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Looking for a Special Occasion Restaraunt with a Younger Crowd

My girlfriend and I are going to be staying at the Sofitel on Saturday August 4th and I am looking for a nice place to surprise her with for our one year anniversary dinner. I'm willing to spend up to $150 per person, though I would prefer to be closer to $100.

I'm looking for a place with a younger to mixed-age crowd. Someplace not really stuffy, and definitely not too quiet. I don't mind dressing up, but I don't currently own a suit or jacket (though I am heavily considering going out to get one). As far as the food is concerned, I'm leaning towards modern or traditional American, although I would not mind trying a nice Italian or French place

Some places I'm considering right now are:
The Modern
Ai Fiori
Daniel
Momofuku Ko

Also this is my first time going to NYC, so I really am not familiar at all with the area. Any and all help is very much appreciated!!!

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  1. The Modern may be a good bet. Check pricing in the main restaurant.

    Daniel will come out too high and you will want a jacket. Al Fiore is quiet and i would not call it hip. But good food. Momufuku Ko doesnt sound much like what you are looking for. Perhaps Corton? Jean Georges if you the pricing will permit. Marea too, though pricing there also is high. Babbo too is an option if you can get in. Good luck.

    1. Haven't been to the others but had a great "experience" at Modern -- the dinner took forrrrevvvver(I think we had the tasting menu and it lasted 2-3 hours), but food and environment were very special. We never told the server that we would have wanted it to go quicker, so maybe that would help?

      My friend swears by LaConda Verde downtown, but I've never tried it. Nuvo Italian ...

      Otherwise, if you are looking for other romantic options during your stay - in Cheslea Piers a sailboat ride around Manhattan is about 20-30, and you can take food on it! We even snuck a bottle of champagne on. It was one of my favorite times with my husband - check out "the Schooner."

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dreacorator

        It's Locanda Verde:
        http://locandaverdenyc.com/

        Excellent, upscale rustic Italian, in a boisterous setting, but not special enough for a celebration IMO.

      2. Great food, very energetic crowd, very much in right now, I would definately recommend you check out the restaurant at The NoMad Hotel (usually referred to as The NoMad but there is an Ethopian restaurant of the same name so don't confuse the two).

        FYI - As far as The Modern is concerned you may want to check out the extremely boisterous Bar Room but the Dining Room has fallen off my radar due to very poorly executed service last week (it use to be a favorite of ours).

        Daniel would be entirely too formal for what you are looking for.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Spiritchaser

          Nomad = East Village Ethiopian restaurant
          NoMad = The restaurant at the NoMad hotel, by the folks who run Eleven Madison Park

          The capital M is the crucial differentiator especially when booking on OpenTable.com.

          Unfortunately the NoMad is only showing very early and very late times for Saturday 8/4 right now.

          However, if the weather is good that day, the OP may wish to consider their rooftop dining area/menu, which is a tasting menu only. It's only bookable on the morning-of, though.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/853968
          https://www.thenomadrooftop.com/

          1. re: kathryn

            Thank you both very much for the suggestion! NoMad looks fantastic, and I was lucky enough to snag a reservation (though it is a bit early in the evening).
            If the weather is nice I am going to take your suggestion and see about booking for the rooftop a bit later.

            Thank You again! I'll let you know how it goes.

            1. re: Splinter6o6

              Rooftop menu is fantastic but if you don't score the rooftop, no worries, you'll still love the place.

          2. re: Spiritchaser

            Nomad in the East Village is North African, not Ethiopian, just FYI.

          3. Of your choices, I highly recommend Momofuku Ko. The average age is between 25 - 35. The cost for dinner is $125. Very casual dress (no jackets); jeans are fine. It's counter seating for 12 guests. Reservations are made 7 days in advance via their website. You'll need to open an account before you can make a reservation.

            The NoMad is among the "hottest" excellent restaurants with also a younger crowd. Food is excellent (if you like chicken, I highly recommend the chicken for 2). Ask to be seated in the atrium. The NoMad is the newest restaurant from the Eleven Madison Park team, and I think I'm starting to prefer The NoMad to Eleven Madison Park.

            Ai Fiori is excellent for Italian food, but not so much a younger crowd.

            I prefer the Modern Bar Room to the Modern Dining Room. I had disappointing service in the Dining Room on my last visit.

            I'm not a fan of Daniel, but it definitely does not have a young crowd.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ellenost

              Reservations are made 7 days in advance for Ko, including the current day.

              So to book for a Saturday night, you'd need to be on their web site on the preceding Sunday morning, 10am.

              For example, today's Tuesday the 24th and their calendar currently goes up to Monday, the 30th.

              And there appear to be some seats available this week! Huh.

            2. I'm going to assume by up to $150 you mean total cost - including tax, tip and drinks? If so, that makes a huge difference - i.e. Momofuku Ko with the cheapest wine pairing option ($50) would be well over $200/pp after tax & tip.

              None of the other places really strike me as "younger" crowd - in general, you'd probably want to avoid Midtown restaurants, as they tend to draw more businessy types and such, and the ambience is a little more stuffy. Some may not have jacket requirements, but most people will be wearing them. Of the three non-Ko places you've listed, The Modern probably skews the youngest.

              Babbo was a great suggestion, if you can get a rez. It's a mixed-age crowd, but a fun vibe. I'm not sure you could get a table for so soon, but you never know - worth calling to ask. You can always book a backup place, and call Babbo day of as well.

              You are, unfortunately, booking this VERY late - especially given that Aug 4th is a Saturday, most places are going to be booked solid. Looking over opentable.com for that night, though, I'm seeing a few two-tops open at places that might work for you, places with more casual ambience but top-notch food:

              Marc Forgione - fantastic, playful New American. Relaxed vibe, younger Tribeca crowd. Bustling bar scene but the tables are cozy. Highly recommend. Surprised they have openings, though they'll probably be gone quickly.
              Cafe Boulud (superior in nearly every way to Daniel's flagship, frankly)
              Minetta Tavern (10:30 PM rez only - which will probably be gone by the time I finish typing this...)
              WD-50 (6:00 only - you could do the "from the vault" tasting on your budget, though the main tasting menu would be over your limit, if you're including d/t/t in that number)
              David Burke Kitchen (fun, playful New American) - also there's an opening at DB Townhouse, which is a little fancier, though the "scene" at DBK tend to be a little younger, being downtown.