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Minetta Tavern for wife's 30th Birthday ( good idea or not)? Also, Black Label Burger-- Is It Worth It?

It's my wife's 30th birthday and she has been asking me forever to go to the Minetta Tavern. I have been to Pastis and Balthazar and was very impressed with the food in the past. Is MT as good as the other two? Is the Black Label Burger worth the $26 it costs?

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  1. If she wants to go there, take her.

    I don't know what "worth the ... cost" means to you, since it is a terribly expensive burger, but I know that I can't leave that place without eating at least half of one. I try and forget it is a hamburger and just appreciate it for what it is: wicked good.

    1. If you liked Pastis and Balthazar, you'll love Minetta Tavern. I'd share the burger and make sure to order some of the other dishes. The specials are usually good, too, as is the souffle.

      1. I think the burger is worth it to get, but the food at minetta is very good in general. I think that the burger is priced fine, meaning if you are getting it via special occassion like this one, you are not putting in extra overtime at work but it is priced high enough that you are not going to be eating this every week.

        1. Do they take reservations? Is it hard to get in?

          1 Reply
          1. re: walker

            they take reservations via opentable now, It is still popular so it is kind of hard to get in, either eat early or late, or call well ahead of time.

          2. "Worth it" is so subjective, obviously. While we both loved it, my husband didn't think it was worth it, but I did - particularly because, as jester said, you don't eat this all the time.

            I love the idea of sharing one, though, so you can try some other dishes.

            1. I like Minetta, I love the burger and am not bothered by the price... but I think it is a bad choice for a birthday because the tables are packed in and unless you have an early rez you will wait for your table in a bar area that is more packed than the dining room. Tke your wife, on a different night. Go someplace more relaxing on the birthday

              1. As a general observation, I love the Black Label Burger -- but I think it's a real shame that it distracts patrons from the composed plates (including the excellent specials), which are what makes Minetta REALLY great.

                If you're only going to eat there once, I would STRONGLY advise ordering "real" food rather than the burger.

                1. Burger or not, Minetta probably isn't that suited for a 30th birthday.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sugartoof

                    I don't know that I see that. I've taken people there for their birthday and they've had a good time. It depends whether you want someplace serene or someplace EXTREMELY lively (some would say to a fault). Although, once you get to the dining room, it isn't even THAT loud (although it's true tables are close).

                    The OP has been warned. He can decide whether this is a good idea or not. (It must mean SOMETHING that the Birthday Girl is specifically requesting it.)

                  2. I disagree with those who believe that Minetta is not appropriate for a 30th birthday, especially when the birthday girl has been begging to go! There are many 30-year-olds who would much prefer Minetta over the types of places many of us would recommend for a 30th birthday.

                    1. Thanks for posting this, NYCGuy -- it applies to me as well, as I'm going to Minetta on Sunday for my (27th) birthday. I've never been and was very excited when my boyfriend told me he scored a reservation.

                      I'm curious why some think it is not appropriate for a 30th birthday? Also -- it seems that although the black label burger is great, many on this board recommend getting other menu items -- what, specifically, would you all recommend?


                      4 Replies
                      1. re: kmbeer

                        Try any of the steaks, pommes aligot, any seafood specials, and save room for dessert. The BLB is great but it's not the best thing on the menu.

                        1. re: kmbeer

                          Any of the broiled meats: steaks, veal chop, lamb saddle.

                          The crepinettes-with-oysters appetizer is a big favorite of mine.

                          And pay attention to the specials. Their charcuterie is always superb. And the main-dish specials -- usually French bistro-y stuff -- are often really excellent.

                          1. re: kmbeer

                            To me it really depends what kind of birthday you want to have. The tables are awfully close together. To some people, it's not quiet or fancy or comfortable enough for a special occasion -- but it depends on the birthday person's personality and tastes!

                            1. re: kathryn

                              The ONLY thing that really stands out at Minetta Tavern is the GRAND MARNIER SOUFFLE. Nothing else is worth going out of your way for: the overpriced burger, the atmosphere = MEH. My honest opinion.

                          2. Minetta is a quintessential NYC experience. And the atmoshpere can be quite celebratory.
                            Only drawback is the high prices.
                            Cote de beouf and a nice bottle of wine-delicious and will set you back at least $250 without any appetizers or cocktails.

                            Do you get good value? No. Is the service, food and atmosphere good? Yes.

                            1. My partner and I celebrated my birthday there in February. I had the black label burger as I am a big fan of burgers in general. I thought the burger was good. I wasn't wowed by it. However, I really enjoyed the experience. We went at 5:30 on a Sunday and were one of the first tables to be seated. It was a corner table by the ladies room by the kitchen and at first I was hesitant to sit there but it ended up being a great table as it offered a nice view of the room and we didn't notice the kitchen or bathroom at all even as the restaurant filled. The service was excellent. We didn't feel rushed and the rest of the food; bone marrow, tavern steak, and the pudding for dessert (so so good for something so simple) were terrific. I was very happy to have spent my birthday there and we still comment what a nice time we had. I tried to get the reservation 3 weeks out and 5:30 was the only thing I could get for that night.

                              1. if you haven't been before, you should go. it's much, much better than balthazar and pastis in terms in food quality.

                                that being said, my last time felt a bit formulaic and tired. perhaps its time for me to take a break from minetta.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sam1

                                  With the warm weather, I'd rather sit outside on a nice evening , take in the sights, have some oysters and steak tartare at Pastis, Then deal with the crowded loud , dark quarters of Minetta. But the Black Label Burger is surely better than even the steak sandwich at pastis.

                                2. Have the côte de boeuf - it's a special night.

                                  1. I've done this for a birthday -- my boyfriend's. We are huge burger fans and this one was fabulous. Like others have said you need to be somewhat flexible as the wait times can be long. We arrived very early, like when they opened, at 5:30 I think? We also elected to dine at the bar, which I really enjoy in general.

                                    I'd recommend ordering both burgers, the Black Label and the Minetta -- really, we loved them both, they are just different and it's a lot of fun comparing and contrasting. I find their cocktail program excellent as well -- when I went I had one of the best martinis of my life. I've had other decent dishes on their menu as well but none were so memorable as the burgers and the cocktails. I think it totally depends on what you are in the mood for -- there are tons of more upscale, more predictable options. But if kick-ass burgers fire your girlfriend up -- go for it. Just be prepared to wait a bit.