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Seafood for 19 Year old

My 19 year old daughter is requesting seafood for her birthday dinner. Its not a party..she is celebrating on another night with her friends at home. The dinner will be just us parents and her. I do not want a stuffy or formal place but I do want something trendy, modern..something a 19 year old would want. She is not looking to eat lobster roll..she wants a meal. Places like Le Bernadin are out because we do not want to leave speinding $400 for dinner..maybe $250 tops including everything. We do not want to go to restaurant week and choose from a limited menu..is Bluefin too touristy or how about Aquagrill? I have never been to a seafood restaurant in the city. Any help would be appreciated.

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  1. Aquagrill would be a great choice, and the three of you could get out of there for under $250 if you don't go crazy with wine and oysters. It's not trendy - more of a perennial favorite. Of mine, anyway.

      1. re: AubWah

        I second Esca. I have seen many young adults there with their parents and they always seem to be having a good time. Plus, I really like the food. I know you said "She is not looking to eat lobster roll" but if she does like lobster, I highly recommend the spaghetti with lobster, chiles and mint as a first course. Enjoy!

      2. Something fun with great seafood would be Pearls on Cornelia Street or Mary's Fish Camp. Both have no reservations and you would have to line up early to get in. I don't know what part of town you prefer but another suggestion would be Atlantic Grill. The eastside restaurant has some outdoor seating. The other Atlantic Grill is across the street from Lincoln Center.

        4 Replies
        1. re: trav

          I've heard Esca is..a bit snooty..is there any kind of attitude there? I am pretty sure some have posted that about there. Is Mary's Fish Camp.. "shakey" looking..they sort of describe it that way in Zagats, lol.

          1. re: shesallthat

            There is nothing snooty about esca

            1. re: shesallthat

              Nothing "snooty" at all. Attitude? I've never encountered it. The wait staff is always professional and knowledgeable and more than accommodating. I guess it depends on what kind of 19 year old your daughter is. You mention "trendy and modern" so I am starting to reconsider Esca. When my niece was 19 she was pretty "trendy" but she loved going to places like Esca. She kind of rode the rail between both worlds.

              1. re: shesallthat

                Snooty at Esca???? The staff has always been great there!!!! Not an ounce of snootiness!!

            2. How about John Dory? Great raw bar and it can be a lively scene. I know people have had problems with service there but I think it's pretty fun.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JeremyEG

                Good suggestion. The OP should know that there's usually a long wait, and it can get quite crowded and loud. No reservations unless you're staying at the Ace.

              2. Wild Edibles or Ethos in Murray Hill have excellent Seafood and a nice vibe a 19 year old will enjoy.
                We often go to the Grand Central Oyster Bar for an appetizer of oysters on the half shell and chowder before we head over to another restaurant for dinner. It's a nice unique NYC experience. Make sure you eat at the Oyster Bar not the sit down table or tavern section. The other seafood dishes are not memorable but the oyster bar experience will impress.

                1. The only trendy seafood places that come to mind is Catch in the Meatpacking District or Lure in Soho.

                  Esca, Aquagrill, Pearl are good but not trendy at all and not what a 19 year old might want.

                  How much do you want trendy vs how much do you want seafood?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: kathryn

                    I am so pleased at all the quick responses I am getting to this! I definitely do not want to take her to a place Morty Seinfeld would get his money's worth at, lol. I am making a list of all your suggestions..and I'm going to make her look at the menu. Kathryn..its a fine line..I want it to be a mix of both..but the food ultimately rings supreme. Thank you all again!

                  2. Esca is great but I wouldn't call it trendy by any stretch. No need to go to a seafood specialist necessarily, though - most good restos will have multiple seafood options.

                    Important question, though - how much would the two adults be drinking? That can make a BIG difference in terms of price. $250 divided by three = $83/pp. Before tax and tip, that's around $64 menu price. If you're not drinking at all, there are some decent options. If the parents have, say, two glasses of wine each... well, wine at a nicer place can run $10-$15 per glass. Cuts into the budget rather heavily. If you're beer drinkers, a little less. If you're not drinking at all... even easier.

                    For seafood specialty places, around your price range:
                    Milliseme - very solid, if not terribly creative. Most entrees are of the pick a fish / pick a sauce style, but all very fresh and well-prepared.

                    Catch - very trendy MPD location. The food is solid - there's more creativity in the apps than the entrees, which tend to just be, as at Milliseme, simple grilled fish with your choice of sauce. But quality product.

                    Morimoto - the prices are all over the map, but certainly doable on your budget. The menu is (perhaps too) large - there are twenty or so apps, about half in the normal $12-$16 range and the others breaking into the $20s, for example. Entrees are mostly under $30, with a couple outliers higher up.

                    Lure Fishbar - hip Soho location. Most of the entrees (other than outliers like lobster tails and whatnot) are under $30.

                    For non-seafood specialty places with lots of seafood on the menu:

                    Acme - VERY trendy right now. Bustling, artsy scene. A few seafood apps (the "Barley & Clams" is already famous, and they make a solid house-cured salmon) and usually about half the entrees are fish. Excellent food, and while very hip surprisingly unpretentious.

                    Marc Forgione - Probably his three most famous dishes (BBQ Oysters, Chili Lobster, and the amazing Halibut with "Sauce Proposal") are seafood, and there are always a few others on the menu - about half the menu changes seasonally, half are his classic signature dishes, including the above three. And if she's a food TV fan, he's an Iron Chef, which could be exciting.

                    Aquavit - normally above your price point, but as long as you're not dining on a Sunday and you book through Savored.com, you can get a 30% off deal most nights. Not the hippest / trendiest place on account of being in Midtown, but doing some very hip/trendy food - Nordic cuisine is the current vogue... and the Scandinavians certainly know their seafood. Normally it's an $89 prix fixe for four courses - with the discount, around $62/pp, a spectacular deal. They also do a la carte offerings as well now, though I think the discount might only apply to the prix fixe.

                    Rayuela - very trendy and bustling on the weekends, a bit more serene on weeknights. Excellent South American fare, with a good amount of seafood - their ceviches are excellent, and the "Tuna Relleno" (a spin on a Chile Relleno, only stuffed with crab and shrimp, and the "chili" made of sheets of raw tuna) is amazing. Also a couple of very good seafood paellas.

                    Empellon Cocina - still very new and hip, fantastic modern spins on Mexcian cuisine. It's a "small plate" style restaurant, though, not as much a traditional app / entree kind - you'd probably want to order about three savory plates per person. That said, the prices are very reasonable - most everything is under $20.


                    I understand the trepidation regarding restaurant week - most RW menu, to be blunt, suck. A couple places do it right, though - all of David Burke's restaurants put out solid menus, and his DB Kitchen offers nearly the entirety of their regular menu (all the apps, all but one of the entrees IIRC) - that's also his trendiest location, being both his newest and downtown. He also has a seafood specialty place, Fishtail. And Riverpark has offered great RW menus in the past, though I haven't seen this year's yet...

                    1. Lots of great ideas...

                      My rec from the ones suggested so far is John Dory -- fits the price and trendiness perfectly...as long as you're prepared for the wait, i think it's the most fun...

                      Another option is Balthazar...

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Simon

                        I agree, as far as trendy + seafood goes, John Dory fits the bill. I'd say if the OP is going on a weeknight, maybe give it a whirl. If it's a Friday or Saturday, though... go somewhere that takes reservations.

                        1. re: sgordon

                          We will be going on a Saturday..and we do not drink at all. Nada. Ice tea plain. Would really prefer a place that takes reservations..hate to wait even longer than I have to. Would like to go to a strictly seafood place..thanks all so much!

                          1. re: shesallthat

                            Given that you require reservations and want to do a strictly seafood place, you don't have many choices. Catch or Lure.

                            1. re: shesallthat

                              While not "strictly seafood," as it does serve a few meat dishes, Aquavit is ~ 2/3 seafood on its menu. May be worth a consideration as it should give you plenty of options re seafood. Would be much easier than Catch to snag a reservation, so it somewhat depends on how far out you are from this dinner. Aquavit is modern in a minimalistic, Scandinavian way, though certainly not as hip as John Dory or as much of a "scene" as Catch.