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Feb 5, 2010 02:45 AM

No Jacket Required

Hi, I'm visiting from Ireland in a few weeks for the first time and I was hoping for recommendations for more informal restaurants. Wife and teenager will be with me and we don't intend taking eloborate wardrobes (teenager doesn't have elaborate wardrobe) or sitting around in posh michelin star type places. I'm not necessarily looking for cheap and cheerful, expensive and cheerful is fine (don't get me wrong, cheap is good too).

I'm staying in Midtown East, but I'd invite recommendations for anywhere in Manhattan, with any style of cooking, that does really top quality food in a casual atmosphere.

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  1. Can you add some more parameters? There are way too many restaurants that fit your request as it is. There are hardly any restaurants in NYC which require jackets.What is your budget? Is a wine program important? Cocktails important? Do you want to be at a table for a short time or a long time? Any cuisines you want to avoid, or any cuisines you want to include?

    2 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      Thanks for the reply. I suppose that's why I'm posting here. 7 nights, 7 meals, few restrictions and a mind-boggling array of restaurants to chose from. I don't really have any retrictions on cuisine - it would be nice to get out with a final bill of $300 for three with 1 bottle of reasonable wine.

      I suppose I'm looking for those restaurants that put particular care and attention into sourcing the best of ingredients, treat them with respect in preparation and put them on a plate without letting them fall off, rather than restaurants who present food as a work of art, are faultlessly meticulous in their cooking and the ingredients won't kill you. Does that make sense? Or narrow the field?

      I'm glad to hear most places don't require jackets, I was under the impression you would be out of line at least without one in the likes of Keens, Balthazar, L'Ecole and places of that ilk, no? The jacket was just symbolic for lack of stuffiness really.

      1. re: Melendez

        You don't need to wear a jacket at any of those places. Balthazar is not stuffy at all.

    2. even emp-eleven madison park does not require jacket!! just be smart casual and u will fit in ANYWHERE!!

      1. As mentioned by others the city is pretty wide open based upon your request but to get the ball rolling I'll throw these out there and see what you think after you look into them:

        Public (especially if you go on a Sunday for the Sunday Supper)
        Gramercy Tavern - Tavern Room
        MAS Farmhouse
        Little Owl

        I think these are good to put on your list because they'll all come in under your limit and still offer a great meal. Also, they are all over the city.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Spiritchaser

          I like the look of them, particularly Artisanal and MAS Farmhouse.

          I'd love to try a decent Japanese restaurant. We aren't overrun with japanese restaurants in Dublin. I've stared at the pictures on Megu's home page for longer than can be considered healthy, but I can't justify a budget blowing treat when wife and sprog won't eat raw fish, which rules out great lumps of the menu, plus looks a tad child intimidating. Maybe it would be worth calling in for lunch to get a cheap sighter of the place (or others - I'm staying within a couple of blocks of Seo, but it doesn't have a website and it's hard to get a handle on what sort of place it is)? Any better solutions?

          Sadly, I've also just noticed the thread "Your 2010 'must try' list". I'll be on the internet for a solid month.

          1. re: Melendez

            Oh no don't go to Megu, it's a massive ripoff. Try Sakagura.

            Seo is a tradtional sushi bar, I like it but don't go there with people who won't eat raw fish.

            1. re: Melendez

              Definitely NOT Megu!

              Yasuda for sushi, Ariyoshi for izakaya, Sugiyama for kaiseki, Tori Shin for yakitori. If you want something cheap and casual, Go Go Curry in Midtown.

              And of course, Sakagura for the best sake list and delicious small plates! Love that place!

              1. re: uwsister

                Agreed that you should stay away from Megu and try a place like Yasuda instead. Tori Shin is not bad for yakitori but I personally think Totto is better and more consistent (which is very important if you are visiting from out of town and only have a limited amount of time). You might also want to try Curry Ya for Japanese curry. I've noticed their stuff has also gone downhill a bit, but the Berkshire pork cutlet is still decent.

                1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                  I also like Totto, but I think Tori Shin does better yakitori. I probably go to Totto more often though as the location is more convenient to me. Both places are good, much better than places in EV.

                  1. re: uwsister

                    Agreed that both places are much better than those in EV.

                    Torys could also be another option, even though it's not as good as the other two, since there's usually no wait and thus very easy to get in.

          2. probably be better to tell u restaurants that require jackets, off the top of my head there's Le Bernadin and Per se. but i think youll only have this issue really with michelin star type places and since youre avoiding these places i dont think youll have a problem

            1 Reply
            1. re: daffyduck

              Here's the very short list of restaurants that require jackets:

              Four Seasons
              Jean Georges (at dinner only)
              La Grenouille
              Le Bernardin
              Le Cirque
              Le Perigord
              The Modern Dining Room (at dinner only)
              Per Se
              River Cafe
              21 Club*

              *Last year, the 21 Club finally dispensed with the tie requirement.

            2. Some of my favorites that are casual and not overly expensive, but where you will get a great meal:

              Perry St.
              Bar Breton

              4 Replies
              1. re: rrems


                Have you been to Cru since Todd MacDonald took over the kitchen? If so, I"d love to hear about your experience as I'm trying to decide if I should put it on my "go to" list. (Note: We've never been to Cru.)

                Btw, we finally got to Dovetail at the end of December and had a superb meal.

                Photos here:

                1. re: RGR

                  Yes, we have been there twice since the latest change. The dishes are a bit simpler and they have lowered prices yet again, using cheaper ingredients, e.g. skate instead of cod, leg of lamb instead of rack or saddle, etc. but it is still delicious. Like so many other restaurants in this economy, they are fighting to survive (it was still only half filled when we went in January) and though I like paying less, I do miss the more elaborate preparations, amuses, etc. So, though not as exciting as it once was, it is still worthwhile. I'm glad you enjoyed Dovetail. We haven't been in some months because the menu doesn't change and we've had everything multiple times. If I see some new dishes, we will go back.

                  1. re: rrems

                    Thanks for the reply, rrems. We recently found out that one of EMP's staff dining room managers is married to Cru's wine director/co-partner. That's a major reason we're interested in trying it. It's good to know the food's nicely done.

                    With regard to Dovetail, I haven't been following the menu closely. I would have thought Chef Fraser would be cooking seasonally, so I'm surprised to hear that the menu is so static. We will certainly be going back, but since we aren't in that area of town too often, we can return several times before running out of new dishes to order.

                    1. re: RGR

                      When John Fraser was at Compass and prior to that at Snack Taverna, he changed the menu constantly. I don't know why that's changed, but I just re-checked the menu and the rabbit millefeuille is the only dish I have not seen before. Some of the dishes have been on the menu since the opening, and all the others a year at least. Perhaps it's been so successful he doesn't feel the need to innovate, but for us that is disappointing. I noticed the comment with your photos about tables being crammed together, and this was a surprise also, as they used to be well-spaced, and they are supposed to have expanded the space since we were there last.