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Restaurants for elderly NYC visitors

I'm taking my elderly mom and aunt to NYC in May. I am racking my brain for restaurants they would enjoy. They do not like ethnic food beyond French and Italian. They cannot handle too much noise, and it needs to be easy to get them in and out (so tables not too close together, not a lot of walking, stairs, etc.) Pretty is a bonus.

I was thinking about Le Bernadin for one meal, since my aunt requested seafood, and she loved the Inn at Little Washington when I took her there a few years back, so she'd appreciate it. But we can't spend that much for every meal. Can you offer some other suggestions?

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  1. China Grill (West 53? and 6th Avenue) is hip and young, but would also be manageable
    and fun for elderly moms and aunts. The food is unique and interesting. I would also think about lighter meals in the museums (the Met has a lovely cafe and MOMA has fabulous restaurants, although pricey). Eat your main meal mid afternoon (la comida in mexico, late lunch here) and it will be more affordable.

    11 Replies
    1. re: marobit

      Regis' favorite "Il Tinello" might be a good fit ......

      1. re: marobit

        China Grill is not French or Italian, though, right? I'm fond of Village Restaurant, which has an airy, high-ceilinged back room with well-spaced tables. The food is French-ish. Marseille is another good suggestion.


        If you give an idea of your preferred neighborhoods, it would be easier to come up with ideas.

        1. re: marobit

          China Grill for elderly? No way. It's one of those big early 90s style Chinese Jeffrey Chodorow monstrosities. Multi-level and really loud.

          Here are some: Cafe des Artiese is full of older people, as is Picholine, Compass. Le Grenouille.

          1. re: chow_gal

            Cafe de Artists is not a good rec for anyone . . .

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              Yeah, I agree, but the old folks seem to love it. I think it is the room.

              1. re: chow_gal

                Really? I recently had dinner at Cafe des Artistes and loved it. The service was excellent, the food was quite good. And I didn't have to listen to any bozo's idea of cool music.

                1. re: chow_gal

                  I don't know about the food because it's been quite a while since I've been, but I don't think there is anything "old folks" about the room, just beautiful with murals by the American artist Howard Chandler Christy ("inventer" of the Gibson Girl) who had his studio at des Artiste.

                  1. re: City Kid

                    i LOVE cafe des artistes. good oysters. wonderful pot au feu (sp?) - good service, fun bar. like to sit near the bar. Food is always good. I go with older friends, but i would eat there more often if i lived nearby. Sexy walls.

                    Personally, i think it's a cool place and feel a bit sorry for people who don't get it. Go when the theatre crowd is finished eating and you'll be fine.

                    1. re: City Kid

                      Didn't say it was old folks, said there are always a lot of older people there. Was that the case when you were there? Did you notice an older clientele?

                      1. re: chow_gal

                        It was mixed when I was there in the winter (wish I could partake more often) maybe 60% over 40, if memory serves.

                2. re: chow_gal

                  I think La Grenouille would be lovely for this occasion - if only for the stunning room/flowers. It's probably the same price range though as Le Bernadin (which I've not been to). They have a prix fixe, with various supplements, including one for their fabulous Dover Sole.

              2. Perilla is not too noisy, fantastic food, not too cramped: West Village. One of my fave restaurants in the city. I find it somewhat elegant in its simplicity.
                Aquavit is Scandinavian food, but there are dishes that wouldn't grate too much on a relatively narrow palate (Midtown East). Sit in the more casual "cafe" section-still very nice, good menu, btu not quite as pricy. Minimalistic feel but neat design in its own way. Similar in atmosphere is Rouge TOmate; relatively simple food, also modernist design.
                While none of these could be considered cheap, they are reasonable compared to some other higher end NYC options, and I consider them to be a good value.

                1 Reply
                1. re: orthorunner

                  I like the Cafe at Aquavit, as well as the dining room, but I think the food is very different - my recollection of the food at the former is that it is heavily Scandinavian (salmon, herring, meatballs, etc.), where as the latter is not.

                2. Convivio could work, Marseille is another possibility. Lunch at Jean-Georges is a good deal and they should be quite impressed. Olana is also reasonably priced and has interesting Italian/French/American cuisine and is probably one of the most comfortable (and least noisy) restaurants in Manhattan. Park Avenue Bistro has nice updated traditional French food, while La Petite Auberge is very traditional bistro cooking in a very traditional bistro atmosphere, and may be perfect for what you are looking for. Picholine is a more high-end option, but the cost can be kept very reasonable by ordering from the "Tastes of Picholine" menu, 3 courses for $58 + $12 for each additional course. The portions are appetizer or half-entree size, but I find them to be quite generous.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rrems

                    We went to Olana recently and really enjoyed our experience:



                    Convivio has a few stairs and was lively when we went. The tables where we sat were pretty close together. Duane Park (American) in TriBeCa is spacious, quiet. Not in the same league as Le Bernardin. It's a neighborhood place, a bit under the radar screen: www.duaneparknyc.com

                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      Just realized Duane Park's restrooms are down a flight of stairs . . .

                  2. Try Cibo on 2nd ave in the 50s. It has good food, quiet, nice atmosphere and an easy menu to navigate. It may not be as hot as Convivio or Olana but it is not priced that high either and elderly folks will very much enjoy the roomy, upscale feeling.

                    1. I would suggest Allegretti. The Provencal-style French cuisine is delicious and includes wonderful fish dishes. Service is cordial and professional. The ambiance is just what you are looking for -- lovely decor, nicely-spaced tables, everything on one level, and a conversation-friendly noise level. While it's not inexpensive, prices are more moderate than Le Bernardin.


                      1. My elderly father-in-law loves Scaletta at 50 West 77th St. (south side of Natural History). It's traditional, very good Northern Italian...a bit of a time warp, in a good way, meticulously maintained! The older crowd appreciates the low noise level (even when full), attentive service, large and nicely spaced tables, and very comfortable padded chairs. At the end of the meal they have a stunning dessert cart they wheel around to entice you, usually works! You don't have to be old to enjoy a very relaxing and satisfying meal here.


                        1. Nougatine would be perfect, especially with the $35 prix fixe dinner.


                          2 Replies
                            1. re: DrewEck

                              They had a fire - not sure if they have reopened. I've not been for years, but my husband went recently and thought the food was pretty mediocre.

                          1. Josephina's at Broadway and 65th is a fave of my in-laws, and seems popular with the senior crowd that attends Lincoln Center. Nice space, eclectic American with lots of fish and poultry.I think they have a very reasonable pre-theater prix-fixe, and the tables are fairly well-spaced, although rest rooms are down a flight of stairs.

                            1. We're elderly -:) and we like JoJo. Quiet and request a table downstairs. Another , but probably more expensive place, is Park Avenue Cafe. Now known.... I think... as Park Avenue Spring. Haven't been to L-Impero since it changed into Convivio but it was a very pleasant environment for lunch.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Gelaine

                                Gelaine, OP said no stairs. Does JoJo have an elevator?

                                PS So you're 55 or better :)

                                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                  JoJo's in a town house. They serve on the ground floor and the "parlor" floor (up a flight of stairs.)

                                  A lot better than 55 -:)

                              2. If you are going to uptown museums, or the Conservatory Garden, etc., on the west side of Madison (bet 91/92 or 92/93) there is Vico (Italian). My older folks (dad has hearing issues) go there often for lunch. It is sometimes popular with families at night, but not too noisy anyway, and lunch is often very quiet. I am always happy with their pasta primavera. My mum loves their daily fish special -- 9 times out of ten that is what she gets and leaves with a smile. She says they really know how to cook fish. Lovely desserts and proper cappuchinos etc.

                                It is a nice open space with skylights in the back. If they have opened up the front on a nice day, you might want to sit a bit in the back to avoid street noise. You might also want to make a reservation.

                                Be warned -- they ONLY take cash or personal cheques (I suppose travelers cheques would be o.k. too).

                                It is a proper neighborhood place and the food is really good. I hope you all have a lovely visit together no matter where you end up eating!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: BratleFoodie

                                  I have liked Vico in the past as well, but have noted lately that their prices have really increased. Vongole is now $25 or so at dinner. For some reason, once we got a house account, we've gone a lot less frequently. I've also noticed that it is much emptier these days - not sure if that is the economy, or that Paola's and Square Meal have opened in the last year or so. I keep meaning to report about my dinner at Paola's. but, in brief, I had an excellent dinner, and thought the food was better than that at Vico.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    Ah, perhaps this is why my folks go for dinner at Vico's so rarely, and stick to lunch! It's cheaper! ;-)

                                    Square Meal now has a liquor license. The one time I went there was before that event, and found that while the food was fine, the food took forever to arrive despite the place really not being full. We were starving without a glass of wine after tromping through a museum, which can make for crankiness. And the OP mentioned stairs, of which they have four or something. I should chek the place out again.

                                    Sounds especially like it is time to check out Paola's -- thanks for the tip!

                                    1. re: BratleFoodie

                                      Yes - I wouldn't recommend Square Meal for this occasion - I don't think it is special enough, though I do like the food there. I'll try to remember what I had at Paola's ....

                                2. I second Nougatine - my parents have always loved it. There's a handicapped lift around the corner on 61st if they can't handle the stairs. $24 lunch, $35 dinner. Picholine is also lovely & has the Menu D'Economie (as well as Tastes of Picholine menu) that help manage cost. Several of Jean Georges' restaurants are also continuing the 24/35 lunch/dinner meus, so you could pick your meals. As well, Telepan has a nice set lunch menu.

                                  1. Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, Jean Georges to name a few..........

                                    1. Gotham Bar & Grill is easy to get in and out of. The food is good and it is pretty. I am not sure if they still do the prefixe lunch, but if they do, that is a great way to go.

                                      1. China Grill would be a huge mistake, I forgot about the rest room situation (spiral staircase) when I took my mom and I thought she would kill me. Village was mentioned, that is a regular neighborhood place for me, the chef/owner was at Odeon for many years and the menu is similar, the food is solid. Nice brunch also. Would be a good choice for one of your less pricey options.

                                        1. I don't believe anyone mentioned Cafe Boulud, which I think would be perfect. All on one level, quiet, plenty of space. I guess it's on the higher end, but otherwise it seems like exactly what you want.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: CalorieBurner

                                            They do now have a great $24 lunch, with a $24 red wine and a $24 white wine. My husband had the lunch there yesterday and thought it quite the deal! The ambiance would be perfect, too, and very comfortable.

                                          2. OTTO on 5th Avenue and 8th Street is moderately priced Italian (Mario Batali owned) and delicious and meets all of your needs. I also think Fresco by Scotto will work out too (very yummy) and that's on 52nd and Madison.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: w.sidenyc

                                              I find Otto a bit noisy, if that is an issue. My husband had lunch recently at Fresco, and thought it was quite good.

                                            2. La Petite Auberge, on Lex, b/t 27th & 28th Sts. Used to go w/ my 101 year old mother in law. Pedestrian French, but an older-to-elderly crowd, very good service, good value, been there since the year of the flood

                                              1. Picholine sounds perfect for what you want, though pricey. Also, consider Cafe Luxembourg on W 70th. Always lots of grey hair in there (!), the food is good and the prices a bit more reasonable.

                                                1. Novita on 22nd bet Park & Lex is packed with old people... Was just there on Saturday night and our group (29-30 year olds) were easily the youngest people there. Could fit the bill for an Italian place for mom. Food not amazing but there were a couple things that we're really great... truffle oil spaghetti special being one.


                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: iFat

                                                    I believe that Novita is a half-flight of stairs down from street level.

                                                    1. re: yebo

                                                      And I'd love to know what qualifies as "old people." This thread was orginally intended as suggestions for elderly diners who presumably can't get around very easily or have limited diets. I would hope that wouldn't include the mother of a 20-30-something!

                                                      1. re: City Kid

                                                        I think Novita does indeed have a couple stairs to get down but it's not that difficult to maneuver. No disrespect to the elderly at all, I just noticed that there was a very large roll-call of grandparents in attendance when I was there the other night : )-


                                                        1. re: iFat

                                                          What did you eat, besides the truffle oil spag? I loved my meal there and was fortunate enough to sit outside due to nice weather.


                                                  2. I really liked Picholine. It's fancy but now they're doing a $58 3 course prix fixe menu which is much cheaper than what they used to offer. It's French-Mediterranean food.