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Seeking upscale pay-as-you-order place for Friday gatherings

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Hi Chowhounds,

A friend and I are planning a regular late-Friday-lunch type deal where friends can come and go as they please a bite, a meal, or or a glass of wine before heading home (or back to office, knowing our friends).

To avoid the whole who-ordered-what problem, we need a place where people can pay as they order but which has yummy food and comfy upscale decor. Mangia comes to mind but it's too casual. If only Keith McNally would invent such a place. But, alas, he hasn't.

Any suggestions?

PS. Go eat the Braised Short Ribs Rendang at Fatty Crab ASAP. It's my new favorite thing.

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Fatty Crab
643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

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  1. Wouldn't separate checks solve the problem.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Ann900

      This is where it pays to make or have made friends with an establishment and a particular wait person. Go in advance, explain your needs, ask for separate checks to be maintained and promise to tip them well - and then make sure that everyone in the group follows through on that. Depending upon how often the group is there and how large it gets, it doesn't hurt to slip and extra $20 or even $50 in cash from time to time. If everyone pitches in $5 to a pot which you hold and hand over at helpful moments, making sure to say that it's from the whole gang which shows you to be a nice guy as well as the leader, that should work out well. Before holidays, their vacation, their birthday, their kid's birthday, would all be good times. You get the idea.

      1. re: Ann900

        not really because we're talking possibly 20 people coming and going at different times. the waiter would hate us if we all had different checks.

        1. re: pork_buns

          No reason why they can't get a check with their meal. This is a deal you have to make with the owner or manager, not the waitperson. You just have to treat the waitperson well. 20 single patrons would present the same challenge, the difference is that this is regular business that the restaurant can count on weekly.

      2. Hill Country for a genuine bbq texas style experience.

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        Hill Country
        30 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodismylife

          much as i love their fatty brisket, hill county''s a bit declasse for this and also not too vegetarian-friendly.

        2. So you basically want a deli... but nice?

          1 Reply
          1. re: ESNY

            kinda. like i say, mangia's the closest thing i've seen but it's not a place to relax really, and that's what we're after.

          2. Maybe City Bakery? Or how about the bar area at Otto?

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            City Bakery
            3 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011