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Apr 15, 2008 01:57 PM

Out of Town Guests: Dinner for 6 (Special Occasion)

We are celebrating a graduation in May and I'm having some out of town guests coming in. The reservations should be made within the next few days (for those places with 30 day advance). I'd like to take them to a memorable place, but below $80/pp.

There are a few issues that might confuse things!

First off, there are a few heavy eaters that I want to be sure are 'full' after the meal (especially after dropping $$).

Secondly, there are 2 individuals that need easy access due to a wheelchair. Therefore nothing in an upstairs room without an elevator.

Thirdly, I want to make sure its memorable (food, atmosphere, service). None of the guests, aside from myself have been to any great restaurants in NYC.

I was contemplating:

Babbo: either pasta tasting, regular tasting, or off menu (worried about access to top room and if that's not possible the level of comfort for us on the bottom)

Gramercy: price-fix (is this enough to eat?!)

Del Posto Enoteca: (good value, but worth spending more for much better meal elsewhere?)

Any other suggestions? I'm a big Danny Meyer fan and feel that his locales will be a better fit for the group that I have, but I'd like to try Babbo. I'm open to anything! Thanks for your help.

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  1. I'm not 100% sure, but I feel like there was a step or two at the entrance to Babbo. Also, I remember the space being VERY tight - not exactly wheelchair friendly. You should definitely call them and see if they can accomodate you, though, because it's an AMAZING restaurant. Personally, I wouldn't do a tasting menu if you have 6 people - just order a la carte and create your own tasting, you'll probably get to try more things that way.

    1. You don't indicate whether that $80pp is just for food or it must include alcoholic beverages, tax & tip. Knowing that would be helpful in giving you suggestions.

      Gramercy Tavern's 3-course dinner prix-fixe is $82. If that is acceptable for you, even though there are steps up to the front door, I'm pretty sure there's a ramp as well, which makes entry wheelchair accessible. And inside, there are no steps leading to the dining room though I don't know where the restrooms are located. Since Chef Michael Anthony took over the kitchen in the fall of '06, we've only eaten in the Tavern Room, so I can't tell you anything about portion sizes in the main dining room. But I have never heard anyone complain that they are too small.

      Since you are a Danny Meyer fan, I highly recommend my favorite restaurant in NYC, Eleven Madison Park. The cost for the 3-course prix-fixe is, as at G.T., $82. Chef Daniel Humm's French-inspired cuisine is sensational, and we've always found portions to be more than adequate. Plus, there are the little extras: a plate of hors d'oeuvres and a basket of gougeres to munch on as you peruse the menu; an amuse, with is usually a small cup of soup; and at the end of the meal, mignardises. Definitely wheelchair accessible.

      2 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        Thank you so much for the responses. Olana looks really interesting. I may have to look into it further. How cramped is the downstairs portion of Babbo? I'm guessing it isn't a good idea for 6 of us to go there?

        1. re: rapps

          As much as I love Babbo, it is as wheelchair unfriendly as it gets. There's probably no space even between the host stand and the bar to get a walker/wheelchair through.
          Olana on the other hand has a great room that's versatile for all occasions, very spacious and the food is solid, interesting but not too precious.

      2. Depending on what $80 includes, you may be able to do this at Olana, which as far as I can tell is fully wheelchair accessible. The food is wonderful, wines moderately priced, and atmosphere very comfortable.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rrems

          Couldn't agree more. There is plenty of food-especially at Olana if you do the tasting menu. It is a lovely restaurant and they are quite accommodating. Del Posto is overpriced-good but not great. More sizzle. Babbo is certainly better but a small tight room.

        2. She'll actually be in a walker, so I guess that's slightly better. How was the noise level and comfort level at Babbo? We don't need it to be stuffy and quiet (which I know Babbo isn't), but is it too loud and cramped to enjoy our meal?

          5 Replies
          1. re: rapps

            Downstairs is loud and cramped. Upstairs is quieter and much more comfortable, but of course the problem is the stairs.

            1. re: rrems

              Thank you. I'm definitely considered Olana. A few other options were: Union Square Cafe, Picholine, and Veritas. Thanks!

              1. re: rapps

                Picholine is wonderful, one of my favorites, but it is more expensive than Olana or Babbo. IMO Union Square has become tired, and I haven't seen much on this board from anyone who has tried Veritas (also in a higher price range) since the latest chef took over.

                1. re: rrems

                  Veritas used to be one of our favorites while Scott Bryan was there. But since Ed Cotton took over, reviews on this board, albeit very few, have been decidedly mixed (tilting more to the negative side), so we've not been inclined to go back.

                  rrems, Have you been to USC lately? Our only experience there dates back years ago, and we've not been back because we left unimpressed by the food even back then. However, we were speaking with someone who mentioned that a new chef is now in charge, and he's changed and considerably brightened the menu. So, we've been thinking of giving it another try.

                  1. re: RGR

                    No, I haven't and was not aware of the chef change. I will look forward to hearing about it if you try it.

          2. I think Babbo's downstairs area would be too crowded for your party, esp with a wheelchair. What about Fiamma?


            1 Reply
            1. re: LeahBaila

              For under $80 per person? I don't think so.