons. I am probably more adventurous than my mother when it comes to food. I've picked these places based on reading people's opinions and from looking at their menus. I know most of these have been discussed here before, but I'm looking for opinions on them as compared to each other.
Also, is there somewhere that meets my criteria you'd recommend over these places?
Babbo (the tasting menu)
For a celebratory dinner, I'd recommend Tocqueville at 1 East 15th Street. The food is outstanding, and the room is stunning. No matter whether I'm having the prix fixe market special lunch or ordering a la carte, the service is always exemplary.
Let them know what you are celebrating when you make your reservation, and you'll get a lot of little surprises throughout your evening. They know how to "do it right!"
Since you metnioned Italian and it is for such a special occasion, I would recommend Del Posto (by Batali) for your dinner. The tasting menu may be a bit out of your price range, but they have an Enoteca prix-fix menu with selection of any antipasto, primo, secondo, and dolci. There are plenty to choose from in each catergory, so I think you will find something both you and your mom will like. This enoteca prix-fix menu is only $41, and extra $19 with wine-pairing - it is definitely a bargain in NYC! Please don't forget that it is by Batali (though I am sure he is not the one cooking...). Just that magnificent decor is worth the price! Here is the link:
I hope you have a wonderful dinner with your mom! Congratulations!
Rene Pujol and Roberto Passon have very good food but, in my view, they're not special enough for a celebratory dinner.
I haven't been to L'Absinthe in quite some time. When we had dinner there, I thought the food was excellent and the decor very attractive. Because of its location, it gets a rather chi chi UES clientele. Depending on how you feel about that, it might be a good choice.
Hearth also has excellent food. Service is first-rate. It's in a huge space with what I like to call "early warehouse" (aka very minimalist) decor. But the just right lighting and little table candles help to give it a warm feel. The front room, which is where large groups are seated, can be a bit noisy. The back room is quieter. It's in the East Village and, while I wouldn't describe Hearth as "hip," it does have a downtown, youngish vibe. If that's what you're looking for....
You asked for other suggestions, so I will highly recommend that you consider Urena. The cuisine that Alex Urena is creating at his eponymous restaurant is absolutely superb!! (He has previously been chef at a number of highly-regarded restaurants, including Blue Hill.) There is a very good wine list. Alex's wife oversees the dining room, and she and the staff provide friendly, competent service. The space has attractive decor (early complaints about the lighting have been addressed, and it is now perfect), *very* comfortable seating, and a conversation-friendly noise level, i.e., music is kept at a properly low volume. Prices are within your budget. In my view, Urena is a perfect place for a celebratory dinner. The website is not up-to-date, but the menu there will give you some idea of what to expect when you go there.
Congratulations on completing grad school and Bon Appetit!
We've had dinner several times including this week. As always the food was exceptional. Foie gras appetizer and scallops were great. Started with an amuse of wild mushroom soup with truffle oil, just perfect. It is a very comfortable and unpretentious space. Definitey worth a try. And congrats!
Congratualtions on finishing grad school.
I have not been to all the restaurants on your list, but based on the budget I would say Lupa is a no-brainer even if you're not going to order pasta. On that note, aside from being more expensive, there is little point in going to Babbo if you're not going to eat pasta.
Call now to make a reservation or be prepared to wait a long time!