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Where to take a dear friend (first time to NYC) for lunch?

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I have a very good friend (since elementary school!) coming into town to visit me next month. It's very special due to three things: she'll have her birthday while she's here, she's never been to NYC, and we also haven't seen each other in several years!

Like I said, she's never been to the city and is also not a particularly adventurous eater. No allergies or concrete dislikes, just not super exposed to fine dining. I want to take her to a nice birthday lunch—nothing overwhelmingly fancy (no exuberant use of foie or truffles or sweetbreads) or "weird."

I was thinking about some of the great lunch prix fixes, especially in light of the recent review of Del Posto on this board. Outside of that, I'm thinking about $100 total, incl. drinks, but not necessarily tax and tip. (A bit flexible there, too.) I'm not sure how much she drinks, but let's assume a glass of wine for each of us. Anywhere in Manhattan is fine.

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

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  1. Bouley - the $36 lunch prix fixe tasting menu is a great treat. The food isn't too adventurous, the room is quite nice, and the service is good.

    Picholine, Cafe Boulud, and Tocqueville might also work for you. Maybe Jean Georges as well, though your friend might find it too adventurous.

    4 Replies
    1. re: peter j

      I would highly recommend Picholine. Just had lunch there Friday and it was wonderful.

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

      1. re: Spiritchaser

        Also agree with recommendations to Bouley and Picholine. While I've had only dinner at both restaurants, both are excellent restaurants.

        1. re: ellenost

          ellenost - like you, we only visited Picholine for dinner until this recent lunch. I was (pleasantly) surprised they could keep the same level of quality for the price. This, like Jean George, is an incredible bargain for what you get.

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

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

        2. re: Spiritchaser

          Picholine has prix-fixe lunch, Weds - Sat, for $28, prix-fixe.
          Also, Kathryn just wrote a great review about lunch at Del Posto. That would be worth looking in to, as well. $29 prix-fixe.

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

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

      2. I would suggest the Palm Court at the Plaza for a NY introductory lunch - the vibe is great and the food perfect for someone unadventurous.

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        Palm Court
        768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019

        1 Reply
        1. re: bronwen

          I think the Palm Court a mediocre, overpriced tourist trap. Might as well go to Vegas.

          I'd recommend Jean Georges or Bouley or Cafe Boulud. Eleven Madison Park is $50 per person but it doesn't include drinks - but it's well worth it (and since you only want one glass of wine each...). I've never been to Picholine for lunch.

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          Cafe Boulud
          20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

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

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

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

          Palm Court
          768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019

        2. What part of the country are you all from? Where is she living now?

          1 Reply
          1. re: LeahBaila

            I live in Manhattan. She's from Texas (a big city, not out in the sticks or anything).

            Thanks for the great recommendations so far!