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Seeking romantic/unique dinner idea for nyc native...

I have a very special event to celebrate with my sig o at the end of december and I really would like to go somewhere special/unique for dinner without being cliche "romantic." We're both in our 20s and are sort of put off by typically romantic type places (IE somewhere with 13 forks and chandeliers is not for us) but I'd really like to make this night special for him. He's a NYC native so he's been to a lot of the "posh" places in the city already, and I'd prefer not to break the bank on something just for names-sake. If we had not already been, Zenkichi in brooklyn would have been a good go-to for something like this (kind of a cool interior, solid food, not stupid expensive.) I was thinking of perhaps someplace with a view, but most of those seem extraordinarily expensive and only have so-so food reviews. I'd like to stay under $150 for both WITHOUT DRINKS (we don't drink) and this doesn't seem totally out of the realm of possibility. Some place small/intimate, hole-in-the-wall, "hidden gem" would be awesome! Any cuisine, we're very adventurous. Any ideas of other types of food-related activities would also be great if they came to mind (cooking classes, tastings, etc...we love trying new food!)

We live in south brooklyn so anywhere in that area (dumbo/downtown/prospect heights/park slope/smith st etc) is also encouraged!

I know this is sort of super vague, but I couldn't even think of what to google and I knew you chowhounders could help!

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  1. Have you tried Il Bucco? It's great.

    1. I'll see what I can think of in Manhattan but, if you haven't done so already, you'll want to post on the Outer Boroughs board for ideas in Brooklyn.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MMRuth

        I was considering that, I'm really more interested in manhattan (we spend 99% of our time eating in bk since we both live here... its a rare, adventurous day when we venture into the city!) We've hit a lot of the standard park slope places like al di la, blue ribbon, etc... I'm going to give this a few days then repost! Its not till the very end of Dec but I want to be able to make reservations soon if need be!

      2. There is a really nice Italian place on the Upper East Side named Ermenia. VERY romantic like you were transported to a Tuscan farm without being stuffy or obnoxious in any way.

        2 Replies
        1. re: taboo

          In case you are doing a search, it is spelled Erminia. I went there about ten years ago, and it was an incredible space. Off the radar, indeed. Don't recall the food.

          I was dating a much older, wealthy man - my Mr. Big - and he was impressed that I had discovered a romantic place he didn't know of.

          erminiaristorante.com

          1. re: chow_gal

            That is so funny and yes, I did spell it wrong. I have been there 3X and every time it was GREAT. :)

        2. Since you both like fish, check out Desnuda. I think it's very romantic and intimate. It's in the East Village so it won't even be that far for you to travel.

          1. degusation
            etats unis
            public
            york grill
            flex mussels
            grammercy tavern

            2 Replies
            1. re: thew

              I think Etats Unis might be closed - thought I read it somewhere.

              Edit - confirmed - http://ny.eater.com/archives/2009/11/...

              1. re: MMRuth

                so sad. that was one of my fave modern romantic spots in the city

            2. Some to consider:

              Degustation
              Harbour
              Olana
              Pepolino
              Bar Blanc
              Convivio
              Perilla
              Perry St.
              Aldea

              1 Reply
              1. re: rrems

                Chef's counter at Aldea would be a nice birthday treat!

              2. Have you considered River Cafe? Might be a bit over your budget - but very beautiful view of Manhattan, food was fantastic, and its very romantic...

                3 Replies
                1. re: cutebee

                  I was actually thinking river cafe but a lot of the reviews seemed to suggest sub-par food...the atmosphere seems awesome but if the food sucks it's not worth it (while we're not picky we both cook pretty well and have been let down by a lot of places.) The food has been good in your experience?

                  1. re: CarmenBK

                    I thought the food was great! My fiance (now husband!) took me there the night he proposed and we were both very pleased with the food and the full experience. I'm mostly a fish eater and I had a really great meal. My husband had the foie gras and some meat dish and loved both. While it wasn't on par with the best of the best (we've been to Le Bernadin, Jean George, Daniel, etc. etc.) -- it was definitely better than our experience at Gramercy Tavern and similar types...

                    1. re: CarmenBK

                      The food at the River Café is very good and the service is excellent. The problem is that you have to pay additional for the view and atmosphere and that puts it out of your price range. The prix fixe dinner (there is no à la carte) is $98 plus tax and tip.

                  2. I've heard Brooklyn Fare is terrific. Or, Ko, if you can get in.