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Mar 29, 2008 04:13 PM

Sunday birthday dinner

I'm an LA Chowhound that will be in NYC next weekend. My mom's birthday is during that time and we are going to celebrate Sunday night. Any restaurant recommendations - I already tried for Babbo that night, but of course that has been long booked and impossible to get into! We're staying in Midtown, but we can go anywhere within the city. Thanks in advance for your recommendations!

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  1. It is always difficult to get into the most overrated restaurant in town. Babbo's good (admittedly!) but really...the fuss....

    1 Reply
    1. re: diablofoodie

      A good choice for a birthday party is Antica Venezia where my birthday party was a couple of weeks ago. The food is excellent, the decor pretty and romantic, and the service is with a flare. Most likely there will be someone who orders a flambe dish to add to the restaurants charm. During dinner there are some complimentary dishes and after dinner they offer home-made Grappa, Sambuca and Limoncelli. All in all, a fine dining experience.

    2. If you've got your heart set on Babbo, see what this website can do for you:
      For a small fee, you can buy someone's existing reservation at a number of haute restaurants. Happy early BDay!

      1 Reply
      1. Hey, chris1621,

        Call me crazy, but I think it's just ludicrous to pay for a reservation since there are so many excellent restaurants in Manhattan where you should be able to reserve for next Sunday without any difficulty.

        Case in point: My favorite NYC restaurant, Eleven Madison Park. Chef Daniel Humm's French-inspired cuisine is exquisite, the wine list is first-rate, service is very cordial and polished, the ambiance is relaxed, and the space is gorgeous! Definitely the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.

        You don't indicate how many will be in your party, so I plugged in 4 and 6 people on OpenTable, and, as I suspected, there are reservations available at EMP during prime time.

        8 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          Along with the very fine EMP as a choice, you might also like to google Olana, Fleur de Sel, and Vice Versa's menus -- 3 favorites of mine.

          1. re: idia


            ViceVersa and Olana will not work because they are both closed on Sunday.

            Fleur de Sel is open. While it is one of our favs, and the food is superb, the intimate ambiance is the polar opposite of EMP's.


            1. re: RGR

              Thanks for your suggestions - they sound great! There will be three of us celebrating. How are the portion sizes? My father isn't a fan of the smaller plates. Also I've been doing some research - what do you think of Insieme, Gramercy Tavern, Perilla or Irving Mill?

              1. re: chris1621

                Perilla is great, as is Dovetail, Market Table and BLT Market.


                1. re: chris1621

                  Hi Chris,

                  You actually brought up a good question: What do your mother and father and yourself like? Since it's your mother's birthday, her preference for cuisine and ambiance is probably the most important. However, if you tell us what each of you like, we may be able to find a place that satisfies everyone.

                  1. re: kobetobiko

                    Gramercy Tavern is a wonderful choice.

                    1. re: kobetobiko

                      We're pretty much open to any type of cuisine, just as long as the portion sizes are large enough to appease my father like I said in my earlier post. Italian, American, etc. are all fine.

                      1. re: chris1621

                        We've always found the portions at EMP to be quite adequate, and my husband and I are not exactly skimpy eaters.

                        Keep in mind that there are lots of extras. The meal starts with a plate of hor d'oeuvres, a small bowl of gougeres, + an "amuse," usually a small cup of soup, and at the end, a selection of mignardises. There are several excellent breads (you can have as much as you wish) and delicious butter. And there is also the option of adding a cheese course.

                        If your budget can stand it, there is the 11-course Gourmand menu which comes with all the extras I mentioned, except for the soup "amuse" because the Gourmand usually includes one course that is "soup-y." I defy anyone to come away from that meal feeling hungry!

                        If your father is a "falling off the plate" kind of guy, then you might want to consider a steakhouse. Keens would be my pick. It's been in its 36th St. location since 1885, so in addition to delicious food (huge portions) and excellent service, there is the charming, unmatchable old NY ambiance which makes the place feel right for a special occasion.