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Where to Eat Next?

Did a search of this Board. I need your help . . . someplace for dinner next week that will excite and surprise us. A few preliminaries:

*I only eat fish and poultry, otherwise open to all cuisines
*SO is following a Lenten diet
*I need to get a reservation easily (opentable.com preferred, no David Chang)
*Not NEW (though I've been breaking my "not until 6 months . . ." more often)
*Not noisy, not a scene
*Enjoy both casual and fine dining, tend to prefer smaller spaces
*Not Per Se, Masa, Le Bernardin, Jean Georges (saving this for lunch), Daniel, EMP
*Not The Modern - Dining Room, Falai, Periyali, Pylos, Maialino, SHO
*Doesn't matter if it's on Restaurant Week
*Good wine list a plus

Last time Kathryn suggested Kyo Ya which we enjoyed. I also thought of:

*Marea
*Tocqueville
*Veritas
*Gotham Bar & Grill
*Picholine (not the best location, UWS)
*Ilili (not enough non-meat choices?)
*Rayuela (I like it better than SO)
*Aldea (Aldea & Falai are our current favorites)
*Cookshop (suggested by a friend, not enough non-meat choices?)
*La Fonda del sol
*Allegretti

After looking at the menus, Marea, Tocqueville, Gotham Bar and Grill look the most interesting. Your thoughts? Someplace else?

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    1. re: steakrules85

      steakrules85, we've had this discussion before . . . SO went late last year. I still have not been. I'm looking at the menu right now. I'll have to re-read your report.

      1. We had dinner at Marea a few weeks ago. Forget small space. While not a scene, per se, it did have a bit of that feel about it. I think it was the music that did that. It was of the thump, thump variety that I find offensive. Luckily, it wasn't blasting. But if you're looking for quiet, this is not the place. Service was very slow in getting started, though once it did, it was fine. As for the all-important food, most of what we had was very good though my St. Pierre (John Dory) was too dry.

        Photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        Tocqueville and Veritas are two of our long-time favorites. Both have everything you are looking for: superb cuisine, fine wine lists (Veritas's being, of course, one of the most extraordinary in the city), excellent service, and lovely, quiet ambiance. I've always liked the very contemporary space at Veritas, which I find very soothing, and the understated elegant decor at Tocqueville makes it, imo, one of the city's most beautiful dining rooms.

        Tocqueville photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        and here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        Veritas photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        We adore Allegretti, but it can be noisy in the evening when it's full. At lunch, it's usually like a tomb.

        Allegretti photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        We also love Picholine. While it isn't small, both dining rooms have a cozy feel. If you are willing to go to the UWS, it has all the other attributes you are seeking.

        Picholine photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        You know from another thread that we liked La Fonda del Sol a lot. But we were there for a late mid-week lunch when the dining room was quite empty, so I have no idea what the noise level would be when it's busy.

        I disliked Cookshop. Mediocre food, haphazard service, tables way too close, and LOUD!

        8 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          RGR, thanks so much. Appreciate your Allegretti and La Fonda del Sol (really like the menu and all the jalapeno) suggestions from another thread :) I better save those for lunch.

          1. re: financialdistrictresident

            I would also recommend Allegretti. Even when we were there on Friday night it really was not noisy, and weeknights are less busy. Veritas would be a good choice, too. Picholine is another of my favorites. How about SD26? It was not nearly as loud as I was expecting it to be, and the food was superb. Or Tabla. Very interesting and delicious Indian-influenced food, and great atmosphere.

            1. re: rrems

              Thanks, rrems.

              Been to Tabla . . . I like Indian influenced more than SO. Right now it's looking like Veritas or Tocqueville. I'll check out SD26.

              How was the space at SD26? It's sounds offputting here:

              http://events.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/...

              . . .SO is eating at Convivio tonight. Could there be such a thing as too much Italian food?

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                < Could there be such a thing as too much Italian food? >

                That's a question I've been asking myself lately. Thinking about trying Maialino and then wondering if we don't have enough Italian on our list already.

                I would not put much stock in Sifton's review of SD26. It's really quite pleasant, spacious and comfortable, and his complaints about the food (the idea that people want everything to be local, like there is something wrong with them importing meat and cheese from Italy, who cares where it comes from as long as it's good?) seemed like he was trying awfully hard to find fault.

                1. re: rrems

                  rrems, we like local and imported, as well. Whatever tastes fresh and good. I skimmed the article quickly and I did get a sense of negativity running through the review. Not sure I want to go for one signature dish . . . are there any other standouts?

                  1. re: rrems

                    rrems, SO thought Maialino's oxtail was excellent. Brave man went without reservations . . .I have not been yet.

                    To whet your Maialino appetite:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668394

                  2. re: financialdistrictresident

                    FDR, even though I went there for Restaurant Week, I thought the food was pretty good though the portions were on the small side. The signature raviolo was to die for, imo. The space was nice and contemporary.

                    Here's the review and photos of my experience there:
                    http://thewanderingeater.com/2010/02/...

                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      I really like the space at SD26, it's bright but not too bright. I really loved the little alcove areas, especially since you can sit at a 90 degree angle with your dining companion. There's lot of interesting architectural elements going on at different heights. They've got a second floor walk way, a kitchen you can peek into, and it's pleasantly modern without being too cold. But I really think that art they have hanging looks ugly. Too much like tie-dyed yarn.

                      Everything else, including the service and food, is lovely, though, and worth a try.

              2. I had a superb and thoroughly satisfying meal at Tocqueville. It was elegant and quiet and the service was impeccable. Another option that fits your specifications is Aquagrill. I would tend away from Allegretti - I found the food forgettable.

                1 Reply
                1. re: windycity

                  Thanks, windycity. Aquagrill is a good rec. I didn't even think of it. Unfortunately, I like it better than SO. I also thought about Aquavit . . .

                2. I haven't read this thread closely but I have to think Esca could work: good fish, good pasta, really good wine. Avoid the theater crowd and all is bliss.

                  Back to Sushi Yasuda in a few weeks (at the bar).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: steve h.

                    Thanks, steve h. I hadn't thought of Esca. I'll take a look at their menu and see what hounds have reported recently.

                  2. I'm a big fan of Basta Pasta and Omai - 2 restaurants that don't get much love on CH. Basta Pasta is an Italian restaurant run entirely by a Japanese staff that put's their own twist on the food. Last time I was there, I was seated next to Yoko Ono! Omai is a white tablecloth Vietnamese restaurant in Chelsea that serves great non-red meat dishes. It's one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in the city. Check them out!

                    www.inbundles.com

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: CantStopEating

                      I agree 100% about OMai. I have recommended it on CH, and it is definitely one of the best Vietnamese. Haven't been to Basta Pasta, maybe I should give it a try.

                      1. re: rrems

                        OMai sounds interesting . . .and it's not Italian :)