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Jan 28, 2013 09:20 AM

Help me decide where to go for my birthday

I know, I know, how many questions like this are out there? But I am a somewhat regular on the Manhattan board and at a loss!

Hubby and I kind of dropped the ball and did not think about this until last night. We are celebrating my birthday a day early, Saturday 2/23, and missed the window of opportunity to book at some of the better restaurants for the time we want, around 8pm. I really wanted to go to Minetta Tavern, but they only have 5:30 and 10pm.

We love Italian, but I am thinking of something different this time. Maybe Indian? French? Not Chinese, Japanese or sushi. Budget is really not a problem, though Per Se is out of the question. Obviously great food is a must but a very good wine and cocktail list is a big plus. Anywhere in Manhattan is fine. I looked at The Modern and they have a reservation for the time we want, but the menu did not grab me. People seem to love The Modern on this board; am I missing something?

I'm not usually this lost, but I need help this time. Thanks.

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  1. Have you considered the new Salumeria Rosi on Madison Avenue between 72nd and 73rd? It's a nice place with a full menu - same price point and quality as Lincoln, A Voce, and perhaps even Marea, IMO.

    I like the Modern Bar Room and Dining Room,generally, but some dishes are better than others.

    1. For French cuisine, both Picholine and Tocqueville have 8:00 available. Corton has available 6:45 and 8:45. I highly recommend all 3 restaurants. (BTW, I'm not a fan of The Modern).

      2 Replies
      1. re: ellenost

        We did Tocqueville for Christmas Eve, so do not want to repeat it. We loved it though. Never looked at either Picholine or Corton. Will do so now. Thanks.

        1. re: ellenost

          Salumeria Rosi on Madison Avenue has been on my radar for a while now, but not sure if we want to do Italian. It's a thought though. Thanks for suggesting it.

        2. Some of the better places with 8:00 (or near that) tables that night on Opentable:

          Ai Fiori (7:45. 8:15)
          Bouley (9:30)
          Cafe Boulud
          Corton (6:45, 8:45)
          Craft (7:00. 8:30)
          Il Buco (9:15)
          Il Buco Alimentari (7:00, 9:30)
          Jungsik (7:30, 8:30)
          Le Cirque (7:30, 8:45)
          Mas (la grillade) (7:30, 8:30)
          The Modern Dining Room (8:15)
          WD-50 (6:00, 9:30)

          ...of the above, depending on time / your taste, the ones I think are really nailing it of late would be Aquavit, Cafe Boulud, The Modern, and WD-50 or Corton if you're feeling a bit adventurous / want to go the tasting menu route. Just my personal opinion. Craft is always solid, but not everyone likes the minimalism of the menu. Junoon I dig but I generally prefer Tulsi for my high-end Indian, just personal taste though - Chef Mathur's food at Tulsi just speaks to me a little more, I guess, though the room is a bit fancier at Junoon. Tulsi has a bit more of an "elevated neighborhood joint" vibe.

          I like AI Fiori as well, if you're to go the Italian route, though I kind of hate the room personally - find it a bit "corporate" for my taste. The two Il Bucos are good as well, the flagship a bit more of a fancy ambiance.

          4 Replies
          1. re: sgordon

            Thanks for your response sgordon.

            I was thinking about Craft but did not know if it still "had it." We have enjoyed Craft a number of times back in it's prime. I actually like the "minimalism" aspect of it. I'm not an EMP-type of menu fan at all.

            The two Indian restaurants your mention seem to have great menus. You say you like Tulsi better, but the room at Junoon is "a bit fancier." Which would you choose for a special birthday dinner? We like a quiet room and somewhat formal service if that makes a difference. Thanks.

            1. re: ttoommyy

              My 2 cents, we like Junoon a lot and have always had excellent and interesting meals there. They actually have a pretty solid bar team as well with some Indian influenced cocktails.

              1. re: ttoommyy

                I don't want to knock Junoon - it's a good restaurant, and it has a more upscale "feel" than Tulsi, even if the prices are probably similar.

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                Junoon just has more of a "nice night out" feel to the room, is all. If there were three or four of you at Tulsi they might seat you in one of the "cabanas" (or whatever they call them) which can be fun - but a two top would probably be at a regular table. Food's good at both, though - if I may prefer Tulsi, I know others who prefer Junoon as well. They're probably the top two Indian places in NYC right now, what with Devi (the only other Indian place at that level) having lost a step from what I've heard.

                If you're not into doing a tasting menu then yeah, leave off WD-50 and Corton.

                Craft is still good - I'm not sure they've ever NOT been in their "prime" so to speak. Colicchio always hires well. It's not a place one goes to for "cheffy" creativity, though, so perhaps it's easier to get someone good who can just execute the minimalist fare to TC's standards. It's one of those places I'm never really -driven- to go to, as I like a little more creativity - but it's also one of those places that if someone else suggests going, I'll never complain or debate it, either.

                1. re: sgordon

                  Thanks again sgordon. And thank you Spiritchaser.
                  I think Junoon is it. I could go back and forth between many places but I want to make a decision and be done with it. I have never been to an upscale Indian restaurant, which was really my first idea, and Junoon looks and sounds like what I am looking for.
                  Thanks again to everyone!

            2. If you can still snag a table at Annisa, I'd give that a try. We loved our dinner there. Creative and tasty.

              1. Thought I'd check in and let you know we went to Junoon last night. I will report more later, but the bottom line is while the food was good, the service lacked any personality or warmth. The only time the waiter spoke to us was to take our order and tell us what kind of wine he was pouring ( we had the wine pairings with the tasting menu). Absolutely true. No welcome to the restaurant, no quick walk through of the menu, no checking to ask if we needed anything. The service was not bad; but that is all it was, service. We got much friendlier, warmer service at the bar beforehand while having a cocktail. Also, we were never served the amuse bouche that every other table around us got. To be honest, I would have been much happier going to my local neighborhood Indian restaurant here in Hoboken where the food is just as good and maybe even better.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ttoommyy

                  Oh, I always feel really guilty/bad when I push for something and it doesn't turn out perfect. Sorry you had a bad (or at least not good) experieince.

                  1. re: Spiritchaser

                    Please don't Spiritchaser! I made this decision based on a lot more imput than this thread or even CH itself.