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Aug 14, 2011 08:20 AM

Birthday dinner for two for $100 total

I'm taking a friend for a birthday dinner and my budget is around $100 (or a little less!) for the night. I'd like to go to Locanda Verde or Peasant, but that might be hard to keep reasonable. He's not a big drinker, and usually not a dessert person, so that frees up the budget a bit. Any type of cuisine is ok. He likes adventure and going somewhere really fun and out of the way is an option, too. His favorite restaurant used to be Mamlouk before it closed. Thanks for any suggestions!

194 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

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  1. You might consider ABC Kitchen. We were just there for a late supper, and the food is excellent. Portions are substantial, so you can easily share plates. Our bill (which included one glass of wine for Mr. R.) came to $87 before tax & tip.

    You don't say when this birthday dinner is happening, so given ABC's extreme popularity -- even late on a Tuesday evening, it was jammed -- getting a reservation could prove difficult.

    ABC Kitchen photos:

    ABC Kitchen
    35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

    3 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      I've heard great things about ABC Kitchen, and your pictures are beautiful. But it doesn't look like you got a lot of food. I should mention that my friend has quite a large appetite. (I think that's part of why he loved Mamlouk... unending dishes of food.) I looked at the menu, and it seems to be just as expensive as LV or Peasant. I don't want to go somewhere that we have to be cautious not to order the things that look delicious because they're too expensive.

      Mamlouk Restaurant
      265 E 10th St, New York, NY 10009

      ABC Kitchen
      35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

      1. re: luckiestduck

        I'd go to Scarpetta -- ask for some complimentary housemade herbed potato chips at the bar before your meal.

        Also their the bread basket is very filling -- I remember finishing it with a party of 4 and they offered us complimentary refills, so that will help fill him up. There's a selection of bread including some really good meat stuffed stromboli. They also give you three spreads: mascarpone butter, eggplant caponata, and citrus infused olive oil.

        Order the polenta and short ribs for appetizers. Both are rather filling.

        Then each get pastas. Maybe the Spaghetti and the Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli. Both are generous portions.

        I've even skipped the main course at this point, after feeling pretty full.

        355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

        1. re: luckiestduck

          Thanks for the compliment about my photos. This was a late supper for us, so we shared the chicken liver toast (very rich), each had an appetizer (the gazpacho portion was large and filling), then shared both the main course salmon (the woman at the table next to me had the full-sized portion and it was generous) and dessert. I did notice full-sized pizzaa at several tables. However, if portions seem small to you and prices are above your budget, then you're probably right that ABC may not be a good choice since I agree that having to be cautious about ordering is not a good idea when you are treating someone.

          kathryn's suggestion of Scarpetta is an excellent one, and she's given good advice with regard to ordering. The signature polenta with mushrooms is extremely rich and extremely filling, and pasta portion sizes are very generous. With that filling bread basket and perhaps, dessert, you probably won't need a main course.

          You can see the signature spaghetti with tomato and basil in this photo set:

          and the polenta and mushrooms in this photo set:

      2. Thank you both. More mouth-watering photos! I fear this will be a similar situation, though. I'm uncomfortable with having to order a certain way to monitor the bill. This is very tempting, but what if he doesn't want pasta or polenta? I think I need to stay within a $20-$25 entree range so that we can order freely from the menu. The thoughtful suggestions are much appreciated, though!

        1. Possibly Chinese, then? You can generally get a fantastic meal at Chinese restaurants for comparably less money. And the portions are generous in most cases.

          Szechuan Gourmet (either location) for hot and spicy Sichuan dishes..

          Evergreen for light and delicate Shanghainese cuisine.

          Red Egg for a variety of Cantonese dim sum.

          Oriental Garden for (Cantonese style) seafood.

          Szechuan Gourmet
          21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

          Oriental Garden
          14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

          10 E 38th St, New York, NY 10016

          Red Egg
          202 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013

          1. Thank you thank you! Oh, gosh, I'm rejecting everybody's ideas! Somehow Chinese doesn't feel very celebratory. I know I said any kind of cuisine. I'm contemplating Prune... which is casual but still feels special. Any suggestions in that vain?

            1. Hi, luckiestduck, what day of the week are you going? That might help folks advise. Buttermilk Channel has a $25 3-course prix fixe on Mondays, for example, which is a great deal, and includes some delicious options like chilled summer soups & bacon-wrapped trout... you wouldn't feel cheap & you'd get out under $100, easy.

              2 Replies
              1. re: alexvb

                Prune is WONDERFUL. I highly recommend. The plates can be small and the tab can grow easily. Along the same lines of well-done, semi-creative American cuisines...

                I love Back Forty in the east village. There's no reservations, but the bar area is a fun wait.

                Back Forty
                190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

                1. re: saltysnack

                  Any recommendations for what to order at Prune?