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Advice on Manhattan dinner groups/clubs? [Moved from Manhattan board]

ErikT Jul 25, 2007 11:40 AM

I am a food lover who just moved to lower manhattan (tribeca) from California. I generally eat out every night, but I don't know the city or anyone in it.

I'm sure there must be plenty of "dinner clubs" (groups of people who get together and try a new restaurant each week) here in the city, and I can't think of a better place than here on Chowhoud to ask for advice on which groups/organizations are best.

A little about my interests (in case it helps you recommend the right group)... My primary interest is in getting to know where the good restaurants are in manhattan. A secondary interest is meeting people and making new friends, since I don't know anyone here. For me, restaurants are all about the FOOD, so I Iove owner-chef restaurants off the beaten path with really great food. Some of my favorites are places like Zax in San Francisco (now gone), and Canyon in Ft. Lauderdale.

I detest pretentiousness, and wouldn't be caught dead in places like The Ivy or Koi in Los Angeles, where mediocre food is served up with undue attention to presentation, and eveyone there is so caught up in who they are seeing or being seen with that they don't notice that the food really isn't worth the obscene prices being charged. In other words, if there is any risk of being seen at the table next to where Paris Hilton is sitting, I would prefer not to go there in the first place! Ditto for "celebrity restaurants" that are owned by someone famous and cater to ignorant tourists who are easily deceived by high prices and emphasis on presentation. (Although I must admit the Blue Door at the Delano on South Beach is pretty damned good, and I think it's still owned by Madonna).

I generally prefer gourmet food, but on the healthier side. One thing I really liked about California was that health-consciousness is so pervasive there. Things like all-you-can-eat lasagne or the world's largest/biggest/most fattening <whatever> are not so appealing to me, whereas eclectic, healthy, multi-cultural cuisine gets a big thumbs up. I love Dim Sum, good Thai food (oh how I crave the Som Tam I fell in love with in Chiang Mai), prefer northern Italian over southern, etc.

I also love wine, so a club/organization that does tastings in addition to dining out events would be even better.

I welcome any and all advice. Thanks in advance for sharing your insights!

Erik

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  1. LeahBaila RE: ErikT Jul 25, 2007 11:50 AM

    Great post, I'd be interested in learning more/getting advice on dinner groups, as well!

    1. m
      missjeanne RE: ErikT Jul 25, 2007 11:57 AM

      there are tons of meetup groups regarding these interests and can be found at a board bearing the same name - welcome to new york and happy eating

      3 Replies
      1. re: missjeanne
        ErikT RE: missjeanne Jul 25, 2007 03:21 PM

        MissJeane,

        Thanks for the reply, but when I looked at the ChowHound "boards" directory, I found no board for meetup groups. Were you referring to a different board about that topic on another site or something? If so, a pointer to it would be much appreciated!

        1. re: ErikT
          p
          pellegrino31 RE: ErikT Jul 26, 2007 08:36 AM

          hi ErikT - missjeanne was actually referring to a completely different website called meetup.com (missjeanne correct me if I'm wrong!). When you get on the website you can search by zip code and then you'll see there is a bunch of different food/drink oriented groups in NYC. There are also a ton of other groups focused on non-food interests - yes, I know there is such a thing.

          I went to one a few months ago - think it was the NYC foodie club or something like that. I had a good time and it was nice to meet new people and tried a great French place Le Pere Pinard on the LES. I find though that the events get filled up pretty quickly so act quickly if you see one you want to attend.

          1. re: pellegrino31
            ErikT RE: pellegrino31 Jul 26, 2007 04:51 PM

            Ok, now I "get it". I'll check out Meetup.com as well. Thanks for the info!

            Erik

      2. c
        cidonie RE: ErikT Jul 25, 2007 11:59 AM

        This group's meeting was listed in this week's Time Out New York. Is there any interest in attending?

        http://www.4foodiesusa.com/MONTHLYEVE...

        FIRST TIME MEET & GREET AT 5 NINTH

        At the 4Foodies' tasting event, you will have the unprecedented
        opportunity to taste a number of the chef's signature menu items in
        a cocktail party style atmosphere. You'll have a chance to taste 5
        Ninth's signature cocktail, network with foodies in the community,
        hear speaking points from the restaurant's owners and chef, and
        leave with a gift bag.

        TASTE: Chef Daniel "Chino" Parilla's signature menu items

        DRINK: 5 Ninth's signature cocktail - The Paloma

        NETWORK WITH: Owners of 5 Ninth, Executive Chef Daniel "Chino"
        Parilla, & other FOODIES in the community

        DATE: Tuesday, July 31st

        PLACE: 5 Ninth (5 Ninth Avenue

        )

        TIME: 6:00PM - 8:00PM

        COST: $50.00

        3 Replies
        1. re: cidonie
          ErikT RE: cidonie Jul 25, 2007 03:23 PM

          This sounds cool to me. I particularly like the notion of having a "tasting" of each of the signature dishes on the menu. Seems to avoid the problem of incorrectly coming to the wrong conclusion about a restaurant just because you got unlucky and happened to order an item that wasn't the strongest on the menu.

          I think I'll give this event a try and see how it goes. Anyone else going?

          Erik

          1. re: ErikT
            ErikT RE: ErikT Jul 30, 2007 09:22 AM

            AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!

            I was intending to go to this, but for no good reason other than pure laziness I delayed purchasing my ticket until today. And of course... Now it's sold out!

            Oh well, guess I'll keep looking for more similar events and buy my ticket promptly next time!

            Thanks again for the info guys...

            Erik

            1. re: ErikT
              b
              bebevonbernstein RE: ErikT Aug 4, 2007 05:28 AM

              I don't know where you're at with this, but I would offer one note of caution if you're really into food. I, too, have attended a few such gatherings, but I've found that they generally choose a restaurant based on who can accommodate such a large party as opposed to choosing a good restaurant.

              If you're truly into food, you might actually try to get together with 6-8 or so people from here or a similar board, as you can generally get a reservation for 6-8 and I think you'll be able to actually get in to restaurants that are far more to your liking.

              One more note: We here in NYC have a long and storied history of eating by ourselves at the bar. In fact, you'll find a few threads on the subject on chowhound. Don't know how you feel about that, but I would encourage you to go out by yourself in your neighborhood, plop yourself down at the bar with a magazine or the NYTimes (start with Odeon, one of my favorite old standbys -- and if they still have it on the menu, the sweet corn ravioli with chives is to die for!), you'll meet interesting people (we're VERY social here in NYC) and some great bartenders, and you can have some good food in the bargain.

        2. p
          plmarshall RE: ErikT Aug 29, 2007 06:37 AM

          HI
          I read through your post and wonder what new developments you have had. I was in Artisinal the other week and assumed that the two large groups eating there were either on a business dinner or a dining group (hard to get reservations there for 8 or more and this was a Sunday night). My issue with the large groups is that service tends to bottom out at over 6 people. I want to have people to meet up with but want to limit the size. Any information you find out will be helpful.

          People do eat out alone a lot in Manhattan and at some of the harder places to get in.

          Pat

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