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Jun 15, 2007 10:58 AM


I am trying to plan a dinner in the city this July, and the money just got all wigged out by a minimum F&B charge of 3000, which I would say is totally reasonable for a 3 star dinner. Anyway, I am not looking for alternatives that might be on the less intensely expensive side, but still good. I am open to anything, but we'd like to be in Manhattan and the guest f honor is a great lover of seafood.

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  1. I'm sorry, I really don't know what you're asking. I am guessing this is a dinner for a group -- please tell us how many. Also, what is your budget (per person is helpful)?

    1. Yes, you need to give more details, for sure!

      1 Reply
      1. re: blanchita121

        I am asking for recommendations for a restaurant for a late summer meal for more than 10 people. Any recommendations at all. Trying to think outside my usual sphere, hence asking for any suggestions at all. Again, a place that would NOT be charging as much as 3k for minimum F&B would be helpful, and seafood (of any manner) is a plus, but not a necessity.

      2. Okay cuisine = seafood or ?
        Location/neighborhood = ?
        Casual/upscale/business or not = ?
        Private room or regular dining room in the restaurant = ?
        Budget = $3,000/10 = less than $300 pp including tax, tip, cocktails (can you be more specific re:$$$$$$ ???)

        I've done a group dinner for 15+ at Sea Grill near Rockefeller Center. It might need to be 2 tables. It's a bit touristy but clients (many from out of town) loved it. I needed a credit card to hold reservation. Apps, entrees, tax, tip (service was great so plan on at least 20%, they'll probably add at least 18% to the bill if you are a large group), cocktails and a few bottles of wine (I pre-selected to control the budget) were in the $1,500 range. There are more innovative places, but this might work for you. Oceana might be another possibility. Neither of these places would probably appeal to locals, there are more interesting places. If you give more information other hounds might chime in with more ideas.

        10 Replies
        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          fdr, I can understand your thinking that the Sea Grill might seem too touristy for locals, but Oceana? Granted, I've not been there since Rick Moonen's tenure, but it's always been considered a top-tier fish/seafood restaurant and quite classy. I think it would be a good choice, and if kpangaro wants a private space, their wine cellar room would fit his needs.

          Btw, Ed Brown, the talented long-time chef at Sea Grill, left a few months ago to open his own place.

          Another restaurant to consider is Pampano, which serves modern Mexican cuisine with an emphasis on fish and seafood. Delicious food, attractive interior space, and an upbeat vibe. If the weather is conducive, they could consider dining on the really nice outdoor terrace on the second floor.


          1. re: RGR

            Thanks, RGR. As always I appreciate your thoughts (and those of other hounds). Sea Grill was always very good when we went. Do you know if the food and service are still good given the departure of Ed Brown? Another plus re: Sea Grill is if you dine during the right time of year you have the option to go ice skating after dinner. . . Luckily my days of planning client programs and dinners are behind me.

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              Hey, fdr,

              I haven't been to Sea Grill since the 1980's! I've no clue who has replaced Ed Brown and have not read any reports about the current quality of the food.

              1. re: RGR

                Thanks, RGR. By the way, last night I remembered planning a dinner for summer interns (some time ago) and Oceana was one of the restaurants I selected for the small groups. It was well received.

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  fdr, Was that dinner at Oceana during the tenure of Chef Cornelius Gallagher? I read lots of raves about his cuisine. Unfortunately, we never made it there before he left last year. The current executive chef, Ben Pollinger, has quite an impressive resume. ( ) I've been giving serious consideration to going there again.

                  1. re: RGR

                    RGR, I didn't dine there, just planned it all. This discussion is whetting my appetite for seafood too. Our server at Marseille told us we have to go to Esca (especially after he heard we both fish, apparently Esca's chef fishes). So sad I live near the Seaport and have to go uptown for fish. I've been getting my fish fix in Chinatown and Pylos to avoid the NYC subways in summer. Which should I try first: Esca, Oceana, Shaffer City, Le Bernadin or tbd?

                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      Le Bernadin is fabulous, but not just for seafood, for everything, true haute French. Schaffer City is great for a good meal, but just amazing for a diverse and fresh assortment of oysters.

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        try le bernardin for lunch to get a feel for the place without breaking the bank. the fluke flight is a classic as is the salt-encrusted fish.

                        esca is a teriffic place for fresh fish. pasternack's crudo alone is worth the price of admission. great pastas, great wines and, of course, great fish. be aware that the pre-theater crowd likes this place a lot. that, plus sterling reviews in the nytimes, may make an early or late reservation your best bet. timing is everything.

                        shaffer city is for the oyster lover in all of us. best oysters in manhattan. jay shaffer is a hoot. the bar is a great place when dining solo. the cozy backroom is great in winter.

                        1. re: steve h.

                          kpangaro, steve h - thanks for your suggestions. Since so many people seem to have a love/hate relationship with Le Bernardin I like the lunch idea alot.

                          We went to Degustation at 6 PM on a Friday night (had the whole place to ourselves until dessert), so the early/late suggestion works for me.

                          Read "The Big Oyster" and wish they were still a bargain. Always on the hunt for fun solo dining places, so thanks for throwing that in.

                          It's all about the food, not chasing the trend, scene or a prime time reservation (one woman's opinion).

                        2. re: financialdistrictresident


                          I did not have good first time experiences at Esca and Le Bernardin. True, our dinner at Esca goes back to 2001 and Le Bernardin even further than that. But when a first meal at a restaurant is as disappointing as those were, I'm not inclined to return -- going on the general theory that a restaurant only has one chance to make a first impression. steve h. has been trying forever to get me to change my mind, particularly about Esca. So far, no luck!

                          Of those you mention, I'd choose Oceana.

                          Btw, I, too, often get my fish fix at a Greek restaurant. My favorite is Esca. Also, the whole Dover Sole at La Petite Auberge is perfection!

            2. $3000 is pretty crazy for dinner for 10. I hope you were offered open bar for several hours.

              Since a group of 10 is not too big a number to get a regular reservation, you will have plenty of options.... really any restaurant should be able to accomodate.

              Alta would be a lot of fun - shared plates worked great for our rehearsal dinner. and their option to order the whole menu would be a good deal (and delicious). Their fish plates are very good.

              (I'll post more suggestions as I think of them)

              1 Reply
              1. re: erin07nyc

                This is not my expertise, but I think that what the OP was getting at is that a number of restaurants, clubs that rent to the publics, and other private spaces have a minimum price for making the room available. The room may hold 30-50 people and so a minimum of $3K for food an beverages could easily be met. But for 10 people one would never meet the $3K (unless you ordered several $500 bottles of wine).

                So what the OP wants is your more typical situation where there is a fixed price or a minimum per person, not per room. If I am correct, I sure that you hounds can come up with some excellent suggestions at $100 to $150 pp.

              2. great seafood requires le bernardin or esca. le bernardin will probably run you the penance you mentioned in your original post if you opt for a private room. esca will be less expensive. your call. both places work for me.

                on a more modest note, try giving jay shaffer a call at shaffer city. he knows his oysters, he knows his fish. shaffer city is by no means cheap. just a little less expensive than the top-tier guys.

                i think you have a classy problem here. keep us posted as to your final decision plus a follow-up describing the meal.



                bottom line? i would opt for esca. best combination of fresh fish/seafood. they know their wines, too.