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Second birthday dinner suggestion to complement Babbo?

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I'll be going to Babbo with family and friends on my actually birthday next Sunday, but my boyfriend is taking me out the night before, so was looking for some suggestions as for a place that sharply contrasts (since we don't want to be eating Italian two nights in a row!).

Parameters: Would prefer something anywhere on the East Side of Manhattan (LES on up to UES) or UWS, we'd like to spend under $100 per person on food, and we want to dine in a place that's more romantic and on the quieter side. Also, while my bf is not a foodie, I am, so if we're traveling downtown, I want a creative menu that's deviates from the norm.

Ideas?

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  1. Creative menu immediately causes me to think of WD-50, which has a 5-course tasting menu at $90. Atera is a newer molecular gastronomy restaurant, but their website shows no menu or pricing that I can see. Menupages lists their menu as a tasting menu at $150, which would price you out. I haven't been to either of these two places. And there's also Momofuku Ko (which I haven't been to, either), which at $125 for dinner (on Menupages, anyway) also would be a stretch.

    Another option is to go for kaiseki, such as at Kyo Ya. Menupages is listing an 8-course kaiseki there at $95, just under the wire for you. Call to see if that's still the case. I believe it has the atmosphere you're looking for - quiet, civilized, relaxing, a sublime dining experience with the gracious service you'd expect at any high-end Japanese establishment. However, especially after their NYT 3-star review, you may have trouble getting reservations. Try anyway.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      This isn't worth arguing about, but just as a point of fact, having eaten at Atera, I wouldn't call it "molecular."

      1. re: Sneakeater

        Fair enough, and not having eaten there, I'd have nothing to argue about. But what makes it not molecular?

    2. So this is for Saturday night, 10/6? Less than a week from now? You're planning a bit late and Saturday night is always the toughest night to book....

      WD-50 isn't showing anything available for Oct 6 (I tried 2 for 6pm and 2 for 10pm).

      Atera is similarly booked up ("No Availability for Atera within 2.5 hours of requested time in next 8 weeks").

      I just checked Ko's web site and Saturday reservations went online today, at 10am, so they're all booked up as well. It's also not terribly romantic.

      But you could do pretty well at Ma Peche I think. There's a 7:30pm on their web site right now.

      Some one with a similar query (creative and romantic and last minute) ended up at Rouge et Blanc in Soho and liked it:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/852581

      If you're willing to do slightly less romantic but still creative (and somewhere on the East side), try Empellon Cocina.

      1. Tocqueville
        Union Square Cafe
        Cafe Boulud

        2 Replies
        1. re: peter j

          Tocqueville is an excellent suggestion.