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Mar 5, 2013 03:28 AM

NYC Anniversary Dinner--French, Moderately Priced

Hi hounds,

Boston hound here. My bf and I will be down in NY over the next couple weekends and are looking for somewhere to celebrate our anniversary. I've done some preliminary research on the boards--what we are looking for is a French restaurant with special occasion ambiance, ideally spending around $100-$125pp w apps, entrees, shared dessert and wine (we would be willing to spend more for the right place). Any ideas? I've seen suggestions for Le Gigot, Balthazar and Chez Napoleon but wanted to poll the crowd with our specifics.


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  1. Le Gigot is very cute but I don't think of it as a special occasion place. The food I've tried is solid, not amazing.

    Balthazar is excellent but also loud, crowded, and cramped. Not exactly special occasion dinner to me.

    How much if your budget is for wine? It's easier to give recommendations if you estimate your food only pp cost, since you could spend a lot a wine.

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Probably looking to only spend between $50-$60 for the bottle, so $25-$30/pp on wine.

      1. re: BlueTrain84

        Boulud Sud
        Minetta Tavern
        Le Philosophe
        Jean Claude
        Rouge et Blanc
        Cercle Rouge

        Montmarte, the new restaurant from Gabe Stulman and Tien Ho, just opened in Chelsea. Haven't been there yet but it might be worth looking into.

      2. re: kathryn

        Far be it from me to say anything bad about Le Gigot. It is a restaurant that I'm very fond of. But I think that Kathryn hits the nail on the head. The words I think of is reliable and consistent. It's a bit loud, as she points out. It's certainly small, but not really romantic or special occasion. More matter of fact, but good solid cuisine bonne femme with a no frills, but decent enough wine list.

        Tocqueville might be on the upper end of the price range you specify. I think they have a representative menu on line, so you can make that judgment for yourself.

        Also, even though it's not French, per se, you might look at Grammercy Tavern. I would describe it as seasonal American with classic French techniques or overtones. They have a standout wine list, relatively modest in size, that has lots of variety. The mark ups can be high, especially on the top end wines. But they also do a very good job of really searching out quality wines in the sub $50, sub $60 and even occasionally sub $40 space on the list. And those wines can sometimes be screaming values. (Are they going to be as good as that $600+ bottle of Batard Montrachet? No, probably not, but they will go quite well with the food and you'll leave $600 richer!) Food for thought.

        I also concur with H Mannings suggestions below, at least to the extent that I have eaten at some of them.

        One more place I might mention -- not for your anniversary dinner, but perhaps for a nice light lunch -- is Vin et Fluers. Very French is attitude, staff, and food. Very good, if not outstanding food. Nicely selected, but quite small wine list. Just a good little spot to know is SoHo. On Thompson Street.

        1. re: Mike C. Miller

          Unfortunately, the OP never reported back after their trip (Note that it was months ago). Perhaps your advice will be helpful to someone else.

      3. One of my favorite chefs, Tien Ho, has just opened Montmartre in Chelsea if you're looking for a French bistro type of restaurant. I haven't been there yet (the restaurant just opened last Thursday), but the early word on it is that it is excellent.

        If you're looking for something more "dressy", you should try Tocqueville. I had an excellent dinner there in September.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ellenost

          Tocqueville is the best suggestion I've seen on this thread. It is definitely worthy of a special occasion.

        2. I've been Montmartre and while the food and service are excellent, it's probably too casual for a special celebration, and the distance between tables is on the closer side.

          3 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            What did you have at Montmartre?

            1. re: ellenost

              Frisee & lardon salad with duck confit and fried egg (yum), hamachi with kaffir lime (swoon, this dish was perfect), barely seared scallops with fennel and pickled grapes (my husband's favorite), strip steak with bone marrow and chive cream (delicious). They sent out the cassava chips (they were OK, I'm just not into cassava) and crispy potatoes with a foie gras sauce (!!).

              1. re: kathryn

                Thanks kathryn! Definitely want to try Montmartre soon and often!

          2. Le Parisien on E 33 St is excellent, reasonable, intimate and romantic.

            1. I think that we are going with benoit, thanks for the suggestions! Will report back after the meal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BlueTrain84

                Benoit is a great choice. Here's a recent review that I found helpful in navigating the menu: