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Picky mom in town advice!

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  • 42red Dec 29, 2010 04:11 PM

Mom meeting new boyfriend for first time this weekend lunch. She's very picky and this meal will be awkward enough on its own. Looking for a place that is nice but not too too pricey just because I dont want to hear "28$ for a SALAD!?" all day. Something special but not too trendy - No Indian or seafood, or brunch-food, nothing gimicky or hip, she does not eat red meat or pasta - she likes imported beers - hmm hopethat's not too much or ltitle info - Thanks!

(any neighborhood would be fine, preferablly somewhere not too loud or crowded, but considering the season will settle for just not frighteningly loud)

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  1. You told us what your mother doesn't like. But what _does_ she like (chicken, I guess)? Tell us that, and tell us what your price range is.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      That is a good question, and I'm not sure, we rarely go out to eat - at home she mostly eats lots of organic veggies and some salmon or chicken, but I know she would not be happy going out to a restaurant for the same meal (I can just hear "I could eat this at home, what's all the fuss for?" already - but the fuss is because I can't cook at my place this weekend so we have to go out)
      There is no one thing she especially likes - chicken would be fine - stir fried dishes, vegetarian dishes, fish (just not oysters, lobster, scallops etc), salads, dim sum, antipasto, tapas, pork. As for price range, I suppose anythng between 25-50 pp w/o drinks - though it could be more than that I just don't want it too "feel" too expensive if that makes any sense. Sorry if this is too silly a request, I'm just stumped! Thanks again!

      1. re: 42red

        I think you've been given some interesting suggestions in this thread. I think one possibility that hasn't been broached is Greek food. In a good Greek restaurant, you can get good salads and appetizers, good fish dishes, and good chicken dishes. I like Kefi and Pylos; others consider Ethos the best reasonably priced Greek restaurant in Manhattan, but I haven't been there yet. I wouldn't recommend Dafni for your purposes because their portions are mountainous to the nth degree. Overall, I think that, of the Greek restaurants I mentioned, Pylos might be the best, because its atmosphere is pleasant with the amphorae suspended from the ceiling and so far. The thing is, it's not clear from the website whether they serve only their brunch menu on weekends for lunch, so I'd contact them. Same with Kefi, but it can be very loud there (caveat: I've been there only for dinner). Based on what's on their website and menupages.com, Ethos seems to have only one menu throughout the day, and they're open for lunch 7 days a week.

        By the way, I'm not remotely suggesting that Greek is necessarily the way to go, still less that the suggestions I'm posting here are better than what others have posted. I'm just mentioning another option for you to think about.

        -----
        Pylos
        128 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

        Kefi
        505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

        1. re: Pan

          I've been to Pylos for weekend brunch, and it's pretty quiet and there's a ton of lunch items on the menu there.

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          Pylos
          128 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

          1. re: Pan

            This is brilliant, I love Kefi's menu and it has so many options I think she'd be happy with, but it can get a bit crowded/loud. I'll ask if she's in the mood for greek or vietnamese and it will be a toss up between Pylos and Co Ba. The reason I'm leaning toward Vietnamese is because she lived in Astoria for while and I wouldn't want to hear about how Manhattan over charges for sub-par greek cuisine all day! Thank you for all the help :)

            -----
            Pylos
            128 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

            Kefi
            505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

            Co Ba
            110 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

      2. Cafe Luxembourg on the UWS

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        Cafe Luxembourg
        200 W 70th St, New York, NY 10023

        1. Pan said chicken and I immediately thought of Barbuto. it could be "too trendy", though...not sure.

          i'm guessing you don't live in Manhattan and will be coming in by car, specifically for lunch. if so, look at Nice Matin. parking is easy and the food is great.

          -----
          Nice Matin
          201 West 79th Street, New York, NY 10024

          8 Replies
          1. re: coasts

            no, i live here and mom's from the tri-state area - so we'll likely just meet at wherever we choose or meet up in midtown and cab it.

            hmm.. ive been to nice matin a couple times and wasn't too impressed, but I remember they had a lot of salad options and french seems like a good direction to go in - thanks! will check out

            1. re: 42red

              Savoy is a good suggestion. Gramercy Tavern in the front room or Craftbar would also work.

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              Gramercy Tavern
              42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

              1. re: 42red

                i live nearby and dine there fairly often. i really like their Chicken Paillard and Ms. Coasts prefers their mussels over most others she has tried. the Five Napkin Burger is so highly praised that it spawned two new restaurants in its honor. the only thing i have had there that i wasn't crazy for was the roasted beet salad.

                1. re: coasts

                  She doesn't eat red meat - a burger place is not a good idea.

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    i don't think anyone would consider Nice Matin a burger place.

                    1. re: coasts

                      I thought you were talking about Five Napkin Burger...perhaps I misread.

                      1. re: gutsofsteel

                        you did. fortunately, my comment is preserved just above should you wish to reread it.

              2. re: coasts

                I've always found Nice Matin to be on the louder/crowded side, especially for weekend brunch.

                -----
                Nice Matin
                201 West 79th Street, New York, NY 10024

              3. Maybe Jane, Josie's, Spring Street Natural, or Savoy.

                3 Replies
                1. re: peter j

                  interested to see what the board's thought is on Spring Street Natural. i went only once and had a miserable experience. poor service, warm cocktails, mixed up dishes and ultimately unenjoyable food left us wishing we had just gone to Hampton Chutney instead.

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                  Spring Street Natural
                  62 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                  1. re: coasts

                    Interesting, I've been a few times and didn't have those problems. I do stick to a few dishes, though, usually the mushrooms on toast app and the grilled veg sandwich.

                  2. re: peter j

                    Jane can be pretty loud and dependent upon what day it is, the menu is much more brunch focused. IIRC there are only a few breakfast type dishes on Saturday, but on Sunday it's got many more of them.

                  3. How about Fig and Olive? It screams "lunch with mom." Pretty room, but not fussy. Probably something on the menu she can deal with. And there are a few of them, so you can pick your neighborhood.

                    http://www.figandolive.com/lunchmenu.php

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: small h

                      i had my worst meal of the year at Fig and Olive just two weeks ago. i spoke to the waiter, who apologized but did nothing more. i even sent an email to the restaurant the following day, still feeling scathed by what had happened...no response. my message is posted below:

                      If the recipient of this message is also the reader of the guest comment cards, I apologize in advance for the redundancy. However, the distaste I felt while dining at your East 52nd address has somehow continued beyond last night and into today. It wasn't the fact that the roast chicken was so poorly butchered or so clumsily presented. It wasn't the dryness of the meat or even the cold mashed potatoes. I can forgive a bad dish. I understand that chefs can get overwhelmed, or preoccupied, and neglect a dish.

                      What I can't forgive is when such complaints are responded to with an "I know" from the server. It was made clear in our conversation that I wasn't the first to have issues with this particular entree. Roast chicken and mashed potatoes is commonplace. It's the dish that every chef should get right, yet Fig and Olive's version was so wrong. I could detail each of the shortcomings, but as the server already pointed out, you've heard them already before. So, how can you continue serving this to paying customers? I felt cheated, and apparently still do.

                      1. re: coasts

                        Jeez, that does not sound good. I've only eaten at the UES branch, and I enjoyed it quite a bit - no issues with the food (or the service) whatsoever. Sorry you had such a lousy experience! On the upside, the year's almost over. So you can relax, knowing your worst meal is behind you.

                    2. Northern Spy Co.
                      Five Points (not amazing, but safe crowd pleasing menu)
                      Savoy (previously mentioned) or Back Forty
                      Mooncake Foods
                      Balaboosta

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                      Five Points
                      31 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

                      Back Forty
                      190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                      Balaboosta
                      214 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

                      1. Odeon? Locanda Verde? Wait...Bubbes!
                        www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                        -----
                        Locanda Verde
                        377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                        1. I saw Five Points mentioned but not Cookshop...I think that could be a decent option for mom. I also think Jane might work.

                          -----
                          Five Points
                          31 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: JMJD

                            Cookshop would be my personal choice over Five Points, but possibly a little trendy for this situation.

                            -----
                            Five Points
                            31 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

                          2. Your mom sounds like she is actually pretty adventurous in certain ways, even though there are some things she won't eat. Do you think Americanized Vietnamese would work for her? If so, Co Ba in Chelsea is not too expensive, there are lots of different small plates for sharing, a few nice salads that she probably wouldn't make at home, and there is a lot of variety to choose from. The space is not very fancy, but it is casual and comfortable.

                            -----
                            Co Ba
                            110 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: michelleats

                              This is spot on! Come to think of it she actually loves vietnamese food (and Thai and Japanese) and I like how the place looks, sort of unassuming, seems to get pretty good reviews too! I think this is the one (it doesn't need to be the best meal we've ever eaten together, just a place she'd feel comfortable in) - Thank you!

                              1. re: 42red

                                I'm so glad to help, 42red. I know it's a bit touchy feely, but I honestly think that sharing food can help people like one another. Small plates seems like a great way to go, either at Pylos or Co Ba. I wish you lots of luck!!

                                -----
                                Pylos
                                128 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                Co Ba
                                110 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                            2. How about Dirt Candy? I don't know if they serve liquor but if they don't just bring a six pack of mom's favorite brew.

                              I know this might seem like a far out suggestion but: To avoid the money issue you might go to their web site and print out a menu without prices. Discuss with your mom what she might like and do all of the ordering yourself. Or let the new guy do it. What does he have to lose?

                              -----
                              Dirt Candy
                              430 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Motosport

                                I like the money suggestion over all - and something I might do for later get togethers! The name of the place alone will make her cringe, but I'm excited to go there myself now - thanks!

                              2. Thank you everyone for such great suggestions, ones that I'll definately return to for future gettogethers! Mom's not very traditional, and this is a list of lots places that offer mixes of interesting and "safe" menu options.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: 42red

                                  jean georges
                                  http://teenchefteddy.blogspot.com/

                                2. You've already gotten plenty of good options... ABC Kitchen is another place to keep in mind. They do a three-course $25 lunch prix fixe that could be nice. Prune is another good option—I love the space, perfect for a "mom" and the food is very good at a nice price point.

                                  -----
                                  ABC Kitchen
                                  35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: loratliff

                                    For weekend brunch, Prune's pretty crowded and the lines are pretty dang long.

                                    1. re: kathryn

                                      In addition to that, Prune can feel pretty cramped for a cranky mom that's been waiting in line over an hour.