HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Discussion

First Date, East Village, Degustation?

I am going on a first date and trying to keep it in the East Village or close. I'm looking at Degustation - I like the fact that it is a very different with cool food, but not in love with ordering a $75 tasting menu (I've read the 5 course really isn't enough food) on a first date as it could look like I'm trying to hard and also make the date feel a bit uncomfortable. Does anyone have any recommendations for a spot either in or close to the East Village that's a good spot for a date? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Apiary is great for first dates. It's solid food that's not too "out there", but still delicious. Also, the vibe is nice, but isn't overly romantic (which could be off-putting for a first date). I think Degustation would be a little too... stuffy for a first. Also, since you're sitting side by side, you can't carry on a conversation quite as well if you were seated across the table from him/her.

    1. Village Yokocho ??
      Japanese, lots of small plates, great food, sprawling menu, not too pricey, very energetic and fun. Gets busy and does not take reservations though.
      If you live in the area, poke your head in. You'll know in a minute whether it's for you.

      -----
      Village Yokocho
      8 Stuyvesant St, New York, NY 10003

      7 Replies
      1. re: pauliface

        Better yet, Cucina di Pesce. I had a first date there in 1990.
        My date ended up moving to SF with me. We're not an item anymore but we are still best friends.

        -----
        Cucina di Pesce
        87 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003

        1. re: pauliface

          Cucina di Pesce has changed ownership and chef, and has gotten a lot of terrible reviews lately.

          1. re: rrems

            Thanks for the headsup. Shame dat.
            If you knew the old place, where might you recommend for a similar place (food & vibe)?

            1. re: pauliface

              Maybe Da Andrea?

              -----
              Da Andrea
              35 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011

              1. re: rrems

                Thanks, but first requirement is for there to be eggplant rollatini or parmigiana and/or chicken parmigiana on the menu.

                1. re: pauliface

                  No good there, but there is a new place which I mentioned in my post farther down here, Rubirosa, which is a more traditional red-sauce kind of place, but with superior food. They have chicken parm.

                  -----
                  Rubirosa
                  235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

            2. re: rrems

              same owners. they never had a chef

        2. What about Death & Co.? Great cocktails, and the shared small plates can easily make a meal.

          2 Replies
          1. re: loratliff

            Of course it's possible the date doesn't drink liquor (possibly only beer or wine), or doesn't drink at all. Which might be a little awkward (I have friends who don't drink liquor and I try to avoid taking them to cocktail bars).

            1. re: kathryn

              True, but I feel like you'd know that prior to a first date...

          2. It might also be awkward to be sitting side by side at an open kitchen for a first date...

            Do you know if she has food aversions or allergies? Degustation can be intimidating for picky eaters: tomatoes, sardines, oysters, squid, octopus, quail,and I think duck have all shown up on the menu at one point or another.

            I would do Prune, Apiary, Hearth, Redhead, maybe Motorino, or something in the Frank, Max, Supper, etc vein would be safer.

            -----
            Motorino
            349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

            1 Reply
            1. re: kathryn

              Agree with Kathryn, Degustation only works if your date is into food and not a fussy eater.

              What about Rayuela on the LES (EV proximity)? It's not too dark or romantic (like Degustation and Lavagna) for a first date. . .

            2. Osteria Morini and Rubirosa are relatively new places that are fairly close to the east village. They are 2 different styles of Italian food, but both are excellent, and have a casual ambience that is good for a first date. I love Degustation, but I would save it for when you know each other a bit better.

              Here's a link to my recent report on Rubirosa:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/762944

              -----
              Osteria Morini
              218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

              Rubirosa
              235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

              1. http://www.anchoinyc.com/

                I went here on a date and it was casual but really cool with a few nice drinks. Then you are in a great area to get drinks at other places after! If you are trying to impress by spending a lot of money it's not a good place but I really liked it here and it's very nice for a date.

                1. Consider Perbacco. I've only eaten there once, but it looked pretty date-y to me (but not in an "I'm trying really hard to impress you" way). While I like Village Yokocho a lot, I don't think it's quite right for a first date. It's pretty loud and the tables are really close together. Excellent for a casual dinner with friends, not so much for getting to know someone.

                  http://www.perbacconyc.com/

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: small h

                    I haven't been to Perbacco in awhile, but second small h's suggestion. It's a good first date choice (not too dark, loud or expensive).

                  2. i know im in the minority, but i find degustation a great date spot

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: thew

                      First off, thanks everyone for the responses. I am prob going to go with Hearth - maybe sit at the Pass if there are open seats when we get there. I appreciate all the help.

                      Thew, I think we spoke on a similar subject about Bar Carerra once, and I went and thought it was great, so I do certainly value your opinion. Maybe if this one goes past 1 or 2 I'll get the chance to check out Degustation.

                        1. re: sam1

                          Agree. OP shouldn't start with a heavy Hearth.
                          I'm more into less expensive, but date-worthy places. Took my wife the other week to Supper and I'd recommend this place. Food was good, with plenty of Italian dishes for foodies and non-foodies. Wine list is above average.. Just don't get seats in a communal table.

                    2. dude, no first date at a big restaurant...stop trying so hard.

                      drink all sorts of wine and order food at terroir. you'll have a great time, you'll talk about the wines, you'll love the food, she'll love you.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: sam1

                        I agree with the way you're thinking, sam1.

                        dcole, if you take your date to an upscale place like Hearth for the first date, what are you going to do for date #10 or #20, if you get there? Don't you ever go to inexpensive restaurants? I wouldn't suggest Terroir because I found their food unimpressive, but that's just me. I'd suggest relatively inexpensive, pleasant places with good food like Cacio e Vino, Soba Koh, Supper, or - if below Houston is OK - 'inoteca. If you have to impress your date with how much you spend, you've lost before you've even begun. Keep it to no more than $60 or so, all told (which means Apiary is out, too!), and concentrate on your communication and rapport with your date. You'll have a chance for more expensive dates if s/he proves her-/himself to you (and, of course, likes you).

                        1. re: sam1

                          Actually, a first date really should avoid food. Go for coffee or a couple of drinks--that way you can talk. If things go well, then start talking about food. If things go badly, you're only out a few dollars. Like Sam said, stop trying so hard. A first date should be a "getting to know you" thing, casual and fun.

                          1. re: MandalayVA

                            Yeah, I agree. I've had first dates at Saint's Alp. Bubble tea and conversation.

                        2. Love wine - but agree with Pan, Terroir's food is not inspiring. No-one has mentioned Northern Spy Company. It's more casual, a little dim, smaller plates and much less costly than Hearth and Degustation. The food is top-notch, check the Times (?) review.

                          -----
                          Terroir
                          413 E 12th St, New York, NY 10009

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: oliver_selwyn

                            I was really excited to try Northern Spy--I had read great things, and the menu really inspired--but found the food disappointing. The squash soup was seriously underflavored; the freekeh risotto was warm, cheesy, and satisfying, but totally lacked the smokiness I associate with freekeh; and the grilled cheese sandwich was more like a mustard and arugula sandwich with a (not the slightest bit melted) slice of cheese on toast. The acidic, gritty, lukewarm coffee put the nail in the coffin. We were also sitting right up against our neighbors, which doesn't feel particularly date-like to me.

                              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                yes, that's likely part of what made me want to try them.

                            1. There is a place called The Barrel which is fun and has great food...small plates and main plates, as well as a good wine list and cocktails. It is cute and can be romantic, but is also open enough to allow you to feel like you have some space. Check it out!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Linsybee1

                                Linsybee1, the name "The Barrel" is offputting (maybe named after a barrel of wine?). Really like the space (not too dark or romantic). Does it get loud (or just lively and fun)? What tapas do you suggest?

                                http://www.thebarrelnyc.com/home.html

                                I may have to take SO here on a "date" . . .

                                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                  It looks like a barrel inside, all wood and copper, its pretty cool. When I have been there it has been lively and fun, not super noisy. The patata bravas are awesome, spicy though, so if you don't like spicy stay away. The chicken liver is delicious and the bread that you are given is also really great. I also liked the Baby Spinach & House-Smoked Bacon Salad. Hope this helps!

                              2. Spina Restaurant, www.spinarestaurant.com at 175 Avenue B by East 11th Street in East Village offers excellent value where a budget-conscious couple can eat well. The focus is a variety of fresh pastas handmade on the premises with a variety of tasty sauces. (A mussels dish is out-of-sight and the ultimate, again cheap, reasonably-priced.) Wines are a real bargain also, eighty labels to choose from, all local small business family and independent vinters!

                                -----
                                Spina
                                175 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: D. FRANK

                                  I'm unfamiliar with this place. Anyone like it, other than D.?

                                  1. re: Pan

                                    I LOVE SPINA!! I haven't been in awhile just cause when I'm in the EV i'm usually boozing nowadays. But I've been there since the opening. The home made pastas are a big plus for me. My friend and i commented it would be a great date place and even recommended for our friend. The staff is super warm and inviting...not the cheapest pasta but definitely a great overall package.

                                    1. re: kelea

                                      Thanks for your remarks, I appreciate it.

                                    2. re: Pan

                                      I thought their homemade pasta was so, so fabulous, but the sauces were disappointing -- and everything was drowning in sauce. I hope they still have the pasta maker right there in the dining room, that was really great. The staff was indeed very nice.

                                      1. re: _emilie_

                                        Thanks for those comments. Drowning in sauce is very un-Italian. But were the sauces tasty? Because if they're really good, I can always sop them up with bread.

                                        1. re: Pan

                                          Exactly. And no, they were not very good sauces. Which really was an awful shame because the fresh pasta itself was glorious. However, I haven't been back in a while, so they may have improved. I really would like to see them succeed in that space -- several other restaurants have failed there, and they seem like sweet people.

                                  2. A 5-course tasting meal for a first date is wayyyyyyyyyyyy over the top, IMO.
                                    Look in to Grape & Grain: http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/...

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: LeahBaila

                                      I totally agree... it's been a while since I had a first date but when I was single I didn't even like to do dinner for first dates. Too hard to get out of if you are not feeling it. Preferred coffee/tea or drinks or desserts. If someone wanted to take me to Masa or Per Se though, I would have said yes just for free dinner, ha.

                                      1. re: uwsister

                                        uwsister/LeahBaila - I'm with you. Brunch also works. Maybe supper (no 3 hour tasting menus on a first date!) in a restaurant that's not too dark, romantic, loud or expensive . . .Can be extended if date is going well.

                                      2. re: LeahBaila

                                        Grape and Grain is a great spot, and would be a nice relaxed but fun atmosphere for a first date. However, it can get relatively loud later in the evening, as it is not a large space and they play their music somewhat loud; I would suggest getting there on the early side.

                                        -----
                                        Grape and Grain
                                        620 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

                                      3. Ok, not in the east village but nearby -- Bacaro. If you are taking out a lady that is. Every time I go, I end up saying at some point what a perfect date spot it is because it has MAJOR girl appeal -- so sexy! (But not in a gross meatpacking way.) It's tucked underground, in an out of the way spot, candle-lit (everyone looks beautiful!), super cozy, has great small plates Italian (can't go wrong with Italian), and most of all is pretty darn affordable. The rabbit bechamel lasagna is to die for.

                                        Hell, now I need to go myself.

                                        -----
                                        Bacaro
                                        136 Division St, New York, NY 10002

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: _emilie_

                                          emilie, how is the food at Bacaro these days? We stopped going because it got inconsistent (duck ragu was one of my favorite dishes). The space is not overly romantic or dark (especially if you sit upstairs, we always sat downstairs). Also if things are not working out, it won't break the bank and dinner won't last for hours. . .

                                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                            I still love it, but I can see what you're saying about some inconsistencies (I've had issues with the snails). I'm supposed to go again tomorrow, so I'll report back. Last time I went, maybe in December(?) we all enjoyed our food. I had the lasagna of course, and too much lambrusco.

                                              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                The white lasagna also has a rich bechamel sauce . . .please let me know if it's still delicious. Thanks, emilie . . .

                                                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                  Welllll... I tried to branch out a bit from The Lasagna (which I kinda regret), so while I am pretty sure (had it 2 mo ago) that its delicious, I don't have up to the minute info on that. Radicchio would be a nice addition to their bechamel I'm sure. But we did have the bresaola with artichokes, which I have had before and still love, but I could swear the portion used to be larger (or I less greedy), and the fritto misto, which I had not had but was fun and has excellent fry (some things fry better than others: octopus, which I love, was just kinda lost and carrot was a little unusual; squid, shrimp and zucchini were fabulous though -- squid was perfect texture - not remotely rubbery). And we had the gnocchi with mushrooms, which I also liked but I am not as enamored with it as the lasagna. Good texture, but could have been more mushroomy. Washed it down with a pleasant red table wine from Trentino - very drinkable, which I think is the idea here. Bottom line, I really need to just always order the lasagna. Hope that's helpful!

                                        2. Have you tried Sorella in the LES???? clean/cute and pretty food or Polania is really good, though its not romantic... it is a first date

                                          -----
                                          Sorella
                                          95 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ChefPeter

                                            I'm guessing that Polania is a different place from Polonia? Polonia is not very good at all.

                                          2. Lucien is a great date no matter what the occasion.

                                            1. Gahh! OP. Listen to me. Do not go to Degustation or Hearth or any other fancy, expensive restaurant on a first date. A tasting menu at an open kitchen is just trying way too hard and will freak her out. In the back of her head she might be worrying the whole time that you're going to suggest splitting the bill. You don't want that.

                                              Sorella is a great suggestion though -- place has great food, a laid back cozy atmosphere, it's not super expensive and has good food for sharing, and a great wine list. I'm also a big fan of Jimmy's No. 43 for first dates. Frankie's Spuntino is great an off night though it might be a bit crowded/loud on the weekend.

                                              And I second that Spina is lovely. Great service, all the pastas are excellent (and the portions aren't so large that you feel gross), and reasonably priced.

                                              Just don't go over the top. Hope it's a good date. Take her to Degustation on the 3rd one.

                                              -----
                                              Jimmy's No. 43
                                              43 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

                                              Sorella
                                              95 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

                                              Spina
                                              175 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: robertgoulet

                                                Concur with Jimmy's 43 - it's really cozy and pubby and not too overdone for a first date. (you sound like a great date to me - taking dates to Hearth and Degustation! Nice!) Actually, Klimat could work too. Eastern European wine bar/food.

                                                -----
                                                Klimat
                                                77 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

                                              2. Hands down - Lavagna!
                                                Not "out there" menu but totally solid, always delicious, definitely romantic but neighborhood-y and casual enough to not feel outwardly romantic. My favorite neighborhood date night place with my man.

                                                Just a note on some previous suggestions: Cucina di Pesce's quality of ingredients is piss poor, although it's a cute place. And Terroir is AWESOME!!! but so tight and crowded that I think it 's tough if you're going out with someone for the first time.
                                                And I agree with everyone who says to keep it chill for a first date. Tasting menu? No no no no no... That's more anniversary stuff.

                                                -----
                                                Lavagna
                                                545 E. 5th St., New York, NY 10009

                                                Cucina di Pesce
                                                87 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003

                                                Terroir
                                                413 E 12th St, New York, NY 10009

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: picklesister

                                                  I think Lavagna is a little too expensive and, actually, romantic for a first date. I haven't been there in a long time because I find their prices similar to Lupa (except for early bird specials) and their food, though good, was not nearly at that level any of the time I went (caveat: the last time was several years ago). If I went back, I'd want a table facing the garden, though.

                                                  1. re: picklesister

                                                    picklesister, SO and I went to Lavagna on our second or third date. IMHO it's too dark and intimate for a first date. It can also be loud on a weekend. It's better on a weeknight. They do have very good food and a dinner special. When the weather's nice the outdoor seating is perfect for a first date.

                                                    -----
                                                    Lavagna
                                                    545 E. 5th St., New York, NY 10009

                                                  2. Has anyone noticed that with all the advice being given here, the OP has not come back with a question or comment? I think we are all wasting our time trying to help him.

                                                    1. dcole, have you gone on the date? Where did you end up and how was it?

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                        Going to Lavagna this week. Took the advise of the group and am avoiding Hearth at first, so I appreciate that. I'll let you know how it goes and what I think of Lavagna!

                                                        -----
                                                        Lavagna
                                                        545 E. 5th St., New York, NY 10009

                                                      2. Euzkadi might be a good shot... cozy, warm, and good Basque-style tapas. Sangria is great there, and the atmosphere is definitely romantic.

                                                        -----
                                                        Euzkadi
                                                        108 East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003

                                                        1. Lavagna is the best choice I see here simply because of the food. The specials are consistently creative and utilize great ingedients, often in ways which are quite uncommon. Plus their pork chop with balsamic is fanstasic. Great wine list too.

                                                          -----
                                                          Lavagna
                                                          545 E. 5th St., New York, NY 10009

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: NYJewboy

                                                            After going, I thought Lavagna was solid. Can't rave about it, but the food was good and priced fair. The wine list is excellent.

                                                            It is a good spot for a first date - thanks everyone for helping!

                                                            -----
                                                            Lavagna
                                                            545 E. 5th St., New York, NY 10009