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graduation lunch restaurant recommendation $40pp max

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hey everyone!
i've had lots of drama with finding a restaurant for graduation, and for someone who has been planning this lunch for months now, i can't believe it's coming to the last minute to make this reservation

any location in manhattan, no real preference on type of food, biggest concern (for my dad) is price range
biggest concern for me is quality of food, then ambiance

i like the jean-georges restaurant deals for lunch - those prix fixe menus are incredible
but when i called for a reservation at JOJO for a group of nine they restricted me to a party menu which cut down entirely on the variety of the menu to two options per course for a very inflated price, $35 being the lowest (and $12 extra per person for giving my guests the OPTION of a steak? get real)

i already called del posto and sadly they have a private party going on that day and aren't taking any reservations

any suggestions are highly appreciated, especially any knowledge of restaurants that do not try to dupe you with these rip off party menus...or perhaps experiences with good party menus
thanks guys!

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

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  1. I bet the back room downstairs at Kefi could do a great job!

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    Kefi
    505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

    1. What day (of the week)?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Jane A.

        it's a wednesday

        1. re: discolemonade

          Is that $40pp the max for food only?

          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

          1. re: RGR

            yes

      2. If you stick to the 3-course prix-fixe, Tocqueville would be well within the budget at $29. For another $15, you can have wine pairings. The food is wonderful and it's a beautiful room.

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        Tocqueville
        1 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

        1. I would recommend Ciano. Their Lunch Market Menu is three courses (two savory, one sweet) for $29.95, and there are lots of dishes to choose from (many more than on Tocqueville's lunch prix-fixe). I think having more choices is especially important when dealing with a large group. And even choosing from the a la carte menu, depending on which dishes are selected, it might be possible to stay within the budget.

          We recently went back to Ciano for the second time, and the food was as delicious as it was the first time. They have a very good wine program, service is friendly and attentive, and the space has lovely ambiance.

          Ciano photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

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          Ciano
          45 E 22nd St, New York, NY 10010

          2 Replies
          1. re: RGR

            I agree. Ciano is wonderful. I have only been there for dinner, but the lunch sounds like a great deal.

            1. re: rrems

              Actually, great food-oriented minds do think alike, rrems! :) I had thought of Tocqueville last night but then was busy and didn't have a chance to post to suggest it.

              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com