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Feb 22, 2008 10:04 AM

Dinner at "One if by Land..."

I am a long-time foodie and trying to convert my boyfriend. He is taking me here for my birthday. I am pretty excited. He is a hardcore meat eater (with mac and cheese tastebuds) and I am a vegetarian/pescatarian. We are thinking about doing the 3 course prix fixe. I wouldn't mind the tasting menu, but since he doesn't drink, and we don't really share dishes, I think it would be a waste.

Any suggestions or advice?

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  1. If you are a Hound trying to convert your boyfriend, why would you even consider doing so at OIBL? The food has never been better than so-so, and despite the fact that they've hired a new chef, reports thus far are that there hasn't been much, if any, improvement.

    There are so many restaurants with cuisine that while not too overly-complicated is still superb, and which would make much more sense for this attempt at conversion. If you would like some suggestions, let us know.

    9 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Even though i normally don't, I have to disagree with you here RGR. While the food at OIBL may not keep up with other restaurants at the same price level, I think part of becoming a foodie is enjoying the experience of eating as much as it is the food. If this is something she's excited for, it's her birthday, and if he has gone through all of the preperation to set up a nice romantic meal for her then i'm sure they'll have a great time and he'll be much more open to try other restaurants. Maybe your favorite EMP next time. But in the mean time, just get the ball rolling with a good experience, and i'm sure they'll have that.

      1. re: MinhLikesFood

        Yup. That was kind of my thought process. While you may appreciate amazing flavor combinations - that's not whats going to wow him here. I consistently here about great service, which he is much more apt to notice. He was blown away by a meal at "Butter" during Restaurant Week, and honestly? I was really just looking for anything to stay away from or run towards.

        If you have a better suggestion for a romantic place for a birthday dinner at about the $75/pp price point without wine, I would certainly be open to suggestion. I just didn't think we wanted another "where should I go on my birthday" thread.

        Edit - The other thing to mention was, this was one of the few restaurants that had a selection of vegetarian options so that I am not stuck with "the one dish they have." Please keep that in mind when offering suggestions.

        1. re: EricaEats

          I had to put in my two cents here, although it sounds like you are pretty happy with the restaurant choice. I went to Allen and Delancey for a Valentine Prix fixe which was 75/pp and was impressed. Romantic, good food, and decent service. Seafood options as well. I don't know if they normally do the prix fixe, but the $75 /pp is def. possible. Desserts are phenomenal, if that helps.

          Also, Degustation is high on my list for great value as well as high quality. The tasting can be had for $50/pp and you get a front seat in front of the kitchen - a plus for a foodie in training. I can't recommend the place enough.

          1. re: kayonyc

            Degustation looks great! And they can accomodate my reservation. I am going to pick one. Thanks for the reservation.

            The reservation guy didn't seem to know a lot. Do you think Degustation can accomodate a pescatarian?

            1. re: EricaEats

              It shouldn't be a problem although you might want to call them to discuss the issue. I recall quite a few veggie/seafood options. The great thing about them is that they are flexible with their tasting menu. They don't require the entire party order a preset menu, but rather, allow you to craft a menu yourself, even if your companion orders a la carte.

              1. re: kayonyc

                I think calling ahead to confirm the availability of your preference is necessary for degustation. While there are a few fish/veggie options there, the fish dishes often involve (hidden) meat components (for instance, pancetta broth / crisp for the scallop and asparagus). Since the menu is pretty limited and that they are in a sense "set" with their fixings and preparation in the limited kitchen space + chefs, it may be hard for them to adjust their dishes on a fly. I think they can potentially eliminate the meat components right off the bet, but the flavor of the dishes may suffer if they haven't tried and tasted the dishes before.

                A lot of the times I think restaurants put in a lot of time and trials to experiement and test out dishes before they put them on the menu, so it may be hard for them to adjust the preparation without advance notice.

                Erica, I think no matter where you choose, you will probably want to call them to confirm them that they have enough fish/veggie dishes for a full dinner (enough choices for an app, entree, and well, dessert (shouldn't be a problem)). It may sound like you have to do some extra work before the meal, but I think it is worth the time investment to avoid having an unsatisfying meal on your birthday!

                Lastly, Happy Birthday to you!

              2. re: EricaEats

                I love Degustation but not sure I would choose it for a romantic dinner since the seating is at the counter. Just be aware..

            2. re: EricaEats

              If the main idea here is romantic ambiance, then OIBL meets that requirement. But if you are coupling it with trying to transform you bf into a foodie, it just happens to be my view that doing so at a restaurant that serves mediocre food is not the best way to accomplish that.

              Since you are a vegetarian who does eat fish, there are many places where you can be comfortable. One place I might start with is Gramercy Tavern. Chef Michael Anthony serves a market-based menu, very fresh, not overly complicated, but of a very high caliber. It is also a restaurant that happily caters to vegetarians. The 3-course prix-fixe is $82. If your bf notices first-rate service, Gramercy Tavern scores extremely high in that regard. Plus, the ambiance is lovely.


              Another would be L'Impero. The cuisine is contemporary Italian with a rustic flair, and Italian restaurants are always good options for vegetarians. The 4-course prix-fixe is $64, an excellent value for cuisine of this high quality. Service is friendly and capable, and the space has understated elegant decor and a romantic feel.


              Btw, I would never have considered starting off the bf's conversion at Eleven Madison Park. Chef Daniel Humm's French-inspired cuisine is very sophisticated, so I would definitely hold off going there until the conversion is complete or, at least, well along the way.

              Regardless of where you go, I wish you a very Happy Birthday and Bon Appetit! :-)

              1. re: RGR

                Thanks! Grammercy Tavern was definitely a choice, but didn't have any seatings available on my birthday.