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Recommendations for an Intimate Graduation Dinner?

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Greetings 'hounds!

I will be graduating from college in about a month (!!!!!) and I have been delegated the responsibility of making reservations for what I hope to be an intimate and memorable family dinner on the evening before the ceremony. My grandparents are flying in from Alabama to join me, my mother, and my boyfriend for the Friday night dinner. I am looking for a restaurant in south Austin or the downtown area that has exceptional service. The five of us are all fairly adventurous with our tastes (my boyfriend being the least), and my mother has graciously informed me that price is not an issue. We enjoy upscale restaurants, not necessarily because of the food, but mostly for the atmosphere and attentive service. None of us are serious drinkers, so wine selection is of little importance. I would like to make 6 o'clock reservations and would prefer the meal not carry on much longer than 2- 2.5 hours, as my mother and grandparents are of the "early to bed and early to rise" sort.

Above all, I am looking for a cozy restaurant that will not only provide us with a great meal, but with a relaxing experience to make my grandparents feel very comfortable. That reminds me! I know it's probably ridiculous to specify clientele preferences, but I would like to mention that we are not particularly looking for a trendy restaurant with trendy patrons (though quite possibly unavoidable in southern and downtown Austin). Also, we must be able to speak to each other without raised voices or having to strain to understand one another, so live music is undesirable.

I know this is a somewhat unexciting request, but I would greatly appreciate any recommendations from you seasoned 'hounds--no pun intended--who might have favorite "special occasion" spots in the areas I specified. Thank you, thank you, thank you in advance!

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  1. Lara_Noel, does your family like fish? I had a really lovely dinner at Eddie V's (downtown) a few years ago that might suit your needs if fish is okay. The desserts are amazing, too.

    1. I highly recommend Wink, the one caveat being the surrounding buzz of conversation. If money is no issue, it is a great place to sit with family, enjoy spectacular service and incredible food, and enjoy the multi-course menu. Caution your family members that anyone ordering just an entree will not be full, the portions and prices are sized to encourage multiple courses to highlight the harmonious qualities of their chow. The interior is fairly simple and very small, but the atmosphere feels just right and is not too crowded around 6 pm at all. If you are making a reservation in advance, ask for the quietest table.

      1. I would recommend Zoot. It's a lovely intimate and quiet old house, service is nice and attentive and the food is very good.

        I will also second Eddie V's for service, probably the best in town.

        1. Thanks bookgrrl, la_paleta, and moosy! I have looked up the menus online, as well as previous posts on each of the restaurants through the site's search engine. Wink looks unlike any other restaurant in Austin in terms of cuisine, but I'm not sure if it's what I'm looking for on this specific evening--though I'm eager to try it with a group of girlfriends! Personally, I think my family might enjoy Eddie V's menu more, but I'm sure they would likewise be game for the more adventurous Zoot if that is what I choose. From what I gather, Zoot and Eddie V's seem to fare equally well in terms of service (though I read a few reviews from 2007 about spotty service at Zoot). Can anyone comment on the service at either Zoot or Eddie V's from a recent dining experience? Also, any opinion on which is the quieter of the two restaurants?

          The dinner will take place in exactly a month, so I will be sure to write up a detailed review of my experience at either Eddie V's or Zoot--unless of course I receive an even more irresistible recommendation before then. Thanks again for taking the time to help me plan this special evening. I'm not yet well-versed in fine dining, but with your recommendations, I'm a step closer!

          1. If I had a Wink or Eddie V'-sized budget, and looking for an intimate Graduation dinner, I'd definitely choose Restaurant Jezebel over Wink.

            I've enjoyed meals at both places, but I find both the atmosphere and service at Jezebel significantly better than Wink. Specifically:

            At Wink:
            - Atmosphere and interior to me are not interesting at all
            - The closeness of tables and blandness of interior combine to make it not intimate
            - On one occasion, service was initially haughty. That ended after I asked,
            "Why does your drinking water taste metallic?" (on both times I've been to Wink, it has tasted metallic).
            - I did enjoy the meal very much both times.

            At Jezebel:
            - The art, the music (not overly loud, but interesting), the lighting, make it intimate
            - Jezebel probably had similar conversation noise level of Wink, but the rest of the atmosphere made that not a factor
            - Jezebel service has made me feel special. You can tell when someone is being perceptive to your needs vs trying to fit you into what they want a "customer" to be like.
            - The meals were delicious.

            The bathroom in Jezebel will through anyone for a loop, however. Go before your grandparents to prepare them :-).

            Here's more people's thoughts on Jezebel:
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/317044

            1. Memorable, Central, Cozy, Intimate, Atmosphere, Service, Grandparents:
              Jeffrey's
              Driskill
              Fonda San Miguel
              Zoot
              Trio
              Cibo
              Uchi
              Jezebel
              Aquarelle

                1. re: bhoward

                  or Shoreline Grill, owned by the same people as Jeffrey's, but downtown next to the Four Seasons, and a little more classically old school. Nice for a special occasion.

                  www.shorelinegrill.com