Special bday this Sat., 6 ppl?
My mom just turned 60 on Tuesday, and I'd like to take her someplace very special this Saturday night with dad, my new husband and the in-laws. Something really fantastic, doesn't have to break the bank but not really trying to pinch pennies either. She's not so into Asian (e.g., no Masa), I'd say Italian, French, New American, etc. would go over well. Suggestions? Oh, and we're looking to go around 6 p.m. (in-laws from out-of-town), so that should help with a reservation.
I think the problem you may face is the size of your party. At this late date, it's not as easy to get a reservations for 6 people as it is, say, for 2, even at 6 p.m.
Checking OpenTable, of the restaurants I would recommend for special occasion dining, the only one that shows availabitlity for a party your size is Cafe Boulud, and that's at 5:45. It is 4-star chef Daniel Boulud's second tier restaurant, but the cuisine is first-rate. Service is pleasant and polished, and the atmospherics are lovely.
Of course, restaurants do not give all their reservations to OpenTable, so you could make calls to Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Fleur de Sel, Tocqueville, and Veritas to see if they have an opening. Also, Jean Georges, which is not on OpenTable.
I usually don't have too much trouble with short-notice reservations at Insieme (midtown west Italian), Spiga (UWS Italian), Blue Ribbon Bakery (W. Village new American) or Bar Americain (midtown west new American). All of these are solid options, if not the best destination dining in the city, and should not have problems seating a party your size.
I don't know about short-notice reservations at Ouest, Dovetail and Telepan, but you could try those, too. (the first is UWS French, the others UWS new American)