Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Oct 21, 2009 08:54 AM

30th Birthday Dinner

Boyfriend and I are traveling to NYC for a long weekend and I still have not decided on a place for Sunday night (my 30th birthday). We already have plans with friends at Otto, Boqueria and The Mermaid Inn. I tried to make a Sunday rez at The Little Owl but they are completely booked. I am looking for something similar in ambiance, on the smaller side, intimate, romantic, great food--totally open to any cuisine. Any suggestions?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Went to Apizz recently; really cute interior, very good food (Italian). Might be the kind of place you are looking for, though I personally feel the food at Little Owl is better.

    A bigger question is what is your price-point/budget?

    6 Replies
    1. re: a213b

      No budget, really. I don't want to go into Per Se territory, but we're fine up to $400.

      1. re: karianne

        In that case, my wife and I had a PHENOMENAL meal last night at Daniel. We did the 3-course prix-fixe, with a bottle of wine and a couple of Alba Truffle dishes. It was over your budget, but knock off the Truffle dishes and I think you'd be under (depending on how much you spent on wine/drinks). It is, though more formal - jackets required for men - but the room is beautiful.

        There's also EMP, but the room is much larger and it, too, is a bit more formal than Little Owl. Oh, and SHO Shaun Hergatt down in FiDi was fantastic as well, and I'm sure you could get a table there (ask for the two-top against the glass wall separating the kitchen from the dining room if that's your thing).

        Another cool place worth checking out would be Commerce; bustling but small, with some really good food.

        Oh, and there's Minetta Tavern, which many on this board seem to love -- we ate there Sunday night and (aside from the Bone Marrow) found it fairly pedestrian, but there are as I said many people who rave about it, so we could've just hit them on an off night.

        1. re: a213b

          Thank you for your recommendations! Not sure if my BF packed a jacket, now that I think of it.. :-) I tried EMP on OpenTable but they are booked, I might try to call in. I checked out Apizz and it looks nice, I will have a look at your other suggestions.

          Many thanks.

          1. re: a213b

            HI a213b, I am coming to NY in a few months and, as a type-A crazy person, I'm planning from now..:-/

            One night I am choosing btw the 11 course EMP or 6 course Daniel meal
            the next night Im choosing btw Babbo and Scarpetta (if i cant get a reservation at Babbo that might make the decision for me)

            Since youve been to all these places recently, Id love your opinion. Thanks.

            1. re: eviemichael

              Well, I recently had lunch at EMP (and am having lunch there again on Friday), and I have a reservation for dinner there next Thursday night, when I am planning on doing the Gourmand. Last night at Daniel we did the 3 course prix fixe, so I don't know that a true 1-1 comparison can be made, but even assuming it is that is a HARD choice to make.

              I like the dining room at EMP better (with its high ceilings, large windows looking out into the park) but Daniel's dining room is more intimate and is beautiful as well.

              In terms of food ... you really can't go wrong. From amuses to mignardises, they are both outstanding. Service is excellent as well, too.

              When it comes down to it, Daniel might have a slight edge in food (though I have only the one experience there), but EMP has the slight edge in service. Either way you really cannot go wrong, in my eyes. Maybe it comes down to a matter of whether you want the experience of dining at a newly minted Michelin 3 rosette, or a newly minted NY Times 4 star? Just know that you are going to be thrilled either way. I am going to do a full trip report, so within the next week or so you'll have even more data on which to base your decision.

              In terms of Babbo and Scarpetta ... honestly, for me it's easy -- Scarpetta. There are just too many potential misses on Babbo's menu, and even when it comes down to pasta I think Scarpetta is better. And that Polenta is just an AMZING dish.

              1. re: a213b

                Thanks a lot! It's good to know that either choice I make will be great. I look forward to reading the rest of your trip report!

                Good service is important to me, but I want a super romantic experience and I think Daniel may serve that better.

                Happy eating :)

      2. I would throw Veritas in there; Gregory Pugin is cooking some of the finest French food in New York, and it's always been one of my favorite intimate restaurants. It's a serious restaurant, especially about the wine, but incredibly welcoming and not stuffy. It's certainly within the budget, and the wine list (which has always been very fairly priced) is 25% off through the end of the year.

        1 Reply
        1. re: craig_g

          I agree with putting Veritas in the running. I did the tasting menu there back in June, and it was truly amazing. The wine list was exceptional (not necessarily breaking the bank either), the setting was intimate (we were celebrating our engagement), and the food - wow.

        2. "...I still have not decided on a place for Sunday night (my 30th birthday)."

          Just to point out that EMP, Daniel, Veritas, and SHO Shaun Hergatt are closed on Sunday. (Note: When a restaurant is closed on a particular day, OpenTable shows it as fully booked.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: RGR

            Veritas's web site claims they're open 5pm - 10pm Sunday and OpenTable is showing plenty of availability.

            1. re: craig_g

              I just called. As it turns out, you are correct. However, it is a very recent change back. They had always been open on Sunday until this summer, when they decided to close on Sunday. We were last there on Tuesday, September 29th, at which point they were still closed on Sunday. Not sure when the change back occurred. In any case, I'm thrilled that we once again have this superb option in our neighborhood for Sunday dining.

              Photos of our meal -- the 5-course seasonal tasting -- can be seen here:

              Photo of the space here: