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Hosting a small dinner the night before the wedding on UWS

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bookien Nov 6, 2009 12:32 PM

A question from an out-of-towner:

A good college friend of mine is getting married in Manhattan, and I am hosting a small dinner the night before for her and a few of her close friends (5 of us). We're all closer to 40 than 30, and we haven't seen in each other in awhile, so I'd like a place that feels intimate and where we can have a nice conversation (no yelling across the table please). But I also don't want something too stuffy/fancy/old-fashioned (no snooty waters), as my friend is not overly formal herself and it is supposed to feel somewhat festive. And of course I would like the food to be good.

We're looking for something on the UWS, between the 50s and 80s. Based on my research on these boards I have narrowed it down to:

Bar Bao
Ouest
West Brench
Dovetail
Cesca
Per Se (I know - much more expensive, but am at least considering it)

Which one should I choose?? Very thankful for any advice.

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Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

Ouest
2315 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

Bar Bao
100 West 82nd Street, New York, NY 10024

Cesca
164 W 75th St, New York, NY 10023

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  1. b
    bookien RE: bookien Nov 6, 2009 12:33 PM

    PS oops sorry I meant West Branch

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    West Branch
    2178 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

    1. h
      harrison RE: bookien Nov 6, 2009 12:43 PM

      Of course if Per Se is on the table, everyone is wiling to spend and you have ample reservation time, go there!

      If not, I think Ouest is a great choice and they have comfy banquettes that would work for 5.

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      Per Se
      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

      Ouest
      2315 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

      1. r
        rrems RE: bookien Nov 6, 2009 06:32 PM

        Aside from Per Se, which I have not been to, I think you could not go wrong with Dovetail. Another place worth considering is Compass.

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        Per Se
        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

        1. hcbk0702 RE: bookien Nov 6, 2009 07:22 PM

          Per Se is exceptional, but it is a very formal (jackets required) and specialized restaurant. It is far from "festive," and the dining room is usually very quiet and hushed. Your friends should be interested in long multicourse, 3 star Michelin type meals if you want to consider it. It just seems out of place on your list; I'm not seeing many similarities between restaurants offering $30 prix fixe menus and Per Se's $275 tasting menu only format.

          I would suggest also looking into Bar Boulud, Kefi and Telepan.

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          Per Se
          10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

          Telepan
          72 W. 69th Street, New York, NY 10023

          Kefi
          505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

          Bar Boulud
          1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

          1. a
            Ann900 RE: bookien Nov 6, 2009 08:05 PM

            Another place to consider that definitely fits the fun, festive and not snooty category is Calle Ocho on Columbus, near the Museum of Natural History. Food isn't in the Per Se category (what is) but it's solid and the portions are very gnerous.

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            Per Se
            10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

            Calle Ocho
            45 W 81st St, New York, NY 10024

            1. l
              LisaZee RE: bookien Nov 7, 2009 10:19 AM

              I second Ouest, Dovetail and Telepan, tho Dovetail and Telepan might feel a little too sedate. Compass is nice too - underrated in my book. You might also check out Landmarc in the Time Warner building.

              If you can get a round booth at Oeust, that is great for conversation.

              Someone recommended Kefi - I don't think that will be special enough. Calle Ocho is very noisy.

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              Telepan
              72 W. 69th Street, New York, NY 10023

              Ouest
              2315 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

              Kefi
              505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

              Calle Ocho
              45 W 81st St, New York, NY 10024

              1. b
                bookien RE: bookien Nov 23, 2009 02:51 PM

                Thanks all, this was really helpful. We ended up going to Ouest and they did a great job. I requested a banquet, mentioning that it was a special occasion, and while they were very noncommittal on the phone, when we got there they had made a record of it and made an effort to get us one. Then once we were seated they sent us complementary champagne - really lovely touch.

                The food was very good - I had a beet salad and shellfish ragout, and the shellfish was excellent. I threw myself in the hand's of the waiter for the wine and he recommended a very nice Austrian wine (Gruener Veltliner). All in all a lovely evening.

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