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Oct 12, 2011 10:42 AM

40th Birthday dinner that can top Bo Ssam?

Hi there,

I've been confronted with a dining challenge daunting enough that after much research here (reviewing all the "special dinner," "40th birthday" and "must have" threads) I was compelled to finally sign up after many years and see if anyone can help out. I've probably erred on the side of too much information.... but I know the penalty for leaving anything out. ;)

My wife and I took my brother, his wife and my parents for their first Bo Ssam this past year. (It was our third time, and amazing as always.) My brother's 40th is arriving and my mother asked if there was some place else we could go that was 'really special that he'd enjoy, like Bo Ssam.'

Is there? Six people, a tab that could easily surpass $1000, is there a restaurant that can deliver a dining experience like Saam Bar?

Why this is challenging: First off, unlike me and my wife, he doesn't love dining out. Our family is pretty food-centric, we all cook, buy mostly organic and eat pretty well. This would disqualify a place like ABC Kitchen which I loved, but wouldn't wow him because it's not unique enough. He doesn't want to drive an hour from CT to experience a perfectly picked local garden carrot, you know what I mean?

Also he works in finance in the city, so he's been to most all the steak houses and expense-friendly confines (pre-recession at least) that would be natural 40th-Birthday-For-A-Guy options. This too means the experience of eating out at a special restaurant isn't foreign or compelling. Peter Luger, Keens and steakhouses are out.

Yasuda would have been a good suggestion, but his wife is pregnant, no sushi. He fishes. No seafood.

Finally he won't be interested 'fine dining' (he'll be 40 after all, not 60). No EMP for example, no Jean-Georges or Le Bernadin.

The Other Details: The actual date is not important, 30+ days OK. The price - short of Per Se, Masa levels - is not super important either, but certainly a consideration. Open to most all cuisines. Other than Bo Saam, we've also taken the group to Babbo for my father's 60th. Hardly fair to say, but both were huge hits. My first thought was Stone Barn, but my wife and I have been before, neither of us *loved* it and it kinda plays exactly to what he's familiar with, not really exciting.

My short list: Del Posto, 7 ways at Ma Peche, Maialino's suckling pig, Craft... but I'm just not conviced.

If it's any help, my wife and I have been to many of the destination restaurants in town and ruled out for various reasons: EMP, Scarpetta, Minetta Tavern, Hearth, Ko, Red Rooster, Colicchio and Sons, Degustation and ABC.

Anyways, any suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks for your time.


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  1. Del Posto may be too fancy for him if he won't do JG, EMP, or Le Bernardin.

    Beef 7 Ways might be good, but the atmosphere isn't as hip/downtown/lively as Momofuku Ssam or Babbo. It's not deathly quiet but just not the same.

    If you enjoyed the Bo Ssam, try perhaps another "large format feast." I really enjoyed the whole pig at the Breslin's chef's table for my last birthday. Even the sides and dessert were excellent.

    Another thought is a small plates restaurant where you order a ton of food to share. Tertulia? Txikito?

    If he doesn't like fine dining, what about a big Chinese banquet type feast somewhere?

    See also:

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

    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

    Jean Georges
    1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

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

    Le Bernardin
    155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

    240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

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

    Ma Peche
    15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

    359 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks. While I do think there are some good options there and that would add a bit of wow factor to the dinner, I may have been slightly misleading about the Bo Ssam in the fact that the food itself was exception. Re: Chinese banquet, though a good suggestion, it might not appeal to him on a 40th birthday level.

      But upon reflection, regarding the price, a large format feast could make a lot of sense if something stands out. I like the Breslin and see they also have a whole lamb option. This is really intriguing...

    2. Highly recommend either the Fried Chicken at Noodle Bar or the Whole Rotisserie Duck at Ssam Bar. Both are perfect for a party of six, but must be reserved in advance via the Momofuku website. I've been wanting to try the Beef 7 Ways at Ma Peche, but I can never find enough people to go with me :-(. I have read that the Beef 7 Ways is excellent too (this also needs to be reserved in advance). BTW, I liked both the Fried Chicken and the Whole Rotisserie Duck more than the Bo Ssam (sorry).

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

      Momofuku Noodle Bar
      171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

      Ma Peche
      15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

      3 Replies
      1. re: ellenost

        They're already Changists, so that would make a lot of sense. Have you had both? Did you have a preference?

        1. re: ParkingChicken

          I had both (the fried chicken 2 years ago, and the duck in July of this year) and loved them since fried chicken and duck are 2 of my most favorite foods. Does your brother have a preference for either duck or fried chicken? BTW, the duck is sliced breast meat. There's a great photo of it on the cover of Time Out NY this week.

        2. re: ellenost

          From their site (so you know what to expect):

          For the Chicken meal:
          q: what are the available time slots?
          a: we offer the fried chicken at lunch and dinner. for dinner, sunday to thursday, 5:30, 6, and 10pm. friday and saturday, 5:30, 6, 10, 11:45 and 11:55pm. the fried chicken lunch is offered everyday at 12 and 2pm.

          For the Duck meal:
          q: what are the available time slots?
          a: we offer the rotisserie duck at lunch and dinner. the lunch rotisserie duck is offered monday through friday at 12, 12:30, and 2pm. the rotisserie duck dinner is offered at 6:30 every day and at 10pm sunday through friday. please note, dinner duck reservations may be seated at bar bar, the bar at ssäm.

        3. I’m probably beginning to sound like a Chang evangelist on this board, but if you liked the bo ssam at Ssam Bar, given all the criteria you have set, I think the beef 7 ways at Ma Peche would be perfect. The set price plus extras and alcohol would easily fit your budget. I know the 7 items change from time to time, but I think the meat pie and brisket are always on it and those I think are the standouts from the menu. The brisket is made with bone marrow and is just amazing. I’d love to pile that onto a sandwich. You can add other items from the menu. Even though you said no seafood, the plateau of oysters, crab, fluke is a perfect way to start the meal. If you’re group is still hungry, the chop for 2 should put you over the top. Get some crack pie to end the meal. As to the space, its not as boisterous as the east village spots, but its not a library either.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bkeats

            That's solid advice bk, thanks, and I'll definitely take a close look at that. I really shouldn't be reading this around dinner time. And re: Chang, you're preaching to the choir! Ordered 40 cookies from Milk Bar for my brother's actual party.