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Mom and Dad's 40th Anniversary

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So my sister and I were planning to treat my parents to a celebratory dinner this coming Saturday, 3/20. Our original plans fell through, and now we are scrambling for a new option. Please do not criticize my lack of detail -- I know I can get killed on Chowhound for vagueness, so I'm trying my best to be clear about what matters.

Criteria (from most to least important):

1. Available (if it's on Opentable, that's a good sign -- we're looking for 3/20 at 8 or 8:30)
2. Good energy -- we like to converse, so not too noisy, but we're also not a rowdy group and will benefit from a room with a lot of buzz.
3. Ambiance = simple elegance. They would be fans, for instance, of wooden farm-style tables.
4. Good service -- it's for their anniversary, so hitting the right notes on service will be important.
5. Italian, French or American baseline cuisine. Food should also be slightly inventive (they eat out a lot and will appreciate a classic dish prepared with fresh and familiar ingredients in a novel way) but not "out there." It goes without saying that if you're recommending it, you personally like it.
6. Manhattan (east side preferred) or Brooklyn.
7. Cost is not a huge issue, but I would say we don't want to spend more than $100/pp total (inc. tax/tip/wine) for six people.

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  1. Also, as a point of comparison, we were thinking about 10 Downing and La Grenouille, but can't get a table for 6 at either on this short notice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lorax14

      La Grenouille is not inventive, and it is in no way "simple elegance."

      But if you're interested in French, and La Grenouille was an option, you could consider L'Absinthe. On E. 67th St.

      http://www.labsinthe.com/

    2. Checking Opentable I see there are many places I would otherwise recommend that are fully booked. Of what is available, here are some ideas:

      Cru
      Marseille
      Park Avenue Bistro
      Perry St.
      Tabla (but the earliest is 9:00)

      If you were considering La Grenouille (which will NOT fit your stated budget) you might consider Picholine.
      .

      5 Replies
      1. re: rrems

        I don't think you can get out of Picholine for $100/pp including wine, tax, and tip.

        1. re: gutsofsteel

          You're absolutely right, gos. But as rrems points out, La Grenouille was under consideration, and there's no way to get out of there for $100pp either. Well, maybe if you do the two-course prix fixe for $78 and drink only "Chateau Bloomberg." That's, of course, during prime time. If you go between 5 and 6 p.m. and after 9:30 p.m., there is the $59 Theater Menu, $79 with wine pairings. At Picholine, there is no such comparable option..

          1. re: RGR

            That was my point exactly, RGR. Thank you for explaining it to guts.

        2. re: rrems

          I should have mentioned that aside from being over your stated budget, both La Grenouille and Picholine are the antithesis of "simple elegance". They are both quite formal.

          1. re: rrems

            With regard to formality, La Grenouille requires jackets, but Picholine does though I've noticed that most men do wear a jacket there.

        3. In Brooklyn, Saul has availability and meets all your other requirements.