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Romantic and/or Fun Restaurant Near to Metropolitan Museum of Art?

My mid-30's nephew is looking for a romantic and/or fun restaurant to go out to on a Friday night after spending some time at the Metropolitan Museum. It's a celebration of his wife's birthday so someplace a bit special would be nice. I don't get out too often in that neighborhood. I used to go to Le Refuge but I'm not sure it's still up to snuff. Any other recommendations? I think they'd ramble a little say up to the 86th Street area or down to the 70's or so for someplace good.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Cafe Sabarsky
    86h St & 5th Avenue in the Neue Galerie
    beautiful old world room, Viennese food, gracious service and they may have live music on Friday nights - check the website. It's a lovely place. Arguably the best pastry in New York, too. And some good Austrian wines.

    2 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      FYI: Cafe Sabarsky only open until 9 PM on Fridays.

      1. re: gutsofsteel

        Ditto for Cafe Sabarsky. It was my first thought when I saw this thread title. The food is SO delicious, not to mention the pastry. And the service is exemplary.

      2. I haven't been in years, but Erminia (250 East 83rd) gets high marks from many for both the food and the romantic ambiance. It's an easy walk from the Met. I was at Le Refuge several months ago and, while the food was pretty good, it is looking quite "down at the heels," i.e., dirty old carpeting and chairs that feel like if you eat too much you will fall right through. Not old and charming, just old.

        I like Cafe Boulud (20 East 76th) but thought I had read some less than glowing reviews recently.

        10 Replies
        1. re: City Kid

          I had a very good meal at Cafe Boulud a few weeks ago. The refurbished room is lovely, and Bar Pleiades (haven't been yet) looks like a very nice place to have a drink.

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            I had a drink at Bar Pleiades on Friday night with my husband, before going to dinner. Very much liked it, and am glad that you've mentioned it, or I wouldn't have thought of going. Beautiful room - sort of early 1930s Deco meets hip chic. Fun music, younger than usual for the UES crowd, excellent service. We both enjoyed our Pisco Sours, but wished they weren't served in champagne flutes. Ate all the home made potato chips in the little bowl - I think they had a slight curry taste to them. One thing I liked - they offer canape plates - i.e., for $16, a variety of canapes for two. Didn't try them though. This is definitely a place I'll go back to, particularly on a Friday night, when Bemelman's is packed and it's impossible to hear yourself talk, let alone someone else.

            1. re: MMRuth

              Man, that bar looks lovely... but $18 for an Old-Fashioned? I understand it's a Manhattan bar and I'm sure the whiskey's top-shelf, but that's plain silly.

          2. re: City Kid

            I had a great lunch at Cafe Boulud last month, and I think it'd be a good choice for this couple.

            The recent post you're thinking of may be the one about brunch, which I don't applies to dinner.

            UPDATE: I should also mention that if you're willing to go over to 2nd Ave. and 81st, then Sandro's would also be a great option.

            1. re: ml77

              Glad to hear it because I love Cafe Boulud and thought it would be great for a birthday dinner!

              1. re: ml77

                I was thinking about Sandro's as well - but when I've been there, it has been incredibly noisy. That might fit "fun", but not romantic.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  We had a fantastic dinner at Cafe Boulud this past Nov. when we were in NYC for 3 nights. I highly recommend it! :)

                2. re: ml77

                  I have not been to Cafe Boulud since it was remodeled. How did you like the new room?

                  1. re: Rmis32

                    Was it Cafe Boulud that was remodeled? My husband popped his head in on Friday and said it looked the same - though he's not always the most observant person in the world.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I was there in early August & they said the'd be closing for about a month to re-model. Haven't heard anything about the outcome.

                1. re: coasts

                  Flex Mussels is definitely not a special place to celebrate a birthday.

                    1. re: coasts

                      flex has a nice clean modern styling and atmosphere. special isn't only old school tablecloths.....

                      1. re: thew

                        I'm well aware of that. But Flex is simply not a special or birthday-worthy restaurant in any way. I've been there a few times, it's fine in its category, but occasion-worthy it ain't.

                        1. re: thew

                          in all situations, i hope the readers check all given options and decide for themselves what might be best. who knows, maybe the OP and his SO met on PEI and would love nothing more than reminiscing over some mussels.

                          maybe gutsofsteel doesn't get down how i get down, and that's cool with me.

                          1. re: coasts

                            But you think Flex Mussels is "special" and in any way similar to "Le Refuge?"

                            1. re: gutsofsteel

                              Have you been to Le Refuge recently? I wonder if it has been fixed up at all since I was there last February...looked and felt quite shabby.

                              1. re: gutsofsteel

                                special, yes. similar to la refuge - no

                    2. If the rooftop bar is open (though I don't think it will be until it warms up) that's a super place for a drink and then get a taxi to the Boathouse (or the shuttle that goes from the Met). That way you have a lovely Central Park afternoon and evening.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bronwen

                        The Boathouse is very nice,, we had lunch there this past Nov. while strolling through Central Park, the views are gorgeous of the lake. We took a row boat ride after lunch, Central Park is everything I had always dreamed it would be. :)

                      2. Bumping this thread. Should we attempt Cafe Sabarsky on a Saturday afternoon? Other recs? Thanks so much!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: rozziegirl

                          You might have long wait at Café Sabarsky.

                          You could make a reservation at Café Boulud instead.