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Restaurant WOW recommendations?

I want to WOW my boyfriend--his first time to experience true NYC fine dining, I am a past resident. I need one gorgeous restaurant for Friday night. I love the decor/ambiance at Buddakan and Brasserie 8 1/2 but I hate the food. I would love to try Daniel but I'm staying away from prix fixe only menus. Any suggestions? I'm thinking Craft, possibly something in Meatpacking, something that will knock his socks off with both food quality and ambiance--something that is as big and bold as NYC and shows Manhattan off, so he knows why I'm so in love with this city. Thanks in advance!

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Buddakan
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

Brasserie 8 1/2
9 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

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  1. By avoiding prix fixe you are missing some of our best restaurants including EMP and Jean Georges. Would you rethink that? I don't know anywhere with a more wonderful space than EMP.

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

    1. There are, of course, different ways to "wow" a non-New Yorker, and it doesn't need to involve big $$$. Depending on the audience and the budget, I would include Katz's, Co., Frankie's 17, DBGB, Peter Luger, Gramercy Tavern, Gotham Bar & Grill, EMP, and Per Se (just to list a few) as possible ways to "wow" an out-of-towner (and some in towners, too!).

      1. Great suggestions, thank you. Katz's is on the agenda for lunch (I have never been there myself). I know I should consider the prix fixe, but I wonder if there are any great restaurants without having to fork over $200+ for a couple. I liked Gotham but I think the ambiance is a major factor in what I'm looking for, something not so much white tablecloth, but more trendy/young and modern-ish. The ambiance at Buddakan was ideal, Morimoto I also liked but I really didn't enjoy the food at either.

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        Buddakan
        75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

        Morimoto
        88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

        1. Okay I have decided against Daniel, Per Se, Gramercy Tavern--a touch too fancy for this time. I doubt I could get a res at one of them this late in the game anyway. I'm leaning towards more WOW for a trendy late 20-something. Food must be delish but doesn't need to be spectacular. Looking for an impressive decor, hot spot-type if anyone can help pls.

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          Per Se
          10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

          3 Replies
          1. re: starsee

            You had mentioned Craft, which is great...also check out Craftbar if it is booked.

            The place I would recommend most is Aldea in Flatiron. It is not huge, but I think the ambiance might be what you are looking for - very cool spot. The food is amazing, affordable, and the wine list is very good, but has a great price range...there are a lot of good bottles for under $35. I can't say enough good things about it.

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            Aldea
            31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

            1. re: starsee

              Public is great food with an Australian bent that has some neat decor (warehouse-chic maybe?) Other options could include Yerba Buena or Casa Mono, which tend to draw a young/hip crowd.

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              Casa Mono
              52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

              Yerba Buena
              23 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

              1. re: starsee

                I'm going to chime back in to reiterate my DBGB rec. It's a happening place with a good vibe and decent food. Definitely would "wow" most out-of-towners.

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                DBGB
                299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

              2. u wont be wowed by the service or decor but i think the food at degustation is awesome.
                i havent been there but id also consider wd50 but it's very experimental.