Romantic rec. (sorry to have to ask)
O.K., I swear I searched this board to death before posting this query. I'm sure all you native New Yorkers are rolling your eyes at this boring question. I just couldn't seem to find an answer on existing posts that fits the bill and I want everything to be right.
Here's the scenario – I'm traveling into town for one night and I'm looking for a very romantic restaurant for myself and my date. She's never been to New York before. She's interested in food, but she will not necessarily dig the total foodie experience. I definitely want decor, service, and romance to be as important as the cuisine. I also don't want the food to be so heavy that we roll out of there ready for a nap. There seems to be a matter-of-factness to the decor of many of the new hot restaurants. I would definitely appreciate that myself, but it doesn't fit the bill for this evening. I need romance.
I'd like the experience to be totally memorable. The food should blow her mind. But I don't want to bow down and kneel before the food. I was planning to take her to Danube. I ate there once. Thought the food and presentation were fussy, thought the place was over-rated but the room is exactly what I am looking for. She would have loved it. I've heard however it's no more, and we definitely can't handle Secession. I was considering Allen and Delancy. That room seemed perfect but I hear they just lost their chef.
We're staying on the Upper West Side but I'm willing to travel. It's a Sunday night so Jean Georges is out. Ouest seems like a place I would like very much but the interior seems a bit matter of fact. Cost is not an object but otoh I don't need to impress her with a wildly expensive place. I don't drink so I don't care about the wine list.
Suggestions are greatly appreciated. I don't mind something offbeat. For example, a churrascaria would be great fun since I'm sure she's never experienced something like that, but that's about the most nap inducing dining experience you can have so it's out, as are all steak places. Thanks for all your help in advance. Maybe this thread can help a bunch of poor out of town souls like me and you won't have to do it again soon. -;)
My personal pick would be Devi - it's Indian, but not your typical neighborhood type of place with hunks of meat/vegetables in a heavy sauce The room is 2 levels, with colorful lanterns all hung from the ceiling, and there are a few tables that are cozy that I would consider "romantic." Food is excellent and unusual.
Another choice (in Brooklyn, so wrong board) would be the River Cafe. Food is good, not knock-your-socks off, and it's slightly touristy, but the view is unbeatable -- it's right across the river from lower Manhattan, right underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. It's romantic in that twinkling lights/candles/fresh flowers sort of a way, and very "New York" for a first time visitor.
You might also want to research Apizz (Italian, more casual), Bouley (I think -- I may be confusing it with Cafe Boulud, but one of the two has been mentioned before as "romantic" here). I think there have been a few recent threads on "romantic" places or Valentine's Day so you may want to search again -- but I'd skip most of the places on the UWS (including Ouest) and focus downtown if you only have time for 1 meal.
With regard to Devi, the food is, indeed, excellent. And the cozy, romantic tables JMJD referred to are located in two curtained alcoves at the rear of the main level. But be warned that if you ask to be seated there, you will probably not be alone since each alcove accommodates 8 people. There's a photo of the interior on the website's home page. The view is from the back facing towards to front entrance.
I have never been to Bouley, but they recently moved into a new location, and those who have been say the decor is gorgeous.
I'm a fan of Cafe Boulud. The food's terrific, but while I like the room a lot, I wouldn't describe it as romantic
Here are two other restaurants to consider:
Fleur de Sel serves superb contemporary French cuisine in a small space with understated elegant decor and a cozy, romantic feel.
Despire the fact that Veritas has decor that is of the minimalist variety, the small dining room has a very soothing, romantic feel -- at least, for me. Maybe it's the just right lighting -- dark enough to provide atmosphere, but bright enough to be able to read the menu without a flashlight. Chef Gregory Pugin took over the kitchen in June and former executive chef Scott Bryan's New American cuisine has given way to Pugin's French cuisine. In a word: Stellar! Veritas may be known for its extraordinary wine list, but since I don't drink, I've always gone there for cuisine.