blue hill, gramercy tavern, kingswood or allen&delancey?
the first two are remarkably different than the latter two. they are all recommended but for something more lively, id go with gramercy's bar room or kingswood.
blue hill is good but the place has an older clientele and in my opinion, the food isnt very interesting...i prefer their stone barns version in tarrytown.
gramercy is a nyc institution but despite other raves, i also have never been wowed by the food. that said, its definitely a good nyc type place to have dinner.
kingswood is VERY LOUD...but its also a fun and lively place and surprisingly, the food is pretty good. i like the duck particularly. i also had an excellent soft shell crab there a few weeks ago. late 20s, early 30s crowd...lots of women there too.
allen and delancey's food is fantastic. its also a nice room but its very dark and best suited in colder months.
I've only been to Gramercy Tavern and Blue Hill.
With regard to G.T., while the Tavern Room (which does not accept reservations) is not hip in the sense of "of the moment," the area around the bar can get very crowded, and the vibe in the space overall is quite lively. The more formal dining room is much more "civilized."
Blue Hill's overall ambiance has a "NY" feel, but it's definitely not scene-y or very lively. The space is fairly small and seating, especially along the banquettes, is very close. I can't comment on the current state of the cuisine since our one meal there, which was something of disappointment, dates back several years.
I've only been to GT and A&D.
GT is a comfy upscale farmhouse kind of atmosphere. Not very hip or sceney, but the food is great, the service is great. That said, the decor is a little dated and the "country farmhouse" atmosphere might not be what you want.
A&D is very dark, kind of like an old historic British study meets the hipster Lower East Side. It's more romantic than lively and sceney. It would be a cozy atmosphere for a date, especially during the winter.