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Music Industry Dinners

Hi all,

This is my first post on Chowhound so I apologize in advance for any lack of standard etiquette.

I work in the music industry and thus from time to time find myself dining out with artists and their entourages. I often have trouble in New York finding high-end, fashionable restaurants where jeans, sneakers and other items in the average artist's closet are not just barely tolerated but respected and welcomed. Sushi is somewhat easier, as many of the better Japaneses restaurants forego the dress code, but I would really appreciate your suggestions with regard to casual but upscale Italian, Thai/Pan-Asian, and French (oxymoronic as that may be) cuisine in the city. Downtown is strongly preferred, and chains should be avoided if possible.

Thank you in advance, and I am really looking forward to your suggestions!

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  1. I'm not trying to be snarky, but are you saying that these artists and their entourage don't own any nice slacks or shoes other than sneakers? I actually think that in some higher end restaurants, the sneakers would be more of an issue than the jeans, especially if worn with a jacket, which some think is "fashionable." That said...

    I recall one occasion when we were having dinner at Cafe Boulud (one of our favorites), the party seated at a table near ours included a young man dressed in jeans, a sweater and sneakers. C.B. is, of course, not downtown and though there is no dress code, most of its UES clientele tend to dress up a bit, i.e., the gentlemen prefer jackets. But in the case I described, dressing way down was not a hindrance. And that was well before the current economic situation.

    Even if they are wearing jeans (nice ones, of course!), if they ditch the sneakers in favor of closed shoes, I think they would be welcomed at Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, and Union Square Cafe.

    1. I actually find that most NYC restaurants these days are quite lax in the dress code. I went to an upscale italian restaurant on Friday in sneakers and a hoodie.

      @RGR: While I'm sure the artists own nicer clothes, they probably just prefer to dress in public to protect their image (whether it be baggy jeans or skinny jeans)

      For upscale french, maybe Les Halles on Park Ave South? Not downtown enough? Try Tribeca Grill - Drew Nieporent and Robert De Niro co-own. Italian perhaps Da Silvano on 6th Avenue by Houston, or Crispo on West 14th Street. Might I also recommend Churasscara Plataforma. Its a brazillian steakhouse in Tribeca (and midtown west) that for some reason I think a musician and his entourage might like so long as they aren't vegetarians. (I'm thinking more of a hip-hop/ rap artist than punk rock though)

      1. L'Artusi
        Malatesta Trattoria


        1. Lupa
          Little Owl
          Market Table
          Da Silvano

          1 Reply
          1. re: stephaniec25

            Not only Lupa, but I would think Babbo would be fine, too. Batali is all about informality.

          2. waverly inn - casual chic - everyone from madonna to jessica simpson to diane von furstenberg dine here - it's where you go when you pretend that you don't want to be seen.

            la esquina - super fun restaurant with delicious fusion new age latin food - you go through a taco stand and walk down a hidden set of stairs to find it.

            1. I'm a musician and I find New York restaurants to be much more open to all kinds of people (and their wardrobes) than anywhere else I've been... Artists of all types are not only tolerated but sometimes even welcomed!

              I'm also the daughter of restaurateurs who taught me that if you treat the server and staff with respect you will be treated with respect as well. If you're not, there's something wrong. The world isn't ruled solely by older men in blazers anymore, and restaurants need your business now more than ever. Go where you want to go, and if you have doubts, call first and ask if there's a dress code (if you have a large party you probably need to call first anyhow). If you feel you're not getting the respect you deserve, complain, but don't limit your choices!

              1. I went to Forge recently and it was a casual place with great food. Didnt see any musicians, but then again I wasnt looking,

                1. Work for a record label and have been taking friends and clients to Bar Stuzzichini in the Flatiron District. Casual vibe, good music and small Italian plates. The folks who run the place are very accomodating to large groups.

                  1. Casual and upscale:
                    French: L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (jeans definitely ok), Perry St (not really upscale, but chic design), Eleven Madison Park, Bar Boulud
                    Pan Asian: Buddakan, Shang, Morimoto (Japanese Fusion), Chinatown Brasserie (Chinese with some fusion)
                    Italian: Del Posto, Scarpetta, Convivio

                    1. Where have you gone that this was even an issue?

                      I mean, if a bands getting fed off the labels account, chances are they're also getting use of a stylist at some point or other too. If they're planning on selling records, they should pretty much plan on awards shows, and dinners where a blazer of some sort would be in order. Anyway, that said, NYC is very tourist friendly, and I don't see anyone being turned away based on dressed code. The list of places where that could happen is much smaller then the endless list of places to suggest. So you go to Nougatine instead of Jean George, but chances are Jean George isn't a problem either. French? Pastis, Balthazar and it's copycats off casual faux-bistros. Spotted Pig and Freemans built their reputation on bringing in the music people. All the Danny Meyer places are very open minded as long as you can pay the bill at the end of the meal. There's also a whole group of establishments that try to run the fine line between nightlife and food, like One Little West 12, or the evening hours at Stanton Social.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: sugartoof

                        Are you saying that if this group shows up dressed in jeans and sneakers but no jackets at restaurants which *require* a jacket -- Jean George and The Modern (a Danny Meyer restaurant) being in that category -- the group would have no problem being seated?

                        1. re: RGR

                          I can't speak for the Modern, but ...

                          The last time I was at Jean George none of the men along the wall closest to the kitchen had jackets on. They probably arrived in overcoats, and everyone looked clean, and presentable, but not jackets.

                          I'm sure they might turn away someone in a tracksuit, or just a tshirt, but sweaters of the jcrew variety, and button downs all seemed to pass without the jacket. This was for lunch though. There aren't many jacket required restaurants anyway, so they're easy to avoid.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            Jackets are not required at Jean Georges for lunch.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              It's not just jackets, the OP stated jeans and sneakers.

                              There are certainly quite a few establishments that will turn away customers wearing jeans and sneakers or no jacket: Le Bernardin, Bouley, etc. However, the rule seems to be less strict for lunch compared to dinner service.

                              As kathryn mentioned, jeans and no jackets are definitely fine at JG for lunch as I have seen people doing just that many times. However, I am not sure about dinner, as I don't recall seeing jeans at dinner.

                            2. re: RGR

                              During our last dinner at The Modern a "regular" showed up without a jacket and was seated with no problem. He was wearing trousers and a sweater. Restaurants will turn a blind eye if it will keep them from losing a customer.

                              And I think on the customer's part, it's somewhat of a power trip. This guy thinks the rules don't apply to him and others help him get away with it for various reasons.

                              1. re: CornflakeGirl

                                If a gentleman shows up at per se sans jacket, they do that old thingy, i.e., supply one from a selection of sizes. This happened to someone I know who went there for lunch and, no power trip intended, didn't realize he needed to wear one. He said it was a very nice jacket and fit well. When we dined there, I did not see any man without a jacket. I think it's great that per se sticks to its rules.

                          2. I always see 'entourages' at The Smith in the East Village. It's also pretty big, so that would be a plus for your situation.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: malibu

                              I agree here. The Smith is my "go to" place with a group of friends in casual gear. They food is more American fare, not fancy, just yummy. Nice prices on wine, complimentary sparkle water, killer steak and fries. There is a secret hole in the wall in the basement where naughty black and white porn videos can be seen before heading into the co-ed bathrooms. Enjoy!

                            2. I'm a producer dealing mostly with international clients... on the last music video shoot took the gang (mostly German & Norwegian) to Aspen. The place has gotten mixed reviews, but they loved the kitschy atmosphere and upscale comfort menu. I was expecting the food to be mediocre - more style than substance - but was pleasantly surprised: the rack of lamb was one of the best I've had in the city. They have a private room for larger parties as well...

                              30 W. 22nd St., New York, NY 10010

                              1. I second Aspen. Also, anything in the Meatpacking District would be fair game. I'd suggest Merkato 55, Marcus Samuelsson's african/ethiopian restaurant. I went there for brunch once, and the scene was ridiculous. There was a DJ, fashionista types, and dancing. There may have been glowsticks involved. I was just trying to eat my eggs benedict (which were very good). But, i digress. I think dinner would a bettter bet. Also, the interior is dark and sexy, always good for the music industry crowd (i'm an ex-label girl myself).

                                1. i'm surprised no one suggested Balthazar or Pastis.

                                  you should also be fine at any of Bobby Flay's restaurants.

                                  1. I heard Metallica hung out at Craftsteak this weekend.

                                    1. I dont think going to eat out with music artists or that youre in the music industry should effect where you eat. It doesnt have to be trendy or fancy, just good food. And many fancy restaurants will not hassle you over what you wear. If i'm hungry i'll go anywhere in jeans, they'll take your money , the days of the waiter jacket loaner are gone. I used to eat at a place now closed that had good homestyle italian food "joes" in the village. Tommy Matolla, Maria Carey, Hall and Oats, and many many others ate their several nites a week. Just simple downhome good italian food. Ennio and Michael's is the closest thing to Joe's that I know, perhaps da Silvano too. Not trendy. And you'll see movie stars and musicians more often in the not so trendy places,just not to be bothered by gawkers.