Romantic Surprise Dinner for Boyfriend
I'm looking to surprise my boyfriend (hence the title) by taking him out to dinner at a romantic restaurant in the city. He eats pretty much everything and loves wine, so somewhere with a great wine list would be preferable. I’d love to go to somewhere that is tapas style, but am open to suggestions! Budget is around $200 total (not including tax and tip), and location isn’t the biggest concern (though I’d prefer a restaurant below 14th Street). The quality of the food is more important to me than the ambiance, but I'd love to go someplace that has both.
I’m looking forward to hearing your suggestions! Thanks so much for your help.
It would also be helpful to have the breakdown of how much of the $200 is for food vs wine, especially since you mention your boyfriend loves wine, and drinking habits can vary considerably. That said...
I would recommend Rouge et Blanc. The food from Chef Matt Rojas (previously worked at EMP and Degustation) is seriously delicious, and his menu consists of both small and larger plates. There is an excellent wine list overseen by Sommelier Thomas Cregan, who is also the owner and a truly nice person. The small dining room has a romantic feel. Request one of the cozy corner tables for two.
Why Rouge et Blanc hasn't received the kind of attention it richly deserves is a mystery to me, but it continues to travel under the usual culinary radar. It really is a hidden gem.
Rouge et Blanc photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...
Rouge et Blanc sounds fantastic. I just looked up the menu, and it looks delicious.
As far as a breakdown, let's say $120 for food and $80 for wine. (I'm not sure if I'm incredibly off base with the pricing for wine, though). I'm prepared to spend more for a special occasion, but I'd like to stick to that as a foundation.
Even before having your breakdown, I felt that Rouge et Blanc would fit your budget. Now knowing the breakdown, it's definitely an excellent fit in that regard.
No problem getting a reservation on either of the dates you mention above. OpenTable is showing availablity at various times for both days, including prime time.
I 3rd/4th this suggestion. Rouge et Blanc is definitely at the top of my favorite restaurant list.
ETA: There's a table in the corner of the dining room that's almost enclosed by latticed panels/curtain drapes and offers a lot of privacy (and a good view of the room). It allows you to sit side-by-side as well. I'd try to get that table if I wanted to do a romantic dinner.
re: squid kun
re: squid kun
The menu has changed a lot since we were there. However, I highly recommend the Vietnamese Sausage with Rice Noodles, Pistachios, and Onion Vinaigrette. Also, if you are a foie gras addict like me. for dessert, the Caramelized Foie Gras with Cocoa Nib, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, and Caramelized Apples shouldn't be missed.
Assuming you have two glasses of wine each - and assuming said glasses of wine cost $15 each (shooting high for the sake of being conservative in estimate) I suppose we're looking at a menu price for food of around $70/pp or so. Leaves out the fancy-shmancy places, but there are a lot of good options in that range.
Considering food first, and sticking to (mostly, with a couple exceptions) below 14th St., I'd look at:
For small plates specifically:
Recette (though the bill can really add up there if you're not careful... but amazing food, cute ambience, can be romantic if you get the corner table...)
For regular app/entree/dessert places:
Mas (farmhouse or grillade)
Hearth (very notable wine list)
Babbo (also notable wine list - probably couldn't do the "full Italian" four course meal for $70, but a standard three courser could be plenty filling, anyway.)
...some of the above might stretch the budget a wee bit - they're a la carte and there are always one or two outlier entrees with a higher tickets than the norm. But they could be done within your budget. As an example, last time we were at Forgione it came to $250, with tax and (generous) tip - we skipped dessert but had an extra round of apps, so it evened out to three courses. That was with one cocktail each, and a bottle of decent (but not crazy pricey) wine, if I remember our drinkin' right.
If you're willing to use a discount site, Savored has a couple of decent 30% off deals (applied discreetly, he'd never know) - the best of the options are SHO Shaun Hergatt (while they're still open at their current site - last chance to dine there, probably) and Aquavit (though that's Mistown - but the food has been great of late) - either one would come to under $70 menu price (Aquavit $63 for the four-course prix fixe, SHO $60 - $70 depending which menu you got, if you stay away from dishes with supplements)
Also, keep in mind that most places book 28-30 days out, and Friday and Saturday nights (the two you've picked) fill up FAST. You might want to grab a rez at at least one top pick in the next day or two, as soon as they go open on opentable. You can always change your mind later, but it'd be good to have a finger on a table just in case things start booking up and you're out of decent options.