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One foodie and one picky

After much research, and seeing how many wonderful places this city contains, I'm in a pickle.

I'm surprising my fiance with a trip to NYC in June for his bday and want to plan one special dinner to celebrate.

The issue: I'm a foodie, he's as picky as they come. No seafood, not a fan of veggies, his idea of ethnic cuisine is Italian or Chinese food, etc.

I lived in the city back in the sumer of 2000 so I was able to have some memorable meals at Le Cirque, Gotham Bar & Grill, Oceana, and others. I would like to have the experience of Babbo, Jean Georges or EMP on this trip, but they're just not for him and I think I'd be selfish to select a place in that vein when it's his bday.

I'd like to stay around $150pp with wine. We're midwesterners and steak is something we can easily get here, so I'd rather not do a steak house.

Location doesn't matter - I'm most familiar with the Village but willing to go to any area of Manhattan.

What about A Voce or Prune? Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.
Thank you!

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  1. Fiance, huh? Don't worry, then... it's not too late to back out.

    Have you considered a more down-to-earth Italian place like Apizz or Hearth?

    Here's a recent thread on Apizz:

    A Voce was good (I was actually taken there for my birthday as well) but I enjoyed Apizz more for its food and its romantic space. Prune is a quaint place for brunch but it's a little "relaxed" for a special birthday dinner.

    1. If your fiance is picky, then Prune may not be the place for him - the menu is on the smaller side, many of the items are a little quirky and out of the ordinary, and some of the preparations of dishes are also on the quirky side.


      1. the menu at little owl isn't very long, but i think it's pretty accessible to both non-veggie / seafood types and to foodies like you:


        blue ribbon bakery may also work for the two of you. there's stuff like fried chicken and hamburgers for him and lots and lots of good stuff for you:


        and then coming slightly less enthusiastically recommended, but recommended nonetheless, there's Home, Jane, Otto...

        All of these are in the W. Village.

        [BTW, my SO is very similar, but I like to think he's gotten better under my influence. :) Keep working on it.]

        1 Reply
        1. re: cimui

          I second Blue Ribbon Bakery. That place is great and the food is indeed very down to earth.

        2. Vice Versa is very good for upscale Italian that will not scare anyone. Olana also has a varied menu of American/French/Italian dishes that should please both a foodie and a less adventurous type. The Harrison is another possibility. Compass has simple grilled meats and fish along with more interesting offerings. Check out the menus on the restaurants' websites or Menupages, and see what works best, but I think any of these would fit your needs.

          1. I think Craft would be a good choice for him. Simple foods like roast chicken, lamb chops and pork with many different preps of potatoes for him and more "foodie" fare like sweetbreads and foie gras for you.

            1. I don't think that either A Voce or Prune would be more appropriate for a picky eater than Babbo and/or Jean Georges---just a lower price point. I also disagree with the Hearth reccomendation as the one meal I had there was seriously underwhelming. I second the Little Owl and Blue Ribbon recs. You may also want to consider a steak place--maybe Strip House or Keens?

              1. Centro Vinoteca, Buddakan, Hearth, Tasting Room.
                Big big Fan of all the Blue Ribbons.There is also The Place in the West Village.
                I agree, Prune may be tough. The Smith has become a recent favorite also.

                For other options, I love Cannonau (Assenzio) Falai, I Coppi, Knife and Fork, in the East Village. Mas, Buddakan, Il Buco heading west....

                1. Perilla, Market Table, Otto, Alta, Hearth, Landmarc, Blue Ribbon (any of them), Cookshop, Five Points, Little Owl, Fiamma, Craft, 5 Ninth, Union Square Cafe, Beacon

                  1. How about Spotted Pig. A friend and I just had a great dinner. We only waited 1/2 an hour for a table right around 7pm. We shared the devil's on horseback. Then, I had the gnudi, and he had the burger, which he was kind enough to share with me. We finished w/the chocolate walnut cake. Everything was fantastic, and there's plenty on the upscale pub menu to suit you both.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Lucia

                      Thanks so much to everyone for the suggestions! Many sound wonderful so I think we'll have to have a few "birthday meals." :)

                      I will post back with details!

                      1. re: butterfli311

                        i think Craft is a good choice. it is supper simple and is sure to please even the picky eater you mention.
                        i would also have to add del posto or Felidia to the list if Italian is desired. you get the same experience of a babbo but the menu is not so over the top. less tongue, cheeck and liver on the menu.

                        they have solid pasta dishes that are rather traditional and they also have things that will appeal the foodie in you.

                        good balance

                    2. I second the recs of Craft and Apizz, where I've taken my non-foodie friends with great success.