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Graduation Dinner near Lincoln Center -weeknight

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We are looking for a restauraunt to celebrate our daughter's graduation which is at Lincoln Center. We would love a restaurant that feels special yet can easily accomodate 12 people with good food, great service,and of course festive . We try to stay away from Indian and Thai restaurants due to nut allergies in the family. We would love to here suggestions.

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  1. It would be helpful if you would provide a per person budget for food only (drinks, tax & tip additional).

    1 Reply
    1. re: RGR

      First of all, sorry for the above typo. As per how much per person, I hadn't really thought about it. I really want a place with good food and atmosphere as mentioned above.. I am interested in my options.

    2. Fiorello's. It's great Italian food (authentic) and you can sit either inside or outside.
      Bar Boulud. It's amazing french food, this place definitely makes you feel special.
      Cafe Luxemburg. Great french food, great ambiance.

      -----
      Bar Boulud
      1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

      10 Replies
      1. re: carub

        i second bar boulud. its not over the top fancy inside, more of a subdued atmosphere but by no means unfestive. the food is so good it makes it feel that much more special, plus the service is fantastic, have never had a bad experience, and the waiters are super friendly and knowledgeable (speaking from experience they are very helpful when it comes to food allergies, as mentioned above) definate reccomendation!

        1. re: coookies

          i think it'd be very hard to get a table for 12 at Bar Boulud, and while the terrines/pate/cheese are nice, the cooked food is overpriced and mediocre...

          That neighborhood (i used to live there) is somewhat challenged for good restaurants...i'd recommend broadening your search to other parts of town...it's on the opposite side of town, but i'd say you should cab over to Maialino, the Danny Meyer place in the Gram Park Hotel...(just a random suggestion)...

          -----
          Bar Boulud
          1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

          Maialino
          2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

          1. re: Simon

            At Bar Boulud, they might be able to string together a series of tables to accommodate 12. And the circular tasting table can fit 12 though that might be odd for this situation. That said, frankly, I think Bar Boulud is all wrong for this occasion as it does not feel special in any way.

            Maialino is terrific. However, aside from the fact that getting such a large group downtown would be a pain, 12 people cannot be accommodated in the dining room (trattoria). They would have to use the private room.

            1. re: RGR

              hey RGR....happy that you like Maialino too...i only started going there last week, but given that a) the staff seem terrific so far, and b) it has a fairly decent-sized dining area/s, i'd bet they'd be able to accomodate the OP...but who knows...(but if they could get the semi-private dining area, that night just the thing)...

              -----
              Maialino
              2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

              1. re: Simon

                Simon,

                We've been to Maialino 5 times, twice for lunch, twice for dinner, and once for brunch. It happens to be located very close to us. Yes, the service is excellent (no surprise, given it's a Danny Meyer restaurant), and I love the rustic decor. But most importantly, the food has been uniformly delicious. We recently shared the eponymous maialino with fellow Hound steakrules85. (Photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                )

                The way the trattoria dining room is set up, i.e., two small back-to-back areas, I can't see how they can situate tables to fit a group of 12. Obviously, the purpose of the private room is to be able to accommodate larger parties. I've seen the room. It's a separate and enclosed space. There are photos of it on the website.

                http://www.maialinonyc.com

                1. re: RGR

                  Even combining three of the four tables in the front/bar/window area would accomodate 12...

                  I've been there 4 times, but always either at the bar or in the bar area so i haven't scouted the back area so thoroughly...

                  Oddly the one dish i was underwhelmed by was the maialino pasta (gluey, bland)...but i've liked everything else, esp the fried artichokes and fried cod starters...the eggplant parmesean and the fried cod together make for a very filling late lunch..

                  1. re: Simon

                    While it would be possible to seat 12 people in that area on the side of the room which has sixe small tables for two, my guess is that since the bar room does not take reservations, management would want to kepp those available for walk-ins.

                    Yes, the fried artichokes are excellent. Haven't had the maialino pasta or the eggplant parmesan. Loved the lasagna and the tonnarelli cacio e pepe. Another favorite: the misticanza salad dressed with lemon and aged balsamic.

                  2. re: RGR

                    When did Maialino move to the Lincoln Center area? Maybe we should ask for clarification about distance from Lincoln Center, or just assume that "near Lincoln Center" means that.

                    1. re: chrisbob

                      "...it's on the opposite side of town, but i'd say you should cab over to Maialino, the Danny Meyer place in the Gram Park Hotel...(just a random suggestion)..."

                      When he suggested Maialino, Simon made it *very* clear that it was not near Lincoln Center.

                2. re: RGR

                  i think the tasting table will be great. Its a bit secluded from the rest of the restaurant and its circular so you can see everyone you're with and its easy to talk to one another. its perfect.

          2. If your group is looking for a party atmosphere, think about Rosa Mexicano across the street from Lincoln Center. If the food is a more important consideration, maybe Picholine on West 64th St. would suit.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chrisbob

              susangail stated that she is looking for a restaurant that "feels special." In what way would Rosa Mexicano fit that descrtiption?

              My first choice would definitely be Picholine, which has all the attributes of a special occasion restaurant. However, it's rather quiet and so, perhaps, susangail might not consider it "festive" enough.

            2. Carmine's (@ http://www.carminesnyc.com/) is great for celebration! Their family size dishes and great Italian food are perfect for any family gatherings. The festive atmosphere is enjoyable for adults or children. And their dessert, Titanic, is unforgettable.

              www.inbundles.com

              6 Replies
              1. re: CantStopEating

                Festive, maybe. But special occasion special? Not in my book.

                1. re: CantStopEating

                  Please don't go to Carmine's. It's barely mediocre Italian American food. Yes, it's festive and loud but, seriously, not special occasion and certainly not delicious.

                  1. re: LNG212

                    Carmine's is not a special place.... to crowded and loud. If you want italian go to Fiorello's.

                    1. re: carub

                      I appreciate all of the suggestions and wanted to add that taking a cab is certainly an option. There is a good chance that we may be 14 people at this point.
                      I would love to hear more suggestions . With such a large party, moderate prices, perhaps American or Italian might be the way to go. Anything back around 23rd Street on the East side would work as that is their home neighborhood.

                      1. re: susangail

                        Perhaps 'inoteca liquori bar?

                        http://www.inotecanyc.com/liquori/

                        -----
                        'inoteca
                        323 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

                        1. re: kathryn

                          The problem with 'inoteca Gramercy is that when it's busy, the noise level is hideously high. It's the reason we only go there midweek for lunch or very late in the evening when it's fairly empty.

                2. thanks for all the suggestions! i am the graduate that susangail referred to... the graduation is at lincoln center and it's my family and my boyfriend's family all dining together. picholine and bar bouloud look fabulous but too expensive for us. any other thoughts?? we will most likely be about 15 people now. this has been very helpful! thank you!!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: RachelJoy

                    firstoff, congrats!

                    15 people, and given the restaurants listed that are too expensive, one option is Sambuca on 72nd between CPW and Columbus. I have been there for large group dinners, the atmosphere is pleasant and not too loud. They are also spacious enough that fitting a request for 15 would be possible.

                    The food is good, family style Italian, I like it better than Carmine's, mentioned above (both the food and atmosphere). Its not about to earn a Michelin star anytime ever, but with family style pasta's at $30ish (each can easily feed 3 people), you aren't paying high prices. They also have a pretty extensive gluten free menu (I know you referenced nut allergies so thought I would mention that).

                    http://sambucanyc.com/

                    -----
                    Sambuca
                    20 West 72nd Street, New York, NY 10023

                  2. Compass on West 70 St. off Amsterdam has a moderately priced menu with a wide selection, charming service and two lovely glassed-in private rooms for large parties. Very festive!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rifbat

                      And Compass can feel special if you get one of the private rooms

                    2. compass sounds delicious. the large party dinner suggestion was $80 per person which is a little high for us, although the room is so gorgeous and festive. has anyone heard about Strada 57? and my boyfriend and i love eating at L'Express on the east side. I looked into Nice Matin which is a related restaurant. Has anyone eaten there? thanks again for all the help!

                      -----
                      L'Express
                      249 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10003

                      Nice Matin
                      201 West 79th Street, New York, NY 10024

                      Strada 57
                      315 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: RachelJoy

                        Congratulations on your upcoming graduation, RachelJoy!

                        I'm not a fan of L'Express and have not been to Nice Matin. However, two other restaurants in that group that I like and, imo, have very good food are Marseille, on the corner of 9th Av. & 44th St., and Café d'Alsace, on the corner of 2nd Av. & 88th St. Of the two, Marseille has the more eye-catching decor, but both are very lively.

                        http://www.marseillenyc.com
                        http://www.cafedalsace.com

                        1. re: RachelJoy

                          I've enjoyed dining at Nice Matin - the menu has some interesting choices, the food has always been well prepared and served, and I think their price point is close to yours. It's got a lively atmosphere, and is fairly large, so it should be possible for them to handle your group. Definitely worth checking out.

                          I know you're seeking to avoid Indian/Thai per your original post, but you might consider Bar Bao on 81st off Columbus; it's Vietnamese (don't seem to be many nut-based sauces), the food is good and easy to share, the ambience is very pleasant, and they should also be able to accomodate your party.

                          -----
                          Nice Matin
                          201 West 79th Street, New York, NY 10024

                          1. re: Striver

                            Unfortunately, Bar Bao has closed.

                            1. re: kathryn

                              Sorry to hear that they're gone - their duck/daikon hash was worth a detour.

                        2. Congratulations!

                          You might want to try A voce columbus. I haven't been there yet but i have been to the Madison location. Maybe Nougatine at Jean George's? (if not Jean Georges which is much more expensive) Bar Boulud was a great recommendation.

                          For the Flatiron location i would recommend Colicchio and Sons. Its new and received a great review from the nytimes. Craft would also be nice but is in the more expensive area along with colicchio and sons.

                          ABC kitchen just opened and it seems like an interesting place.

                          -----
                          Jean Georges
                          1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

                          Bar Boulud
                          1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                          Nougatine
                          1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: mjm1218

                            C&S is 85 Tenth Avenue (at the corner of 15th Street) -- not really close to the Flatiron building.

                            1. re: kathryn

                              i suppose. quick cab ride though.

                              1. re: mjm1218

                                Possibly, I've had trouble getting a cab around Lincoln Center, though, especially right after a big event. Also note that they'll have about 15 people with them, and C&S can be rather expensive (entrees in the mid-30s) and RachelJoy did mention that the price of Compass was already a little high for them at $80pp.

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Very true

                          2. Wow there's a lot of replies! Just based on that i'd be tempted to take the easy route and just go to PJ Clarke's across the street from lincoln center -- it's casual, not special occasion at all, but it's got a wide menu and feels very new York. And reasonably priced. If you can get your group into a corner in the back or downstairs i'm sure it'll feel special enough!

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: 1uc7

                              I am Rachel Joy's mother and wanted to thank everyone for their suggestions. It seems the count is higher now at 22 people and as you can tell, we are really looking forward to this wonderful occasion. The restaurant group that does the group sales for Nice Matin also suggested Ruby Foo's, and Isabella's. Any more thoughts would be appreciated. I loved the menu at Isabella's and they gave us a menu for $50 per person. Ruby Foo's is $55. I am not sure why Chinese would be more expensive and really thought Isabella's looked like a beautiful restaurant. Unfortunately, I am in New Jersey and not able to visit all of these restaurants between work and life. Keep posting. We are reading them all.

                              -----
                              Ruby Foo's
                              2182 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

                              Nice Matin
                              201 West 79th Street, New York, NY 10024

                              1. re: susangail

                                Interesting that the person from Nice Matin suggested those two because they are in a different unrelated group: Steve Hansen's B.R. Guest Restaurants.

                                http://www.brguestrestaurants.com

                                Ruby Foo's is not strictly Chinese, more Pan-Asian, while Isabella's menu is eclectic, i.e., something for everyone. I've not been to either, but I have been to other Hansen restaurants, and they tend to be pretty good. In this cse, my preference would be Isabella's, which gets generally favorable reviews.

                                With your group having become this large, logistics should probably be a major factor. That is, you want to make it reasonably convenient for everyone to get to the restaurant from Lincoln Center. Ruby Foo's is in the Times Square area. Isabella's is on Columbus and 77th St., an easy 10-block walk. I think you see where I'm going with this...

                                1. re: susangail

                                  At $50 a person for Isabella's, I think that is a good deal. If Ruby Foo's still had their UWS location, it might be worth considering, but since they are only in Times Sq now, I think Isabella's is a good way to go. I've eaten there several times, and have always enjoyed it.

                                  -----
                                  Ruby Foo's
                                  2182 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

                                  1. re: susangail

                                    Not a fan of Ruby Foo's. The food is OK but way overpriced for the quality you're receiving, and you're paying more for atmospher/decor (which I found to be a little cheesy and un-New York-like).

                                    -----
                                    Ruby Foo's
                                    2182 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

                                    1. re: kathryn

                                      the ruby foos on the UWS closed some time ago, so the one they are talking about must be the one in times square, not exactly close by to lincoln center. isabellas is beautiful inside and the service is great. have only eaten brunch there a few times but the food was delicous and it is def a place to celebrate a special occasion

                                2. sorry for the confusion with the restaurants. the rep from Isabella's and BR Guest group suggested Ruby Foo's. The Nice Matin person suggested Pigalle or Barbounia. But now we are leaning towards Sambuca since they can offer us a private room for about $40 per person and it's decent italian food that is probably hard to mess up for a big group of people. I just hope the atmosphere is nice. I was thinking of checking it out one night this week to see for myself. Any other thoughts on private rooms near Lincoln Center for a good price? Thank you so much for all your suggestions!!

                                  -----
                                  Ruby Foo's
                                  1626 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

                                  Barbounia
                                  250 Park Ave South, New York, NY 10003

                                  Nice Matin
                                  201 West 79th Street, New York, NY 10024

                                  Pigalle
                                  790 8th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                                  Isabella's
                                  359 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

                                  Sambuca
                                  20 West 72nd Street, New York, NY 10023

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: RachelJoy

                                    I'm not a big fan of the atmosphere at sambuca tho the food is fine. I would see what kind of deal Arte cafe could give you since I think that's the same level of food but a nicer atmosphere. I don't know if they have a private room, but it's a well laid out place so a big group could feel private. It's on 73rd near Columbus.

                                    -----
                                    Arte Cafe
                                    106 W 73rd St, New York, NY 10023

                                    1. re: 1uc7

                                      Arte cafe is really nice! I sent an inquiry...we'll see what they say. Thanks!!

                                      -----
                                      Arte Cafe
                                      106 W 73rd St, New York, NY 10023

                                  2. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Gabriel's on W. 60th St. - I've always had really good Tuscan food, they have a nice private room, and they'd work w/ your budget. Check it out.
                                    http://www.gabrielsbarandrest.com/ind...