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UWS 25th Birthday Blow Out

JungMann Sep 11, 2007 08:48 AM

Nothing fancy. A group of friends are getting together for a birthday party that is revolving around the drink specials on Friday night on Amsterdam in the 80s. As the evening will likely devolve into competetive beer pong and foosball, you can imagine that we will need to eat something to keep us going through the night.

The problem is that several of the guests are grad students and cannot afford expensive meals. Others are finicky or vegetarian. The original plan was to take the group to Silk Road Palace for inoffensive Chinese and offensive amounts of free wine. But it looks like the group may turn out to be larger than expected, perhaps 10-15, which Silk Road Palace may not be able to accomodate.

Are there other restaurants in the area that are reasonably priced and would make for a celebratory meal before a night of heavy partying? Vynl was iffy about accomodating us and Patsy's won't take reservations. The vegetarians do not much like sushi or Indian. As most of the group lives in the boroughs or downtown, I assume they won't want to travel too far from our ultimate destination on 81st and Amsterdam.

  1. s
    samiam123 Sep 11, 2007 08:51 AM

    How about Saigon Grill or Dean's on 84th btwn Bwy/Amsterdam?

    2 Replies
    1. re: samiam123
      SweetPea914 Sep 11, 2007 09:46 AM

      I was going to say Saigan Grill (although, isn't it on Amsterdam at 90th??) as well. It's big enough to accomodate a large group and their prices are good.

      1. re: SweetPea914
        Miss Needle Sep 11, 2007 10:01 AM

        I believe a lot of Vietnamese food contains fish sauce which would make it difficult for vegetarians.

    2. p
      pacz Sep 11, 2007 08:59 AM

      Blondies on 79th btween Broadway & Amsterdam might fit the bill. Really good wings and burgers, plus food for the vegetarians, veggie chili, veggie burgers.

      1. p
        PhishFoodie Sep 11, 2007 09:23 AM

        there's also cottage, for chinese w/free wine... not sure if they could accomodate either... greenwich brewing co could be fun...
        maybe carmines- family style/sharing could work, and they certainly accomodate large parties. mama mexico ( i think it's that one), while further up, is celebratory and takes large reservations. don't remember how prices were but not tooo bad.

        7 Replies
        1. re: PhishFoodie
          JungMann Sep 12, 2007 06:36 AM

          How big is the Cottage? I've never actually been. How big a party do you think they could accomodate?

          From what I can tell from walking by Silk Road Palace, you can usually stand around by the bar with your party and drink wine while you wait for a table to open up. Is it the same at the Cottage? That place always seems less packed; perhaps because their wine isn't unlimited?

          1. re: JungMann
            LNG212 Sep 12, 2007 07:22 AM

            Personally, I've never thought the Cottage food is particularly good. Silk Road's food is good (not great); but very reasonably priced. And I guess it's that free wine thing that makes it such a popular place. And yes, they usually do let you drink while you wait; though sometimes they ask people to move inside from outside since that would technically be illegal and get them in trouble. Twenty people standing inside the entryway at Silk Road might be nearly impossible.

            1. re: LNG212
              JungMann Sep 12, 2007 09:50 AM

              Is the wine unlimited at the Cottage also? That might be another restaurant to serve as backup if we can't get into Silk Road.

              1. re: JungMann
                LNG212 Sep 12, 2007 10:30 AM

                That I cannot say for sure. It used to be -- but I haven't been there more recently so they may have changed that policy.

                1. re: LNG212
                  p
                  PhishFoodie Sep 12, 2007 11:08 PM

                  i do agree with your on the food quality, but thought cottage was always alright, inexpensive, and the wine makes it fun. i also haven't been in ages, but i'm pretty sure they still do the free wine. also, it is on the smaller side. i thought if jungmann was into the silk road idea, this would be a good similar option, but i too much prefer silk road's food & service... try calling them or stop by if you can!

                  1. re: PhishFoodie
                    JungMann Sep 13, 2007 07:05 AM

                    I didn't much care for Silk Road's food, but I had the squid. Meats might be better prepared? Free wine, however, is a draw hard to pass up on one's 25th birthday.

                    1. re: JungMann
                      LNG212 Sep 13, 2007 08:08 AM

                      as phishfoodie said, stopping by silk road would be a good idea. i always get the veg dishes and DH usually gets beef or pork -- we have always liked these (i don't think we've ever gotten fish/seafood there). totally agree that the free wine makes it fun and even *more* affordable! (it's box-o-wine, chablis i think, and they are pretty great about refilling the carafe nonstop.)

        2. LNG212 Sep 11, 2007 10:04 AM

          The suggestions others have posted are good (Saigon, Dean's, etc.); you could also try Rancho (Amsterdam at about 88th). It's basic inoffensive tex-mex kinda stuff but they do a pretty decent margarita. There's veggie stuff on the menu, or, in my experience, if you ask, they'll make stuff with just beans or whatever.

          As for the drinking part, I'm sure you already know where you're going to go. But I'll recommend anyway -- definitely go to George Keeley's. Great beer selection (tap and bottles). And if you need sustenance later on, the cheese fries and jalapeno poppers are perfect sop-it-up bar food!

          5 Replies
          1. re: LNG212
            JungMann Sep 11, 2007 10:37 AM

            What's the atmosphere like at Rancho? It's a touch too expensive, but several of the grad students are from California and constantly whining about how they can't get "real Californian" Mexican out here. They might be willing to shell out if it's good.

            1. re: JungMann
              LNG212 Sep 11, 2007 11:08 AM

              Rancho is usually hopping on the weekends (incl. Fri nights). It can get quite loud. So I guess it would depend on what time you are there or what you are looking for. And they do have outside (not sure if they could fit 15 outside). I don't know if I'd classify the food as Cal-Mex which I usually think of as Maryann's (further uptown) (but then maybe I don't know my Cal-Mex from my Tex-Mex). I think the food is good, but I wouldn't say great. They actually do a really nice brunch (I know, off-topic). I'm not sure I've been much help with your worth-it question. I guess we usually stick with the combo-platter type dishes which are less expensive than the "special" dishes.

              1. re: LNG212
                JungMann Sep 12, 2007 06:38 AM

                The Californians have taken me to Maryann's before, claiming it was the best Mexican in the city. I have since decided Californians wouldn't know *real* Mexican if it bit them on the asado.

                1. re: JungMann
                  LNG212 Sep 12, 2007 07:25 AM

                  I'm with you on that -- Maryann's is certainly not the best Mexican in ANY city. But it can be a fun place, depending on what you're looking for. A bit up the price scale but way better food is Mama Mexico further up on the uws. Also in that price range is Gabriela's -- DH and I adore their appetizers (and they make awesome drinks) but have found the main courses a little blah. But we love the outdoor seating area. Gabriela's is really big and if it is in your price range, you may want to consider it. (94th & Columbus)

              2. re: JungMann
                c
                cimui Sep 11, 2007 01:28 PM

                "'Real Californian' Mexican" it is not. Rancho is not worth shelling out for, JungMann. It's inoffensive, true, but far from good. Once upon a time, they had good homemade corn tortillas, but even those have gone, sadly.

            2. i
              idia Sep 11, 2007 10:25 AM

              Is 85th & Columbus close enough for you, because Zeytin has your name on it.
              The under-the-tent Turkish delight dining is really charming with outdoor seating, and the price is right too.

              1. u
                uwsFromNH Sep 11, 2007 11:16 AM

                I'd second Dean's as they have plenty of room, good for larger parties. I'd also say look into Calle Ocho, and maybe Cafe con Leche. Calle Ocho should be fun, with good drinks, good menu, and plenty of room. Cafe con Leche is smaller, but they have a large booth in the back that may accommodate your group, and it is a fun atmosphere if everyone wants to drink. Rancho is okay, food is pretty ordinary, and service waivers between decent to bad on the times I've been there.

                2 Replies
                1. re: uwsFromNH
                  JungMann Sep 11, 2007 11:26 AM

                  I wanted to do Calle Ocho, but unless they have a prix-fixe for parties, I don't think it's going to happen. Café con Leches special platters sound like exactly what I need. $8 a head is seriously great. What is the restaurant like: more like Calle Ocho or Flor de Mayo?

                  1. re: JungMann
                    u
                    uwsFromNH Sep 11, 2007 01:18 PM

                    Cafe con Leche is closer to Flor de Mayo, than to Calle Ocho. Not much in the way of atmosphere, but good, cheap drinks, tasty fresh made sandwiches, braised/ stewed dishes are pretty good, and they usually have daily specials that are good.

                2. c
                  cimui Sep 11, 2007 01:32 PM

                  I third Cafe con Leche. Both locations are small, but the location in the 70s has accommodated a party of eight for me with complete graciousness. Some menu items are excellent (mofongo is often good, sides like tostones are well made, empanadas aren't bad, sangria is a bit dilute but tasty, sandwiches are *great*, ropa vieja is alright). I haven't liked the entrees as much. Prices are very friendly.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cimui
                    w
                    Will4Food Sep 12, 2007 06:50 AM

                    DEANS...Beautiful environment....fairly priced Italian (go for the grandma-style pizzas)

                    1. re: Will4Food
                      p
                      PhishFoodie Sep 12, 2007 11:11 PM

                      oh yeah, Deans is a pretty good idea- I forgot there was one on the UWS. I went to a friend's b-day dinner at the other one with about 10 of us, and we had a great time, & prices were reasonable.

                  2. kelea Sep 12, 2007 10:38 PM

                    Having been a grad student myself..and being from california, i have to say Gabriella's fits the bill well. drinks are too bad, margharitas run a little steep for the grad student budget but they are so strong it is well worth it. the food has always been delicious, and they are always friendly towards a large crowd.

                    no to mention dos equis lager on tap!?!?!? need i say more??

                    (though all other restaurants on this...i'vve been to while still a student. think none will break the bank. u just need to decide on the cuisine)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kelea
                      LNG212 Sep 13, 2007 08:05 AM

                      totally agree on the STRENGTH of the margaritas and other drinks. omg! DH and i had 2 the other night w/apps and i thought i might fall off the bar stool. they are goooood. we love the avocado and tomato quesedillas.

                    2. LNG212 Oct 3, 2007 01:10 PM

                      Just curious where you ended up going, which place was able to accommodate a large party? That info might come in handy. :)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: LNG212
                        JungMann Oct 3, 2007 01:29 PM

                        The party decided they wanted to go to Silk Road Palace. Unexpected guests turned up, so we had a group of 11 waiting for a table. We almost had one within 30 minutes, but a group of 4 preppies who could obviously afford to buy a bottle of wine took their sweet time greedily guzzling all the free wine they could get. I could swear they were glaring at us. We ended up waiting an hour and ten minutes for their table, but it was worthwhile when the free wine and appetizers came. The food was surprisingly good. I have plans to go back on Sunday just for the black bean scallops. Well... and for the free wine, too.

                        1. re: JungMann
                          LNG212 Oct 3, 2007 01:45 PM

                          Cool. DH and I often go to Silk Road on Friday nights for a "wine/wind down". Glad they could work for a large group. I'll have to remember that too.

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