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Need some help with a birthday dinner in June - I promise I'll be specific in my post!

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I'm taking my boyfriend out to dinner for his 30th birthday in June and am trying to pick a restaurant. We both love food, and generally do big splurge / tasting menu / restaurant-we-always-wanted-to-try birthday dinners. Past b-day dinners have been Momofuku Ko, Babbo, Lupa, Little Owl and two Brooklyn restaurants that I'll leave out here since it's the wrong board. Because this is the big 30th birthday, my initial plan was to do something really special (I was initially thinking about getting a driver to take us out to Blue Hill stone barns, or something similar) but I'm now downsizing for two reasons: 1- I decided on a very pricey bday present & 2- for family reasons we're now going to be going out on a Wednesday night.

So, here's what I'm looking for:
- Cost: under $400 (though obviously cheaper would be better) including drinks & tip
- Tasting menu within my price range would be a huge plus - he loves doing tasting menus. Even better if tasting menu + good wine pairing is in my price range
- Good wine (even if it's not in a pairing) is a must
- We're both adventurous eaters and any type of food is an option. Not sushi or Indian unless it's really special - in general these are more my things than his, and it's his birthday so I want it to be about him
- The lower half of Manhattan is preferable but not necessary
- Something fun and interesting! Good food is definitely way more important than a beautiful room / elegant setting. Quirky / unusual / interesting / exciting / informal / adventurous - all good for us!

So far I've been thinking about:
- Blue Hill NY (tasting)
- Degustation
- Craft

Sorry about the long post! Any thoughts / comments / etc would be much appreciated!

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  1. I really enjoyed my dinner at Degustation. Interesting food and venue and a knowledgeable and personable sommelier...though i did find the wine choices a bit limited.We had the 5 course tasting menu and I was full. You could still do the 10 course menu and be within your budget. A standout dish for me was the sunchoke soup with sea urchin.

    1. How about:

      Scarpetta - great tasting menu, nice contrast to Babbo and Lupa

      Corton - the 3 course comes with an array of elaborate side dishes, so it's about the same amount of food as the tasting. Great wine selection as well

      Casa Mono - fun, interesting, unusually delicious small plates, nice alternative to Degustation

      The Modern Bar Room - for the same reasons as Casa Mono, but with an Alsatian emphasis

      -----
      Lupa
      170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

      Babbo
      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      Casa Mono
      52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

      Scarpetta
      355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

      Corton
      239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

      1. We haven't been to Degustation or Craft (though from what I've heard, Craft is best experienced with a group), and our dinner at Blue Hill NYC was too long ago to be relevant. That said...

        I would suggest you consider Aldea. Chef George Mendes' Portuguese-inspired contemporary cuisine is some of the most interesting -- and delicious -- food being served in NYC right now. Our most recent meal there was a tasting menu. In a word: Superb! We sat at the counter, and it was fun watching our dishes being put together and being able to chat with the chefs.

        The 5-course Chef's Tasting Menu is $80. With wine, tax, and tip, you should easily come in under your $400 budget.

        Here are the photos of our tasting. I left the photography to one of our dining companions with skills far superior to mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulterior...

          1. re: carub

            Ditto Craft is great. Although as RGR stated it is best when going with a group to try many dishes, it still is a great restaurant regardless.

          2. I love Degustation for the food, service and entertainment. I have never been disappointed with the 10 course tasting menu. I have been to Craft, and while I enjoyed it, I haven't felt compelled to return.