B-day Spot for Foodie that's Cozy Yet Elegant
My wife is a food writer and I want to surprise her with dinner this coming Saturday at a great restaurant that is intimate, yet elegant. We just decided to come to NYC from Boston, so I realize reservations may be hard to come by...she isn't the kind of person that wants to eat at places like Per Se, but prefers more cozy spots, like the defunct L'impero or Toqueville, etc... Any thoughts?
L'Impero is not exactly defunct. It's now Convivio. Though the food is excellent, the ambiance -- bright, eye-catching decor and convivial vibe -- is not what you are looking for.
I'm not sure when you were last at Tocqueville, but a few years ago, the owners moved it into new quarters down the street from the old location. The dining room has understated elegant decor and while the room is not very large, the extremely high ceiling gives it a spacious feeling.
I would highly recommend Fleur de Sel, which I think is just what you are looking for. The contemporary French cuisine is superb, there's an excellent wine list, service is professional, and the small, cozy space has lovely decor and a romantic feel. A quick check of OpenTable shows a table for two at 8 p.m. is available for this coming Saturday night.
Happy Birthday to your wife and Bon Appetit!
Thank you, RGR for your thoughts. We've been to Fleur de Sel and, you're right, it was exactly the kind of place I was hoping to find. We've also been to Toqueville, not too long ago, so I was hoping to go somewhere different. We love Blue Hill and, although it's bigger, we also loved Ouest. Any other thoughts?
Perhaps, Veritas? Of course, the restaurant is known for its extraordinary wine list. However, the very good news is that Chef Gregory Pugin (previously at Robuchon), who took over the kitchen in June, is serving French cuisine that is truly stellar. The small dining room has rather minimalist decor. But the lighting is perfect -- low enough to provide atmosphere, yet bright enough so that one can read the menu without a flashlight -- and I find the overall ambiance to be very soothing.
What about Tocqueville? It's one of my favorite places.
Beacon on 25 West 56th Street is really cozy. It is especially nice to sit downstairs (near the wood-fired oven) in the wintertime. The food there is wonderful, and their potato gratin is something dreams are made of -- as is the Essence of Lobster Soup.