Crème brûlée and birthday dinner suggestions?
I've been craving a good crème brûlée for months now: just a classic brûlée, made with real vanilla bean, and just the right amount of crisp caramelization.
However, I don't really know NYC that well, and I have no idea where to go for something as simple and essential as this.
It's also my birthday this week, and I'd really like to take myself out to dinner at a reasonably-priced restaurant that happens to serve excellent crème brûlée. My budget for dinner is for a meal less than $60 including dessert and a glass of wine. It would be great if the price included an appetizer and entrée, but I'm willing to forego the appetizer.
I'm going to be on my own, since I'd like, for once, to not have to accommodate anyone else's food desires/allergies/idiosyncracies. It's my birthday!
Something off the beaten path, a nice cozy hangout, with a nice view, would be absolutely ideal. I'm also single, so please don't recommend the kind of place that's a "perfect date place" full of nauseating cozy couples, with the kind of maître d' who would eye me as a weirdo for dining alone.
Thank you, kind Chowhound souls, in advance.
PS: I don't mind having to schlep to wherever for the right place.
Funny, I was actually thinking of Les Halles. Bourdain used to be the executive chef, but has been reported MIA. He's currently listed as their honorary "Chef-At-Large." Lunch also seems like possibly the most reasonable option in terms of a budget. I keep reading conflicting reports about the place though, from "great" to "needs improvement," to "absolutely sucked" (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/600121). Hmm...
OK, so I've done some digging, and have come up with Nougatine (which has no crème brûlée, but a pretty great dinner set menu for amazingly only $35), or Le Cirque (same price, set menu as well, but this time with the dessert in question).
Le Cirque's menu looks a little less enticing than Nougatine's -- has anyone had recent experience with both of their set menus? Other dining comments?