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Need a pick-me-up

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The boyfriend has had a hard week, so I want to take him out tonight for a surprise dinner. Looking for some place with a nice, energetic atmosphere that's not too loud, but still feels exciting. We like all types of cuisines, although as this weekend already has some major calorie-splurging on the menu, I'd love to be able to get something slightly on the healthy side. Somewhere below 23rd street is preferable, also where he can get in wearing jeans, as I don't want to spoil the surprise. Thanks in advance!

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  1. You might want to consider Barbounia, on the corner of PAS & 20th. There was a change of ownership earlier this year. They brought in a new chef who has changed the formerly Mediterranean-style menu to strictly Greek. We went back recently, and the food was very good. If you're looking to eat healthfully, you can do it there. For example, there's grilled fish. Big space with attractive decor. The vibe is upbeat. Though the noise level can rise, I've not found it to be intolerable.

    http://www.barbounia.com

    2 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Do not go to Barbounia, I was just there last Saturday. It was way too loud and the food was simply okay. I agree it's a nice space, but that's about it. Bread Bar at Tabla on Madison and 19th, right across from the park might be a good option. Especially if you can snag a table outside.

      1. re: clashfan

        I couldn't disagree more--I live near Barbounia and my fiancee and I go there often and, while loud, it's a great neighborhood spot. For example, the cheese plates, the saganaki, the lemon chicken and the feta gnocchi are all good. (They did do away with some other hits, though, when they changed chefs.) Clashfan, perhaps you just ordered mediocre dishes?

        On the other hand, we've been twice to Bread Bar and both times there were serious issues with the food. The naan was okay but anything beyond that, including the fried things, were lacking, too oily, bland, etc. The meats were a real disappointment. (That's not a reflection of the real Tabla, though, which we love.)

        Neither BB nor Barbounia is cheap, but if I were to pick one, I'd choose Barbounia.

    2. Maybe a nice sushi place? my guy would love it if I surprised him w/ Blue Ribbon Sushi (soho). We also like Le Miu on Ave A, and Kirara on Carmine, but there's plenty of other higher-end sushi recommendations on this board, too.

      1. How about Upstair of Bouley? They have a lot of seafood dishes that are light and delicious, and is a lot more causal than the fine-dining Bouley restaurant.

        Another place that I can think of is Rayuela. Since they serve a lot of ceviche, again, seafood on the lighter side with a lot of exotic choices and combination. Cool decor too!