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Nervous about -db Bistro Moderne-

I've got so many questions about preparing for this dining experience because I don't want to mess anything up. This is my first time dining in New York.

I'm underage and I've got a reservation at db Bistro Moderne. I'm just wondering what kind of nonalcoholic drinks they have. Do they frown upon ordering soda? Do they have mix drinks like virgin pina coladas or strawberry daquiris even shirley temples? I don't want to sit down and sound like a fool in front of the waiter.

How is the atmosphere like? Is it quiet? Do I have to whisper? Can I laugh? Are there any people my age who eat there?

What should I wear? Business? Casual? Business casual? I've read a lot of posts saying people go before the theater so I'm guessing I should dress up. Is black pants ok for a girl? Is a peacoat a must or is a puffy jacket from Abercrombie ok? Heels a must for girls?

Gahh, I know I sound like a novice, but the only other super fancy restaurant I've been to was for prom in DC at a place called Galileo (for Iron Chef fans, Roberto Donna is the executive chef, really good food). And you know you have to look nice for prom.

I really appreciate any help I can get from frequent super restaurant goers. Thanks for everything!

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  1. Good for you for trying an upscale, restaurant. Are you going in the evening? If so, I'd suggest dressing up. a skirt or dressy pants outfit, no skin between the pants and the top... heels, etc. Dress so your Mom would be proud of you. (smile)

    As for the beverages.. They will know you are underage, but I think you'd probably do best ordering sparkling mineral water, maybe with a slice of lime or lemon rather than soda. Just a thought.

    The food there is delicious! and have a great time.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ChefJune

      Good call on the club soda w/ lime--I used to order that exclusively in restaurants when I was underage. The best part is that it often looks like a cocktail (unlike Pepsi).

      1. I have eaten there on a trip to NYC and I don't drink so I had a soda and water and was not looked down upon for that. You can always ask, most bars have the ingredients for virgin drinks, the servers should not look down on you no matter what you request. Enjoy your dinner.

        1 Reply
        1. I'm curious as to why you picked dbBistro? Are you going alone?

          3 Replies
          1. re: RGR

            No, I'm going with my boyfriend for our 4 year anniversary.

            I've been reading so many forums and reviews trying to decide which restaurant to eat at. After all that, I decided on dbBistro because it seemed to have relatively good reviews all around, and wasn't magnificently expensive, like Jean George's or something along that level. For a few days, I considered going to Babbo, but after reviewing the menu a few times over, we both decided that we weren't too interested in the menu.

            Plus, I want to try that burger that everyone's been talking about!! I've never had foie gras before so I'm kind of curious :)

            Is there another restaurant you had in mind that we should try that would fit the occasion better? We like the modern atmosphere that places like Buddakan and Morimoto have to offer, but we're kind of tired of Asian fusion/Japanese cuisine because we eat that kind of food a lot.

            1. re: mh1188

              The food at dbBistro is very good. But, then, one would not expect less from a Daniel Boulud restaurant. And the space is attractive enough. However, I've never thought of it as a special occasion kind of place.

              Since you say one of the reasons you chose dbBistro is that you want to try the famous burger (which, by the way, I have not), I would suggest you go there for lunch, have the burger, then go elsewhere for dinner.

              The place I would choose is Eleven Madison Park. Chef Daniel Humm's French-inspired cuisine is sensational! Service is friendly and professional. The large space is one of the most beautiful in the city.

              The 3-course prix-fixe is $76, which is very reasonable for cuisine of such high quality. Plus, you will be served lots of little extras throughout the meal. Overall, the costs are quite comparable to what you will pay for a 3-course meal at dbBistro. But at EMP, you will get much more (those fabulous little extras) and the food, in my view, is far superior.

              I agree with the comment that the crowd at dbBistro tends to be more mature. At EMP, when it comes to age, the clientele is very mixed. You will also find a range of dress. Some people will be somewhat casual while others will be more dressed up. There is not a hint of stuffiness, and you certainly do not have to whisper. The combination of comfort and specialness, along with the superb cuisine, makes Eleven Madison, in my view, the perfect place for a celebratory meal

              Btw, the fact that you will not be drinking alcohol will pose absolutely no problem at EMP. And none of the staff will be discourteous if you order a soda. In fact, I don't drink alcohol, I don't care for soda, and I never order bottled water. When they ask what kind of water I prefer, I tell them tap will be just fine and they are very happy to oblige.


              Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have a fabulous first time New York dining experience. Congrats to you and your b.f. on your anniversary. Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

              1. re: RGR

                I completely agree about Eleven Madison. That place is fantastic and they make you feel special no matter what you're wearing, what you order or what the occasion. One of my favorites...


          2. I love your post, i think it's great that you've decided to go out to a nice dinner (which i could never afford underage) but bravo. But as for specifics of the restaurant, i went not too long ago and I have to admit that the clientele there is a bit older. I'm in my mid 20's and felt a little out of place when I went, but at the same time the waitress was great and very nice and i'm sure you'll receive the same. Don't worry about what you order to drink, just act comfortable when you do it and no one could care less. As a waiter previously, for the most part I could care less what people ordered to drink because I was too busy trying to keep everything in order anyway. I do suggest you dress business casual at least (slacks and a button down for a guy, pea coat to match would be nice but not necessary, and as ChefJune said a nice skirt or dress pants for a girl as well).

            If you're up for it, i highly suggest the db burger. I think it's about $28 and is well worth it.

            Hope you enjoy yourself!

            1 Reply
            1. re: MinhLikesFood

              Thanks, I think I'm definitely going for the burger :) It just seems so weird though, that a restaurant like has a burger as a specialty.

            2. The db Burger is WHY I go there!

              1. Here's how to act like you know what you're doing at db Bistro Moderne: when you sit down, order a Tarte Flambee. It's not on the menu (except, I think, on Sundays), but they'll make it any day. It's a wonderful onion and ham/bacon tart that makes for a great hors d'oeuvre while you peruse the menu. Also, when they bring the bread basket, ask for some dijon mustard into which to dip their wonderful pretzels (you'll find them in the bread basket).

                1 Reply
                1. re: Blumie

                  Thanks for the info! I'm definitely going to try that.

                2. I'm excited for you I hope you have a great time. Most NYC restaurants similar to db bistro don't have frozen drink machines or blenders at the bar, I'd avoid asking for those types of drinks. Most places have unsweetened iced tea. You don't have to whisper and it isn't a "formal" restaurant so please don't feel like you have to behave like you're at church. I hope you report back after your meal.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: adido

                    I will certainly report back, however, my reservation is for March 21, so you'll have to wait a little.

                  2. ^ wow blumie that is so great insider info for all of us thx. yeah, she should def order the tarte flambee right away so they can fit right in, nibble and look over the menu.

                    for virgin drinks i always order "cranberry and seltzer with a lime" or "ginger ale and a lime." these are great because they taste fine, look like alcohol drinks and also are an easy order. then for dinner i would order a bottle of sparkling mineral water.

                    the db burger is really something else, as others have said i would suggest that.

                    i dk if you are going to the theater or want the bustle, but after the broadway shows start all these theater district restaurants are a lot more relaxed. so pick your dinnertime with that in mind.

                    i would definately dress up, heels, peacoat, etc. -- i dk who said, "its always ok to be overdressed," but it fits for manhattan in general and for this occasion.

                    but relax you'll be fine -- have fun & please do report back!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mrnyc

                      My reservation is at 8:30 so hopefully that'll be fine. Thanks for your help.

                    2. -------------AFTER EATING @ db BISTRO MODERNE

                      It was great!! At first, sitting down and looking at the menu, I was skeptical about paying $32 for a burger so I kept changing my mind between the salmon and the burger. At the last minute, I just said to hell with it, I'll get the burger because it's what they're known for. I must say, it was awesome. Each bite was as tasty and desirable as the one before; I'm salivating as I type this.

                      My fears and concerns about this restaurant were quickly dissolved once we were seated as the waiter made us feel very comfortable. We had a reservation at 8:30PM and the restaurant was moderately full, but we were seated next to a few empty tables that remained empty for about another 45 minutes. That said, when the food came, we did take pictures of the food because it looked so pretty. I don't think we disturbed anyone mainly because we were seated at an isolated table and people continued on with their conversation normally as though nothing had happened. The waiter even offered to take our picture for us, which was very nice of him.

                      People started coming in soon after our entrees came and the vibe of the restaurant definitely picked up full speed. We never felt the need to whisper or anything, actually the table next to us was talking rather loud and we had to speak up in order to hear each other.

                      I went shopping upon arriving in NYC to find something nice to wear to dinner and found a great dress at Armani Exchange. We weren't underdressed, however, we did feel rather under-aged. No one seemed to mind or pay particular to attention to that fact, but later on during our dessert (pina colada trifle that I wanted so bad to lick clean), a party of 3 sat near us and they seemed to be the next youngest clientele in the restaurant. They ordered wine and drinks, so they must have been about 28-33.

                      Overall, this was a great experience. I plan on going on more trips to the city to try out other fabulous restaurants (like Eleven Madison Park). Thank you all for all your help, I really do appreciate it!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: mh1188

                        Hey, mh1188, Thanks so much for reporting back! After we offer advice, we truly appreciate knowing how things turn out. I'm very glad you had an excellent experience at dbBistro and loved the burger, and that you didn't let the age issue (which was mentioned in the comments) get in the way of your good time.

                        Come back soon and, yes, absolutely, try Eleven Madison Park next time.

                        1. re: RGR

                          I'm really happy you guys had such a great time. Thanks for reporting back, and keep on posted on your future food adventures!

                          1. re: RGR

                            Indeed - glad you had a wonderful time and were open to trying things despite your apprehensions.

                          2. re: mh1188

                            Hi mh1188,

                            It is so great to hear that you enjoyed your dinner. I truely believe this is what Chowhound is for, to improve others' culinary experience by sharing your own. I felt just as excited as you when I read your review! =D I think you are a wonderful chowhounder because you are conscious about preparing everything right to make your dinner experience the best it could be. You also care enough to dress up and avoid disturbing others when taking pictures. I think you show a lot more respect to the food and to others than many others who called themselve "foodies"!

                            If you ever have questions or need any recommendations, please do not hesitate to come back here and ask!


                          3. Don't be afraid to ask them what non-alcoholic offerings they have -- you'd be surprised. Really top notch places are prepared for non-drinkers. At French Laundry, for example, my cousin had several different grape juices and sodas that were paired with the various courses by the staff.