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NYC Anniversary Dinner--French, Moderately Priced

BlueTrain84 Mar 5, 2013 03:28 AM

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. k
    kathryn RE: BlueTrain84 Mar 5, 2013 05:11 AM

    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
      BlueTrain84 RE: kathryn Mar 5, 2013 06:48 AM

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

      1. re: BlueTrain84
        H Manning RE: BlueTrain84 Mar 5, 2013 07:11 AM

        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
        Mike C. Miller RE: kathryn Sep 2, 2013 05:04 PM

        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
          rrems RE: Mike C. Miller Sep 2, 2013 05:39 PM

          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. ellenost RE: BlueTrain84 Mar 5, 2013 07:11 AM

        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
          rrems RE: ellenost Mar 5, 2013 02:24 PM

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

        2. k
          kathryn RE: BlueTrain84 Mar 5, 2013 09:33 AM

          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
            ellenost RE: kathryn Mar 5, 2013 10:04 AM

            What did you have at Montmartre?

            1. re: ellenost
              kathryn RE: ellenost Mar 5, 2013 10:14 AM

              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
                ellenost RE: kathryn Mar 5, 2013 10:45 AM

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

          2. Motosport RE: BlueTrain84 Mar 5, 2013 10:04 AM

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

            1. b
              BlueTrain84 RE: BlueTrain84 Mar 6, 2013 12:29 PM

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: BlueTrain84
                Scott_C RE: BlueTrain84 Mar 6, 2013 01:34 PM

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

              2. ChefJune RE: BlueTrain84 Mar 6, 2013 01:32 PM

                We really love the romantic ambiance of Gascogne. Sit in the downstairs dining room on the banquette. Food is excellent, Wine, as well. Prices are very reasonable.

                Imho Le Gigot's seating is a bit too cramped to qualify as romantic.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ChefJune
                  kathryn RE: ChefJune Mar 6, 2013 01:43 PM

                  Gascogne closed.

                  1. re: ChefJune
                    boredough RE: ChefJune Mar 6, 2013 02:44 PM

                    The new restaurant Montmartre just opened in Gascogne's space:

                  2. w
                    workintheater RE: BlueTrain84 Aug 31, 2013 11:05 PM

                    MONTMARTRE is superb in every way, the real thing in French bistros. Kale salad with trumpet mushrooms, beet salad, steak tartare, roast chicken and roasted cauliflower are delectably prepared and served in generous-sized portions. Props to the knowledgeable, friendly waitstaff. One of the most pleasant, satisfying dining experiences I've had in some time.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: workintheater
                      arepo RE: workintheater Sep 4, 2013 05:18 AM

                      La Silhouette is another lovely French restaurant to consider.

                      1. re: arepo
                        Spiritchaser RE: arepo Sep 4, 2013 05:35 AM

                        As I have stated before; based upon our last two experieinces at La Silhouette I could never recommend it again. One bad service and a follow up to confirm it wasn't a fluke. It just isn't the restaurant it once was.

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