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Graduation dinner for party of 8 on a Friday night

I'm graduating from medical school on Friday, June 8th. My family will be flying in from out of town, and they will also be meeting my boyfriend's parents for the first time. We're looking for a place for all 8 of us to go out to dinner to in Manhattan that evening. Looking to spend $50-75/person (give or take), including tax/tip/wine. I thought about Ping's Seafood or Oriental Garden - which place is better?

But also looking for other options that's not banquet Chinese or Italian (since my fam will be going to Babbo during their trip as well). Other than that, there's no restrictions on type of cuisine/location, though we're all foodies, so we're just looking for awesome food that won't cost a great fortune. Thanks!

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  1. I haven't been to Ping's, but Oriental Garden does good banquets, and they will work within whatever price constraints you have. For as much you want to spend, though, you could get special, more expensive fish and seafood. When I go, I spend around $30-40/person at most.

    What are your price constraints for the other options? Also about $75/person, or more like $100 or so? (My dinner at Babbo cost about $90, as I remember, and that was a few years ago. I do believe that included the price of wine, tax, and tip, but I'm not sure.)

    Also, before I give any recommendations, where does your family live? That question is relevant because it might tell us something about what kinds of food are strongest there.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      For the Friday party of 8 graduation dinner, price constraints are pretty much what I said - $50-75, give or take. I'm just asking for recs for that dinner.

      (every time I've been to Babbo, we've spent about $50-55/person!)

      1. re: phr208

        OK, but where does your family live?

        One alternative you could consider is Korean barbecue at Don's Bogam (slightly fancier) or Madangsui (glary, but a tad better for BBQ, overall - though Don's has a wider menu).

        A completely different idea would be to go to a place like La Sirene. I've seen parties of larger than 8 there, but it's a small bistro and reservations would be necessary. Very good homey French food, made with excellent ingredients. I've only been once but liked it a lot.

        But really, I think there are quite a few restaurants in your price category, so without knowing more about which cuisines or atmosphere your family particularly favors, all I could really do is throw out a bunch of names. I thought of Apiary, for example; check their menu and photos of the place and see if it appeals to you.

        1. re: Pan

          My family lives in Chicago, and I'll be moving back there right after my graduation as well. I checked the La Sirene website, and they don't accommodate parties of 6 or more on Friday/Saturday nights...otherwise, it would have been a great choice, esp with the byob!

          I'm honestly just looking for a good celebratory dinner for a group that's not too casual nor too fancy. In terms of location, I'm probably most interested in the West Village, but really open to anywhere in Manhattan.

          Price-wise, something on the level of Apiary or cheaper would be ideal. And I'll definitely consider Apiary.

          1. re: phr208

            I don't frequent the West Village that much, so others will doubtless have more suggestions, but I'm thinking about Chicago. Very strong restaurant city, with strengths in molecular gastronomy, among other things. But one thought I have is that, since Chicago is further from the sea, perhaps New York is stronger in salt-water fish and seafood. Which causes me to think about sushi or sashimi as a possibility. The problem is that they can get very expensive in a hurry. But have a look at the sushi/sashimi and other seafood places mentioned in these linked threads and price them, if you're interested:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/842479

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/843460

        2. re: phr208

          Off the top of my head, fun places for foodies, at $75pp:
          Chef's Table suckling pig at the Breslin
          Txikito
          Tertulia
          Prune (downstairs room)
          Bar Room at the Modern

          1. re: kathryn

            A big group of us had a great dinner at La Ripaille in the WV last year - my friends had been to the original in Paris. I don't remember it being particularly expensive but it was quite good. Malatesta is quite inexpensive and quite good but it can veer into shrieking bachelorette territory, depending on the evening.

      2. Lure Fishbar is great for big groups, delicious food and falls into your budget. Also, Kittichai or Spice Market. All good celebratory places, decently priced and yummy

        1. Ended up making a reservation for 9 people to do the bo ssam dinner at Momofuku Ssam Bar! It'll be more fun and casual, and we're the kind of people that sure love our pork in big portions. If anyone can comment on the bo ssam dinner, how many additional dishes would you recommend? Should we get 1 or 2 orders of the rice cakes with spicy sausage ragu? A round of pork belly buns? As delicious as they are, I somehow still have a hard time justifying spending $50 for 10 little pork buns, but I figure it's something one needs to try for their first time at Momofuku (the bf and I have been a few times, but our families have not).

          Another thing about Ssam Bar. Although it's one of my favorite restaurants, one of the qualms I have are the portion sizes. While the rice cakes portion is huge and great for sharing, it seemed like all the other dishes were quite tiny for the price. I haven't been in over a year, so anyone have any updates on this?

          1 Reply
          1. re: phr208

            The Bo Ssam is big, heavy, and meaty. I wouldn't get the rice cakes to share as I think it would be too heavy. Buns, hams, and pickles, perhaps. It is not that the Bo Ssam is not going to feed 9, it is more than the Bo Ssam gets monotonous after a while.

            I have found the portion sizes at Ssam Bar to be pretty consistent over the last few years, and do not have a problem with the price as you can usually taste the quality of ingredients (Bev Eggleston's pork, Benton's bacon, asparagus from a chef's family farm, etc). But I'm not a student.