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Not poor but not rich

Hi, I'm a medical student here in Manhattan looking for someplace to take my S.O. this weekend for dinner for around $75pp. Some places we've enjoyed include Artisanal, Big Wong's, Won Jo, and Tsuki, but they're not very "date" like. On the other hand, we've also been to Fleur de Sel, One if by Land and Cafe Boulud, where the food was good if not mind blowing, and we ended up feeling, well, condescended to. I'm willing to splurge to take him someplace nice, but don't want to feel like crying at the service to price ratio. Please, any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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  1. Was it a function of the service or/and the food that you felt condescended to? At around $75/person, I'm thinking Hearth, but I don't know if you'll find it mind-blowing. And then there's the question of What makes a place date like to you?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      Mmm, I think it was service more than anything. Kind of just being ignored when water was empty, not being told specials, that kind of thing. As for what makes a place "date like", I think being able to hear him talk in a comfortable surrounding. Neither of us really like places where it seems like everybody else is there to be "seen".

      1. re: sueyee

        We've been to Fleur de Sel and Cafe Boulud many times. I just wanted to note for those who have never been to either that FdeS does not offer daily specials. As for Cafe Boulud, in addition to the 4 regularly offered menus, there is an additional menu of daily specials which are always printed out, along with prices, and placed inside the regular menu. I wish all restaurants handled specials in precisely that manner.

    2. You might really like Crispo, Sueyee. Food is good, relatively hearty, and I've only been once, but service was quite charming.

      Below your budget, you could do Kefi (UWS, 72nd I think). It has excellent food, and it's potentially datey, but space is tight and they have a no reservations policy, so it may involve a wait. The good news is that you can have a glass of wine in the front room while you wait and it's not too unpleasant.

      You could definitely do Ouest (UWS) if you keep an eye on prices (no bottles of wines, but one glass each is definitely doable). Service is impeccable and not at all snotty, the space is comfortable and romantic (the main room is brightly lit, but the banquettes are conducive to sitting close together; alternately, there are booths in the front room, where it's darker, but more trafficy). The food is fantastic.

      I'll think of more options in a little bit. You have a LOT, all over town. If you want a specific nabe, don't hesitate to say so.

      6 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        Do you have a preference for lower Manhattan? It sounds like you might, based on the restaurants you mention.

        Down south, I like Po for a budget-conscious date. Quarters are crowded, but somehow it can feel pleasant to be smooshed together in a dark, warm space, with a steaming pile of well-made food in front of you.

        1. re: cimui

          What about Le Gigot on that same block? Also cozy and great French food.

          1. re: cimui

            No specific neighbourhood, i have the misfortune of living in the UES, so the 6 train just gets us to the east village fairly easily.

            1. re: sueyee

              Since you are on the UES, look into Kurio on E. 92nd - wonderful food, well priced wine list, great cocktails. I think you could manage at your price point, and I think you'll love the food.

              1. re: sueyee

                I wonder if you'd like Prune on the LES. I've only been to brunch (pretty good), there, so I can't speak to the food at dinner. But some reputable Chowhounds have given it the seal of approval.

                It's well within your price range and I found service at brunch, at least, to be cheerful and nice, though servers must've been very harried. Hopefully more knowledgable Hounds can give better details about the scene at dinner-time...

                Have you figured out the cross town bus system? It took me ages to try it, but it's actually not so bad to navigate. And then you get all the great UWS options like Ouest, Spiga, and the brand spankin' new Dovetail.

            2. re: cimui

              I like Crispo very much, but it's rather loud, especially on weekends. Hearth is definitely softer.

            3. Little Owl, Market Table, Peasant, Apizz, Crispo, Upstairs (at Bouley), Po, Azul Bistro, August, Casa Mono, Tia Pol, The Orchard... there are a lot of places that fit the bill in the city. One of the restaurants I'm most interested in trying these days is Allen and Delancey--it sounds like it would also match your criteria.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Lucia

                Forget trying to get into Little Owl, Market Table, or Allen & Delancey for this weekend, they all get booked up a month in advance, even for weekdays. The rest are pretty doubtful too, except Crispo, but I'm not sure if that is upscale enough for what OP is looking for.

                1. re: rrems

                  Ouest and Vice Versa come to mind.
                  But I am really surprised to hear you felt "condescended to" at Fleur de Sel.
                  We dined there a few weeks ago and as we were getting seated the waitress came up to us and said, "Hi. So what do you want?"
                  LOLOL. I hardly call that a condescending attitude.

                  1. re: idia

                    Most definitely Vice Versa. Right in their price range and no attitude.

                    1. re: idia

                      I'm glad you had a better experience than we did. I think part of the probem is that we both look fairly young, and I don't drink (religous reasons), so sometimes I think they might think we're more confused than we really are.

                2. When we come to NYC we expect to pay more to dine. What about getting out of the city? I don't know a lot (since I've only been up here a few years) but what about White Plains, Greenwich, or Stamford? I wonder if it would be worth the hassle and gas cost to do that? It might take a little research but I'm sure there are some top-notch places outside of Manhattan. Up and down the CT coast and in New Haven, we can get a quite respectable meal for $150.
                  I found this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/399096

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Scargod

                    Just a reminder that this board is focused on discussing Manhattan chow. Any discussion of options outside the city should be moved over to the appropriate board for the region under discussion.

                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                      I understand your position as moderators (as to why you removed my post- and I appreciate you reinstating it) but it still seems wierd that this post is inappropriate. I'm not trying to start a discussion about restaurants in another region...
                      If I go to "my turf" then how can I acceptably communicate with them-on their turf? How can ths person hear me? We don't have PM options.
                      "I'll take my answer off the air"..... so I don't suck up any more oxygen, here.

                      1. re: Scargod

                        If you want to offer suggestions for places that are covered by another board, you can start a thread on that board, and post a "pointer" here with the link to that post, so that the OP will see it.

                  2. Thank you all so much for the suggestions! A friend at work suggested Merkato 55, not so much for the atmosphere, but as a "posh" sort of place where good ethnic food could be found. Any thoughts?

                    1. sueyee,

                      You might want to consider Gascogne, the French bistro, on 8th Av., b/t 17th & 18th Sts. The food is delicious, service is pleasant, and the interior space is cozy, charming, and romantic. A $75pp budget should be more than adequate especially since you say you don't drink. Btw, neither do I, and I definitely think you do not need to feel apologetic about that.


                      1. Try either Jean George/ Nougatine. You won't feel condescended too there.
                        Two other nice places known for having a warm staff are 11Madison, and Gramercy Tavern. Wine would be the only budget killer at these places, but perhaps a glass would still be affordable.
                        Another mix of casual, and interesting is Stanton Social. It got a lot of hype, and then there was some backlash....and then a lot of us started suggesting it for brunch.... but it would make for a fun date.

                        Strip House also comes to mind, even though the tables along the wall are very cramped, the rest of the experience would make for a great date.