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90th birthday celebration dinner

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My grandmother will be coming to visit me in NYC (along with other members of my family) to celebrate her 90th birthday in March. I know it's a long way off but I want to make sure it's really special for her, as she's never been to the US (we're English), and it's always been a dream of hers to see New York.

So, I'm starting early, to research a great place for a special birthday dinner. She's very adventurous as far as food goes (will eat indian, thai, japanese as well as more traditional european-style foods) but doesn't cope well in very noisy places, and isn't a fan of overly fussy food. She won't like anywhere too stuffy or old fashioned though. The rest of my family are pretty foodie, also mainly concerned with great ingredients cooked well though, rather than fussy preparations.

Her birthday is on St Patricks Day, so we'd probably need to avoid anywhere too close to the parade, it would be a bit overwhelming for her if we got caught in crowds.

Anything with views or a really special location would be a bonus. We will have a car take us there so no problem with transport, but if it helps narrow things down, I live in Midtown West (in the 50s) and they will likely be staying on the Upper West Side. There will likely be 6-8 of us for dinner.

As far as budget is concerned, happy to spend up to about $100 a head including tax and tip - none of us are big drinkers though so most of that would go on food. Can be a little flexible for something outstanding since it's a special day!

Any ideas appreciated - thanks so much Chowhounds!

p.s. ideas of more casual/cheaper (but not too noisy) places to take her on other evenings would also be appreciated! Will be essential to be able to book, as she can't queue, but other than that and the noise issue, anything's open!

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  1. I'm English and have an 86 year old dad who loves the River Cafe, Boathouse and Four Seasons. I would also mention Daniel and Jean Georges, also La Grenouille is beautiful. EMP should also be mentioned though I think it's noisy. One of my personal favourites is Picholine - I think she'd like it very much.

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

    Picholine
    35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

    La Grenouille
    3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

    The Four Seasons
    99 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

    1 Reply
    1. re: bronwen

      Thank you! Some great options to look into (I might have to do some independent research over the next couple of months... what a shame!!)

    2. I second Bronwen and recommend the River Café with its gorgeous view of Manhattan, just across the Brooklyn Bridge. (For anyone who has read my recent posts where I seem to push this place, I assure you I don't own any stock in it.) Sounds perfect for someone who's been dreaming of NY, although slightly more expensive than your goal - $98 for 3 courses that include options of foie gras & lobster (without surcharges). Great service, subdued atmosphere, reservations up to a year in advance. Great food too, of course. Not fussy, just well-done preparations. Make sure someone orders the chocolate Brooklyn Bridge for dessert.

      2 Replies
      1. re: boredough

        I will look into it - the view definitely sounds quite special! And anything chocolate works for me!

        1. re: uniqueusername

          Just found out that River Café is now charging $100/person (it was $98 in October). Not a big difference, but thought I should mention it.

      2. A quiet, adventurous, not-stuffy place that might be a good choice for one of your evenings is Han Gawi on 32nd near Fifth. It's Korean, vegetarian and a gorgeous and unusual space. One caution, though, is that the tables are low and guests sit on cushions. Not suitable if your grandmother would have trouble getting up and down.