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Getting engaged in NYC this winter. Need a cozy restaurant (not too fancy) to go afterwards!

Hi CH...

I am getting engaged in NYC this winter. I cant figure out where to take her after the proposal. I think it will just be for her and i. I want something romantic (but not cheezy and sappy), intimate (but dont mind full restaurant), lively, cozy, good wine and GOOD FOOD. We are staying in Midtown, and am looking in the Villages, Midtown, Chelsea, Soho, etc. Nothing to stifling like Per Se, Le Bernadine or something too fancy like that.

Here is what i have to far...

August - heard its good food, fireplace (good for winter), good wine, intimate in Soho.

Savoy - fireplace, good food.

Il Buco

Alta - we love tapas and i heard the food is great!


Please let me know what you think about these and other recommendations too! Thanks! :)

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  1. Of the choices on your list, I'd go with Savoy...it's comfortable and has good food/wine without being uber-fussy about itself.

    1. There are better tapas in town than Alta but a lot of them don't take reservations and/or aren't super cozy, intimate. Tapas is more of a casual food, don't you think? I'd do a more traditional dinner for this occasion.

      Babbo is good but not especially romantic. It is lively though, but make sure you get seated upstairs if you go. And I hope you don't mind AC/DC or Springsteen as the soundtrack. Also a lot of people dining with you will not be dressed sharply (I've seen t-shirts, sweatshirts).

      What's your price range if Per Se, etc. are out of the picture? $100 per person before tax, tip, drinks? More? Less?

      Per Se
      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        Wow, this is actually my first CH post and everyone is super helpful. Ok, Price range... not looking to spend over $100 per person. maybe keep the total check to $150 max. dinner and a bottle of wine.

        we are big food connoisseurs and would love to eat at Le Bernadine, but we are going to an expensive dinner with friend the night before and that will get expensive.

      2. Picholine or River Café (especially if you're lucky enough to get a window table) might fit your requirements.

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

        1. I think August would be really nice. It's very cozy, warm and inviting. Home, on Cornelia Street, might also fit the bill.

          Cornelia Street Cafe
          29 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014

          2 Replies
          1. re: loratliff

            Has anyone been to Rayuela or Ill Buco???

            1. re: Ontario99

              I have been to Il Buco. It is a really charming restaurant with a really friendly staff, and it definitely has a "neighborhoody" vibe. I do think it is a pretty romantic restaurant, but the venue can be a little crowded.

              It definitely does seem like a good choice given your criteria, although it's not very close or convenient to get to from midtown...

              Il Buco
              47 Bond St., New York, NY 10012

            1. No one much mentions it but I like Firebird, I think it's very romantic.

              1 Reply
              1. Try Riverpark

                450 E 29th St, New York, NY 10016

                1. $150 after tax/tip (assuming a 20% tip) = $116 before. Subtract $30 for an inexpensive bottle of wine, we're looking at an $86 food budget, or $43/pp.

                  That would leave out Picholine, Il Buco, August, Alta, Babbo... and, well, pretty much every place listed or mentioned so far, if you're having three courses (app/entree/dessert) - you could potentially do Savoy if you were to split an app and dessert, or just order very judiciously. But really, you just proposed, you want the next conversation to be about budgeting your meal? "We'll be okay - just don't order the duck, honey. Or the lamb."

                  On the budget requested, I'd recommend Frankies 17 - good, solid Italian (but not cheesy red-sauce Italian) very reasonably priced, usually a good crowd and a lot of energy in the room without being over the top.

                  What I'd REALLY recommend, though, is NOT doing the expensive dinner the night before with the friend - I mean, come on, this is your engagement dinner, something that you'll (hopefully) only ever do once. Go somewhere casual with the friend the night before, and use the splurge for post-proposal. What's more important?

                  Frankies 17 Spuntino
                  17 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sgordon

                    Very good point. Ok, assume i have no budget... now what??? What would be your recommendations for that night? Anything but French cusine.

                    1. re: Ontario99

                      Assuming unlimited cash on hand, something romantic and no French - I'd go with Eleven Madison Park or Del Posto.

                      Mind you, merely by saying "Eleven Madison Park" I'm inviting about 20 responders to insist that Per Se is better, but whatever - I think Per Se is staggeringly overpriced and, frankly, not worth it.

                      Del Posto has a few detractors as well, but those tend to be snooty people who don't believe Italian cuisine can ever, inherently, be the equal of French or New American. And of the four-star restos, it's the best deal: $95 prix fixe, and for four courses (standard pfs are three)

                      My third choice - not quite on the level as those two, but in terms of romantic ambience miles ahead of any other place in the city, would be The River Cafe in Brooklyn. Insist on a table by the window, time it for around sundown... it's really hard to beat. As I've described it before, it's so classic NYC it's like dining inside a Woody Allen film. Food-wise they're solid, a bit overpriced - but you're paying in part for the unbeatable ambience.

                      My last choice - for something completely different, if you like very subtle Japanese flavors - would be to order the Kaiseki dinner at Kyo Ya. It has to be booked a couple days in advance (they fly in special ingredients from Japan for it) - but oh, man. "Sublime" does not begin to describe it. That said, for an engagement dinner, you might want something a bit... lustier? I'd lean more towards American or Italian, myself.

                      Per Se
                      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                      Eleven Madison Park
                      11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

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

                      Kyo Ya
                      94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                  2. I am looking for a similar list for a different occasion - so thank you OP for the ideas!

                    My non-recommendation is Savoy.

                    I fell in love reading about the ambiance but the service & food was NOT true to the reviews.

                    On your important day, would you like to take a chance on them treating you better than the indifference they showed on Valentines day towards us & other guests.

                    Best wishes on your final choice.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: r0cc00

                      I find Valentine's day a particularly bad day to judge a restaurant by - not that a place of Savoy's quality should slack, ever, but most restos are in "turn the tables" mode on V-Day, doing weird special menus, etc. For the big day I usually stick to places I'm a regular at, so the staff already knows me and can be a bit more casual / looser, which leads to a nicer meal.

                      1. re: sgordon

                        I know, I may be harsh on them esp. since V-Day is so commercialized.

                    2. I just wanted to let the CH people know that i did get engaged in December in NYC. it was amazing. Kind of did the spur of the moment thing though. This is how it went down...

                      Brunch in the village during the day (12/19), then back to the hotel to get dressed for Nutcraker at Lincoln Center at 4. I thought there was a tree in the circle, but the tree was on the balcony of the Center. So i waited until after the play. Play was amazing. We tried to go out on the balcony after the play (i bought champagne and strawberries from the food vendor in the theatre), but the balcony door was locked. so we couldnt go out there, where i thought i could propose. oh well.

                      so we took pics on the steps of the Lincoln Center, i tried to find a moment, but there were too many people. so i didnt do it.

                      we decided to try our luck skating in Bryant Park. the line was 2 hours long. YIKES! so we walked around the beautifully lit up Bryant Park and the tree. we stood on the stone patio of the Bryant Park Grill (which was closed becuase it was December) where we could see the tree, the rink and the city buildings. I had about 5 seconds of free silence where there was no one walking around, i pulled out the ring and proposed. she cried... it was great. amazing.

                      as for the restaurant... i had ended up making reservations for August. But we were so hungry at this point, we saw Koi right across the street from Bryant Park (it was about 9pm on 12/19 a sunday) and to our luck, they were open and still serving.

                      the ambiance in there was amazing. dim lights, candles and the food was great! we love asian food and sushi. drinks were perfect. server was a bit pretentious, but it was a great time.

                      after, we headed for Ayza Winebar, which treated us like royalty after me telling them about the proposal. they showered us with wine, cider, truffles and the most amazing 30 layer creme brulee cake (which we are getting for our wedding).

                      overall, amazing night. it goes sto show that anything goes in NYC, planned or unplanned. thank you everyone for all your input and help!


                      Bryant Park Grill
                      25 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018

                      11 West 31st Street, New York, NY 10001

                      40 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018

                      1 Reply