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Help First/Second Date...may be too late for reservation

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I'll keep it brief, I guess technically its a second date because we had brunch the other week, but it still, for me at least feels like a first date. We agreed to meet for dinner this coming Saturday kind of late in the week. I'm not sure where this is going, so I'm not looking to drop crazy coin, yet. We both live in the UES and one thing I did want to do, was to get out of the neighborhood...weather is looking iffy, so I was thinking USQ, maybe EV (I guess Midtown coudl work)- tapas is always good, I think, but I noticed reservations (at least on-line) have been an issue with places I was thinking...I've been kind of out of this game for awhile.

Any suggestions, greatly appreciated! Even if a place that doesn't take reservations, but at least there is a decent bar to hang, etc...(or eat at the bar). Thanks!

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  1. What is "crazy coin" to you? For some that might mean dropping $100/pp, others $50, still others $200...

    Basically, what do you want to spend on food, including tax/tip but excluding drinks (since they can vary wildly...)

    Also, what kind of vibe are you looking for? Romantic-ish? Boisterous? Sceney?

    4 Replies
    1. re: sgordon

      romantic-ish and around $100

      1. re: stoop421

        Is that $100 total or per person?

        1. re: sgordon

          good question, I'd like to keep it around that total...give or take..which I know is possible..I'm not a big drinker nor do I think she is.

          1. re: stoop421

            The thing is most restaurants around that lower price point aren't the kind that do reservations. Nor do they tend to be romantic-ish. "Cozy" can be done at that price point, though.

            So, math time: $100 = about $77 before tax/tip, so around $35 - $40 pp menu price is a good starting point. If you're skipping dessert, that's doable. Otherwise we're definitely in "cheap eats" territory.

            So, that said...

            Caffe Falai: light Northern Italian, cute room with big windows facing Broadway in Soho. Doable on your budget if you do pastas as your main courses, might stretch it a wee bit if you do regular protein-based secondi. Portions aren't huge honkin' plates of pasta a la Little Italy, but "proper" Italian ones. You'll leave satisfied but not stumbling into a food coma. Food is great, simple, seasonal.

            The Brindle Room: cozy little spot in the East Village, decent & solid if nothing you're gonna write home about. Tables a bit close together, though.

            Alfama: not quite romantic, but a nice little spot doing traditional Portuguese food. Might put you over $100 a little bit, though there's a $38 prix fixe option besides the a la carte ones with a few good things to choose from.

            Aquavit Bar Room: they recently introduced a new menu concept in the bar, which is a "mini Smorgarbord" - a list of small plates from which you can choose three, five, or seven items, for $14, $22, or $28 per person. Essentially Scandinavian tapas, for lack of a better term. The room is more loungey than romantic (since there aren't windows, like in the main dining room) but it's generally serene. Good place to nibble some bites and have a cocktail or house-infused aquavit or two, and kick back in the comfy chairs or sofas. And if all goes well, you can go back to the main dining room on your first anniversary when you're ready to spend more $$ on her.

            If you can stretch your budget a wee bit more...

            Hundred Acres: seasonal New American, nice space.

            JoeDoe: more of a fun/cozy vibe, aggressive flavors, very hearty food. Small but well-curated beer list (always cheaper than wine...)

            Of the above, Aquavit or Caffe Falai would probably be my choices. Only drawback to AQ is the part of town it's in - a bit of a snooze after you've eaten, as far as other places in the neighborhood to go. But you can always (if the conversation is flowing nicely) head to another part of town to keep things going. CF is in SoHo, right by NoLiTa, so there's a bit more going on.

            -----
            Aquavit
            65 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022

            Caffe Falai
            265 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

            Alfama
            214 E 52nd St, New York, NY 10022

            Hundred Acres
            38 MacDougal St., New York, NY 10012

            JoeDoe
            45 East 1st Street, New York, NY 10003

            Brindle Room
            277 E 10th St, New York, NY 10009

    2. If tapas are in the cards, I'd suggest Gastroarte on the UWS, near Lincoln Center. You've got two choices here: sit in the front of the restaurant and order tapas and wine or sit in the rear of the restaurant and your choices include the full dinner menu. Very likely you can get a reservation (open table is currently showing availability for a 2-top at 8:30, 8:45 and 9:00). Plus, if you reserve through savored.com, you can score a 30% discount on your entire tab, making the crazy coin less crazy. Most tapas are $9-15, with dinners running about $50 pp all told. If you want an excellent, yet affordable, wine from their wine list, order the Edetana 2009 Garnacha Blanca.

      Another very nice option is SHO Shaun Hergatt. Their five-course prix-fixe is $79, but, again, with booking through savored, you save 30%.

      Either way, you're going to get a great meal, approximately in your price range. And, you can look like a big shot paying for taxi fare.

      Also, each Saturday at about 3 PM, eater.com runs a nice list of restaurants with tables still available.

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

      Gastroarte
      141 W 69th St, New York, NY 10023

      2 Replies
      1. re: famdoc

        tx, that was very helpful!

        1. re: famdoc

          SHO is $85/pp now, and many menu items carry a supplement. WIth the Savored discount, that's $60 or so before tax/tip, around $75/pp with it.

          Also, they're sold out of Savored tables for this Saturday, anyway...

        2. Hearth, in the EV, is possible if a) you order carefully and b) if you're willing to spend a bit more. It's a very pretty space, too.

          As sgordon pointed out, $100 for two doesn't go that far if you want good food that's not cheap eats.

          -----
          Hearth
          403 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10009