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Jul 11, 2012 10:51 AM

Restaurant with chef's table or large separate table. Any recommendations.

3 years ago I hosted a wonderful dinner at Aquavit, reserving their chef's table in
the main dinning room. I went to make a reservation to recreate this and was told
that they no longer have that table, nor, I was told could they accommodate 10 at one table!
The dinner there was WONDERFUL. I don't want a separate dining room as the cost then
becomes prohibitive. The table at Aquavit had no extra fees because, while separate from
the other tables, was not in a separate room.
Any suggestions for
1) an alternative
2) negotiating with Aquavit staff

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. Most upscale restaurants like Aquavit will accomodate a maximum of 8 in the main dining room, and require a private room and a restricted menu for parties of 10 or more.

    Tocqueville might be an option. I've seen large groups in the dining room for lunch so it won't hurt to ask about their seating policies for dinner.

    Raymi is a new restaurant serving modern Peruvian cuisine on West 24th Street. The chef de cuisine is Erik Ramirez who used to work at Nuela (the previous occupant of the space). The food is wonderful (especially the ceviches) and the restaurant has a large table beside the bar that can accommodate your group.

    If you are open to something more casual try Empellon Taqueria, Yunnan Kitchen, Craftbar, or maybe Wong.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

      Thanks Lacrosse! I will check into it.

    2. How large is your party? Are you open to a large format meal? You'll still be seated in the main dining area for most places.

      Ma Peche - Chicken and rice dinner
      Momofuku Noodle Bar - fried chicken dinner
      Momofuku Ssam Bar - duck dinner, or Bo Ssam dinner
      Breslin - suckling pig or lamb dinner
      John Dory - chef's table dinner with a variety of seafood
      DBGB - suckling pig dinner
      Resto - a variety of large format feasts
      Back Forty - similar
      Oceana - I think they do a prix fixe with a large whole fish
      Daisy May's - big pig gig, the service was terrible when I went though
      Maialino - nose to tail feast for up to 18, in the private room, though
      Wong - duckavore dinner
      Tertulia - does a prix fixe for big groups
      Blue Ribbon Bakery - can do up to 12 I think, more on the casual side.
      Barbuto - kitchen table prix fixe
      En Japanese Brasserie - I believe large groups can still do a la carte
      I'd also consider doing some sort of banquet in Chinatown, dependent upon the size of your group.

      3 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Hi Kathryn: Thanks so much for taking the time and the list. This is a celebration dinner. Acquavit had then, and still has, a 4 course $85 tasting menu which we used and was great. Something similar would be fine though I guess a regular menu could work. When I researched this 3 years ago, restaurants would try to steer me to private dining rooms where the minimal costs did not make sense for 10-12 people. The table at Aquavit was perfect because while not in a separate room, it was set apart and required no additional fees.
        Again, Thanks.

        1. re: kathryn

          En Brasserie does a la carte for groups, they have different size private rooms ( i think 4 rooms) that from an atmosphere point of view are fantastic. They usually assign a wait staff of two to the private rooms. The last time I had a dinner in a private room we had 10 people.

        2. Aquavit reorganized their space about a year or so ago - what used to be the casual lounge up front is now the main dining room, and the old main dining room in back is now used for private functions. So that could be the problem - there's no way to fit a single ten-top in the front room, and it's probably too small a group to warrant booking the private room.

          That said, if you're on facebook, send me a message there - - I'm a semi-regular there, so I'll talk to a couple people for you, see if I can find the right person to contact you. (Sorry, can't post my email address in the open here...) - let me know what date you wanted to do the dinner, too.

          FWIW, the food is even better than it was three years ago. Chef Jernmark has REALLY found his voice over the last couple years.

          4 Replies
          1. re: sgordon

            Thank you S. Gordon. After I posted I called the number for private dining. The gentleman there, Joey, could not have been nicer. He explained what you posted, showed me a photo of the front room that's on their website, and noted that all of the tables are now bolted to the floor and cannot be moved. He DID say that one round table could accommodate 8, but my party will probably
            be 9-12 so it won't work. The separate dining rooms have a minimum that doesn't make sense unless it's closer to 20 people. That said, if you find anything more, or if you know another restaurant that might work, let me know. The chef's table there, alas, was perfect.
            Thanks again.

            1. re: cmnymail

              Do you all have to be at one table? If you have 12 people, could you do two six-tops next to each other?

              Also, what's the date of your dinner?

              1. re: sgordon

                The date is Friday September 7. I suppose I could actually go over and look at the room but from the photo, it looked like all of the tables adjacent were for 2. The other round table was on the other side of a post so that it didn't seem a good option. I am angry at the bolts!
                That said, should you have some idea, please let me know. The event 3 years ago was a birthday celebration (mine) hosting out of town guests. I rarely do such things but that evening could not have been better. The food, the service, and that chef table were all exceptional.
                Again, thanks.

                1. re: cmnymail

                  A few options -

                  Public has a communal table they can alter the size of - I think it fits up to 30, but it can be broken down smaller. They probably wouldn't make you do a special menu for a group that size, but if they do they're very reasonable - I think it's $75 for four courses, $95 for a five course tasting (with multiple options per course)

                  Blue Hill and Ai Fiori both have smaller private rooms, around that size.

                  It'd be good to know as far in advance as possible the number of people - between 9 and 12 is where many restaurants go from "can" to "can't" - or from a regular table to a private room. The table at Public is malleable - it's basically a series of two-tops that lock together, so they can alter the size at will. They might be the best first choice, especially if you're still unsure.

                  As I recall, Marc Forgione has a fairly malleable layout, and can do private parties in the bar area. Worth giving a call - the food is fantastic, though the ambience is a bit more casual than at Aquavit.

                  A bit more expensive options:
                  The Wine Cellar @ WD-50
                  Salon Rooms @ Café Boulud
                  Central Salon @ Le Bernardin
                  The Zen Room @ Megu Midtown, or the Miyagi Room @ Megu Tribeca

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