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Parents are picky eaters - help!

My parents are taking me out to dinner for my birthday; I get to pick where I want to go. As a college student, I want to try somewhere new that would not normally be in my budget (yet still under $30 per entree). But my parents are NOT adventerous eaters (they only really go to american places, steakhouses, and if they are feeling really brave maybe italian). I'd also like to stay somewhere downtown... Also, they would be totally overwhelmed by anything with a trendy atmosphere.

Where should we go?

I've already taken them to Ruth Chris and Delmonico's (both were good), maybe something like that?

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  1. The Bridge Cafe is downtown, historic and serves great, familiar food.


    1. Ruth's Chris and Delmonicos are not really below $30 per entree, but if you are OK with that, you can go to Morton's or The Palm, or if you want to stay downtown, try Angelo and Maxie's. There are plenty of places that have steak on their menu though. For example, I was at Artesenal for brunch today, they have hangar steak with fries, or fish with fries. Not sure if that is too trendy for them, or the menu might be overwhelming, but if you check it out on their website, you can see the menu in advance. Alot of restaurants now have that, and I find that it is a good way to see if everyone will be happy. If you want to go a little further uptown, there is Smith and Wolensky's, which is another steak place.

      1. Po on Cornelia St. in the W. Village would be safe, but delicious, I think.

        Blue Ribbon Bakery on Downing/Bedford in the W. Village also has enough safe, old school things on the menu to keep them happy (read: steak, fried chicken, burgers), but some more adventurous options for you, if you'd like to branch out (sweetbreads, liver pates, tongue, smoked fish).

        I should add that both restaurants have a very low key, non-glitzy vibe. Makes for pleasant dining.

        1. You can try Keens. While some selection of entrees are over $30, the portion is so big that you can share among two people.

          1. How about the Soho Grand hotel? Good safe food, nice atmosphere....

            Zoe's in Soho also might fit the bill.

            Would Blue Hill in the village be too costly/ unique?

            1. Girogio's of Gramercy is perfect for this. Entrees under $30, nothing too exotic, classy and understated room, gracious service. Food is very good, especially at the price point.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Sugar

                Concur on Blue Ribbon Bakery, Zoe and Giorgio's - all great places with reasonable prices, great service and entrees under $30. Check out their menus on menupages or their own website - Zoe's menu might be too adventurous for your parents.

                1. re: Sugar

                  I have a RW reservation this Friday. And (at the risk of sounding incredibly naive) what is the dress code here?

                  1. re: ellyel

                    No dress code--jeans or casual would be fine.

                  2. re: Sugar

                    Third for Giorgio's of Gramercy (American, Italian) and second Bridge Cafe (American). You might want to consider Mark Joseph (steakhouse near the Bridge Cafe), though it might be out of budget. Another possibility is Duane Park Cafe (American) in TriBeCa, $35 prix fixe dinner, reasonable wine list, closed for renovations in January and should be re-opening soon. cimui's Po suggestion is a good one (we went for the first time recently) and I'll add Cornelia Street Cafe's (American) $22 prix fixe dinner. The room with the fireplace in back is nice.

                    1. re: Sugar

                      I brought my parents to Giorgio's of Gramercy, picky and discerning eaters also, and they loved it. If you go on a Sunday night, all wine bottles are 15$ off. That is a nice special!
                      I brought them to Campanile and they loved it also.
                      They love jazz, so we went to Jules in the east village. The food is good, not great but good, and you have live jazz music and that makes for a great atmosphere.

                    2. I feel your pain.

                      I've had success with Les Halles both the midtown and the Wall Street area locations. There was that one time my mom returned the seared tuna because "it was rare."

                      1. Strip House is not $30 an entree but neither is Ruth Chris and Delmonico's.

                        1. Try this site. It's in your price range ($35 prix fixe) and it is not an intimidating restaurant for those who are picky eaters (as you will see from the innocuous menu.)

                          1. At first, I thought you post was about parents having children with picky palettes (meaning I thought it read parents OF picking eaters). When I have date nights with my husband in the city, we usually got to Dylan Prime or the Striphouse. Both are steakhouses that are a little trendy (which I know you mentioned might be overwhelming) but I think both are good for the older set. Hope you have fun and happy birthday.

                            1. I think The Knickerbocker on University & 11th St. would make you all happy. It's not trendy, food is great, you can split a wonderful porterhouse steak for one (feeds 2) and it's a large enough menu with both familiar and nicely done specials.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: tsiblis

                                What about Irving Mill? Relatively new Gramercy Tavern alums. The atmosphere is extremely parent-friendly, and the fare American with a little bit of everything (fish, pork chop, steak).

                                I ate there in the fall when it had just opened and thought the food was promising, but there were certainly service kinks to be worked. Hoping they have been - any one been recently?


                                1. re: bdurrett

                                  thanks everyone! we decided on les halles, where they can just get a plain steak!