Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Oct 15, 2008 02:18 PM

ISO restaurant for group dinner, including several vegetarians

There will be five of us. Two have no dietary restrictions, and figure "one lives to eat, not eats to live". The other three are vegetarians to varying degrees. The less stringent eats fish and will even have some chicken if the table is sharing. I'm not quite sure of the preferences of the strictest vegetarian but my sense is the more green, the better. The other person is in-between the other two in terms of particular-ness ...

Here are the *requirements*. Maybe this is a tall order, but I figure if fellow 'Hounds don't have ideas no one in this city will!

- menu with a reasonable chance of offering at least a couple of options to everyone. a selection of different-sized dishes that lend themselves to grazing might be preferable (but not required), as opposed to a strict list of appetizers and entrees
- reservations should be possible, or at least good prospects to be seated with little or no wait
- managable noise level conducive to conversation
- ability to linger over coffee / dessert. don't want to be rushed; not looking for a place with fast turnover
- ideally, $50 ($60 max) pp before drinks, tax, tip
- open on location
- wouldn't completely rule out "ethnic food", but would prefer more Continental or American food (not sure if that's the right term, but stuff that's more generic and basic ...)

Thanks for any ideas.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. you might want to try a tapas place like alta or pipa. they will have a variety of options for all the different taste buds.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fein

      Thanks. I"ve only had tapas a couple of times. Is it meant to be enough food to count as a full-fledged dinner? At least a couple of the people have fairly hearty appetites so they would need to leave reasonably full.

      I just realized I didn't specify dinner in my post. I'll change it now.

    2. How about Gramercy Tavern (The tavern room). No reservation, but definitely something for everybody.

      If you not mind New American + Italian, Giorgio's of Gramercy is perfect for conversation and lingering.

      If you like more causal, Back Forty is a choice (though could be loud as it gets late)

      1. I've had group dinner success with Spring Street Natural in the past, specifically with varying degrees of veg and non-veg requirements, but I also agree that a tapas joint would be a fun approach. There's always Otto, too.

        5 Replies
        1. re: PlomeekSoup

          Wow, Spring Street Natural sounds pretty much perfect. Gramercy Tavern looks good, too, but I feel as if the vegetarians in the group would be much happier at Spring Street. And I still want to go for tapas some time, but maybe not on this occasion.

          Spring Street only takes reservations for parties of eight or more. I called and they said it shouldn't be a problem for a party of five on a Saturday night ~7:30 p.m. but I wonder. Some of the people in the group can veer to the impatient side ... Do you have a sense of how crowded it may get during prime times?

          I feel as if I must have passed by the place in the past, and maybe have even eaten there. What's the atmosphere like?

          1. re: uwsgrazer

            Spring Street Natural's atmosphere is reflective of its location: lively without overdoing it. And I've never waited that long for a table, even during prime time (it's a decently sized restaurant).

            Good luck and please report back!

            1. re: PlomeekSoup

              thanks, PlomeekSoup. The dinner isn't till next month but I'll be sure to report back if we go to Spring Street Natural, or another place worthy of a report. (Spring Street is still top of the list for now)

              1. re: PlomeekSoup

                Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. We ended up at Spring Street Natural and enjoyed a nice evening. The staff was very accommodating and even seated two of us at a round table (special request by me) before the other three in our party arrived. (Fortunately, they appeared within several minutes.) One of the breads in the basket (kind of a yellow-colored tea loaf type bread) was particularly tasty, and extra butter arrived soon after we requested it. I started with fried calamari and ordered hanger steak for the main course, as did another in our party. The less strict vegetarian in the group ordered a green salad and a special fish dish that day. The other two vegetarians had the goat cheese salad for dinner; they shared an appetizer but I'm not sure what it was. All in all, the atmosphere was just about right for the occasion. I thought the calamari was good. Nothing exceptional, but not bad either. I couldn't finish the steak and had most of it wrapped to go. It actually tasted better the second night, I thought. For dessert, I ordered the tiramisu. Fine, but I've had better.

                Bottom line, I would recommend the place for someone looking for a varied menu with a large number of vegetarian options and a laid back atmosphere. That said, given all the abundant restaurants options in the city, I doubt I would actively seek out the place. The service was very good for such a moderately-priced and casual place. (I've had worse service in much more expensive places.) We actually overlooked that the waitress had included the service charge in the tab. Consequently, we inadvertently overpaid and she actually came back to let us know. I don't know how common this is but we certainly appreciated it.

                So thanks again for a good pick.

            2. re: PlomeekSoup

              i havent been to spring natural in ages, but it seems like the right choice.