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CraftBar vs. Otto

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I am going to NYC for my birthday, and while the big splurge is going with just my hubby to Daniel, we are also trying to find a place to get together with some old friends on our second night. We were supposed to go to Travertine in Nolita, but they recently changed their reservation policy, and by the time we got the final count of 9 in our group, told us they couldn't accommodate the size of our party that night (Thanksgiving weekend, Sat.).

So, the one person in our that lives in NYC recommended Otto - she felt that the loud atmosphere would be good for our group (even though we are all pushing 40) and has had very good experiences with the food in the past. Another idea we had was CraftBar - we do have several meat lovers. Unfortunately, I have read discouraging reviews of both. We are holding reservations at both places while we decide, and I am also open to other suggestions. Tried Perilla, but could only give us a 5:30 time, since my husband and I will be touring the city during the day, we didn't want to feel rushed.

So, looking for a mid-price (entrees $20 - $30 so if people want to splurge on apps or drinks, fine, but if not they aren't breaking the bank) that can accommodate a group with great food is what we are looking for. I am adventurous with cuisine, but there are some in the group that are not. My hotel is in Soho, but location is not the primary issue. I'm not stuck on celebrity chefs, but all but one of us is coming from out of town and I think that a familiar name just helps get everyone excited about the experience - not to mention those are the places we've heard of before. Are these places worthwhile? Which would you choose? Is there some other place we should be looking at?

Thank you for any help.

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Perilla
9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

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  1. unrelated touts are Cru, bacaro, vice versa, pepolino,

    1 Reply
    1. re: intrepid

      Good suggestions! I would add:

      Crispo
      Bar Blanc
      Olana

      I'm not a fan of Otto, and have not been to Craftbar. I would strongly recommend eliminating the "celebrity chef" factor if food is really the main concern.

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      Olana
      72 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016

      Crispo
      240 W. 14th St., New York, NY 10011

    2. Also Locanda Verde. Great food, not astronomical, lively and trendy, famous chef.

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      Locanda Verde
      377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

      2 Replies
      1. re: fm1963

        That's a good one, too. Should have included it in my list.

        1. re: rrems

          Oh, and Bar Boulud, if you like charcuterie.

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          Bar Boulud
          1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

      2. When 2 members of our party had to cancel, we were able to get reservations at Travertine, which suited everyone much better.

        I have to say, it was great. We had a really good time. Two people got the duck and didn't stop raving about it all night. I got the gnocchi and they were possibly the best I ever had and the accompanying milk braised pork really knocked my socks off. My husband got the pici - a rustic style pasta, and was really impressed. The table shared several appetizers. The tuna tartare and pig's head terrine were my personal favorites, but even better was the butternut squash and carrot soup amuse that was sent out before the meal.

        To me, even more impressive was the fact that none of these hand-rolled pastas were $20 or more. None of the entrees were $30 or more. I pay these prices here at home, and the food is nowhere near as special. I know this place is very new, but I am surprised no one else on this board has mentioned it before.

        Of course, our dinner at Daniel was sublime. The food met all of my expectations. However, when asked if it was my best meal yet, I mentioned Tru in Chicago - which they found as a big surprise. I will admit that the food at Tru was probably not as good - it's been 4 yrs. since we went there and while I remember loving everything I no longer remember the specific dishes. What I do remember is how special I was made to feel. We were sat in the middle of the room. Free extras kept coming our way including a thank you gift on our way out the door. While the food at Daniel was truly amazing, when the memory of the dishes finally fades away I will certainly not have the same memory of feeling like the most special person in the room. Don't get me wrong, we had a lot of fun there, but part of me was expecting this to be my best food experience ever and something just missed the mark.

        All in all, a great weekend of dining!