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Suggestions for a good dinner experience in Manhattan

Taking my wife to NYC for her 40th, erm.. 30th.. :) no, seriously, though, I am looking for suggestions for a dinner spot that is worthy of the occasion. She is a chef on her right and appreciates the culinary world. So what I am looking for?...Great food, of course.. But, (you'll probably flame me for this) the most important thing is the experience and the service..for that night. Becasue if we get pushed around, mistreated, kept waiting, etc, etc..all the mood will be gone and even the best of the dish from the most sought-after chef will be of no consequence. Thanks in advance.

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    1. The two places I trust for perfect (or near perfect) service during a special occasion are Per Se and Eleven Madison Park.

      Why not share some details about your budget, type of food, etc. and we can help. If your wife is a chef, perhaps she should have some say in this?

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      Per Se
      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

      6 Replies
      1. re: nmprisons

        I'd like to keep the budget around $125 - $150 pp. There will be four of us, and it's a surprise so I can't really ask where and what she wants to eat. But as a general rule, here favorites are Italian,American, Southern, and Asian (with no sea food - she can't east seafood..)

        1. re: aliarman

          Tiresome but helpful to us helping you ?s: $125-150 *including" or "excluding ext, tip, dirnks. Tax and tip take about 27% on top of tab and drinks (even non-alcoholic seem at least $8 in high end places - like an enhanced gingererale :, coktails $14+...

          1. re: yebo

            up to $150 per person, including the tip and tax.

            1. re: aliarman

              I would immediately agree with nmprisons about EMP and Per Se before we knew your budget. But your budget won't support those options, EMP maybeeeeeeee without anything except tap water to drink would get close but Per Se is out of the question. Maybe Picholine which offers 4 course prix fixe for $92. They are turning out fantastic food in a beautiful space. The service is still very very good but not stellar like it once was.

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              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              Picholine
              35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

              1. re: aliarman

                Its not the highest end dining experience and its on the Brooklyn side of the east river, but my wife has always loved our dinners at the River Cafe. The prix fixe is $100 so you're good on the budget w/o alcohol. We always been treated very well there and I can't ever recall having a wait for our table. Actually like to arrive a little early and have a drink at the bar. If you can get a table by the windows, it a great setting. The piano music is a bit corny but it really adds to the atmosphere.

                1. re: aliarman

                  Wait! $150 per person has to include beverages, like cocktails and wine? If so, how much will you and the other members of your party be drinking? Cocktails? One or two bottles of wine? Without knowing that, it's really difficult to make appropriate suggestions.

                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

          2. Tocqueville

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

            1. Thank you for all the suggestions.. with what I read, I am also thinking Rogue Tomate.. any pointers, comments?

              1 Reply
              1. re: aliarman

                We've been back to RT several times but only because of the bar (which makes fantastic cocktails) but have only eaten dinner there once because we were so underwhelmed by the food and the service. I would never think of RT as a special meal place.

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                Rouge Tomate
                10 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022

              2. Just so we know... (I know, we're asking a lot of questions here) - $150 before tax & tip = about $115 menu price, give or take. How much you drink can make a HUGE difference at this point. If you have two glasses of wine each, at any nicer restaurant that's anywhere from $25 - $30 from your pre-tax/tip budget right there. Ordering two bottles between four people would be around the same, depending what you order. Three bottles / glasses each? A bit more. It's the difference between, say, a menu budget of around $90 versus one ion the high $70s - small amount, on paper, but a whole different set of restaurants.

                Keeping that in mind, my recommendations across a wide swath of price points:

                WD-50 (for something adventurous, could appeal to a chef)

                Public (adventurous, though not on WD's level - not so much in technique but more in terms of ingredients & flavor pairing. That said, it's not the most intimate dining room.)

                Marc Forgione (for something rustic & hearty with a little creative flair)

                Cafe Boulud (could stretch the budget a wee bit, depending what you order - prices vary pretty widely on the menu. But it's Daniel Boulud's best restaurant, far more creative and interesting than his flagship, IMHO)

                Blue Hill (a bit on the keep-it-simpler side, but there's nothing wrong with top-notch ingredients cooked perfectly. That said, for a chef who could theoretically do that at home, delicious as it is it might not feel so special.)

                Babbo (if you can get a rezzie...good luck!)

                SHO Shaun Hergatt (fancier setting, excellent food, some find it a little corporate / stuffy, YMMV...)

                Manzo (if you don't do a "full Italian" four-course meal, that is. Could work if you just order a standard "American Three" - app, entree (either pasta or secondi), dessert - could even possibly swing four courses by all getting secondi and just splitting a couple pastas as primi)

                Colicchio & Sons (I think they're still offering the "make your own tasting menu" - pick three savories and one dessert for $78.)

                If you're game to do a fancy lunch instead of dinner, you could do the Del Posto tasting menu - only $75 at lunch, go around 4:30 for the last seating which'll almost feel like an early dinner. Just let them know beforehand one (or more?) people can't do fish, and they'd accomodate with some appropriate substitution for those courses.

                I'd skip Asian options - for high-end Asian in NYC, we have mostly Japanese, and within that mostly seafood specialists. Going to a Kyo Ya or Morimoto or whatnot and only ordering land critters would seem couter-intuitive. As to other Asian cuisines - we have some great Chinese places, but it seems like you want something a little fancier than that - and to do a Chinese banquet I'd say you'd need minimum 6-8 people. Plus most of those places specialize in seafood, too.

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

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

                Babbo
                110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                Blue Hill
                75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

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

                Morimoto
                88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                Kyo Ya
                94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                Public
                210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

                Marc Forgione
                134 Reade Street, New York, NY 10013

                SHO Shaun Hergatt
                40 Broad St, New York, NY 10004

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

                Manzo
                200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

                2 Replies
                1. re: sgordon

                  I really love Manzo but I think it's too casual for a special occasion meal. Otherwise, great list. I would add Ciano, Lincoln, and Boulud Sud.

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

                  Lincoln
                  142 W 65th St, New York, NY 10023

                  Manzo
                  200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

                  Boulud Sud
                  20 W 64th St, New York, NY 10023

                  1. re: Riverman500

                    True. I suppose Manzo is casual in setting, just not in terms of price.

                    I'm not sure how one could get out of Lincoln for under $150/pp, though. I found the dishes a bit small, sized such that you really needed to do a full four-courser to get a meal out of it. i just did some quick math and it seems if one orders the cheapest option from each category, then one glass each of the cheapest white and cheapest red, you'd hit $151 after tax/tip.

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                    Lincoln
                    142 W 65th St, New York, NY 10023

                    Manzo
                    200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010