What time for reservation?
DH and I are making an overnight trip to NYC this coming Monday to see a late show at Blue Note. We're staying at the SoHo Grand. I have chosen Jane for dinner so we can walk from hotel to restaurant to the club. My question is, what time should I make my reservation for? We'd like to be at the Blue Note door by about 9:45 (10:00 latest). We don't want a rushed dinner, just a nice pace. Is 7:30 too late? I have not had experience with a Monday night in the city before.
Thanks, all, for the replies. I thought I was on the right track with Jane, but I don't want a mediocre dinner. We do have tickets for the show, but seats are not reserved - it's first come, first served, so you do need to be there early. Although it's not a hot ticket, the artist is a favorite of mine, so I would like good seats. But you're right, being done with dinner early would not break my heart. I was thinking rather linearly - bad habit because where I live, there is no walking about the neighborhood!
What I'm looking for is good food and a lively atmosphere. No Italian - we have lots of that near home. I'd prefer no bar food, pizza, or super-casual for this trip. Price is not an issue, but I'm not looking for a fussy service or setting. We will probably do a full dinner and wine with dessert and after-dinner drinks, but anything is possible, and we do like to have a leisurely but not drawn-out meal.
I am going to check out the recs you all have made, and if anyone has any additional selections, I'll look at them as well. Many thanks for both the recs and steering me away from a not-great choice!
None of the above are fussy - some are more subdued than others (Minetta, The Dutch and Blue Ribbon can all be quite boisterous on the other hand) - but stuffy they ain't. The Batali places - Babbo and Lupa - are pretty lively as well, but if you're not feeling Italian (though Babbo is Italian on a whole other level, depending what city you're coming from) you're not feeling Italian...
Jane is okay, and they're conveniently located for you - but as Pan and Michelle said, they're nothing to go out of the way for, a decent neighborhood joint.
That aside - it all depends how fast you eat. Do you eat dessert, or not? Do you like to lounge with a cocktail before or after dinner? There's all kinds of factors. You know better than we do. Most restaurants kind of gauge how fast you're eating and start prepping the next course accordingly. There are incidents of particularly slow restos, but IIRC Jane isn't one of them.
All THAT aside - between the Soho Grand and The Blue Note are a number of better options. Blue RIbbon, The Dutch and Minetta Tavern all come to mind. The latter two can be fairly busy, but if you go for a slightly earlier rezzie (say, shoot for 6:30) on a Monday evening you might find something. Minetta actually has an opening at 6:00 listed on opentable right now, if that's not too early for you. Get dinner there, and if you've got time between dinner and the show... well, there's worse places to be stuck with time to kill about than the West Village, that's for sure.
Looking over the openings on opentable.com, I see a few places with slots around 6:30 that are pretty decent:
Mas (farmhouse) and Mas (grillade)
David Burke Kitchen
...and you could always try for bar seats at Babbo - Monday night for two people shouldn't be too hard, especially if you're willing to risk eating on the earlier side. Get there a little before doors open, get on the list, you should be able to dine in the first seating (which is around 5:30, IIRC) - again, like with Minetta, you'd have a little time to kill between dinner and the show - so, lounge, have another glass of wine, or hit a local bar... (it'll be cheaper than drinks at the Blue Note, that's for sure...)
Also, I think shows at the Blue Note don't start until 10:30 - and assuming you've already bought your tix, you've got reserved seats, so there's no need to get there in a rush right when doors open.
Jane will be fairly dead on a Monday night. You won't need reservations.
I agree with Pan that it is not the best (nor the worst) for dinner. It's middle of the road and low key if that's what you're looking for. If you are looking for better food in the same area, try Blue Ribbon Bakery (not just a bakery, obviously) or Buvette. BRB should be easy to walk into at 7:30; Buvette should, I think, be easy, but I'm less able to gauge the crowds. It's a small place and one large party could fill it up, fast. The service (maybe just one waitress?) can be a little snotty at times, but the food is good.
I really don't recommend Jane for dinner. Their brunch is good (though I was seriously annoyed at them the last time I tried to make brunch reservations, because they asked for my credit card number, which I was not about to give them while on a cell phone in public - so we went elsewhere). However, the one time I tried them for dinner, it was just very buttery, nothing interesting at all, and overpriced.
That said, 7:30 is nowhere near too late to have dinner, given the logistics. Even 8 would be plenty doable. But again, I really recommend for you to pick someplace else. And if you choose to do so, let us know more about your preferences, so we can help you pick another place.