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Sep 23, 2008 02:12 PM

Anniversary - Wife is kind of picky

I need a top NYC restaurant for my anniversary. My wife gets put off by French type menu's but often likes the food I order at nice restaurants (I recently got her to fall in love with wild boar once she gave it a chance, and yes I know wild boar is not French, I was just making a point). Is there a great restaurant that has a menu that won't freak her out? We have been to places like LeCirque and she just stares at the menu and gives me a look like I hate everything on this menu (even though she usually enjoys the food in the end). She is very simple, loves Mexican (I know NY has not figured out Mexican yet), Hibatchi and simple Italian dishes. However, it's my anniversary also, and I don't get to eat at the type of places I would like to go very often. Is there any middle ground? Is there place with enough inventive but "normal" choices, but still some interesting things for me? Price is not important, cuisine is not important, but a cround under 40 is important to her.


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  1. I like The Harrison in Tribeca. Very nice ambiance. Great food that anyone can enjoy.

    1. Maybe
      Union Square cafe
      Blue Hill
      Gotham Bar and Grill
      These is also a place called The House that has recently come up on the boards. I have not been but I looked at the site and it seems really cute and would probably have an appealing menu.

      6 Replies
      1. re: misnatalie

        thanks so much guys. Gotham Bar and Grill was actually one of the ones I was considering.

          1. re: sphelthead

            Just one note on Gotham Bar & Grill. I have a relative who is very similar to your wife - but instead of just staring at menu items he's never heard of, he actually makes it sound over pretentious then usually makes attempts to embarrass us.

            When we took him to GB&G he looked at the menu and honed right in on "Squab" he asked me "What's squab" I tried to dodge it by saying "it's a small game bird" he said "what's a game bird?" At that point the server arrived and unsatisfied, he asked her what a squab was and she replied "young pigeon". He had a field day with that one. "So you go onto the roof of this place to get our dinner? Oh they're from New Jersey. Why? NYC pigeons aren't good enough?" This lasted five minutes.

            Long story short, I'm just saying that GB&G has some of those items on their menu.

            If you're interested in how the story ends, I chastised him for being so provencial, and guilted him into ordering it - since it's always easy to criticize what you don't know. He ended up loving it.

            As for a recommendation - why not Craft? We also just had a tremendous anniversary dinner at Scarpetta. Scott Conant is taking simple italian to a whole new level here's a post about it:

            Alto could be another good italian option. For more continental, the Modern or The Bar Room at the Modern would also work.

            Good luck.

            1. re: Spends Rent on Food

              I think Craft is a great suggestion for this mix of preferences. One of my favorite places to take picky eaters / eaters with simple tastes.

              1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                Craft is definitely a great idea! A friend who is a picky eater is slowly being turned into more of a foodie due to a boyfriend who is taking her to those kinds of places. He can have his foie and scallops and she can order her roasted chicken and salad, and not feel embarassed. Places that do the whole "farm to table" thing often have a simpler menu for picky eaters to navigate.

          2. I would not go to Scalini Fedeli. It is an older crowd and the food is not worth the $. Downtown I would pick Devin Tavern which has good food and is a younger crowd. Gotham is great as well as Union Sq. Cafe. Uptown for Italian why not Campagnola or Scalinatella.

            6 Replies
            1. re: taboo

              I have seen a lot of posts that say USC has fell off and not really worth it anymore. I already showed her the menu for GT and she didn't like it. what about Perilla?

              1. re: sphelthead

                Went to A Voce recently and had a nice meal....

                1. re: sphelthead


                  We had taken USC off our list many years ago after our first dinner there was a disappointment. A few months ago, we finally decided to give it another try. The difference was startling, i.e., food that was perfectly prepared and delicious.

                  If your wife likes dishes which are straightforward with not a lot of frou frou, she will find those at USC, while at the same time, there are dishes with some inventiveness which would please you. So, show your wife the menu, and if she approves, I wouldn't hesitate to go there now.

                  One caution. Be sure to request a table in the main dining room because you don't want to run the risk of being seated on the balcony, aka Siberia!


                  1. re: RGR

                    thanks so much, I will run the menu by her. I think it might be down to USC, Perilla, or Craft

                    1. re: sphelthead

                      I personally LOVE Perilla but don't think it's right for a picky eater. Most of the dishes on the menu could be viewed as weird or objectionable. It's sort of the opposite of Craft. I think you'd do better at Craft than Perilla.

                      Here's a link to the Perilla menu:

                      1. re: sphelthead

                        I would NOT in anyway go to Craft. Went about a month ago and found that the food was so mediocre, the service oddly uninformed and sloppy (entrees coming out while apps were down, apps coming out cold etc) and everything-- other than the decor-- lackluster. My second Babbo, The Harrison and Eleven Madison and you could maybe consider Dovetail or Telepan?

                2. I think Craft is a great idea but really, really, Babo ( even with all the hype ) is worth all the hype. Simple good ingredients, italian style, and also wild boar on the menu.
                  My husband happens to be the same way as your wife and he was in LOVE. Look it up. if not for the anniversary it is still worth going.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: enthusiast

                    I agree with Babbo, if you're over a month out. There's something for everyone. Maybe she wouldn't order the grilled octopus, but maybe take a bite of yours and love it. It sounds like she's willing to be gently pulled a little away from her comfort zone :) Happy anniversary.

                  2. Hearth might be a good choice. I think they classify themselves as "nouveau American" so you've got a lot of classic dishes that should satisfy your wife, but enough current ingredients to keep you interested. Everything is prepared very well, the ambiance suits an anniversary, and most of the crowd is under 40, as per your request.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: douglas525

                      We just went to Eleven Madison Park for our anniversary and it was fabulous. Beautiful interior, great service, excellent food. Somehow this place is always a little under the radar, even though it is lovely and special. It's not that hard to get a prime reservation, either, which is kind of nice. It's not the kind of place you'd go for a regular meal - really good for an anniversary as it's quite romantic, even though it's on the larger side. Doesn't have that huge feeling of say a Gotham, very nice.

                      1. re: douglas525

                        I'll second Hearth. And since it's your anniversary, tell them that when you reserve and see if they'll save a couple of seats for you at "the pass". That way your wife can actually see the dishes being prepared. My wife and I have spent several very nice anniversary dinners there.