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Downtown Restaurant for Still-Hip 40-Somethings

Now that we're old and married with kids, we don't get to the city too much, but when we do, especially for an overnight, we try to eat somewhere fabulous. I was the child of a foodie and appreciate outstanding food as well as unique, stylish spaces with tons of atmosphere.

We have tickets for a show at the Public Theater on Lafayette in early May, which should give me enough time to get a reservation I would hope pretty much anywhere we decide to go.

Is there anything new and exciting downtown that's not packed with 20-something hipsters? We'd prefer French, Italian, new American -- nothing too ethnic.

Ideas appreciated!

-Sue

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    1. Hi Sue,

      A place that would seem to fit your requirements that recently impressed me was Public on 210 Elizabeth Street. The crowd is in the 30s to 40s range. The food is terrific and the ambiance has a very downtown "sexy" vibe. The price point for entrees is about $25. Hope this helps!

      8 Replies
        1. re: topog

          Thanks for the recs! Public has been on my radar for awhile. The last two meals we had were at Country and Craft, both pretty serious, and I get the sense that Public is a bit less so, but still excellent. That could be the one!

          1. re: shaiken

            How about Gotham Bar & Grill? I haven't been there, but looks like something up your alley.

            1. re: nokitsch

              Gotham Bar & Grill is lovely, but not new and exciting! I think I went with my parents when I was in my 20's - it can't be that old, can it?? I just checked - it opened in 1984, so that's just about right.

              That's depressing!

              I booked a table at Public and a room at THoR. How's that for hip?

              1. re: shaiken

                That is seriously hip. If you need a nightcap in your hotel neighborhood, I recommend the East Side Company bar on Grand and Essex. Make sure to write down the address because the door really looks like one of those pull-down storefront covers and is easy to miss. Owned by the crew behind the painfully stylish Milk & Honey. Great cocktails.

                1. re: ronoc

                  We'll definitely check out ESC. I've read about a few of those almost hidden bars, but they all seem a little too snooty. This place definitely seems more egalitarian and I like the idea that you can name some ingredients and they'll whip up a drink.

                2. re: shaiken

                  I might be in the minority here, but if you want good food and atmosphere, I would skip both Public and Thor. I found the food at Thor to be pretty subpar. And the atmosphere is definitely not LES. Caters to what seemed like more of a midtown crowd on expense accounts.
                  Public is a pretty space, but I wasn't wowed by the food there, either. And I really wanted to be.

                  1. re: tracyk

                    I believe the OP means she booked a room at THoR (ie, a hotel room at the Hotel on Rivington). I agree that the restaurant/bar THoR is pretty agonizing (midtown crowd? more like lincoln tunnel crowd), but staying in the hotel above it is probably cool.

                    How about Freemans? Or is it still 25 and under?

          2. I think you'd love Tocqueville at 1 East 15th Street. It's not all that far from the Public Theater, even! Food is French with the sensibilities of the chef, Marco Moreira, who is from Brazil. the food is amazing! I have dined there many times and never been disappointed with even one course or a roll!

            They have a great value prix fixe lunch all year round, but I think their menu is a great value.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ChefJune

              Tocqueville looks lovely - it's definitely going on the list of future date spots!

              Thanks for the info.

            2. Cookshop sounds like it might fit your description. Quality ingredients, nice atmosphere. Also, I've enjoyed August in the West Village.

              1. If you want something right by the theater 5 points is very good food and a lovely space. For something a bit more exciting there is Lupa (I know not too new), Blue Hill for a very nice grown-up meal, or perhaps Hearth, Prune, and tasting room (none of which I have eaten at, but they all get great write ups here and are on my list).