Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Jul 28, 2010 05:34 PM

Dinner for 2 Friday night...

If you could recommend ANY restaurant (just for fun) this is your personal choice and opinion for two out of towners from CAD, within a rough budget of $70-$100/pers. anywhere in Manhattan, with the following criteria (see below)... what would ibe?

- can be ANY type of cuisine, however preferably not something commonly enjoyed in or around Quebec (ie. we have great french restaurants, I wouldnt go to NYC to eat...) perhaps something more exotic, continental, etc. that our city doesn't set the primo example for.
- nothing overly formal or stuffy or pretentious service
- nothing overly casual and hectic either
- a place with atmosphere, however YOU would personally chose to describe it (can vary greatly to your personal preferance!)
- within the budget constraints detailed (could be slightly give or take in this regard, within your common judgement of reason)

Where would YOU personally chose to recommend?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think that you are going to get a wide variety of answers, and I would tend to take your requirement of "something more exotic" as being somewhat key. I love good Indian food and think that Tamarind in Gramercy would fit the bill. Not formal, but a nice dining room, not hectic, but it does have a lively crowd. It will easily fit within your budget (assuming no drinks) and will still fit if you have a reasonably priced bottle of wine and a cocktail each.

    1. That's a tall order. What restaurants do you like in Quebec City. That might help. I love Italian food and Il Mulino is my favorite in NYC. It's small and very busy.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Littleman

        Well I'm from Montreal, to clarify... but I must say that some of the best meals I've ever had were in Quebec City (Le Saint-amour, Panache, Patriarche, L'Echaudé, etc)

        That said, I'd stray fromt his type of cuisine as it is done so well in our region. Tamarind is a great suggestion though and I was considering that prior to posting! I've only ever been to Devi in NY (I really wanted to reserve a table but heard of the kitchen changes so decided against) but this is where we'll likely end up.

        I'm still curious to hear others opinions. Assuming YOU were us (albeit with greater knowledge of local restaurant scene)


        1. re: OliverB

          The best meal I ever had anywhere in the world was Le Saint-Amour. It was so good we left a restaurant early after only a glass of wine and went back to Le Sain-Amour the next night. I really like L'Echaude also. How do you post the little deal over the e.

          Your request is very broad but Keen's Steakhouse has wonderful atmosphere and it's not too formal or too casual. The menu is diversified so you will find things you probably don't see in Canada. Jean George's might meet your requirements. It's more than casual but not too formal and the menu is diversified also. It's in a large high ceiling room mostly modern and the kitchen is near where you can watch the chef cooking.

          Keen's Steakhouse @ 72 West 36th Street, New York, NY 212 - 947 - 3636.

          Jean George's @ 1 Central Park West, New York, NY 212 - 299 - 3900.

          1. re: Littleman

            Jean Georges IS a formal restaurant and not an appropriate recommendation for someone looking to avoid formality, pretention, and the trappings of fine dining.

            The prix fixe for dinner is $98 and a jacket is required for gentlemen.

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

      2. To be honest, NYC has much better high-end French restaurants than Quebec, but they tend to be relatively formal and well above $100 per person for dinner. But you're right, NYC doesn't have too much in terms of mid-range or affordable French. Bistros aren't particularly strong either.

        I'd suggest Degustation for creative Spanish cuisine in an open kitchen, counter dining setting.

        6 Replies
        1. re: hcbk0702

          Degustation is a great call especially if the OP's town doesn't have much in the way of Spanish food. But if counter seating isn't your thing, Aldea could work, too.

          31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

          1. re: hcbk0702

            I don't know, I've done my share of chowing in Montreal and Quebec and I think French cuisine in both cities are much better than it is in NYC. There may be no Per Se or Le Bernadin in Montreal or Quebec, but there's still no reason for someone from Montreal/Quebec to eat French food in NYC other than those rare exceptions, IMO.

            Of course the OP has already done his trip, but my two cents anyway.

            Sorry that Kyo Ya turned out to be short of the OP's expectation!

            1. re: uwsister

              Right, my comment was directed solely at fine dining.

              1. re: uwsister

                Based on the meal we had at Montreal's Toqué several years ago, I'd say it's very much the equal of NYC's fine dining establishments. Ironically, when its chef/owner Normand Laprise opened Cena here, it was not successful. Quel dommage!


                1. re: RGR

                  Toqué is probably Montreal's best high-end French restaurant, but I didn't see anything there worth a revisit. I would much rather be at Au Pied de Cochon.

                  1. re: RGR

                    I also prefer Au Pied de Cochon to Toque - but Toque is very, very good.

                    I actually think Quebec City has better high-end French restaurants than Montreal - perhaps comparable to NYC - Le Saint Amour, Toast, Panache, Laurie Raphael - all great French high-end places. I pretty much visit Quebec just to eat.

                    I'll stop with this totally off-topic post here, ha!

              2. Allegretti

                46 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10010

                1 Reply
                1. re: gutsofsteel

                  i'd say Scarpetta...but i like all the above suggestions too...

                2. Well we ended up doing Tamarind last night and I have to say that it was hands down the most enjoyable Indian dining I've ever experienced in any city in the world (having never traveled to the far east!) The flavors and spices were out of this world, the meat was tender and moist, everything melded together so perfectly! We started with the Raji's Scallops in coconut mint sauce and Cauliflower special of the day for appetizers, both absolute knockout winners! We then moved on to the Mixed Grill Tandoori and Lobster Masala with Tamarind Rice and Naan and for dessert, the most magical melt in your mouth Gulab Jamun ever tasted with a piping hot pot of Assam tea. Total was around $130 with two glasses fo white wine. This has been to date, the best meal I've ever eaten in this city, with service to match. The atmosphere and decor is warm, intimate and subtle; we shared a private curtained booth in the back of the dining room which made for a really romantic meal. We made sure to thank both the owner and kitchen on the way out and promised opurselves to return whenever we're in town!

                  The night prior however, a less than rave and rather disappointing experience at the much anticipated Kyo Ya. Dinner total came to over $200 and we both walked away feeling as though the cost was totally unjustified. We ordered from the table d'hote rather than the chef's tasting menu so maybe that makes the difference, but at these prices I wouldn't bother returning to try it. There were a couple of very good appetizers (notably the sweet potato tempure and a scallop/crab dish which I can't really remember the details of) but way too many complete misses and despite all the talk of the restaurant's unmatched authenticity, I've had much better meals at Izayaka bars for one tenth of the price in other cities that were unparalled... including a divey mall outlet in S. Miami where my dinner total came to $40 with a full bottle of sake! I was really disappointed with our meal at Kyo Ya and felt it had been way overhyped. I would have rather spent that two hundred treating friends out to Tamarind with us and sampling more of their dishes!

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: OliverB

                    In which location did you dine--downtown or in the 20's?

                    1. re: penthouse pup

                      we ate at the E. 22nd location - a great dining room!

                      1. re: OliverB

                        I had lunch at the Tribeca Tamarind on Friday. I thought it was really quite good - we both had the Executive lunch - prix fix - great value at $25. "Amuse", choice of one of three appetizers, then choice of two main dishes amongst about six of them, lemon rice, naan, and a shared vegetable dish, and dessert. The dining room there is also wonderful, and I thought the service was superb.

                        Edit - I particularly liked the chicken dish with pomegranate seeds. We didn't have wine, but I perused the wine list and thought it was both interesting and quite well priced.

                        99 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

                    2. re: OliverB

                      Thanks for the report about Tamarind, OliverB. It's been ages since we last dined there (22nd St.). The second of two meals we had was a disappointment, but it sounds as though over time, things have taken a decidedly positive turn both with regard to the cuisine and the service. I never considered the ambiance to be "warm, intimate, and subtle." Perhaps, there have been changes in that regard as well. I've now put Tamarind on my "go to" list.

                      With regard to Kyo Ya, sorry that you were disappointed. We were there for the first time in May. We ordered from the a la carte menu and since there were five of us, we were able to sample a wide array of dishes. While some things were not at all to my taste, there were others, especially the sweet potato tempura and the black cod with miso glaze, that I really liked. I'd be happy to go back just for those two.


                      1. re: RGR

                        The sweet potato tempura was excellent and entirely worth the cost... we had a crab, shrimp, scallop appetizer that was equally fantastic. The others were not at all to my liking and without word from our server, they tasted almost exactly the same - chilled bonito sauce with strong fishy flavor that overwhelmed whatever vegetable or meat was in the dish. There were at least 4 or 5 plates that came out like this, and then another 3 or 4 others that were just completely forgettable and not worth the $13-17 dollar cost.

                        As for the decor of Tamarind, from the photos I've seen online, I would have said the same thing. In fact, because I was in town with my girlfriend and wanted a more 'intimate' ambience, I almost veered to Devi but our concierge steered us back towards Tamarind in the Trib. It was exactly as described - we had a private booth with lacy curtains surrounded by cream colored pillows and throws and candles and warm aromatic smells of fresh spices wafting through the dining room. It was the most enjoyable food experience of the trip and the best Indian I've ever eaten. If you do decide to go back, I highly recommend the Lobster Marsala and the Mixed Grill Tandoori. The special of the day was a Cauliflower dish in a thick red battered sauce that was just out of this world. There was also an appetizer of Scampi (Raji's maybe?) that was swerved in a minty coconut sauce that was to die for! Order either with the special Tamarind rice and a side of Naan and you'll be in heaven! I should note that we dined very late on a Friday night and were probably the last table in the restaurant. We finished our meal by about 11:45. Just every aspect of this place was outstanding!

                        1. re: OliverB

                          Thanks for the recommendations, Oliver. The cauliflower preparation sounds very much like Devi's Manchurian cauliflower, which I liked. I do love anything in coconut sauce, so that scampi is right up my alley. I'm guessing you mean Lobster "Masala" since "Marsala" is an Italian wine. And, of course, something from the tandoor is a must! Tamarind (on 22nd) is within walking distance of our apartment, so as I said, we'll definitely be giving it another try in the near future.

                          Btw, considering the changes that have recently taken place at Devi, i.e., new owners and the chef leaving, I think your concierge did the right thing steering you away. (I've been avoiding it until I hear reports from people who opinions I trust.) Obviously, his suggestion of Tamarind turned out splendidly for you and your girlfriend.

                          Re: Kyo Ya. Here are the photos of the dishes we had taken by one of our dining companions:


                          1. re: RGR

                            Yes, Masala of course, that was a typo. Imo, the cauliflower app. at Tams was one hundred times better than what's served at Devi (and I'm a fan!)

                            The other app. was actually grilled scallops, not scampi (sloppy typing error again!) with a coconut mint sauce; absolutely out of this world!

                            Next time I return, I would like to try the spicy potato cakes with tamarind and mint chutney, as well as the Shrimp Bachal, both of which we were on the fence about ordering just because we'd already gotten a lot. They looked absolutely delicious from what we'd seen being carried to other tables!

                            The Masala was really one of the best meals I've eaten in New York though, I think I wiped the entire plate clean with Naan bread it was so good!

                            As mentioned, the Mixed Grill from the Special Dinners menu is a great tasting option at a really affordable price - you get A LOT on your plate for $27!!! Tandoori Chicken, Tulsi Malai Kabab, Lamb Chop, Shrimp and Murgh Tikka with Nan and Dal Makhni. We ended up taking half of it back to our hotel room for brunch the next day!

                            As for Kyo Ya, it looks like you did a much better job of ordering than us... we didn't see the delicious looking bamboo shoots... should've tried the Chawanmushi and Salad, both of which look great. We tried the seaweed noodle dish served cold rather than the Udon which looks much better. I was disappointed with our order. Perhaps we just weren't as adventurous in our ordering as you were. I must say the Ebi Shinjo were really delicious, I really enjoyed that dish. Overall, there seemed much fewer menu options when we went and many of which tasted very similar and not very flavorful - simple, cold and strong bonito broth - all of which were not entirely appealing to us. We should've ordered more "hot appetizers". I just didn't think it was nearly worth the $200 + tip price tag I laid out.

                            1. re: OliverB

                              I know next to nothing about Japanese food (the hibachi thingy where the chef puts on a show was my only previous experience). Plus, I am a bit of a picky eater. Thus, I pretty much went along with what u.e., who is very knowledgeable, suggested. Knowing me as well as he does, he realized that many of the dishes would be risky for me -- I tasted most of those and he was right -- but he felt confident that I would like the sweet potato, the black cod, and the salad, and he was right about that, too. My husband, on the other hand, is a very adventurous eater and enjoyed everything except the uni. While he and I have had it before, it was mild Santa Barbara sea urchin incorporated into various dishes. Here, it was the much stronger Maine uni, and he found it too fishy. I didn't even bother to try it.


                      2. re: OliverB

                        Not sure it's fair to compare a kaiseki restaurant to an izakaya.