Anniversary Dinner for Young Couple
My name is Tim and I have a dilemma. I just graduated college in May, and have been living in the city since August. My girlfriend currently lives in Richmond, so I don't get to see her too often, but she'll be coming up for new year's and January is the month of our anniversary, so we figured we'd go out and celebrate it (a few days early).
We are thinking of going out on Sunday night (Dec 30th) for dinner somewhere, but I don't really know where to take her. I tried looking through the boards, but usually when people talk about anniversaries or special occasion dinners in the city it seems like they're spending several hundred dollars. I just graduated, so I'm not making that kind of money yet.
So, what I was hoping to get some help on was finding a place that serves great food, has an atmosphere appropriate for an anniversary, and could pull this off while spending less than $200 total (closer to 150 would be better). This price would include appetizers, entree, (maybe a shared dessert), and drinks (dont know if it'd be cocktails, wines by the glass, or bottle).
If money wasn't a factor, I think the tasting menu at Boulet would be among my top choices (so if there's a more affordable but still yummy tasting menu somewhere else, that could be an option).
I'm much into meat (beef, lamb) and she's much into seafood and pasta. French, Italian, or Spanish I think would be best (she's doesn't have a super adventurous palette - I'm working on it, but not too much experimentation for our anniversary dinner). Tapas / small courses could be interesting.
As far as our personalities go, I'm a corporate sellout by day and a contemporary art/indie rock appreciator by night. She majored in poetry and media studies and wants to be an English professor and has the same interests as me (outside of profession). On a typical weekend together, we would much rather go to a good bar with a good selection of beers and live music than to a ritzy club where Jay Z supposedly might stop by.
Alright, I tried to give as much information as possible (thank you to anybody still reading) to help you help me (thank you in advance).
My husband and I were in manhattan celebrating the anniversary of his proposal (also in manhattan). We went to Paradou (French) in Chelsea. We spent about the amount you are interested in spending. BEST service - from confirming the reservation over the phone, to being seated - everything about this place was amazing and everyone was so kind to us. We are in our late 20's and also prefer bars to clubs (now, anyway :-)). Paradou's garden area (yes, they have a garden area in back of the restaurant, completely enclosed and very cozy) felt secluded, down to earth, comfortable, cozy. We felt like we were in a restaurant in Europe! I'm vegetarian and my husband is not - we both enjoyed our meals, dessert, wine. It was a fantastic experience overall and HIGHLY recommend it. The night we were there they also had a small band, which turned out to be really good - they did a set of French music and then a set in English. Not too loud, really good, very entertaining. They complemented the restaurant and our experience there really well! Definitely check it out sometime!
A bottle of wine will greatly eat into your total budget of $150-200. Sounds like you are looking for places with great food, but not too casual, but at the same time, a hip atmosphere, without being too snazzy.
Choosing a nice BYOB will definitely keep the price down.
You may also want to consider the chef's menus at Le Miu ($55 or $75), Ssam Bar ($45 or $75), the Enoteca at Del Posto ($41, reservations only available the morning of IIRC), and the tasting menu at Degustation (as mentioned above, $50). If you each have a glass or two or wine, you'll definitely be able to stay in your budget.
There are two Italian restaurants that should fit your needs:
Del Posto - An upscale restaurant by Mario Batali. The regular menu may exceed your budget, but the Enoteca menu offers a 4 course prix-fixe of $45 and wine pairing for slightly extra. The restaurant is certainly grand and great for celebrations. The food, especially the pasta, is great. You should mention that you are going for the Enoteca menu when you make reservation.
L'Impero - Another Italian restaurant with a more contemporary take to Italian food. On Sundays, it offers a 4 course prix-fixe menu (domenica rustica) for $42.
If you take advantage of these prix-fixe offers you can enjoy a delicious meal at these restaurants at a bargain price!
Congratulations on your graduation!
Yeah, if you want great food (sounds like you do) on a budget (sounds like you have one), the sacrifice you'll have to make is space. Degustation is a pretty small place, as are all other places I can think of with great, inexpensive food. When I say that, what I really mean is that Bouley and others of its ilk are austere, sometimes stuffy (as Sugar pointed out--I am also 27).
That being said, here are some other places to consider; all on a slightly smaller scale but very nice nonetheless:
Blue Ribbon Bakery
And "funkier" places:
You sound a lot like me, and when I was a new graduate, I would have loved to eat at all of those places with my girlfriend (still do, actually).
Sugar and jake,
Thanks for your input. I did some googling and degustation sounds like it might work pretty well for what I was hoping for.
One problem though, originally we decided we wanted to go out on a Sunday night, so it wouldn't be so crazy and packed everywhere, but would this limit our options too much? Are there any good places open on Sundays?