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Recommendations for a Stellar/Atmospheric 33rd Birthday Dinner in Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn (no Midtown)?

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I'll be celebrating my 33rd birthday in July, and am looking for a great restaurant recommendation. My eyes have been on Blue Hill, Eleven Madison and Le Bernardin (never been to any of these), but since I'll be eating with four to five other people (including freelancers, a writer, and artists), who probably can't (or shouldn't!) swing it, I have to rein in my price range.

So! I'm looking for a place with great atmosphere (Lupa seems too busy/hectic; Marlow and Sons is tasty, but a bit hot and cramped) and special (maybe even sensuous!) food, something more involved than the usual moderate dinner out and possibly a step up from these places. A fairly reasonable tasting menu or a few unusual or exquisite items to share would be exciting (I've done Perry St., which was okay, if a bit sober, cuisinically...). I'm not much of a beef/fois gras eater, but I'm open to great places. Italian, new American, something with a raw bar, lighter/southern French fare--anything really!

Also--I'd prefer not to make anyone schlep to midtown on a Sunday, so southern Manhattan and anywhere in Brooklyn (I live in Cobble Hill) is ideal.

I know this is a bit broad, but I'm stumped to find something special and fun, and possibly offer a few new food experiences to people that won't cost $150 per person....

Many thanks, in advance!

Blue Hill
75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

Le Bernardin
155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

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  1. Take a look at Hearth. It should fit most of your requirements.

    1 Reply
    1. re: princeofpork

      Very much agree with the Hearth recommendation.

    2. I ended up going to Nougatine for my birthday last week and had a great time. They have a $38 prix fixe (early or late 5:30-6 or after 10pm), the food was terrific, the atmosphere was lovely (airy, festive and not too fancy), and it's near the A,C,2,3 so it's not bad to get to from Brooklyn.

      In Brooklyn I love Brooklyn Fish Camp, but they are closed on Sundays.

      For cozy atmosphere, and moderate prices, I really dig Jack the Horse in Brooklyn Heights. They have great cocktails, lovely cozy atmosphere, and very nice food. The prices are quite reasonable and they take reservations. And! It's close to the promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park for after dinner moseying. I also love the italian ices at Fascati Pizza near there for on the go dessert.

      Another Cobble Hill favorite is Hibano, the kyoto style Japanese place on Henry near Atlantic. It's informal but very cute in a subdued way. Their daily small plates are the way to go, and they are always under $6. Also, their home made tofu is fab. They don't usually take reservations, but I think they will accept them for groups of 6 or more. You can live it up with great food and sake for under $40 pp.

      1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

      1. Good Fork
        No. 7

        1 Reply
        1. re: chewbie

          Oooh, Good Fork is very nice, and they have outdoor dining! Red Hook can be a little hard to get to, but it's so beautiful once you're there.

        2. Maybe Locande Verde, though that get's pretty busy. They have enough food to share around family style.

          The tasting menu at Torrisi is like $45 bucks if you can get in...

          1. Traif in Williamsburg would be a great fit for your dinner party. Esp if you can snag a spot on the backyard patio.

            1. Just a quick request that the original poster start a second thread on Outer Boroughs for a more in depth discussion of Brooklyn options. Leave a link to the thread here so people can pop over there to find it. Alternately, "The Best" board is available for discussions that cross the city.

              1 Reply
              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                Hi everyone--those are all excellent ideas! I think actually ALL of your suggestions are spot-on. Thank you!

                I've never been to Hearth, but it is one of my friend's favorites for her birthday. Locanda Verde is so delicious, but does get a bit crazily packed sometimes. Dressler is wonderful, and I love the Good Fork, when I can trek out there. Certain restaurants, like Traif, I've never heard of; nice. I will do a little background research on all of these, and will post again what I've narrowed it down to.

                Thank you again, everybody!

                Locanda Verde
                377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013