HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Discussion

Dinner for 2, semi-special occasion

Long story short... had a study-abroad semester and its been about 3-4 months that me and my girlfriend havent seen each other. (we're both from NY, shes 17, im 18)

It occurred to me that i never took her out to a really special place to eat, and coming back would be a lovely occasion to do so. Plus with her being stuck on Staten Island with overprotective parents she never gets to go out to the city much although she loves the city. So perfect opportunity =)

TLDR: looking for a nice place to take my gf out to dinner (18 yr olds) , price range about $100-150 (pre-tax & tip). Btw we dont drink, she doesn't drink alcohol at all, and i drive -- hopefully that can bump up the range of places we can go to because i want it to be really special & classy.

Thanks guise!

P.S: kind of food doesn't really matter. Italian, Sushi, you name it. Honestly i dont prefer flat-out-chinese, but sushi is acceptable.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. What a wonderful idea! I took my fiance out to our first fancy dinner together seven years ago and remember it to this day.

    Since you won't be drinking, you have a bit of flexibility. You might consider the Bar Room at the Modern and tie it into a short trip through the museum first. Alternatively, you might consider Babbo for some Italian food in a classic New York setting. Both would end up being about $150 for food.

    For something a little less romantic, but a lot of fun, maybe head over to momofuku ssam bar and then walk around the LES together.

    Either way, enjoy the company first and the food second and you will be sure to have a memorable evening.

    -----
    Babbo
    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

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

    4 Replies
    1. re: nmprisons

      Thanks for the heads up on your experience! Yea enjoying her company is not a problem for me... :D
      Babbo sounds very nice, ill look into it. Im wondering about parking in the vicinity -- would it be too much of a hassle finding a spot in that area on a workday summer evening?

      -----
      Babbo
      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

        1. re: blackwing

          Unless the night out is in 30 days, you will never get a reservation at Babbo. it is probably the mot popular restaurant in the city. Del Posto is another option.

          -----
          Babbo
          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

          1. re: thegforceny

            Babbo is easy to reserve if you know the trick: one month to the numerical date, arrive in person at about 9:45am to make your reservation.

            For example, today, June 21st, you could have reserved for the night of July 21st by walking in.

            -----
            Babbo
            110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      1. Is that $100-$150 budget per person or for both of you?

        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

        5 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          I was planning on around $150 for the two of us (no alcohol, before tax&tip), but would bump it to $100/person (before tax&tip) if that would make a considerable difference. Them student pockets... tend to stay empty rather easily haha

          1. re: blackwing

            You could do three courses at Daniel for $108, which would certainly be memorable.

            1. re: nmprisons

              Hmm im gonna look into that. That would be at the top of my price bracket to be honest, i wanted to take her out to buy a nice dress and then dinner later that evening as a surprise. Would you say dinner at Daniel > lunch at EMP?

              1. re: blackwing

                Dress to dinner is a wonderful idea (just make sure she has shoes with her that might work, something simple and black).

                I can't answer the dinner at Daniel v. lunch at EMP question as I have only had dinners at EMP. Generally speaking, even if the food is just as good at lunch and dinner (and many here say it is), there is something romantic about a fancy dinner that you don't get at lunch. So, for a date, I would almost always choose dinner, even if that meant a bit of a compromise as to where we eat.

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

                1. re: nmprisons

                  fair insight, thank you. Ill be looking into all the options you guys gave me for a nice dinner date, and big thanks for looking out nmprisons! much appreciated

        2. would you consider lunch? if so, you could do either Bouley or EMP on your budget. either would meet your requirement for "special & classy"

          15 Replies
          1. re: coasts

            In that league of restaurants, and that level of formality, but at dinner time, you might consider Cafe Boulud, which you could do for $75 each for food costs.

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

            1. re: nmprisons

              I actually haven't thought about lunch and now that you bring it up, i feel like its an option. Would the food experience be much different? Also if you were to pick between the three (bouley/EMP lunch, Cafe Boulud dinner) which would it be and why?

              Just looking for some opinions, trying to see which one my fiancee would enjoy the most.

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

              1. re: blackwing

                Girlfriend to fiance in 12 hours, eh? Congrats.

                1. re: nmprisons

                  hahahah me and her refer to each other as that jokingly all the time. habitually put it down. and no, we're not engaged :D

                2. re: blackwing

                  Lunch at either EMP or Bouley would be wonderful. Fantastic food and service. Bouley's dining room is the most beautiful space in NYC (IMO).

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

                  Bouley
                  163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

                  1. re: ellenost

                    I just read up some reviews of Bouley and wonder if i should take them with a grain of salt... By the ratio of negative reviews i came across it seems really hit or miss, either a terrific evening or really just a big disappointing (which i dont want to give this a chance to be). Any personal input?

                    1. re: blackwing

                      Let's put it this way: I've been dining a few times a year at Bouley over the past 12 years (at all of their locations), and can honestly say I've never had less than a wonderful time. So wonderful, that I've already made my dinner reservation for my birthday in August.

                      For every restaurant there will be folks that love it and those that hate it.

                      I have no hesitation about recommending Bouley to you for your special event.

                      I also have no hesitation about recommending EMP for your special event.

                      1. re: blackwing

                        I went to Bouley with my husband and a gift card about a year ago and they were very rude to us and seemed annoyed that we didn't drink a lot (we both had a glass of wine) and used the gift card (what did they think it was for?). I would think they might be very snooty to two young people not drinking in there. Many people rave about it, but I would not recommend it at all, and with their attitudes, it was the least romantic place I could think of. We just went to Da Umberto for a very fancy, romantic italian meal, and my in-laws have parked near there without a problem. Another suggestion is Gramercy Tavern, where my husband took me when we got engaged. It was amazing and the staff was spectacular! I'm with the posted who said do dinner, not lunch.

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

                        Da Umberto
                        107 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

                        1. re: jenhen2

                          My only hesitancy with Bouley is it has a much more "adult" feel than most of the other recommendations. 20-somethings regularly go to places like EMP, Ssam Bar, The Modern, etc., but Bouley caters to an older crowd and OP is an 18 year old looking for a fun and romantic date night.

                          1. re: nmprisons

                            True, and another point in EMP's favor is their great variety of non-alcoholic cocktails.

                            1. re: loratliff

                              yes, but then you are really pushing OP's budget (as am I, I know)

                              1. re: nmprisons

                                The more i look into this the harder a time im having picking, haha. Im usually a really impulsive guy when it comes to picking such things as where to eat out or when to do it and its the first time im trying to make a more or less educated decision...

                                Whats on my mind right now is EMP which is nothing short of perfect in all aspects, but the dinner for two would be upward of $250 which [unfrotunately] is a little out of my price range. And as good as lunch sounds, theres just that something about going out at night that makes it much more fun. Plus EMP lunch being till 2pm, there will hardly be any time to surprise her with a nice pick-a-new-dress purchase.

                                dilemmas dilemmas....

                                1. re: blackwing

                                  If you are going to think about the cost during the meal, pick another place. This is a special dinner for the two of you and you should be able to focus on just her (and the food).

                            2. re: nmprisons

                              Second this. My boyfriend and I are in our early-mid twenties and we went to Bouley and EMP last summer for our respective birthday lunches. While we thoroughly enjoyed the food at each (albeit with an edge to EMP), Bouley felt significantly older and stuffier to us, and we felt a lot more comfortable at EMP.

                  2. re: coasts

                    I think lunch at EMP would be very, very special and actually pretty budget-friendly, comparatively. I know I would have been absolutely thrilled if my boyfriend at 18 took me somewhere like that.

                    I have not been to Bouley, so I can't compare the two, but I know you can't go wrong with EMP. (Plus, that space is stunningly beautiful during the daytime!)

                  3. EMP and some of the others mentioned here are really top notch places. You are only 18 and have many years to do it up grand at those places. If I were you, I would want to pick a place that is more solidly within my budget, nice, quiet and romantic. There are tons of places in New York that fit this bill. You might consider River Cafe in Brooklyn or Battery Gardens for the amazing view, or Duane Park, which is lovely. Felida is romantic and cozy, and Balthazar is hip and fun. These are great places where you will enjoy a great meal, and will surely be memorable, without some of the stuffiness that these ultra-high end options bring. I'm just thinking that may be more your speed. If the goal is to really blow things out of the water, then EMP will surely do that. But if the goal is to have a great time with lovely food and a gracious staff in a quiet and romantic setting, I'd think a little lower in the price bracket, personally....

                    -----
                    Felidia
                    243 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022

                    Balthazar
                    80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                    Duane Park
                    157 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

                    Battery Gardens
                    State St and State Plz, New York, NY 10004

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jenhen2

                      Really reasonable advice, appreciated. You say it might be a good idea to think a little lower in the price bracket - wondering what places you would suggest? Checked River Cafe's and Battery Gardens menus and they are just a bit off price-wise from EMP's dinner, i guess if i end up bumping my budget to those numbers, wouldnt it make sense to go with EMP over the other two?

                      -----
                      Battery Gardens
                      State St and State Plz, New York, NY 10004

                      1. re: blackwing

                        If you want to splurge for dinner, EMP is a very special restaurant, and I am certain you will have a memorable evening. They make the most wonderful non-alcholic drinks. Let them know that this a special evening.

                        1. re: blackwing

                          The bump down in price would be something like the $75 Springtasting menu at Dovetail (http://www.dovetailnyc.com/) or the pasta tasting at Babbo. The food at those places is much stronger than River Cafe or Battery Gardens, imho, and you could park near Dovetail without too much hassle.

                          -----
                          Babbo
                          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                          Battery Gardens
                          State St and State Plz, New York, NY 10004

                          Dovetail
                          103 West 77th Street, New York, NY 10024

                      2. I'll add my 2 cents...

                        I would say definitely do dinner over lunch. Yes, you can get out cheaper at lunch, but as someone pointed out above, there's something more "special" about dinner whereas lunch is just inherently more casual. There's something nice about leaving dinner, it's dark, you can walk around the city at night.

                        The ultra-high end places (Daniel, EMP, etc) will be a little out of your price range - though if you were to bump your budget up to $108 for Daniel, I'd say might as well bump it to $125 for EMP. I'm not the biggest fan of Daniel, personally, I find the atmosphere stuffy and the staff pretentious. But obviously, other people's opinions differ. The River Cafe, which another person suggested, is magical in terms of the view. The price is also in the high range - I think it was $110 last I looked - and while he food isn't on the same level as the other $100+ prix fixe places, the ambience is unmatched - especially if you can score a window-side table, around sunset. Also, there'd be parking. I think they even have valet parking (though that might cost a little extra, not sure how much) - and after dinner you can walk around the new Brooklyn Bridge Park. Very nice.

                        But I'm not sure I'd do any of those places - you're 17 and 18, and those are kind of... I hate to say it, but they're all a bit lacking in youthfulness.

                        Momofuku Ssam Bar I'd rule out out of hand, simply for being no reservation. The food is great, but you don't want to be stuck sitting on backless stools eating at the bar for a semi-special occasion. After possibly waiting in line for twenty minutes.

                        I'd consider WD-50 - the food is certainly conversation fodder, it's fun and hip, and it's in a good part of town to wander a little after dinner. Also Cafe Boulud - I think it's better than Daniel, personally, the scene not so Park Avenuey. And it's within your budget to begin with. The neighborhood is not the most exciting, but if you're heading home right after dinner, no worries. FInally, maybe Gramercy Tavern, in the main dining room. The tables are nicely spaced so you've got space to yourself, and aren't on top of your neighbor's meal, the service is wonderful (among the best in the city) and the food is always quite solid. Also, their prix fixe is within your range - I think it's $85 right now, though I could be off by a few dollars.

                        -----
                        WD-50
                        50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

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

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

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

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sgordon

                          I like the wd-50 recommendation too, but I'm not sure how fancy the OP want to get—if he, indeed, wants a place where he and his GF can dress up, wd-50 isn't it.

                          1. re: loratliff

                            I'd say on any given night about half the diners are dressed up. It's not fancy like Daniel, no, but it's a nice night out for most people. They're just dressed up in a "downtown" way.