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Jun 12, 2009 04:52 PM

Wife's Birthday: Best Meal for under $200

I am taking my wife to NYC for her birthday and we are staying over for the night. We're looking for a restaurant that offers very good (preferrably New American) food, nice/romantic atmosphere, and is under $200 (with wine, tax and tip). We have eaten in Manhattan many times so we are fairly familiar with the various neighborhoods.

I have done some research and am considering places like Apiary, The Harrison, Public, Allen & Delancy, and Union Square Cafe (though that may be over budget). Please let me know your thoughts about the choices above as well as others.

I would also like to take my wife to a nice rooftop bar/lounge after dinner. Is the Penninsula the obvious choice? Others? Thank you all!

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  1. Although I really enjoyed our meal at Apiary, we were there on a Sunday evening when it wasn't too busy, and almost nobody was sitting at the bar, so noise was not a problem. However, I have read many reports indicating that when the restaurant is full and the bar area is crowded, the noise level gets hideously high. So, if your celebratory meal will be on a Friday or Saturday, which I'm sure are extremely busy nights there, I would not recommend going there. To be honest, even without the noise, I don't think Apiary is really the kind of place for a celebratory meal. At least, not for me.

    Of the other restaurants you're considering, the only one we've been to is USC. Our last time, which was a while ago, we had an excellent meal. I do think the seating in the main dining room is a bit cramped, and the noise level is rather high, i.e., not exactly romantic, imo. There is balcony seating, but to me, it's like being in Siberia.

    You might want to consider Telepan. The food's very good and service is professional. The ambiance is lovely: nicely spaced tables, understated elegant decor, and quiet without being funereal. You can order from the a la carte menu or do the 4-course tasting menu for $59. If you are careful about what you choose to drink, you should be able to meet your stated budget.

    Happy Birthday to your wife and Bon Appetit!

    1. I'm not sure when you are going but Picholine has tastes o f Picholine which is 3 Plates for 58. per person
      Available Tuesday through Thursday 5PM to 10PM
      Friday and Saturday 10PM to Close
      It is a beautiful restaurant and the food and service are excellent

      4 Replies
      1. re: misnatalie

        Telepan and Picholine are great suggestions, I'll definitely check them out. We will be in NYC on a Wednesday evening, which makes reservations (and noise levels) all the easier. My wife loves good food but also really enjoys nice atmosphere as well so that will help narrow things. The looks of USC don't do anyting for me (though I have heard the food is excellent) so I know it won't be her taste either. Public has "interesting" decor but their menu looks quite nice (but not at the level of Telepan and Picholine I know). I was thinking about Hearth and Savoy as well but Hearth's decor looks rather sterile and Savoy's menu looks eh. Thanks so far and please keep the suggestions coming!

        1. re: Schpsychman

          So I always pitch Po in the west village as a great restaurant - not too pricey and really charming. They have a tasting menu - think it's under $60 a person. It's on cornelia between bleecker and west 4th so you can take a nice walk in the west village afterwards...

          'cesca on the UWS is also very nice - both places are Italian so not sure if you wanted that...

          I agree that Hearth is very sterile - and honestly I didn't really think the food was that much to write home about...

          If you want to spend a little more than a Po or 'cesca - i know it's trite now that Obama went - but I love Blue Hill and think that would be a great choice as well. Maybe you can still get a resy on a Wednesday night?

          31 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

          164 W 75th St, New York, NY 10024

          1. re: Schpsychman

            I agree about Heath's decor. I describe it as "early warehouse."

            I also agree that Picholine is an excellent option. We were there about a year ago and had an exceptional tasting dinner. I would hope the items offered on the Taste of Picholine menu would be just as delicious.


            Since it opened last year, Allegretti has become a favorite of ours. Chef/partner Alain Allegretti's Provencal-stye French cuisine is superb, service is pleasant and professional, the space has very attractive decor, and the noise level is conversation-friendly. Between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., they are offering a 3-course prix fixe for $39, a steal for cuisine of such high caliber. However, if you prefer to dine later, the menu is a la carte.


            Another very fine choice would be Tocqueville. It tends to travel under the usual culinary radar, which is a shame because it has wonderful French/New American cuisine, civilized atmospherics and, imo, one of the most elegant and beautiful dining rooms in the city. Like Allegretti, they have an early dining special between 5:30 and 6:30: 3 courses for $44. And for only $15, you can do wine pairings with each course. That's $59 for food *and* wine -- an incredible bargain! If you dine later, in addition to the a la carte menu, there is a reasonablyl-priced daily "Market Menu."


            1. re: RGR

              At Picholine I have dined off both the regular menu and the Tastes of Picholine menu, and yes both were excellent. Tocqueville is anther wonderful suggestion and reminded, because I dined there once during restaurant week, that that may be an option depending on the dates of your visit. Restaurant week is July 12-31st.