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Jun 17, 2010 08:34 PM

Special Occassion, Not Too Dressy

I have been lurking for years and have spent many hours trying to find the right place. I'm finally admitting I need some help.

My husband and I will be celebrating 25 years together with a visit the last week of July. He also owes me a foodie birthday dinner. I prefer WV, Soho, LES, EV areas, but am willing to branch out if need be for the perfect spot. He won't be packing a suit, and I doubt even a sport coat.

Food is my thing, I love to eat it and prepare it (yes, I love to watch Top Chef, especially the Masters). To him, it is sustenance, but he has been known to enjoy the finer things.

Price range: $300-ish for 2 with wine. Could possibly inch that a bit higher (he has owed me this dinner for 2 years and I do have yet another birthday between now and then I could use for leverage)


Me: Cucumbers, oysters, watermelon, beer
Him: Anything too adventurous (thinks I'm crazy eating sweet breads), spicy cuisines (Indian, Ethiopian for example), tomato based sauces


Me: Tasting menus with wine pairings (but not all seafood), champagne/sparkling wine, fried chicken, potato salad (anything Southern/Midwestern)
Him: Steak with a good Cabernet, oysters, seafood pasta, corned beef, matzo ball soup, foie gras

Would like to avoid Sushi, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese (we live in Southern California).We rarely order desert, but if we do it's usually dark chocolate, berries, or something lemon. Neither of us drink coffee, but some good tea would be nice at the end of the meal.

I have already been to Babbo which I enjoyed, but want something different. We love a place here called Watermarc Grill that has small plates and wines by the 1/4 and half glass so would be open to something similar. Someplace romantic, a nice view, and/or outside dining would be nice, but not necessary.

I hope that helps to narrow things down...and isn't too picky

I am also looking for somewhere casual (jeans & T-shirt) to eat after a Wednesday night concert at MSG, possibly with a few friends.


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  1. My last two favorite birthday dinners have been at Union Square Cafe and Locanda Verde. I would also suggest checking out Eleven Mad Park, Tocqueville and Degustation, purely based on what I've read/heard about them. I haven't had the pleasure of trying those myself, but I think they might fit your requirements for something special. (Although, I have to say I'm not sure about the dress codes. I know you can go more casual at USC and LV, because I saw people wearing jeans at both places, even though I was more dressed up...)

    Happy anniversary and enjoy your trip. FYI, NYC Restaurant Week runs until July 25, so maybe you can catch a good deal, depending on the exact dates of your trip!

    Locanda Verde
    377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

    1. Union Square Cafe is one of my favorites but I also like Gramercy Tavern, Gotham Bar and Grill and Eleven Madison Park. Either one would be outstanding for your 25th. I'm glad you like Babbo. I like it too. Balthazar is another favorite but it's pretty loud at night. A big favorite of mine is The Water Club at 30th. The view is outstanding and the food is nice also. I also like Artisinal Bistro on Park and 32nd. How's the weather in Southern California. Good luck.

      Eleven Madison Park
      11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

      Gramercy Tavern
      42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      Gotham Bar and Grill
      12 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003

      The Water Club
      500 E 30th Street, New York, NY 10016

      1. Eleven Madison Park.

        Eleven Madison Park
        11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

        1. For something a bit more casual than EMP (which is fabulous, by the way), you may want to try Recette in the West Village. New American small plates restaurant that does wine pairings. It is much smaller and more casual than EMP, and not as refined, but very good.

          328 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10014

          3 Replies
          1. re: kiworan79

            What a great rec! I just checked out the site/menu and now I want to try it. Looks amazing -- and has sweetbreads! I loved the dessert and brunch menus, too! Thanks! Room looks nice, too -- at least in the pictures without people! How's the noise level?

            1. re: saturngrrl

              The food is excellent, and it is not noisy, just a nice lively feeling. Tables are fairly close together, but not uncomfortable.

              1. re: saturngrrl

                I have to give credit to rrems, whose initial recommendation brought us to Recette!

                Because the tables are so close together, the noise levels depends on your neighbors. When we were there last, we were seated next to a four-top with some very loud women diners, so it was not as quiet as we would have liked. However, I think that our last experience was a bit of an anomoly, as it is generally not as loud.

                Enjoy and congratulations!

                328 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10014

            2. How about Morandi? It can get loud, but the food and wine are excellent (particularly the roasted veal chop)

              211 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014