Babbos and Commerce, or Gotham and Gramercy
It's my daughter's 19th birthday, and we're spending two days in New York, seeing a show and shopping in the village. I'd want to take her to a few great dinners. She has sophisticated tastes and ideally, I'd like one special dinner the first night for her birthday, and the second night, after the show, a light meal at a fun, hip and happening place (we'll be staying at the Hotel W in Union Square). I actually have reservations at Babbos for the second night, but now am having doubts that it might be too uptight. And between Gotham and Gramercy, which one has the better atmosphere, ambiance and of course menu? Are there any other places that might be better?
Babbo is not uptight at all -- in fact it is one of the most casual 3-New York Times-star restaurants around. Loud rock'n'roll music is the house soundtrack, and there's usually big crowds at the bar.
Babbo is definitely not uptight- particularly if you sit downstairs IMO Gotham and Gramercy Tavern are much more uptight than Babbo, particularly for a 19 year old.
Oh, good, sounds like I have a good choice for night two. What about the first night which is actually her birthday: Gotham, Gramercy, Commerce, or is there another choice you might have? Again, looking for a great vibe, fabulous food, but at the same time, not too formal. Thanks again, and if you ever come to Washington DC, I'll do my best to lead you in the best direction!!
as others have noted, Babbo (there's no "s" on the end, by the way) is very laid-back.
i haven't been to Gramercy Tavern in years, but i recently had a fantastic meal at Gotham Bar & Grill. the atmosphere is subdued and elegant but not at all stuffy or "formal." regarding your question about which one has the better menu, "better" is a subjective term - it depends what you like. i'd suggest looking at them and deciding for yourself. the menus for both Gotham & Gramercy Tavern are posted on their respective websites...
have fun, and i hope your daughter has a very happy birthday !
I'd lean toward Gramercy Tavern. A much better restaurant, I believe, and a slightly more relaxed atmosphere.
Babbo is, indeed, not uptight at all, but the downstairs dining room is definitely more lively than upstairs. I would call now and request to be seated downstairs if at all possible and then remind them when you show up (on time). They typically can't guarantee it, but do their best to accommodate the request.