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Apr 30, 2011 09:27 PM

Need some dining advice please ...

In a relatively last minute way, I have decided to take my parents to NYC to help them celebrate their 50th anniversary, and they have agreed. We will be there at the end of May, so that may be cutting it a little tight for reservations for Friday the 28th, but I am hopeful that Chowhounders will help me select a memorable restaurant and meal. They are in their mid-70s, are pretty open to most food, but lean French/italian. Although we like lovely meals, I wouldn't call us foodies or trendsetters. Of course I would like it to be a lovely evening, but I really can't afford to go much more than $125/person, including wine - is that even possible? I've looked at menus for Corton, Les Halles, La Grenouille, River Cafe and le Bernardin and I must confess that I am lost - can anyone advise or suggest alternates? thanks so much!

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

239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

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  1. $125pp after 8.875% tax and a 20% tip leaves only $97 for food and wine, and it really depends how much wine and how expensive (one glass each? or a bottle? or more?).

    It'll be difficult to meet your budget at the choices you've noted so far.

    Corton is more of a modern restaurant, so I'm not sure that's the atmosphere they'd like. Check the photos on their web site. Also their prix fixe is $89 which leaves very little room for wine.

    Les Halles is a casual brasserie (loud, crowded, etc) and not appropriate for a celebratory dinner.

    Le Grenouille is legendary for decor and flowers. Very appropriate for a 50th anniversary dinner. But the dinner menu is $98. No room for wine at all in your budget.

    The River Cafe is known for great views... but the prix fixe is $100. You'd be over your price range even if you didn't have wine.

    Le Bernardin would be appropriate if they love seafood (especially raw or barely cooked) and appreciate extraordinary ingredients and subtle flavorings. The dinner prix fixe is $115 which would be over your price range even if you didn't drink any wine.

    Is a celebratory lunch a possibility? You could have a very impressive lunch on Friday within your budget at Jean Georges, Eleven Madison Park, Del Posto...

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

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

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

    Le Bernardin
    155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

    Les Halles
    411 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016

    239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks for your advice - i should have said $125 before tax and tip. I also appreciate your lunch suggestion, but i do think dinner would be more appropriate, as I expect days to be rather packed with sightseeing.

    2. Some places that will fit your budget more easily but are still quite special:

      Ai Fiori

      1 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

      13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

      120 W 49th St, New York, NY 10020

      45 E 22nd St, New York, NY 10010

      Ai Fiori
      400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

      1. You should also consider Bouley. $125 for a fabulous multi-course tasting menu. Beautiful room and attentive service makes Bouley my favorite restaurant for celebrations.

        163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

        8 Replies
        1. re: ellenost

          This was going to be my suggestion as well.

          1. re: ellenost

            That leaves no room in their budget for wine.

            1. re: gutsofsteel

              The OP hasn't specified whether the $125 should include wine (only that it should be before tax and tip).

              1. re: ellenost

                As the OP states above;

                "Of course I would like it to be a lovely evening, but I really can't afford to go much more than $125/person, including wine - is that even possible?"

                1. re: rrems

                  Thanks for the correction. I was reading the OP's second post. Perhaps the a la carte menu at Bouley would work better for the OP.

              2. re: gutsofsteel

                I assume (though can't remember) that there is an a la carte option for dinner as well, which would be just as good.

                1. re: nmprisons

                  Bouley has an excellent a la carte menu too.

                  1. re: ellenost

                    agreed, but their wine list has a price high starting point. i don't think they have a bottle of red that's less that $65

            2. I think Cafe Boulud, a longtime favorite of ours, would be a perfect place to celebrate this special occasion.

              While it is 4-star Chef Daniel Boulud's second-tier restaurant, in evey way that counts, it is first-rate and can, imo, outshine his eponymous and far more expensive flagship. C.B.'s executive chef, Gavin Kaysen, is serving some of the best food in the city right now. Service is cordial and polished, and the ambiance is lovely. Most of the gentlemen wear jackets (though they are not required), and the ladies tend to dress up a bit.

              C.B. is upscale, but prices on the a la carte menus will enable you to meet your budget (approx. $75pp for a 3-course meal) while still leaving room for a good bottle of wine.

              Cafe Boulud photos:

              Best wishes to your parents on reaching this wonderful milestone.


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

              1. Have you looked at Scarpette? the space is very clean and modern and, while i've only been there once myself, i found the service to be a step above what you might expect for the price point.

                another option is Gotham Bar and Grill. their wine list has several options in the $40/bottle range. i would figure $80pp for two courses, plus tax, tip and drink. that should leave enough room in your budget for dessert.

                Gotham Bar and Grill
                12 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003

                355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                6 Replies
                1. re: coasts

                  You folk are fantastic!!!

                  I was working with an ancient tourist-y list, but now I am able to make a "presentation" to my parents of chic yummy restaurants to allow them to decide with enough time to make reservations. Thank you all so very much - we will have a stellar weekend! (and if you know anything about jazz bars, yankee stadium and MoMA ....)

                  1. re: badrockandroll

                    For Yankee Stadium, you can post on the Outer Boroughs board.

                    You should know that the Jazz Standard serves Blue Smoke's food.

                    And for MoMA, the Modern next door is an excellent restaurant with both a formal dining room and more casual "bar room" serving small places that has free standing tables, a lounge, and a proper bar.

                    The Modern
                    9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

                    Blue Smoke
                    116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                    1. re: badrockandroll

                      If you're looking for a jazz bar with a real New Yok feel, don't hesitate to book the Village Vanguard now. There's not a better place to see a show.

                      Village Vanguard
                      178 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

                    2. re: coasts

                      I like Scarpetta, but I think it is a little too informal for celebrating an occasion as special as this one.


                      1. re: RGR

                        I agree.

                        If it were me, I'd pick Bouely or La Grenouille if the budget permits.

                        1. re: uwsister

                          I, too, think La Grenouille would be an excellent choice. We've been there two times for dinner and just recently had a spectacular lunch there. The dinner prix-fixe is $98, and there are supplements for what I consider some of the must haves like the Dover Sole and the souffl├ęs. So, with a budget of $125pp, including wine, sadly, it's not happening.

                          La Grenouille photos: