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Non-stuffy lunch near Rockefeller Center

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I am meeting a work colleague for lunch next week, and I could use some advice. I say "colleague" because that is the PC term we use around the office these days, but he's definitely my superior. That being said, it is more of a social, "what have you been up to these days" lunch. He's told me to pick the place, but I don't know whether he, our company, or we as individuals will be paying, and I don't want to presume anything or look like I'm hoping to get a fancy schmancy meal out of it.

Anyway, I'm looking for an inexpensive (entrees not over $20, maybe a prix fixe option in the $20s range), non-stuffy, but non-fast-casual, non-hole-in-the-wall, restaurant that serves good, well prepared food and strikes the balance between offering a comfortable experience while not being overly formal. Also, so I don't impose too much on his time, I'd like it to be near our office in Rockefeller Center.

I did a search and came up with these options. Any thoughts (or additional suggestions) would be much appreciated.

Bar at the Modern
Maze
Dervish
Cibo
Scarlatto
La Bonne Soupe
Akendiz

FWIW, right now I'm leaning towards Bar at the Modern... but I can be swayed. Thanks so much in advance.

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  1. Jean George, either the main room or for a more relaxed lunch, the outer room/bar, Nougatine. Incredible food and great lunch deals.

    I somehow registered Lincoln Center instead of Rockefeller Center, sorry.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Spiritchaser

      Either Bar American or Asiate, which is surprisingly "not stuffy" for lunch and has a great prix fixe

    2. 5 Napkin Burger: Simple food with a nice atmosphere.

      1. greetings from a nine years and counting rock center vetran! You've got some pretty good options there. Bar Americain is reliable and they are efficient without you feeling rushed. I like bonne soupe, but it can give off the crammed, rushed feeling, with lots of ladies lunching. Depends on what time you get there. Morrells can be good too for a lunch. Food wise, the best is probably the Bar Room at the Modern but I've never had lunch there. Akendiz is delicious but its probably best for going with someone who likes to share things. Its a long narrow room though and definitely a step down in terms of atmosphere and food from the modern or maze. It also can get a bit hectic with people waiting for tables/take-out etc. Ruhlmann is reliable french but I always feel its a bit overpriced for what you get but its a nice atmosphere and there are plenty of options. Don't think they've got the prix fixe there. I think the sea grill at rock center has a prix fixe menu--was there last week, decent/well prepared but unremarkable food. This is tough, really depends on the age/eating habits of the colleague. GOOD LUCK--this is always tough!

        1. The Bar Room at the Modern has the best food of your choices by a wide margin, but it is also the priciest. All the dishes are appetizer portions or half the size of a standard main course, so you may need three courses for a filling lunch.

          1. Thanks for the replies everybody! I really appreciate the input. I actually decided to go with Bar Americain. It seemed the most mainstream and, therefore, "safe" since I don't know his food or dining preferences. I got scared off by recent threads on bad service at Bar at the Modern. (Plus, it was a little more expensive than I had originally thought). I'll let you know how it goes, even though I'm not sure the board is waiting with bated breath for reviews of a Bobby Flay restaurant.