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Aug 1, 2012 08:22 PM

Where can I dine in short sleeves?

I don't generally envy the fairer sex [they haven't got it easy!], but it is quite something that a woman can bare her entire arms and most of her legs and still be considered elegantly dressed. Whereas -- winter, spring, summer, or fall -- a man is expected to wear...a wool suit.

Anyhow, the forecast for Friday is about 35 C / 95 F. I don't want to wear a suit to dinner. In fact, I don't even want to wear a proper shirt. Where could I dine in short sleeves and not altogether feel a trespassing lumpenprole? I'd prefer a place with somewhat serious food, as it's been some time since I had a proper dinner, and this meal is with my good friend the solicitor.

Some possibilities:

Ai Fiori. I've seen hipsters here in torn t shirts. And I've also seen some more interesting folks who gave off a music industry vibe. Of course I can't really carry off either look...

The Modern. I've still never been. I presume I'd be OK in the Bar Room. Do most men wear suits in the Dining Room?

Craft. Are the room and clientele as quietly elegant as the cuisine?

I also wondered about the Gramercy Tavern, but they appear to be fully booked.

Any other suggestions?

EDITED: the shirt -will- have buttons on it; it just won't have long sleeves...

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  1. If you want to be somewhat casual but still have a great meal with serious food, I'd do somewhere like Babbo or Locanda Verde. Upscale rustic Italian seems to be more amenable to short sleeves. I'm thinking this is a polo shirt or something?

    The other option is trying to get into Momofuku Ko if they have a cancellation.

    1. I would estimate some 98% of restaurants will not make you wear a wool suit. (You can always go with cotton or linen...)

      That said, I don't dine anywhere with a jacket requirement. In fact, most of the time I'm in a plain black t-shirt and (nice) jeans. Nearly any restaurant that isn't named Daniel, Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, or Per Se is not going to turn you away... the jacket requirement is a bit of a relic of the past. (and did JG get rid of their jacket policy? thought I heard that somewhere...)

      Here are some of the "serious food" places I've frequented over the last few years - that have tables open on Friday, via opentable:

      *Del Posto
      *Marc Forgione
      *Colicchio & Sons
      *Café Boulud
      *Ai Fiori (though the vibe felt a bit "corporate" to me, nobody looked at me askance)

      5 Replies
      1. re: sgordon

        I believe 21 Club recently got rid of the jacket policy, at least for August.

        1. re: kathryn

          True, I'd heard that. But I wouldn't actually recommend anyone dine at The 21 Club, personally...

        2. re: sgordon

          I've eaten in most of sgordon's list without a jacket and probably with short sleeves. Actually some of them with jeans and a T-shirt ( soto, scarpeta, marc Forgione), I was at al Fiori the other night without a jacket but with a button down Tommy Bahama Shirt, hmm is Tommy Bahama a hipster?
          I have in the old days worn an RTR jacket at the Russian Tea Room, and even had to wear a stupid looking waiter jacket at Ponte's.
          In any case, i'll add to your list of proper food restaurants where you will feel very comfortable with short sleeves. Jung Sik, Kyo Ya, Brushstroke, Gotham, 15 East (proper sushi), Babbo,
          Enjoy your casual night out with proper food.

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            In the film adaptation of -Great Expectations- set in the late 20th century, Ethan Hawke meets Gwyneth Paltrow in some NY club or restaurant sans suit and is of course made to don one of the establishment's spare jackets. He later walks out of the place with it and has to be chased down by one of the waiters.

            Unfortunately no one has pics of the jacket, only Gwyneth Paltrow in green:


            I agree with SGordon that Ai Fiori has rather undistinctive decor, but I was surprised to find it felt much warmer than the sterile photos I'd seen. It helped that it seemed everyone was having a good time. [At the opposite sartorial extreme, Ai Fiori is one of the few restaurants -- Per Se is another -- where I've seen a man in 'black tie'. He seemed to be a regular and was clucked and cooed over by the female staff.] I wish their menu was still $79 -- and no supplemental fees at that time.

            Dined at Colicchio and Sons [in the dining room, sans suit] once and was massively underwhelmed. Can't even remember the dishes, but I do remember walking out and thinking I could have dined at EMP for the $.

            1. re: Winterpool

              i dined at Jungsik tonite , with short sleeves, the gentleman at the next table had suit and tie. The food was exceptional ,, better than ever. The place is amazing

        3. To answer your question simply, "Almost anywhere!"
          You will be comfortable in most of the upscale restaurants dressed "smart casual."

          1. Yes, it does seem dress codes have been almost entirely discarded in New York this century. That said, I'm considering less any official strictures and more the milieu, especially in consideration of my fellow diners. If I had saved up to dine at Per Se, and the table next to me held hipsters in torn Ed Hardy t-shirts, I might feel it detracted from my experience [that said, I did find it rather amusing at Ai Fiori].

            To provide some more data, I have neither the insouciance nor looks of a rock star, so I doubt I'd be able to pull off a t shirt and jeans at upscale restaurants. I suspect I look a tad slovenly and, quite possibly, rather low.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Winterpool

              Per Se is one of the few places that still has a jacket requirement. (Just for the record.)

              1. re: Sneakeater

                Indeed. Bad example. Though does the requirement apply to the Salon as well?

                  1. re: Sneakeater

                    Yes, jackets are required in the Salon.

                    And further for the record, the other places still requiring a jacket: Daniel, La Grenouille, Le Bernardin, Le Cirque, Four Seasons, River Cafe, Jean Georges (dinner only), 21 Club (relaxed for August only), and the Carlyle. No restaurant requires a tie.


                      1. re: Bayareafoodiei

                        I don't believe Eleven Madison Park requires men to wear jackets. I've certainly seen men in bared sleeves there. In fact the first time I dined there, my friend wore what I now realise may have been a 'hoodie'. It was certainly some sort of sweatshirt...

                        Nevertheless, I doubt I could bring myself to dine there without a suit. I've too much regard for the place and its customers.

                  2. re: Winterpool

                    If you visit Per Se's Salon in a short sleeved shirt, the staff will lend you a jacket.

                    Same with Le Bernardin, where jackets are required in the dining room but not in the lounge,

                    1. re: MrGrumpy

                      As someone who's been lent a jacket upon unexpectedly dropping into the Per Se Salon, let me add:

                      They'll lend you a jacket. But they won't guarantee it'll fit.

                1. re: Winterpool

                  Hipsters in Ed Hardy t-shirts? Now that would finally make them ironic.

                  1. re: MVNYC

                    Great comment. I thought the same thing. Last "hip' thing in the world is Ed Hardy.

                2. Resurrecting this thread to ask: would I feel uncomfortable dining at the Gramercy Tavern [Dining Room] in short sleeves? How about Momofuku Ko? [I'd presume it would be OK at the latter save how stiff everyone reports the atmosphere there to be.]

                  17 Replies
                  1. re: Winterpool

                    I have friends who showed up for their dinner reservation at Gramercy Tavern dining room and were told "since you're dressed more casually, we think you'll be more comfortable in the front/bar area."

                    Momofuku Ko you'd be totally fine in short sleeves. I don't think the atmosphere is stiff, just...minimal. Like they've stripped away all aspects of a typical fine dining experience other than the food itself.

                    1. re: lexismore

                      Ah, thanks for the report. Slightly surprised that diners would essentially be downgraded at a Danny Meyer establishment owing to their dress.

                        1. re: MrGrumpy

                          As I mentioned in last summer's original discussion, the first time I dined at Eleven Madison Park [it was still owned by USHG then], my friend was wearing a hoodie!

                          1. re: Winterpool

                            And I've seen shorts and flip flops in The Modern Dining Room. Go figure.

                            1. re: Scott_C

                              Shorts and flip flops in the Dining Room at dinner?

                      1. re: lexismore

                        Interesting. Last time I was at Gramercy it was a spur-of-the-moment meal, we happened to be in Union Square and figured we'd pop into the Tavern for dinner if they had room. I was in my usual plain black t-shirt and jeans. There was a two-top available in the Tavern, but the hostess said "we actually have an open table in the Dining Room if you'd like that instead." - we're not known to the house or anything, maybe dine there once a year. And even though I know USHG keeps good records on previous diners, since we didn't walk in with a rez they didn't know us from Adam.

                        So, who knows. I know I've never been turned away or even looked at askance in any Danny Meyer restaurant for how I was dressed. I've dined at EMP in a t-shirt, even, both while and after he was the owner.

                        There's a good amount of space between tables at Gramercy, so I think they don't worry so much about it "offending" other diners.

                        I don't find the atmosphere remotely stiff at Ko. It's actually quite friendly, though it can depend on which chef you happen to be seated in front of. Some of them are pretty talkative about the dishes, happy to answer questions - others, it's not so much that they're gruff as that they're busy sometimes - after all, they're both cooking the food and the waitstaff. And some just aren't as talkative as others. The somm is always really nice as well.

                        1. re: sgordon

                          It's not possible to order from the Dining Room menu in the Tavern, is it?

                          1. re: Winterpool

                            No. I've tried that - was once in the Tavern Room and tried to convince them to sell me the foie gras app from the dining room, but they wouldn't (said couldn't) do it... That was a long time ago, back in TC's day. Maybe they're willing to tweak the rules a little more today. Never know until you ask.

                          2. re: sgordon

                            I have dined at GT many times. With and without suit. Never been told to eat in the tavern room b/c I was too casually dressed. I would be shocked to hear that happening there. But then again, I've never gone in shorts and flip flops.

                          3. re: lexismore

                            I've seen people in football jersies, backward caps in the main dining room at GT.

                            1. re: lexismore

                              Well, that is one reason GT has two rooms. But how casually were they dressed?

                            2. re: Winterpool

                              Why dont you just sling your jacket over your arm and put it on when you get there? There! Now you can dine anywhere you like ;-)

                              Add to the list most steakhouses. In summer there's always someone in shorts and a T-shirt someplace in there.

                              (I know, you were asking about two specific locations, but anyway....)

                              1. re: gavspen

                                If absolutely necessary, I'd probably do it, but in this sort of weather, I don't even want to wear a proper [long-sleeved] shirt sans jacket. I wish I had Atticus Finch's gift for staying cool...

                                1. re: Winterpool

                                  Well, Atticus wouldn't be dining so fancy. He'd just set out on the porch with an ice cold lemonade and a plate of Calpurnia's cracklin' bread and scuppernongs.

                                  1. re: Winterpool

                                    I agree, long sleeve shirts in this weather are so uncomfortable, but you can still throw the jacket on over your short sleeves.

                                    How did this become a fashion forum?

                                2. re: Winterpool

                                  Most restaurants these days are no problem dining casually. Of course Jean-Georges is a jacket, Per Se, Le Bernadin too.
                                  Gramercy Tavern is not an issue, Al Fiori not an issue but most wear jackets there. I've eaten at Marea several times very casually dressed spur of moment meals. I think the Modern was dressy. Any Japanese restaurant is fine casual.
                                  Not sure what the short sleeve thing is, I've gone to many places in short sleeve golf shirts , not even button downs, not a problem.