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Need help for Family Reunion on UWS

In late August we're taking my mother back to NYC, where she spent her formative years, to celebrate her 85th birthday. Our group (me, husband, and two kids, along with mom) will be staying at the Lucerne Hotel. We're looking for a good place for a Saturday night dinner for a large group -- maybe 20 -25 people -- as we'll be joined by other relatives, some of whom live in NYC, and I'm thinking that a private room would be best, as many of these people haven't seen each other in quite a while and would like ample opportunity to visit. My mother's brother, who is in his 90s but still pretty with it, will be there, so with these seniors (and some children) among us we need a fairly sedate place, I'd think, though I believe we're open to all sorts of food. I know Nice Matin is adjacent to the Lucerne (we've stayed there before); any thoughts on that? And has anyone ever used the Lucerne itself for meetings or gatherings -- they offer such services and I plan to inquire but wouldn't mind some outside opinions. My husband is from NYC and travels there frequently on business so we know how to get around the city; if there's a perfect place other than the UWS that you'd recommend let us know. Thanks in advance for the advice!

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  1. how wonderful. several of my colleagues have stayed at the lucerne when visiting; however, we've never used them for catering. the loved the hotel. although the rooms are small it's a great location.

    nice martin is would probably be fine. not sure if they would take a reservation for 25 people for a saturday night. given the ages of your family members, it may be your best choice (based on your description above) for logistical reasons. the food isn't bad there.

    i also recommend ouest but i am unsure if they will take a reservation for that large of a party. although you said you are open to any cuisine, is there a particular cuisine that your mom enjoys? there are countless places up here.

    1. In terms of food, Nice Matin is fine. I just ate there, yet again, and had a wonderful meal of short rib ravioli as an app, and shrimp w/peas risotto as a main. But Native makes a point re: rese # of people. I don't recall seeing a private room there and 25 would take over a significant part of the restaurant. I don't know their policy on that. Also, if you dont have private room, it may not meet the "sedate" requirement as it gets really busy there at peak times. What about Compass on 70th St? I have seen their private room and the restaurant is the type of atmosphere you require--it not at all like the "crazy busy" bistro scene, which is Nice Matin.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ora

        Compass has gotten great reviews recently as a result of a new chef. I haven't made it there just yet but the great reviews have been very consistent. This is probably worth looking into as it is a 1/2 mile of the Lucerne. Does Telepan have a private room? What about Landmarc at Columbus Circle?

        1. re: nativeNYer

          Second Compass suggestion. They also have a private room.

      2. I know many hounders will jump down my throat for this suggestion, but what about Sambuca on 72nd street? I know the food isn't amazing, but it is certainly eatable, and for me, a guilty pleasure (pasta with vodka sauce, veal parmasean, spagetti and meatballs, etc). This place was made for big family gatherings and I believe they can do a private room for your group in the back. The food is all in big sharable portions and the staff has never been anything but generous and helpful to my family (I grew up across the street and have been going for years. This is def. a lower level option then Nice Matin, but I do think it's a great family joint with yummy Italian food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: zoeterry

          Compass.....have been there numerous times for celebrations with very large parties...they have a beautiful private room...Fine food, beautiful, modern decor and fresh, innovative cuisine. This is a very underrated gem. GO!

        2. What a terrific idea -- it sounds like a lovely "reunion". I know it's not the best food, but Carmine's on the uws does have a private room and they serve family style. (Oh, and I've always wanted to go to the Lucerne since it became a real hotel; I lived there years and years ago when it was an SRO.)

          1. Try the Neptune Room. Great seafood, subdued atmosphere and I think they have a private space.

            1. chicagodiner, if your family likes finer food, then i'd recommend compass (as ora wisely suggested). if the food is less important, then sambuca or carmine's might work in that they both have large spaces and serve family style food. the food isn't bad at either and they are always crowded but it just doesn't appeal to me. sambuca is a bit nicer and more expensive than carmine's.

              5 Replies
              1. re: nativeNYer

                Thanks so much for all the suggestions everyone -- I will check into all of them and report back when we've made the decision. The Lucerne, by the way, is a very nice place to stay, at least for vacationers (my husband thinks it lacks desk space and good lighting for business travelers, but they are remodelling the rooms so maybe they're addressing that). The rooms are spacious and (for NY) reasonably-priced (the suites include a kitchenette, great for Zabar's take-out); the service at the hotel is exceptional; and of course you can't beat the location, at least for those of us from Chicago, deprived as we are of decent bagels. For the occasion in August we'll also be travelling with a friend of ours from France; she was crazy about the bagels in Chicago so imagine how she'll react to H&H!

                1. re: chicagodiner

                  Good luck with the party and please report back!

                  1. re: chicagodiner

                    Skip the overpriced bagels at H&H (for tourists only) and head uptown on Broadway for Absolute Bagels (around 108th Street)...chewy, tasty and priced like a bagel should be priced....

                    1. re: Will4Food

                      Okay, I'm back and need more help. My personal preference would be to go with Compass, as the private room looks great and it would clearly allow for a quiet get-together, but some of my siblings (we're all chipping in for this) are balking at the costs (the lowest per/person cost for dinner is $90, plus drinks, tax, tip etc. which seems not unreasonable to me for Manhattan for nice food/ambience etc. but which is too much for some). I wonder if you can recommend a good option anywhere in Manhattan that would provide a private room and would be more affordable. Sambuca is certainly cheaper but won't provide a private room unless you have a group of over 25, and we're just below that -- we're expecting 18. I'm presuming Italian places might be best in this regard. Any thoughts? Thanks again for all the help!

                      1. re: chicagodiner

                        Honestly, I think you can do the main dining room at Compass as it is not loud, good acoustics, really. And, if you do the main dining room, you can order the $35 prix fixe menu.
                        Is it that Compass wont let you book 18 for the main dining room? If you can, you will be happy there.

                2. A few months ago, I attended a 40th birthday dinner for my cousin at Chinatown Brasserie. If you look at the website, they have a room called The Gold Room, and that's where this dinner was. It holds up to 18 people (according to website) and the room was nice.

                  Her mother and sister hosted it, and since they are from Indianapolis (with all due respect), they would not have paid close to $100 per person, so I'm guessing that it was significantly less. They had assorted appetizers/dim sum to start and then they brought several dishes and it was served family style, plus dessert. All of the dishes were chosen in advance by the hostesses but there was a good variety. The food was very good and the atmosphere of the place is nice. In the private room, you can all definitely talk and hear each other.

                  If your family would like Chinese (nicer than the average Chinese place in NY), then you should look into this.

                  It is, however, downtown.

                  http://chinatownbrasserie.com/

                  1. I'm amending my own recent message -- after a board search (we're all supposed to do that first, I know) I see lots of good thoughts for Trattoria Trecolori, on 47th, which does have a private room that can accomodate us and cheaper prices -- I'm waiting for the menus to be emailed to me; I had a very pleasant conversation with Marco, one of the owners, I believe. More thoughts on this place? I will also check out the Chinatown option, though I think this crowd may lean more toward Italian.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: chicagodiner

                      Have never been to Trattoria Trecolori, but just so you know, Chinatown Brasserie is not in Chinatown -- it's in the Village. Good luck!

                      1. re: valerie

                        I said I would report back, so here goes. We ended up at Trattoria Trecolori, not on the UWS, of course, but otherwise we couldn't have been more pleased. The private room upstairs is absolutely lovely, much more elegant than I expected, with its own bar and lounge area. The food was very good -- certainly a great value for the $35 a person tab -- with a menu that allowed each diner to choose between several entree choices. The service was excellent, and the owner, Marco Gonzales, was present throughout the evening and was incredibly helpful and gracious. All in all, it was a great evening and I would highly recommend Trattoria Trecolori for such an event. Thanks for all the recommendations (this post and elsewhere); I would never have been able to find such a great place without Chowhound advise.

                    2. You really don't need my opinion because as I was scanning down ready to to recommend the perfect place, lo and behold, many already beat me to it.
                      Compass it is!!!
                      Have a wonderful reunion.