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Dec 1, 2009 08:03 AM

NYC for wife's 40th-dinners & cocktails

Hi Everyone
Visiting from Montreal for my wife's 40th right on Jan2nd for 2 nights.

We basically have 2 dinners, 2 lunches and some cocktail time

For dinners one for sure will be Grammercy Tavern, the second night was going to be Italian or Sushi-
For italian I was considering Babbo, however I am getting a little concerned by some of the loud and rushed comments...a good atmosphere is important, but not looking to speak over the noise
Should we give momofuku a go?
Home base will likely be the London NYC or Grammercy Park Hotel.

Would love some recs for dinner 2 and also some lunch and cocktail places.

Many thanks and cheers

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  1. Pegu for Cocktails
    Scarpetta for dinner

    4 Replies
    1. re: smokeandapancake

      I also agree with Scarpetta, but I had a GREAT meal at Babbo. The noise level was fine and it was a really nice experience. You might want to try lunch at the Boathouse in Central Park if it is a nice day. Lunch in Soho I might suggest Balthazaar.

      1. re: smokeandapancake

        Second on Pegu. Can't beat them for coolness, a bit of romance and super good cockatails

        1. re: johnindabronx

          I'd look into reservations at Pegu or show up early if you're planning to visit on a weekend. We couldn't get past the doorman around 10 pm when we tried to visit 2 weekends ago. The doorman was letting people in as people left Pegu, and there were at least 10 people waiting on the sidewalk ahead of us. The doorman expected it to take at least 45 minutes, but possibly longer, so we decided not to bother waiting.

          We also couldn't get into Death & Co. So we ended up at a wine bar, and I wasn't in the mood for wine, so I ended up with a Coke instead of a fancy cocktail. At least it came in a glass bottle instead of a can :-)

          1. re: phoenikia

            While Pegu is a great place for a cocktail, there are definitely other comparable or better places which are quieter; given that the OP had concerns about noise at Babbo, would steer elsewhere. Good choices are Milk and Honey (can make res ahead of time and it stays quiet), Raines Law Room, Death and Co (can get there early on wkend and get a spot). Pegu does not limit their spots as much and therefore gets crowded on wkends.

      2. Scarpetta is a good call. Book ASAP.

        I hope you planning to call as soon as you can (I believe 10am Saturday the 5th) for a Gramercy Tavern reservation (they're only taken 4 weeks in advance).

        Best cocktail bars for unique recipes, classic drinks, fresh juices, jiggers, not too sweet drinks, small cocktails as opposed to ones the size of your head:

        For lunch recommendations, it's hard to say without knowing your price, neighborhood, and cuisine considerations.

        28 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          Thanks-Kathryn the list of cocktail spots is great.
          Scarpetta looks great too
          As for reservations, absolutely I plan to book as soon as they allow-likely tomorrow for a Jan2nd at Grammercy.
          For lunches,anything and any budget goes were staying likely at LONDON nyc, will spend a fair amount of time in central park and likely some soho/tribeca time too

          1. re: montreal traveller

            i'd go to cafe habana for a cuban sandwich and corn on the cobb if you are downtown.

            1. re: montreal traveller

              Hi MT,
              If your GT reservations fall through, there's always lunch on the tavern side (no reservations required). I like sushi. Sushi Yasuda is excellent at the sushi bar. Best to get a reservation.

              Babbo always works for me. Scarpetta, too. Both are dinner only and require reservations.

              Modest thoughts: consider lunch at Le Bernardin. You'll have to put on a jacket but that's a small price to pay for such a wonderful (and discounted) meal. Lunch at Esca would be a decent fallback position if: a). reservations at LB fall through; or b). you can't stand the idea of wearing a jacket.

              1. re: steve h.

                scarpetta may win out do to the ease of using open table, but we'll see-and definately report back
                I actually prefer the tavern side at grammercy tavern but shudder the risk of no seating for her bday dinner!

                1. re: montreal traveller

                  plead your case when you call. i've taken deb to gt for her birthday twice.
                  to this day i still don't understand her fascination with the dining room side but i'm a good troop who does as he's told.
                  tavern side? oh yeah.

                  1. re: steve h.

                    Good idea, was just checking out yasuda & Esca, and I totally forgot about le bernardin this just got tougher...

                    1. re: montreal traveller

                      these are classy problems. i think you'll have too much fun.

                      1. re: montreal traveller

                        Considering your hotel's location, I'd say Le Bernardin is a must visit as it's just a convenient 3 minute walk away. For Italian seafood, I'd easily take Marea over Esca if Le Bernardin doesn't work out. Unfortunately, their prices are far closer to Le Bernardin's than Esca's, but it is definitely a far more upscale restaurant.

                    2. re: montreal traveller

                      With regard to Scarpetta reservations, be aware that they do NOT list any prime times on Opentable. EVER! You must call and if they do not offer you a time you like be insistent (though very nicely, of course). They give preference to repeat customers, but if you explain nicely that this is your only opportunity, they will usually try to accommodate. The farther in advance you call, the more likely there will be openings.

                      1. re: rrems

                        Didn't some other CHers complain that they only seat on the half hour? IIRC they only seat tables of 4 at 8:30pm and tables of 2 at 9:30pm and 6:30pm, right?

                        I've tried both calling AND using OpenTable to visit Scarpetta, and even on the phone they only offered me 9:30pm. And I called 4 weeks in advance.

                        1. re: kathryn

                          Was it your first time there? If you have been there before and give your name they will check the computer and see you are a repeat customer and will be more accommodating. I think you are right about the half-hour thing. If I ask for 8 I am offered 8:30. Once I asked for 9 knowing we could not make 8:30, was told it had to be 8:30 or 9:30, made it for 8:30 but told them we would probably be at least 20 minutes late. They said fine, just call and let them know if we are running late. I did, and when we showed up a few minutes to 9 we were seated right away. Go figure.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            I got a 6pm reservation for four at Scarpetta through OpenTable, four weeks in advance (and I'm not a repeat customer). So it can happen.

                            1. re: small h

                              That's exactly my point. 6 is not prime time. I'm thinking 7:30 to 8:30.

                              1. re: rrems

                                Well, kathryn mentioned 6:30. My reply was to her, and it was about seating on the half hour. I had no idea prime time was so exact. Forgive my awful rube-ishness.

                                1. re: small h

                                  FWIW, I called asking for available times for a party of 2 on a particular night, was told 9:30pm, and I thanked them and hung up. I didn't give them my name. But yes, I've dined there before.

                                  I see that they're willing to be flexible if you want 5:30pm versus 6pm versus 6:30pm... or taking you late for a 8:30pm seating should you actually arrive at 9pm. But nobody but VIPs get to eat at 8pm, eh?!

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    The second I become a VIP, I'll let you know! Of course, by that time, Scarpetta will have crumbled into dust. Or I will have.

                                  2. re: small h

                                    Sorry, small h, that was not meant to be a put-down. And as it turns out, the half-hour theory does not apply (at least not anymore) as I called today and reserved for week after next at 8. I was actually given a choice of 8 or 8:30 and this was without them checking my name. However when I checked Opentable the only times being offered were 6:30 and 9:30, so calling is still the way to go.

                                    1. re: rrems

                                      It is forgotten. OpenTable came through for me on this occasion. Who knows why. I am lucky with the clicks, sometimes. Or maybe the VIP pool has shrunk.

                          2. re: montreal traveller

                            If you have difficulty reserving Babbo and Scarpetta, just go to Convivio. It's wonderful and you don't need to jump through hoops to get in.

                        2. re: montreal traveller

                          You're welcome. Do take note of what places take reservations and which are first come, first served. And also do note which cocktail bars are "no standing" and apt to fill up quite quickly.

                          I typically go for a drink before dinner (around 6pm or 6:30pm) and/or on an off day, instead of after dinner. Otherwise, it's hard to get in to a popular spot like Death & Co. or PDT.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            Thanks-Here's an update
                            Grammercy Tavern is closed on the 2nd, so we have a reservation for 7:30pm at Scarpetta on the 2nd and will do GT on the 3rd-I hope-they only take reservations 28 days in advance, which will be Sunday.
                            By the way-the only time on open table was 6pm whch i booked, then called the restaurant 10 minutes later and they changed it to 7:30 no problem.
                            So any good spots for a drink before or after Scarpetta? Either in the area or on the way to London NYC

                            1. re: montreal traveller

                              Scarpetta's bar itself is quite attractive. In terms of cocktail lounges pre-Scarpetta, I'd try going to Little Branch or Pegu Club or Employees only.

                              Although if you're coming from midtown, Ma Peche is nearby and a bartender who is ex-PDT is running the program there. Mostly classics at the moment (martini, manhattan, dark & storm, etc) but well-made. The mixology isn't quite as well executed but the atmosphere is quite nice at some of the other bars in that area.

                              Ex: I like Campbell Apartment, the bar at The Modern (quite close to the London), maybe Oak Room at the Plaza.

                              1. re: kathryn

                                Good bars all. Maybe consider the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis. I like the vibe, the history and the mural. It's on 55th.

                                1. re: steve h.

                                  Awesome- now for breakfast brunch-I like the idea of booking Locanda Verde for one am-anything reasonably
                                  close to the Hotel(london NYC)

                                  1. re: montreal traveller

                                    I've never been to Locanda Verde. If this a Sunday brunch/lunch (1 p.m.) then consider a reservation at Per Se. Maybe the best Sunday lunch I've had in Manhattan. The views over Central Park are stunning this time of year, the five-course lunch is plenty (you can opt for more if you want), the price is reasonable for a splurge weekend and reservations are not made from "unobtainium." Wine pairings are pretty good.

                                    Just a thought...

                                      1. re: steve h.

                                        Does Per Se offer wine parings at lunch? I know they don't at dinner, which kinda surprised me. Thanks.

                                        1. re: KateMW

                                          They do. We paired through every course of our Sunday lunch.