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Dinner(s) for my boyfriend's 30th Birthday with great beer list

w
WSfoodie May 31, 2011 08:49 PM

I am looking for recommendations for my boyfriend's 30th birthday. I am thinking it will be a two-part celebration and would love input on either segment:

1) I would like to take him out to dinner - just the two of us - on his actual birthday. I have been wanting to try Degustation but I am thinking that may seem more like a present for me since I am a little bit more of a foodie/oenophile than he is. We are both adventurous eaters, and he is appreciative of many types of food but probably wouldn't want anything too fussy. I did Luger's last year which he really enjoyed. He tends to appreciate either straightforward food like that or something very different. He really likes spicy food and trying new cuisines. I am willing to spend up to $250, but if there is a great option for less, I am certainly open to that as well.

2) I would also like to do a group dinner the weekend after his birthday for approx. 10 people. After scouring the boards for ideas, I think a large format feast could be fun. Has anyone tried Breslin, Back Forty, or Resto? Back Forty looks the least expensive which is appealing. If someone has tried this, I would be interested to hear what it was like and what the bill ended up being per person incl. drinks, tax, tip. I am also open to other recommendations with good food and an impressive beer list. He loves trying new local beers. Would prefer to keep it around $60/person all included if at all possible so a good BYOB would be even better. Bonus if you can recommend a cool, laid back bar near the recommended restaurant where some more friends could meet up with us after dinner.

We live on the UWS so prefer staying in Manhattan (downtown, West side preferred) but would be willing to go to the East side or to an easily accessible part of Brooklyn as well. Thank you!

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Resto
111 East 29th Street, New York, NY 10016

Back Forty
190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

The Breslin
20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

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  1. s
    sugartoof RE: WSfoodie Jun 1, 2011 01:44 AM

    Back Forty has a great beer list that's reasonably priced, focused on local brews. I wouldn't say it's the best food I've ever had, but it's really solid with some surprises, and the menu works for big groups. I think $60 is a comfortable budget there, but the pricing is a bit shrewd and it's easy to order something extra like the fries, and an extra drink, and as a result that adds up. If your group are heavy drinkers, say more than 4 beers a person, then you might want some other suggestions. The back garden has a large banquet size table which might be good. Back Forty also has better options for drinks nearby, but walking in with a group of 10+ people rules out the best ones.

    Resto is a little more adventurous, menu wise and the food is usually excellent with some really off days where it's just okay. It seems they've added seating which makes the place feel crowded, and when it's filled up, intensely loud. Obviously the beer and wine list is far more extensive, and pricier. I think more people will be inclined to order dessert at Resto, and with some entrees in the $27 range, you're going to bust your budget if someone orders more than 2 drinks, or a waffle. Forget it if they're eyeing some coffee after dinner.

    Breslin's also probably too expensive. Even the burger is $17, and while the beer list starts at $6, you can't really count on everyone ordering the can of Tecate, or Pork Slap. Not a very exciting beer selection anyway.

    Jimmy's is right near Degustation in case you want an after dinner beer, by the way.

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    Resto
    111 East 29th Street, New York, NY 10016

    Back Forty
    190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

    The Breslin
    20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

    5 Replies
    1. re: sugartoof
      k
      kathryn RE: sugartoof Jun 2, 2011 10:23 AM

      Jimmy's No. 43 has a back room as well as tables that can do large groups, so that might be an option. Call to reserve...

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

      1. re: kathryn
        s
        sugartoof RE: kathryn Jun 2, 2011 10:51 AM

        Have you found the food suitable there? I know it's locally sourced, but I haven't read anyone rave about it.

        1. re: sugartoof
          k
          kathryn RE: sugartoof Jun 2, 2011 11:41 AM

          It's pretty good for bar food but I've only tried a limited number of items (shishito peppers, charcuterie, nuts) so may not be the best judge.

          1. re: sugartoof
            i
            InfoMofo RE: sugartoof Jun 2, 2011 01:29 PM

            Their food is quite good, but their regular menu is a little limited. It might be fine for this purpose though.

            Occassionally they do beer dinners where they pair courses with beers and those are fantastic. Here's one I went to recently where they featured Goose Island beers and paired them with duck courses:
            http://2beerqueers.com/post/523172519...

            1. re: InfoMofo
              s
              sugartoof RE: InfoMofo Jun 2, 2011 03:17 PM

              Good to hear. My friends kind of shrugged when I asked how their plates were, and I can't say anything looked thrilling. I've heard good things about the special dinners, and I think the approach is really interesting.

      2. n
        nmprisons RE: WSfoodie Jun 1, 2011 03:43 AM

        Why not to Bo Ssam at Momofuku for the 10-person feast.

        1. w
          WSfoodie RE: WSfoodie Jun 1, 2011 07:00 AM

          Thank you for the thorough recs, sugartoof. I think Back Forty does sound like a good option. Has anyone tried their large format menu (ordering a whole pig, lamb, etc)? Any feedback on that option?

          Bo Ssam looks great but the times are a little odd. You can only book at 5:45 or 11 on Saturdays, but it could be a good early option before meeting up with a larger group. nmprisons - have you tried it? Is it good?

          If anyone has thoughts on the dinner for two, that would be great as well. Thanks again!

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          Back Forty
          190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

          4 Replies
          1. re: WSfoodie
            n
            nmprisons RE: WSfoodie Jun 1, 2011 07:42 AM

            I've done the bo ssam twice now. It is my favorite large format meal in the city by a wide margin (although the Breslin's whole pig is a wonderful second).

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            The Breslin
            20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

            1. re: nmprisons
              w
              WSfoodie RE: nmprisons Jul 27, 2011 08:21 PM

              We are booked for Bo Ssam this Saturday. Thank you!

            2. re: WSfoodie
              MVNYC RE: WSfoodie Jun 1, 2011 08:36 AM

              Not sure about the large format feast at Back Forty but Resto does one. My friends and I got a goat which consisted of 4 goat courses and dessert which I think was about $60 a head for 10 people. The food was very good, especially the roasted goat at the end but you are going to spend a lot of money. The beer list is very good too focused on Belgian and Belgian style beers. It can get pricey as they have a lot of large format bottles.

              Back Forty is a better bet based on your price range but the food is not as good nor is the beer list. You are probably going to go over your limit here too but not by as much. It is his birthday, treat him,

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              Resto
              111 East 29th Street, New York, NY 10016

              Back Forty
              190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

              1. re: MVNYC
                MVNYC RE: MVNYC Jun 1, 2011 08:42 AM

                For the dinner for the two of you, a restaurant that has a great beer list including some excellent vintage choices is Gramercy Tevern. This will probably go over $250 total with drinks but it is well worth the experience.

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

            3. r
              roze RE: WSfoodie Jun 1, 2011 08:10 AM

              My first thought is DBGB's for the group dinner. Lots of good beers, great atmosphere and food that won't break the bank. FYI for new local brews Little Town just opened in Union Square and has all NY state beers. Maybe he'd like to check that out before or after one of these meals.

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              DBGB
              299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

              Little Town NYC
              118A East 15th St, New York, NY 10003

              2 Replies
              1. re: roze
                s
                sugartoof RE: roze Jun 1, 2011 11:24 AM

                Little Town also has an interesting bar food menu (any good?), in addition to that unique beer list. I don't recall the seating being set up for large groups, so hopefully standing isn't a problem. The place also goes from empty to crowded in the blink of an eye.

                1. re: roze
                  k
                  kathryn RE: roze Jun 2, 2011 10:16 AM

                  DBGB's whole hog dinner is only for 8 people and is $495 (about $62pp) before tax, tip, and drinks/beer.

                  http://danielnyc.com/deeplink.html#/e...

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                  DBGB
                  299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                2. sgordon RE: WSfoodie Jun 1, 2011 08:23 AM

                  For dinner #1...

                  $250 before tax & 20% tip = $194 budget for food & drink, just so we have a reference point.

                  For something on the fancier end, Danny Meyer / Tom Colicchio restaurants by and large have excellent beer lists. In particular Colicchio & Sons and Gramercy Tavern. Given that you'd be drinking beer, not wine (and the cuisine goes very well with craft beers at either) that would keep costs down a little right off the bat. If you order the most expensive items from each course (app, entree, dessert) at C&S it'd come to $144, leaving you about $50 for beer (& wine for you, if you prefer) - of course, it's unlikely you'll both order the MOST expensive things, so really it'd be a bit lower than that. Gramercy is a prix fixe of $88/pp, so they'd be cutting it a bit close. But I prefer C&S currently, food-wise, anyway.

                  A little lower priced with great beer, great food, though perhaps a bit less romantic ambience is Vandaag. Northern European cuisine, very hearty stuff that should appeal to him. Beer list is all Dutch / Belgian / Norwegian, so a little outside the box as well. Dinner, including drinks, could easily come in under $200 for 2 people. I think the last time my gf & I went, we had three apps, two entrees, and two cocktails each, came in around $150 or so.

                  Slightly more romantic would be Marc Forgione - again, I remember the last time we went - once again three apps, two entrees, bottle of good wine, two cocktails - came to $250. Assuming you're having beer and not wine or cocktails, it'd be a bit less than that for you. Beer list is a little smaller than at any of the above, but well-curated.

                  For large-format meals, all the other posters mentioned are good choices. Back Forty, as pointed out, has better options for post-meal drinking. The Bo Ssam is another good choice, though from what you say they're already booked for the more reasonable hours - so instead of a BYOB restaurant, how about a BYOF bar? Get the Bo Ssam Deluxe package to go - $350, so only $35/pp - and take it down to d.b.a or somewhere. They reserve tables for large groups, as I recall.

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

                  Back Forty
                  190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                  d.b.a.
                  41 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                  Marc Forgione
                  134 Reade Street, New York, NY 10013

                  Colicchio & Sons
                  85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                  Vandaag
                  103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sgordon
                    c
                    craig_g RE: sgordon Jun 1, 2011 01:47 PM

                    Lots of good suggestions here. The first two I thought of when I saw this were DBGB; while not cheap, it has a great list, excellent food, and a whole pig option; and Resto for your choice of whole animal.

                    The bo ssam at Momofuku Ssam Bar is great, but for more than 8 it's a really cramped experience, and the list is pretty thin. You could do a lot worse than to get it to go and just bring in a whole range of excellent beers though.

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                    Momofuku Ssam Bar
                    207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    Resto
                    111 East 29th Street, New York, NY 10016

                    DBGB
                    299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                    1. re: craig_g
                      sgordon RE: craig_g Jun 1, 2011 05:14 PM

                      I think the beer list at DBGB is only great if you don't compare the prices to, say, d.b.a just a couple blocks away. Then it doesn't look so great anymore.

                      I'm torn on the place, really - I like the regular "restaurant" parts of the menu, and think there's good stuff at a decent price there. But all the "bar" stuff - and by that I mean the burgers, sausages, beer - their ostensible reason for existence - I find staggeringly overpriced. I mean, the burgers are barely larger than sliders and can cost up to $19. The sausage portions are, like, tasting portions at best. I kind of think of the back room as a good restaurant and the front room as a rip-off.

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                      d.b.a.
                      41 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                      DBGB
                      299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                    2. re: sgordon
                      k
                      kathryn RE: sgordon Jun 2, 2011 10:18 AM

                      The Bo Ssam is only ever offered at off-peak times. You can't book an 8pm even if you wanted to. Most likely this is to keep those big 8-top tables free during peak dinner hours and/or reduce strain on the kitchen.

                      "the lunch bo ssäm is offered everyday at 12, 12:30, and 1pm. for dinner, on sunday to thursday, slots are available at 5, 6, 6:30, and 10 pm. bo ssäm reservations are available on friday at 5, 5:30, 6, 11 and 11:30pm. on saturday, they are available at 5, 5:15, 5:45, 11, and 11:30pm."

                    3. k
                      kathryn RE: WSfoodie Jun 2, 2011 10:22 AM

                      The Breslin lamb and pig will be out of your price range even before you add in tax, tip, and drinks/beer.

                      Here's the Chef's Table menus:
                      http://thebreslin.com/i/menu_ct.pdf

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                      The Breslin
                      20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

                      1. biondanonima RE: WSfoodie Jul 28, 2011 08:22 AM

                        BYOB is tough in Manhattan. The two places I default to are Nook in Hell's Kitchen and Tartine in the West Village, but neither is great for a group (nor do they take reservations). The food is decent at both but nothing particularly stunning/interesting. Here's a link to more options: http://nymag.com/nightlife/articles/b... There are plenty of places in Chinatown, so that might be a fun option.

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                        Nook
                        746 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                        Tartine
                        253 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

                        1. a
                          ahoffman1202 RE: WSfoodie Aug 17, 2011 10:16 AM

                          Jimmy's No. 43, and Cafe D'Alsace has a beer sommelier!

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

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