HELP!: Semi-Eccentric and/or unique restaurants?
Well my anniversary is coming up this Saturday and me and my love deeply enjoy anything semi-bizzare, unique, bold, etc. We enjoyed "Ninja", which is a Japanese themed ninja village and they had DELICIOUS food with great presentation and preparation. Another example to better understand our taste is "Fuerzabruta". Even though this isn't an eating establishment, we just enjoyed the unique quality of it. I want it to be a NICE place, but not fancy. Over the top, fancy restaurants rush you in and out. I want it to be nicely lit and COMFORTABLE. Am i asking for to much? PLEASE HELP and thank you all in advance. I tried yahoo answer's with no luck and I'm hoping i have better luck here. ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Ok. I'm just going to throw this out there, but I think you may be a bit too late getting a reservation. It's also not in NYC, but not too far from Grand Central by Metro North and cab. It's Blue Hill at Stone Barns. It's one of those farm-to-table restaurants. Food is excellent and very fresh. Location is very charming and on the rustic side. You can walk around the grounds, see the vegetable gardens, see the chickens roam around and check out the outhouse that transforms your poo into compost.
I found HT cramped and loud, with unpleasantly bright lighting. I am a big fan of pigs' feet, and was hoping for something great, but some of the dishes were really dull, and even the best were not particularly exciting. The portions are tiny, so it is possible to run up quite a bill if you want to have enough to eat, and though the servers were attentive, the kitchen is so hopelessly slow that you could starve waiting for each dish to arrive. Having had a total of 10 dishes for the two of us, we left hungry after 2 1/2 hours. We were not amused.
I had a very different experience on a Thursday night. There were plenty of open tables, lighting was dimmed and we chose to sit at the bar so we could speak directly with the chef and waiters as picking out Japanese pigs' feet is not my forte. Recommendations were tasty and I left full and even with the bottle of sake we had with dinner, we left with plenty of money left in the wallet for after-dinner at Little Branch. I did experience, though, the same timing issues you did, but not to the same extent.
Monkeytown HQ! while not in manhattan, one of the more interesting dining/art places I've been to. look the place up, it's amazing. and, right around the corner from zebulon, an excellent live music venue.
monkeytown's film screenings take place on 4 screens on 4 walls in a square dining space consisting of 4 huge sofas and 4 long tables. food is modern/fusion-y/snacky. sounds weird, is weird, but is always an awesome time.
I'm not really sure what you mean by fancy places rush you in and out. I find that it's the opposite.
I hope other hounds can weigh in because I'm really hard pressed to think of anything semi-eccentric or unique in the vein that I think you're referring to. Probably not appropriate for an anniversary (well, I guess it depends on the couple), but there is body sushi at Cheetah's (a strip club). Not the best food, but you've got the revolving restaurant at the Marriott Marquis. Not sure if you would consider a churrascaria unique -- the guys come to you with meat on a stick. Or perhaps you'd like Hangawi, a vegetarian Korean restaurant where you sit on the floor. A teppanyaki restaurant can be very entertaining. Or maybe eating at the grotto at Suba? Not really eccentric, but you also have Buddakan.
re: Miss Needle
I have to say that personally I think Monkey Town doesn't warrent an anniversary dinner. When I went although the food was good I had a problem with the seating. The seats were low (couches) and so was the tables so you kind of had to eat in your lap, there was no real table to sit out it was more lounge like. Also with a boozing crowd I could not hear that well.
It might be to obvious but have you beed to wd 50? Although it's pricey the service I have always found (2 different times) to be great, friendly and not at all stuck up. I like this place because it is a nice restaurant without all the formalities, you don't have to dress up, etc.
Then there is the food that makes it creative and unique. The gastro-molecular cuisine is something to try. People either love it or hate it. It's not food to eat everyday (aka Popcorn soup or coconut gnochi) but it is interesting and surpsingly delicious.
Here is an excerpt from their current menu:
Popcorn soup, shrimp, jicama, tamarind .... 16
Bone marrow, chestnuts, tonburi, pickled honshemeji .... 16
Corned duck, rye crisp, purple mustard, horseradish cream .... 14
Fried quail, banana tartar, peppercress .... 16
Grilled octopus, avocado, juniper, lychee-campari .... 17
Foie gras, fennel, malt, sherry vinegar jam .... 17
Smoked eel, salsify, guava, puffed yuzu .... 17
Monkfish, red pepper oatmeal, turnip, black olive .... 30
Turbot, barbecued lentils, cauliflower, dried apricot .... 30
Perch, artichokes, bamboo rice, halva, chicory .... 29
Scallops, black trumpet, cranberry, pecan, spice bread consomme .... 29
Parsnip tart, quinoa, hazelnuts, bok choy .... 24
Duck breast, spaghetti squash, almond polenta, pomelo molasses .... 29
Pork belly, sunchoke, ancho-pineapple, caper emulsion .... 28
Lamb loin, potato noodles, mustard crumbs, pretzel consomme .... 30
Wagyu flat iron, coffee gnocchi, coconut, cipollini, sylvetta .... 35
monkeytown is certainly not the best food or the most daring, but a very unique experience and I have a great time whenever I go, with really good programming. regarding the seating/space, did you get to have dinner in the back screening area? the projection screens are what it's all about; I've never eaten in the front part of the place before.
re: Miss Needle
If you're willing to head outside of Manhattan, there are a lot of dinner/dance/performance places in Brighton Beach should fit the bill. Actually spent my last anniversary at Primorski - http://www.primorski.net/. Was there for 3 1/2 hours (definitely no rushing in and out), ate great Russian food and danced all night to fun/cheesy Russian music. Would definitely recommend it.