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A right mix of romantic and cool?

Hey all. I am a recent contributor and I am so far thoroughly impressed with everyone's knowledge here. I am looking for a restaurant recommendation to take my wife to for our anniversary. It's not a major thinkg, but I am looking for the right mix or romantic and cool. By romantic I don't mean a guy playing on a piano, but more of a laid-back, semi-quiet, no-rush atmosphere. By cool I mean a predominantly local 20-something crowd, no logoed LV bags paired with UGGs, please. I would like something new. The tried and trues include:

Blue Ribbon/Blue Ribbon Bakery (downstairs)

Budget is $100 per person max, including a glass of wine, tax, and a 15% tip.
Location: Anything below 23rd street is fine by me. Preferably not in the meatsmelling district.

I was thinking The Mercer, but I am not sure.


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  1. Great choices on the tried and true. The Mercer is a little bit too self-consciously hip for my tastes, though the food is very good. A few restaurants you might want to look into: August, Agave, Mas, Jane, Salt, Lupa (tho ppl say they've been rushed here, I've never been). There's some great stuff further west, but I'll have to think on it a bit more.

    6 Replies
    1. re: cimui

      I've already taken her to Lupa once, we had a good time - no rush at all. I will look into the others. I am hesitant on the Mercer for the same reason you mentioned.

      1. re: nokitsch

        Hey, sorry about that half assed response earlier. I think more details'd be helpful.

        The strongest choice of the bunch is probably Salt, a low-key, intimate place with well prepared, cozy food, not unlike Blue Ribbon Bakery. The downside is that some of the tables are too close together and kind of loud-ish during prime time dinner hours. (I bet you can specifically ask for tables that are more private.) Wine list is good, service very friendly.

        If you're into French food, Mas is old school French fare with a good wine list, but maybe pricier than the food merits.

        The others I'd strike off the list, on second thought. All are good, but not special enough for a really special occasion like an anniversary. Agave and Jane's food probably aren't special enough, though both are very good; August isn't a romantic enough space

        The only other place I can think to recommend is Jefferson, if that's still open. I haven't been there in a while. If it is still around, the space is beautifully minimalistic and the food very good.

        I leave the east village to the experts.

        1. re: cimui

          No worries - actually my analysis of your recommendations mirrored your response word for wordl. Salt came out a winner with the only worry being close tables (judging from the pix on their website). The menu looks just perfect though. Thanks.

          1. re: nokitsch

            I like Salt a lot but my last meal there was only OK, not as good as previous visits.

            Also, if you're a party of two, and get stuck in the window seats, it can get cold and drafty there even with the door shut.

          2. re: cimui

            Jefferson did close a few months back.

            1. re: jsgjewels

              That's too bad. 'preciate the update.

      2. Hearth on 1st Ave and 11th.

        Laid back, cool, terrific food, very good service and no rush atmosphere. Crowd is normally a mix, but with predominantly those in their 30's.

        1 Reply
        1. re: RCC

          Hearth is a good choice. I have to get back there.

        2. Landmarc could be good for this.
          The Harrison or Red Cat might fit too. Say no to the Mercer.

          1. So many places!
            5 Ninth Avenue
            Cafe Cluny
            Little Owl- if you can get in
            Goblin Market
            Hearth- absolutely
            Mermaid Inn
            Il Buco
            just to name a few ! Have fun

            1. Blue Hill would be a good addition to your list for consideration. I second Little Owl, also.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ballulah

                My wife and I love Apizz for romantic and cool

                1. re: ballulah

                  I second Blue Hill but it may be a little more expensive than your budget allows. Possibly doable if you order carefully and definitely worth it.

                2. Hearth is a great recommendation - laid back, great service, well detailed food without being fussy, carefully crafted little wine list, intimate without being cloying.

                  Mas is also lovely. In a great little spot in the West Village. Equally intimate as Hearth but perhaps a little more upscale. Great tasting menu. Service can be quite theatrical - in a good way (choreographed delivery of dishes etc) - but unobtrusive when you need it to be.

                  Others to consider: Annisa, Bette, Red Cat


                  1. The House, (17th + Irving) might be what you're looking for. It's low key, good food, good wine list and a gorgeous room. It's in an old carriage house, which I always find both cool and romantic.

                    I don't think it's been discovered yet, so you should be able to have a poser-free evening.

                    1. Of all the restaurants mentioned, I've been to August and Hearth, and so I can second the recommendations for those. August is (generally) a younger crowd than Hearth, and much more intimate. Hearth doesn't strike me as a 'cool' place decor-wise, it's more rustic and simple-looking (but definitely not shabby). But the food at both is great.

                      I'd also recommend Veritas. The inside is sleek with none of the Uggs/NJ crowd, and very NYC-romantic. And the one time I went, the food was stellar. I'll also throw the Orchard out there.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: janethepain

                        august and hearth are terrific choices.

                      2. if you like Blue Ribbon and haven't been to Blue Ribbon Sushi, then I would suggest that. Definitely cool - great non-rushed service - very good waiters, and a younger crowd, but not bubble gum.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: sedela

                          I like BRS a lot, too, but I think it might be too brightly lit to be really romantic. If you go, reserve space in the back room.

                          1. re: sedela

                            I'm thinking about going to Blue Ribbon Sushi on a fridays night. Will we have to wait in line for a long time?

                            1. re: gladlaks

                              Pretty much. Unless you're like me and eat dinner at midnight. I think they do take reservations, tho.

                          2. these come to mind
                            cage gray
                            little giant
                            klee brasserie

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jsmitty

                              Five Points, Perry Street, Hearth, The Harrison. Perry Street and Hearth will be slightly more expensive than The Harrison or Five Points.

                            2. Thank you all - keep them coming!

                              So far the following look good;
                              Red Cat
                              The Harrison

                              The Harrison looks a little more romantic than the Red Cat - the latter looks a bit too busy?

                              The Hearth looks good but a little pricey. I've been to Landmarc and was not impressed, it is definitely solid but not special enough.

                              What about places like Savoy and The Tasting Room? I haven't been to either. The LES choices look good, and it's definitely an underexplored area for me. One more thing, I am less tempted by Italian offerings - just a personal bias.

                              I have been to Blue Ribbon Sushi, and it's great, but again, probably not for an occasion like this.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: nokitsch

                                I consider the Red Cat more romantic, but it is noisier. The Harrison just feels more... formal. Not necessarily romantic. Two different things.

                                I think the House could be a great rec. It got written up a month or so ago by various people. The space looks awesome. Not sure about the food.

                                Re: LES, I would avoid Little Giant for this dinner. I like that place a lot, but it's not right for what you are talking about. Also, you will be seated about 4 inches away from another table.

                                1. re: nokitsch

                                  The Tasting Room is at least as expensive as Hearth. I'd choose Red Cat over Salt pretty much any day of the week for any occasion. Salt is simply too dark, too odory (the kitchen is *really* open), service isn't as good and the wine list is far better at Red Cat. That's not to say that Salt doesn't have its merits (good for a 2nd or 3rd date), but just not for this.

                                2. All good suggestions so far. Only one I didn't see was Knife & Fork in the East Village. $45 tasting menu is pretty great, and a romantic but cool atmosphere.

                                  1. definitely agree with everyone that has said hearth and cookshop, would also add The Place in the WV

                                    1. Annisa, besides having divine food, is one of the few places where the two tops are all good tables. And you can hear. Mas, also divine food, is impossible to hear other person at table for two. Jarnac is not expensive and charming, with lovely service and surprisingly good eats, and also refreshingly not noisy. Knife + Fork is wonderful, an adventure, and just the spot if you want a long, long evening. Time between courses can be extensive, but the wine is delicious and well-priced, and if you want to talk, time can become an advantage.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: MazeDancer

                                        I agree with a lot of the choices except red cat not special enough for anniversary. I love Hearth but maybe a bit older than you want. I'm 36. What about The Orchard on Orchard ..the food is great, got a great reasonable wine list and the crowd is young but hip and sophisticated enough to appreciate good food and drink. Tasting Room is always a winner as are you tried and true list. good luck and congrats

                                        1. re: llgg

                                          I second Red Cat not being romantic enough.

                                          I think that Hearth could be perfect... they have some excellent tables that are very intimate, GREAT food.

                                      2. Thanks, everyone. I made reservations to Red Cat for now, unless I find something else interesting. The area is appealing - it won't be as insane as the LES or the meatpacking on a Sat. night, and the menu looks excellent.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: nokitsch

                                          Go to Tia Pol down the street for a glass of Spanish wine either before or after (preferably after if you are eating late enough - that place is crazy until the late evening)