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Non-pretentious restaurant for 5 year anniversary dinner

My husband & I are coming in from Toronto this Labour Day weekend and got my sister to look after my 18 month old for 24 hours, so we can spend our 5 year anniversary together in Manhattan. I'm looking for a restaurant in Midtown for dinner Saturday night; we're staying at the Peninsula (53rd & 5th), so preferably some place we can walk to or take a short cab ride. We don't like pretentious food (no 5-course tasting with foam on a spoon for us!) but we do like good food. Any ethnicity is good for us! Our budget is around $100 pp. I was thinking we'd do dessert & drinks at The Modern Bar (I didn't like the "boardroom" look the Dining Room had for dinner), but still looking for something for dinner. Any suggestions?

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  1. Is the $200 budget before tax, tip, and booze or is that out the door?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Spiritchaser

      $100 pp would include food & drink, but not tip or tax

      1. re: jerryann

        Actually the Dining Room at The Modern is quite romantic if you get a two top along the window on a nice evening, however, food cost would kill your budget leaving no room for drinks.

        I tend to recommend places fresh in my memory so I would suggest you check out Betony on 57th St. We just had a fantastic meal there last weekend. $13 cocktails, some very reasonably priced wines by the glass, if you spent $30 on booze $70 would easily get you snacks to share, an app, and entree. The area in the rear on the first level is sufficiently romantic, service is stellar.


        1. re: Spiritchaser

          I decided to take your's and Kathryn's advice & just do dinner at Modern Dining Room. It's definitely going to go over our budget, but you only get to celebrate a 5 year wedding anniversary once (or so I hope!!). I took your advice and asked the hostess for a table by the window, & she actually suggested & reserved a banquette by the window which she felt was the most intimate & romantic table in the dining room, and which I really appreciated!
          Thanks for all your help! I'm really looking forward to trying it out!

          1. re: jerryann

            Excellent choice, well worth the extra expense. You will not regret it.

      1. Why not just have your full dinner at Bar Room at the Modern?

        1 Reply
        1. re: kathryn

          I could, but I didn't really think it had a very intimate ambience for an anniversary dinner

        2. I'm but your implied definition (and example) of "non-pretentious" seems to be too vague. This is New York City. Every restaurant has some level of pretentiousness to it, even the dishes at the Bar Room at the Modern (which I like) has some level of pretentiousness, by your definition.

          1. If you are open to any ethnic cuisine, check out reviews for Tulsi and see it it appeals to you.

            1. Check out Rouge Tomate.

              1. While you are at the peninsula be sure to visit the rooftop bar one night, its a really beautiful space and well made cocktails

                4 Replies
                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  Thanks! I just saw that last night when I was looking at their website, and I thought that might be a good place for after dinner drinks!
                  Actually, do you know any places that are good & not too expensive (e.g., under $20 for an entree) for Sunday brunch? I made a reservation at Feast, but I didn't realize that wasn't within walking distance from the Peninsula.

                  1. re: jerryann

                    And please inquire with The Modern if you can arrange to have a pre dinner drink out on the terrace of the restaurant, it's "kind of" in the sculpture garden. If the weather is nice it's wonderful to sit out there with a drink; there have even been times when they brought out some snacks (amuses and what not) while we had our cocktails.

                    1. re: Spiritchaser

                      Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely put that request in!

                    2. re: jerryann

                      I think Craftbar has a great brunch. May or may not be within your walking distance - Bway and 19th St. it would be a really nice walk.

                  2. I second the person who recommended the Modern dining room.

                    The bar at the Modern is not romantic or appealing to me. It's ridiculously crowded, with a low ceiling, and claustrophobic feel to it. It's like a dark crowded bus station serving drinks.

                    The dining room, on the other hand, is awesome. Some tables overlook the sculpture garden, and you can see into the museum from others, so it's very unique and cool.

                    Service is great, friendly and attentive.

                    Given your criteria, I have to warn you that you are likely to get something like "foam on a spoon". (lol) Last time I went, there was some foamy thing, literally in a test tube, to start.

                    So if you're totally turned off by stuff like that, be forewarned.

                    But again, it's a beautiful place, great food, expensive, but the service is not pretentious. And jeez, you're staying at the Peninsula!! :-)

                    I think it's a great choice, and someplace unique to NYC.

                    Hope you have an awesome time.