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Anniversary Dinner

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Hi, I'm looking for a recommendation for my anniversary dinner that is both romantic and slightly upscale. It doesn't have to be super classy but it is a special occasion and I want it to be memorable.

Our price range is around $100 for the both of us before drinks and tax and tip and it would be great if it were in Manhattan too.

We prefer to have non-Asian cuisine and would like a place with great desserts too as she has a major sweet tooth. Also, no steakhouses please.

It is also going to be on a Saturday night so we would prefer a place that is not too clubby/loud. However, we are also quite young so I'd like a place that is not too stuffy.

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  1. I think The Modern Bar Room works. The restaurant is lively and its French-Alsatian cuisine superb (Alsatian Country Soup, Duck Breast, Squab, etc.). Its desserts are also amazing (mainly the Beignets and the Pistachio Dark Chocolate Dome). Expect to spend around $50 per person on food only before tax and tip.

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

    8 Replies
    1. re: Cheeryvisage

      We've actually been there before for post-theater drinks and dessert but we were so turned off by the service. It was really difficult to get anyone to serve us and they were very aloof in their manner toward us for some reason--maybe it was because of our ages and the fact that we really only wanted to get some dessert and drinks instead of a full meal?

      1. re: bartholomeu

        My question is, did you have a reservation, or were you a walk-in and sat at one of the cocktail tables?

        My experience with the restaurant is, service plainly sucks for walk-ins. It's extremely difficult to get anyone's attention because you're seated in Siberia (at a cocktail table) and honestly, I'd never do walk-ins at the Bar Room. However, if you have a reservation and get seated at an actual table, I've found service to be perfectly good.

        I have done the getting desserts only thing at the bar. Did not get any attitude about it. Though, I wouldn't want to take up an actual table and then only order desserts and drinks. I'd feel like I was taking up valuable table space that the restaurant could have given to people who wanted to have an actual meal.

        Hope you don't give up on The Modern Bar Room though. I gave it a second chance after receiving not-so-great service as a walk-in, and I'm glad I did. It has become one of my favorite restaurants in the city.

        1. re: Cheeryvisage

          Yes, we just walked in as you had guessed but my girlfriend was so let down by the service that time after such a great show at the theater that she would never like to go back again.

          Sorry, but thank you very much for the suggestion.

          1. re: bartholomeu

            Totally understand. I wouldn't want to risk an anniversary dinner after a bad experience either.

            1. re: bartholomeu

              What about ABC Kitchen? It's American farms-to-table food. I was there with a girl friend recently and loved the atmosphere. We both thought the room was quite romantic and appealed greatly to female aesthetics (there was also something about the lighting that made people look beautiful, haha). The food was great (fried chicken was amazing) and the sundae (!!!!) was out of this world.

              Price point is also about $50 per person, food only.

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

              1. re: Cheeryvisage

                ABC Kitchen sounds great but there are no reservations available for the date of our anniversary! Do you think it's possible to walk in and get a table?

                Also, since we're not overly fond of fried chicken and I don't eat chocolate--what else do you suggest off the menu?

                1. re: bartholomeu

                  Yes, I saw the restaurant having a pretty sizable section in the front for walk-ins. Though, I'd go on the early side / right when they open for dinner to ensure I don't have to wait long.

                  I've only been to ABC Kitchen once before. We really enjoyed the roasted cauliflower with fried egg and the chicken liver toast. The roast suckling pig was also good, but it was a bit too heavy for me. It's too bad you don't like fried chicken, it really was phenomenal. The exterior was so crisp/crunchy and the inside breast insanely juicy. We ordered the fried chicken based on a friend's recommendation, he said he doesn't even like fried chicken normally but thought that was the best dish of his meal. We shared the signature sundae so I didn't get to try any of the other dessert items.

                  Photos of my meal if it helps: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheeryvi...

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

                  1. re: Cheeryvisage

                    IIRC you can dine at the bar or wait for a table in the bar area. However, the tables in the bar area are very high. I find the chairs at ABC to be a bit too hard. The chairs are high enough that my feet were just dangling the whole time (I'm short) and it was difficult to get anything from my purse, which was on the ground (no hooks). The tables are too small to hold everything at times. Not exactly a good setting for a special meal.

                    The food is excellent--I highly recommend the crab toast and fried delicata squash. The pizzas are only so-so IMO. Something about that whole wheat crust doesn't taste right to me. The aforementioned fried chicken and sundae are awesome, though.

      2. I know I may get shot down for not suggesting a fancier place, but have you been to Hudson Clearwater? I went recently for a non-romantic dinner - a college friend was in town for business - and thought the space would be nice for a romantic dinner, not formal but not overly casual. I personally liked the location which is sort of hidden.

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        Hudson Clearwater
        447 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

        6 Replies
        1. re: lulumoolah

          Hudson Clearwater would have been a great suggestion but unfortunately, we've been there quite recently. It was surprisingly romantic and fun, with just the right amount of liveliness.

          Do you know of any places like Hudson Clearwater? We'd like to try something new but that's just the atmosphere I'm looking for.

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          Hudson Clearwater
          447 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

          1. re: bartholomeu

            Speaking of which, I should say that we really enjoy these little "hidden" gems of restaurants--Hudson Clearwater is one, Pata Negra in the East Village for wonderful tapas, and the Bohemian for Japanese-French fusion.

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            Pata Negra
            345 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

            Bohemian
            57 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

            1. re: bartholomeu

              I think Little Owl is a close approximation of Hudson Clearwater, though it's not hidden and the space is small. However, it's very much a couple's place to me. Whenever I go, I always see couples clearly having a date night or enjoying a special occasion. I went last with a male friend who hadn't been and really wanted to go and it sort of felt odd, because I had the feeling I should be there with my boyfriend instead. That's me, though. Anyway, I've always enjoyed my meals there.

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              Little Owl
              90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014

              1. re: lulumoolah

                Little Owl seems to be such a cute space but it's all booked out for our anniversary night. Have you had any luck walking in and getting a table? (Note: It's going to be a Saturday night so it's probably going to be busy...)

                What have you ordered your on your previous visits? Anything we should definitely order or skip?

                1. re: bartholomeu

                  Actually, I've walked in twice, once we got very lucky and got a table quickly on like a Friday night and the other time I believe there was a wait, but we were fine about hanging out at another bar until we could get seated. The other two times I went, we made a reservation, partly because the people I went with didn't want to take a chance and risk waiting for a long time for a table. Given that it's your anniversary dinner, I don't know how you feel about getting there early and putting your name down for a table and then coming back for the meal. You may want to call Little Owl directly and ask them the best course of action for securing a walk-in table for that night. Also, there are places around where you could go and have a pre-dinner drink. I like the Blue Ribbon Downing St. bar and Wilfie & Nell when they are not packed and both are in the vicinity, though Downing is a bit farther. As for specific items, sorry, but my memory is crummy these days and I haven't been in about a year. However, I don't remember disliking anything enough to remember - generally, I will remember the bad before the good. I vaguely remember enjoying the meatballs. For some reason gnocchi comes to mind, but I may be confusing it with another place.

                  Have you also considered Casa? It's a Brazilian restaurant in the West Village and it's also on the small side, but I liked the ambience and the food. I went more recently so I can safely say that the cheese bread and feijoada were very good.

                  1. re: bartholomeu

                    On second thought, pork chop comes to mind for Little Owl. My friend from the last visit enjoyed his fish - sorry, I don't remember which one it was, I just know he enjoyed everything he ate. I now sort of remember ordering something and I think it came with a mexican style corn salad or something like that. The protein I believe was good, but the side was okay.

          2. How about Mas (Farmhouse) and Tocqueville which were our favorite restaurants last year?

            You would have to choose wisely to keep in under your budget to have an appetizer and an entree course each. However, if you are willing to spend $20 more for both of you, most of the appetizer and entree combination can be had under your budget, so please do consider this. Also, Tocqueville's portions are generous, so if you are not a "big" eater, you can ask to share an appetizer which invariably come out much more that if you split it on your own, and this will keep things under your budget for sure. In addition, if you mention that this is your anniversary dinner, both places will most likely serve a dessert on the house.

            I think both are very romantic places, with impeccable and relaxed services without being stuffy (though Tocqueville clientele can be on the average bit older during dinner service, general atmosphere isn't IMO). While both serve one of the best farm-to-table New American with heavy french influence, I would say Tocqueville is a notch above in regards to the food, and Mas has an edge on the dessert.

            Wish you have a very romantic anniversary dinner, and let us know where you ended up : )

            Edit: I would also add Gentleman Farmer in EV. Here the space is "romantically" cramped but the food is quite good overall and will fit your budget well. They also have many wines in $40 range to choose from, and while its service (and also the food) isn't a "fine dining" experience like above two, certainly friendly and nice staff.

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

            Mas (Farmhouse)
            39 Downing St, New York, NY 10014

            Gentleman Farmer
            40 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kurtis

              I had the 7-course dinner at Tocqueville two weeks ago, and it was really great. The food was incredible. The service was not at the level of sophistication of the food, but they were still very good. Importantly, when one of two pieces of meat in the 5th course was a bit chewy and bland (the other was great), they apologized. I had mentioned it and that was that for me, but when the bill came, they had reduced the price of my entire meal down from the 7-course to the 5-course tasting menu. I was impressed--it wasn't necessary, but it was a very good gesture.

              The decor is sedate and elegant, and the tables are mostly spaced well, but they really didn't pay attention to the positioning of the chairs such that they had people sitting in the already narrow aisle, and one guy was so close to our table that servers bumped us a couple times while trying to get around his chair. They really need to work this out, but we just moved our table over ourselves and it was better.

              Sorry I don't have a more detailed review of the food. I was there with a non-foodie friend, and I didn't take any pictures or really discuss anything so it's just not as thorough as I'd like to be. I do want to emphasize that even though I've failed to describe it here, the food was really great. And, though I've mentioned that one portion of meat, everything else was exactly as it should have been. I also want to agree with Kurtis--the tasting menu portions were generous for a tasting menu, and the a la carte portions looked remarkably generous.

            2. Somehow I managed to finagle a reservation at ABC Kitchen and the food was delicious. We'd had a late lunch before so we ate light and only got the fried calamari and crab toast as appetizers and shared a prosciutto, ricotta, and date pizza for an entree. The pizza really stood out and was definitely something I'd love to have again. The service wasn't that great, however, but it may just have been the particular server we had.

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