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Restaurant WOW recommendations?

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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.

                1. what about Butter?

                  1. I vote for Craft.

                    1. Great recs thanks so much! Okay I've gone against myself and picked up a reservation at Del Posto--I've heard such mixed reviews about it though but I'm thinking of actually doing the tasting...I thought what is more "New York" than a tasting from Mario Batali, and I like that it is not as stuffy as some others, but mostly I just could not decide on something else. Craft would be nice but I wonder how commercial? If only there were a perfect choice--would love any input on DP and possibly could sway towards Craft. But I'll definitely check out the ones posted as well. Degustation and wd50 may not live up to the ambiance I'm looking for but I would imagine the food would be amazing...he is a bit more easy, cut and dry.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: starsee

                        I really like Craft. And the room is attractive and comfortable.

                        1. re: starsee

                          I haven't been to DP, but I've heard that it's pretty cold and formal, which is exactly what you said you don't want.

                          I'd go with Craft. I had a fantastic birthday meal there in July. Great food, not chi chi at all. Definitely not a corporate feel to it.

                          As for commerical -- no one is more commercial than Mario Batali.

                          Like I said, I haven't been to DP so it may be amazing (I do love Lupa but that's a very different type of restaurant), but it doesn't sound like it meets your criteria.

                          Aldea is another very good option.

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                          Lupa
                          170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

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

                          1. re: starsee

                            Craft is a lot more fun, trendy than Del Posto. The food and atmosphere in my opinion are better for what you are looking for.

                            At Del Posto, the atmosphere is super refined and the watistaff is kind of cold like the poster below said. They try to be so "over the top" it gets exhaustive after awhile (explaining every single stinking ingredient in every single dish). Is the food good? Yes. BUT the portions are troll sized and the prices are sky high. I believe you will leave there feeling a bit ripped off (like I did).

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                            Del Posto
                            85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                          2. Looks like I'll be canceling at DP. I will try Craft but not sure how successful I'll be for Friday night. Would the experience at Craftbar be much different?

                            I hate when I get overanalytical about choosing a restaurant. Almost ready to settle with Olives or something not so hyped.

                            DBGB--I have mixed feelings about DB's food. I would just love to try Daniel someday but I was so disappointed after DB Bistro Moderne.

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                            DB Bistro Moderne
                            55 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: starsee

                              Craftbar is a great option. If price is no object, and you're looking for a fine dining experience, then Craft is far superior. But if you can't get a resy, Craftbar is an excellent choice.

                              I had a great meal on Saturday night at Craftbar. We brought a couple of visitors there, and they were certainly wowed by the experience. It's a nice place, but it is also a bustling bar/restaurant. Not really a quiet/romantic place, which Craft is.

                              It really depends on what you're looking to get out of this meal. Both are great options in the right situation. IMO, Craftbar is much better than Olives.

                            2. Thank you! Any suggestions for Craft? I'm more adventurous with food but he is definitely the meat and potatoes type, perhaps a tasty fish dish is as far as he might go. I scored a reservation for tomorrow night. I didn't see if they had a tasting menu--I would be interested in trying one there.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: starsee

                                You cannot go wron with anything at Craft.

                                My favorites are the porterhouse for two, short ribs, lobster. The zucchini agnolotti and pork belly on the menu now is great for appetizer.

                                They have some of the best sides in the city...simply done but delicious. Do not miss the gnocchi, potatoes au gratin, mushroom assortment, their carrots and corn and bacon risotto.

                                Desserts are also splendid- get the chocolate souffle, whatever donut concoction they have, and the ice cream sampler.

                                yes they gave tasting also.

                                1. re: steakrules85

                                  their sweetbreads and pork trotter are great too. last time i was there they had jerusalem artichokes that were addicting.

                              2. Del Posto is one of my very favorite NYC restaurants. I never experienced a bad moment there. The room is gorgeous, the food is outstanding and the service was excellent. Craft would be a great choice but I think you would love DP. There's piano music and great fun there. Good luck.

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                                Del Posto
                                85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                1. My 20 something year old son, a real NYC foodie, has introduced me to Aldea, Georgione( where Keanu Reeves sat down next to us), and Bar Boulud (sp?) to name just 3. Excellent food and ambience at these 3. Not over the top price wise but places where the young NYC'ers enjoy dining.

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                                  Bar Boulud
                                  1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

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