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help with boyfriend's 30th birthday

what's a special, romantic restaurant for a 30th birthday? i want to try something new, but he's so obsessed with restaurants that we've been to so many already. i was thinking bouley, but a couple of years ago, my coworkers talked me out of making his birthday reservation there because they thought it was overrated. any suggestions? thank you so much!

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  1. What are the places he's obsessed with? I just had my 30th and I'm the obsessed one usually. I did my B-day at Tides on the lower east side. Not fancy by any means but really one of the best seafood meals in the city. How about Cru? That's really a great treat. Give some more info and I'm sure people will chime in.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JeremyEG

      wow, i'm so sorry, i didn't see all of these responses. i hope you guys are still on! he loves great food, but for his bday, i always try to take him somewhere fancy bc it makes it more special, and somewhere he's never been. he really likes french food.

      1. re: JeremyEG

        What's the atmosphere like @ Cru? I was looking at the website, and it looks kind of stuffy.

        1. re: Jel212

          It is a little stuffy. Well worth it for the food though.

          1. re: JeremyEG

            Thanks! I thnk I've decided on The Orchard - food looks good, right atmosphere, prices, and location.

      2. I was at Bouley a few months ago and had a great meal. All of the food was amayzing and the service and decore were great. I think its a very special, romantic restaurant. Ask for a table in the back room, and tell them its his birthday before you go.

        1. Have you been to Blue Hill? Great space, incredible food, and perfect for a celebratory dinner.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jdmetz

            we love blue hill! it's one of our favorite restaurants! but i'd like to take him somewhere he's never been to before. that's why i was thinking of bouley and maybe chanterelle?

          2. Strip House near Union Square

            1. If you let us know which restaurants he has already been then it may be easier for us to give you suggestions.

              Both Eleven Madison Park and Bouley are great for celebration. Did you ask your friends why they thought Bouley was overrated? I certainly did not think so.

              Another place for celebration is L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

              7 Replies
              1. re: kobetobiko

                i'm so bad at remembering restaurants, but i'll try. we went to l'atelier in paris actually, and loved it! but he actually got a reservation there for the end of the month. we've been to buddakan, mas, cookshop, blue hill, daniel, le bernardin, alain ducasse, the grocery, town, country... like i said, he's really obsessed with restaurants, which is why this is so hard.

                1. re: chow57

                  How about Annisa? Fleur de Sel? Tocqueville (new location)? Gramercy Tavern (new chef Michael Anthony, formerly of Blue Hill)? The Modern? Aureole? Telepan? Compass? Or heading in a different culinary direction, i.e., modern Italian: L'Impero or Alto? (Same chef)

                  Since you love Blue Hill, what about Stone Barns?

                  1. re: RGR

                    wow, thank you for all of the suggestions! we were just at tocqueville a couple of weeks ago! and unfortunately, we've been to all of those restaurants, except for maybe compass and aureole. i will definitely check those two out. stone barns is great, but we've been there a couple of times already. have you been to bouley or chanterelle? what did you think?

                    1. re: chow57

                      hi chow57,

                      Definitely Bouley over chanterelle. I think Bouley is excellent for celebration. Food is terrific, the decor is beautiful and romantic. I wouldn't be surprised if they have the highest number of anniversary celebrations among all fine-dining restaurants in NYC.

                      That's why I was wondering why your friend said it is overrated. Could you ask him/ her why? I certainly did not think that Bouley was overrated.

                      1. re: kobetobiko

                        hi there, actually, two of my coworkers convinced me to cancel the reservation last year. and although i can't remember exactly what they said, i think they thought the food was not worth the price. but you are definitely making me change my mind. i'm going to look into some of the other great suggestions listed here, but i'm leaning towards bouley. thank you so much for all of your help! should i request the back room there?

                      2. re: chow57

                        Hye, chow57, You've been to just about all the places I listed, and you preface that by saying "unfortunately"?! lol

                        I'll give it another try... Amalia has been open only a few weeks. We thought the food was delicious! The staff could not have been nicer, and everyone went out of their way to make sure we were well taken care of. It's in a converted carriage house (55th St., b/t B'way & 7th Av.), and despite the fact that it's a pretty big place, the way they're divided the space, plus the great decor and perfect lighting make for romantic ambiance. Their website -- http://www.amalia-nyc.com -- is still under construction, but you can view the menu on menupages: http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

                    2. re: chow57

                      If you haven't been to Tocqueville, I think he'd LOVE it! The new space is really dreamy, and the food has always been fabulous. Plus, if you let them know it's a special birthday, they will do something special for a surprise.

                  2. Have you ever thought about hiring a personal chef to cook for your boyfriend at home? I did this for my husband and a few friends last year and it was so much fun.

                    What about Budakan? I love the food there

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: alannabon

                      this would be a great suggestion, but i'm not sure if i could afford to hire a personal chef! plus, i think s/he would be appalled at our counter space. thank you so much though!

                    2. Have you been to Mas? great space downtown, very small, quaint, cool atmosphere albiet a tight space. the servcie was unbelievale. the food is french, delicious, limited tasting type menus. i also just recently went to Cookshop - check out their website - foods are all from local farmers, fresh, etc but don't be fooled the portions are big, food is flavorful (I'm a meat lover and the porkchop & black bean relish dish was amazing). Plus there was someone there to help us choose wine and taste a few extra glasses....less "romantic" and "fancy" but down to earth, still a very cool place, highly recommended

                      1. what about crossing the river to 'river cafe'?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Get In My Belly

                          you know, i was going to do that last year, but i read the food isn't that great there. have you been before? i actually don't know anyone who's been there, but i read the reviews. would love your opinion.

                          1. re: chow57

                            Don't talk yourself out of it. We've been there, on and off, for 20 years. The current chef is certainly not as talented as some of the previous, and the place is no longer one of the Top 20 in NYC, but the food is up there with many on your list & the ambience for a birthday celebration is unsurpassed. The wine list will make up for the food being "very good" & not "excellent". Try Open Table for reservations, although I'm sure if you've been to many of the places mentioned, you know how to get in to a tough place.

                            Otherwise, Eleven Madison Park should do it.

                            1. re: Steve R

                              hi steve, i am going on their website right now. thanks so much for your helpful post!

                            2. re: chow57

                              yes, i took my lady there for her birthday a couple months ago, and had a great experience overall. probably not the greatest food you can get in nyc, but definitely good enough that it makes the experience worth it.

                              i know there are places that people go to for the atmosphere but the food is terrible (tavern on the green, for example), but river cafe is definitely not in that category. the atmosphere, etc. is fantastic, and the food might not be amazing, but we thought it was very good. i would say that the vibe is pretty 'old school' as opposed to 'hip' and 'trendy', but i think thats part of the reason we liked it. not something we are used to.

                              great overall experience for a special occasion.

                              1. re: Get In My Belly

                                oh, nice... you and steve r have made me seriously consider river cafe. i really appreciate all the comments and descriptions. thank you guys so much! my bf and i haven't been there yet, so even if i don't take him for his bday, we will have to try it for another special occasion... thanks again, guys!

                          2. Hi chow57, I haven't been, yet, so I can't vouch for the place--but Insieme in the Michaelangelo Park Hotel sounds promising. It opened earlier this week, so I doubt your boyfriend's been and it's by the same folks as Hearth. Think Eaters has a little blurb about it. I've heard from coworkers that it's an attractive space.

                            Ah yes, and the Landmark TWC just opened in the Time Warner Center. Maybe other chowhounds have tried?

                            You might want to consider going somewhere small, low key and intimate rather than somewhere glitzy if he's used to doing the glitzy thing. A birthday meal at a teeny (but delicious) bistro involving a bottle (or more) of wine could be just the thing.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: cimui

                              hi cimui, thank you for your suggestions! i will definitely look into insieme and landmark twc. do you have any suggestions for a small but great bistro?

                              1. re: chow57

                                La Lanterna comes to mind. It has wonderful desserts and wines, but isn't particularly remarkable on the pre-dessert front. Still, lovely place to linger.

                                And everyone seems to love the Spotted Pig in the W. Village.

                                BTW, sorry for the misspelling. It should be "Landmarc," not "Landmark." Not sure they're taking reservations for parties of fewer than six people right now, but you can check (and use the birthday card!).

                                1. re: cimui

                                  yes, the spotted pig is a place where we've wanted to go for a long time. unfortunately, they don't take reservations. anyway, thanks for being so helpful!

                            2. The oyster bar is very romantic and the food is quite good.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: taraxstar

                                thanks taraxstar! are you talking about the one in grand central?

                              2. hop on a flight to El Bulli, that'd be special, romantic, etc. if not for 30 maybe for his 40th.