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Looking for fabulous Bday dinner and brunch suggestions in NYC

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Hello Chowhounders,

I'll be in NYC the 1st week of September and looking for some recs. I'm pretty familiar with the food scene in NYC and I'm from SF. Been to Le Bernadin, Esca, Babbo, DB restos etc.

For Dinner:
I'm looking for a place for about $200 out the door for 2.
Seafood, sustainable/organic and local (preferred), inventive yet not too bougie. Ambiance, nice enough to dress up a bit and not feel out of place. Will travel around major Manhattan area.

For Brunch:
Good selection of oysters perhaps, a twist on the classics, something different with a nice NYC vibe / env't. Outdoors would be nice, but not necessary.

Any other good cheap eats and post dinner drink hangouts also greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. $100pp including tax and tip? That's about $77pp for food and drink. Will you be drinking? Some wine or a few cocktails each would really eat into that budget. Not sure you can do fabulous if you're including drinks in that figure. I was going to say keep an eye on ZZ's Clam Bar, but their cocktails are really quite expensive even for NYC.

    For brunch with oysters (raw?) and outdoor seating, not a lot of places do that in Manhattan for brunch. I would look into Lafayette, Pastis, or Maison Premiere (in Brooklyn). Aquagrill has a huge selection and a sidewalk patio. Keep in mind that any outdoor seating is usually first come, first served & sidewalk seating can be quite noisy.

    Of course rain or sweltering heat may mean you don't want to sit outside anyway.

    Without outdoor seating, Balthazar usually has a few oysters, and the NoMad has a great composed raw bar platter.

    Best brunch:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/893178

    Cheap eats:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/897943
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/886386
    See also realcheapeats.com

    For post dinner drink hangouts, did you mean cocktail lounges? There are lots but mainly clustered downtown. Depends what neighborhood you will be in: Flatiron, Soho, East Village, West Village, etc.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/817210

    8 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks Kathryn. We are not HUGE drinkers, we might just have a bottle of wine. I think defining "fabulous" for that budget is where I'm at. Maison Premiere looks pretty awesome I will take a look at your recs.

      1. re: berfahEATS

        A bottle of $50 wine leaves you at about $50pp for food, which is more like moderate/nice but not too nice/everyday/not special occasion in Manhattan. Not exactly fabulous. Especially if you want local and sustainable seafood.

        Manage your expectations accordingly.

      2. re: kathryn

        I think for post drink hangouts, I'm open to any unique ones, i.e. Slate for ping pong. We will be staying in Soho/EastVillage area. Cocktail lounges are great, venues with music are good too.

        1. re: berfahEATS

          That's still really vague.

          Alder and Booker & Dax both have modern/experimental drinks, as does the newly opened Butterfly. PDT is a tiny speakeasy located inside a hot dog shop (and very popular). Not sure what you're looking for--a lot of gimmicky places aren't good.

          1. re: kathryn

            Like Slate for example: good for indoor table games, not so good for cocktails. You've got to specify what your priorities are. But remember, this is a foodboard, so the posters are here are going to skew much more toward caring about the quality of cocktails than the availability of indoor table games.

            1. re: kathryn

              Thanks Kathryn, point taken.

              I think that I'm looking for the following in the drinks arena equivalent to something like what Bourbon and Branch might do http://www.bourbonandbranch.com/?case... or AQ http://aq-sf.com/CocktailsSpirits.pdf

              Alder and B&D seem right up that alley. All great recs.

              1. re: berfahEATS

                Take a look at the thread I linked to above. Lots of great cocktail bars in the EV: PDT, Death & Co, Mayahuel, Pouring Ribbons, B&D, The Wayland, Amor y Amargo, The Beagle, plus the bars at restaurants like Alder, Momofuku Ssam, Empellon Cocina, Peels...

                Then go south of Houston for Experimental Cocktail Club or Attaboy on the LES.

                Milk & Honey has moved uptown, from the LES to 23rd and Madison. M&H's new location very close to the bar at Eleven Madison Park. And a short walk from Raines Law Room and Flatiron Lounge. Or go in the opposite direction and hang out at the Breslin/Ace Hotel or the NoMad Hotel.

                Near Soho are Pegu Club, a must if you have never been. Also near by are Madam Geneva, Mother's Ruin, The Daily, 1534 at Jacques, and it's a short walk to Little Branch.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Btw, how is the food at Alder? I've been to WD-50.

        2. Try the oyster bar in grand central. It's an institution.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Siegal

            Love Oyster Bar, wanted to see if there are any others I should try.

            1. re: berfahEATS

              Aquagrill in soho has great raw bar options, and outdoor seating. Pearl oyster bar is a bit more "fancy", also recommended yet no outdoors. Mary's fish camp has a lunch (vs brunch) and daily raw options.
              All of these places open at noon sat/sun fyi, but assuming you have good wine the previous night and a bit of jetlag from cali you may not be up early.....

              1. re: Ttrockwood

                Pearl only does lunch on weekdays. Dinner service only on Saturdays, no lunch/brunch on Saturdays. Closed Sundays.

                Mary's Fish Camp is closed on Sundays. They do lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Thanks for the heads up! Aquagrill seems like a good location for us since we'll be in Soho and they seem to have interesting offerings that I can't get out here in the West Coast. Pearl seems like it's a classic seafood bar. How's that compare with Aquagrill?

                  1. re: berfahEATS

                    Pearl is more in the vein of a New England "clam shack" -- people go there for items like lobster rolls, fried oysters, chowder, etc. or daily specials like steamer clams. They are small, cozy, and delicious. Only a few varieties of oysters to choose from.

                    Aquagrill is the place to go for a huge variety of fresh oysters but they aren't as strong for cooked dishes.

          2. Toqueville for dinner if you don't drink too much

            Ocean Grill for brunch, great oysters, seafood towers, outside seating, wonderful service.

            1. For dinner, consider Marea.

              One of my favorite restaurants in NYC.

              (As an aside, would you really want "local NYC" seafood?)

              11 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                $200 for 2 people at Marea sounds tough to me when including a bottle of wine, tax, and tip.

                1. re: kathryn

                  They have 99/person prixe fix menu and a decent selection of bottles in the 40-50 range.

                  Yes, it would be tight, but doable, although certainly not the best way to enjoy Marea.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Thanks for the heads up!

                    1. re: berfahEATS

                      $99 prix fixe * 2 + $40 bottle of wine, plus 8.875% tax, and ~20% tip, is more like a $300 meal out the door.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        You're right. I read it as 200/person, as opposed to 200 for both.

                        1. re: kathryn

                          As I've said before, not big drinkers, probably only a glass for me. So here's the questions, Marea or Ai Fiori? They both have a prix fixe..Ai Fiori is slightly cheaper at $92 a head.

                          1. re: berfahEATS

                            You started this thread by saying 200 out the door for 2, as in INCLUDING tax and tip. A $90-something prix fixe doesn't work under those restrictions, unless you've changed your mind. You also said a bottle of wine, not a single glass.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    When I mean "local" I mean East Coast centric seafood that isn't as readily available on the West Coast. But point taken that everything these days is FedEx'd.

                    1. re: berfahEATS

                      I miss steamers! not readily available like when I lived in Long Island. In Florida people don't even know what they are

                      1. re: Siegal

                        I totally agree. I never see steamers in Manhattan. On the East End you can get them.

                        1. re: JC2

                          Try Pearl Oyster Bar:
                          http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...