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"Secret" Private Rooms & Chef's Tables

Planning my partner's 50th for just 4 or 5 of us. Have been to the usual suspects for chef's table/private dining - Daniel, Maialino, Barbuto, etc. but am wondering if there are any hidden gems in Manhattan? Would even consider a catering kitchen or small event space that would allow us to bring in a private chef. Casual is great, as long as the food is excellent.
I hosted a larger party in the private garden at I Trulli - it's not on most "private room" lists but it turned out to be a great find!
Any suggestions? Thanks!

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  1. Does Gordon Ramsay's count as "the usual suspects"? If not, I highly recommend it, but it sounds like you've already probably been.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I haven't, but my partner has..Thanks for thinking on this!

    2. Artisanal and Picholine have small private dining rooms. Per Se's East Room overlooking Columbus Circle is another possibility.

      8 Replies
      1. re: darren425

        Oh, good recommendation Darren, Picholine has their very intimate wine room, I think it can accommodate up to six people, great choice.

        1. re: darren425

          Thanks for thinking of these. Unfortunately, Picholine is closed for vacation until 9/10. We've been to Per Se, and just didn't love it. Artisanal's recording seems to indicate private dining is for 8 or more - have you had smaller parties there? Thanks again!

          1. re: gracefoster

            I was thinking of the Cheese Cave at Artisanal (see photo). Max capacity is 8, I think.

            From Opentable:
            La Cave Fromage
            In the back of the dining room is our world renowned cheese cave, a temperature and humidity controlled room, where a number of the world’s finest artisanally-made cheeses are aged to optimum ripeness and peak flavor. Adjacent to the dining room is the wine bar, which boosts 75 wines by the glass.

            I've hosted dinners for 8 at Artisanal but we sat in the main dining room, not the cheese cave.

            1. re: darren425

              I love Artisanal, but that cave would be insufferable for me: like dining in a fishbowl lighted enough for a dentist and for every passerby in the place to gawk. No, thanks.

              1. re: darren425

                I just called and they said it's not a room or even enclosed, it's just an area in the back and a little off to the side, meant for 4 or 5 guests. I guess i need to see it...will try to do that this week!

                1. re: gracefoster

                  It is a room per se and enclosed sufficiently, but arranged in such a way that the management is (justly) proud of showing it off to whomever asks to see it -meaning a lot of Artisinal's clientele on any given evening. (Maybe that's why they subtly warned you off of it -since it may also be a working space.)
                  Many things it may be, but 'private' is not one of them.

                  1. re: Phil Ogelos

                    Thanks for sharing that, sounds like i don't need to make a trip over there (even if it is only a few blocks away!).

                    1. re: gracefoster

                      Unless you want the world to see the love you and your partner have for one another, and for cheese -in which case, allez!

          2. Has anyone tried Blue Ribbon Bakery's private room? I like that we can use their a la carte menu or create our own since some of the guests have particular dietary needs.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gracefoster

              BRB's PDR is actually semi private, not fully enclosed, and you will have a view of the kitchen and be able to hear other tables downstairs. The food is good though the restaurant is much more casual than some of the others mentioned in this thread.

            2. I've been to a few small affairs downstairs at il Buco (I think they actually call it "the wine cellar") and always enjoyed them.

              1. You could book Kyo Ya and sit in the tatami room in back (there will be a physical barrier between you and the other diners). Cha-An has a similar private tea room. Or research Zenkichi in Brooklyn (each table gets its own enclosed booth). I think Aburiya Kinnosuke has something similar... And Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya also has a private booth near the host stand.

                Oceana has a chef's table for 4.

                The number of people in your party will make it a little harder since so many chef's tables are set up for 8 or 10 people.

                1. I'll pass on a recommendation I got from a friend recently. He recently was part of a private dining experience at Blue Hills at Stone Barns that he absolutely adored. It takes place on a farm about 30 miles north of NYC (I know you said Manhattan so feel free to ignore this if it doesn't fit your needs).

                  It's about as true a farm to table experience as you will ever have. He saw them pick an eggplant and had it served two courses later. The whole experience takes about 3.5 hours, but Nigel said it was the best meal of his life. Research it if you like. Hopefully you find something that fits your needs perfectly.

                  PS: I believe Blue Hill restaurant in NYC (by the same people) also has private dining available but I can't speak to the experience as I haven't done it before.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ramadden13

                    Great minds think alike - that's on the agenda for Part II of the big celebration! We've toured the grounds on several occasions but the big surprise will be finally sitting down to the full meal. Shhh, don't tell. ;-)

                    1. re: gracefoster

                      Awesome! I'm sure your partner will love it! Let us know how it goes!

                  2. I personally haven't been, but I think Bouley chef's pass or test kitchen might be a very customizable and unique experience. That might take it a level beyond just dinner in a private room chef's table.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: fooder

                      What a great idea, that looks really interesting! My group is a little small (and finicky) for it this time but I will definitely keep Bouley chef's pass in mind for future events. Thanks!

                      1. re: boredough

                        Their minimums and menu pricing seemed too much for what we need. We're only 4 or 5 people. But my friend had her (small) wedding reception there and was thrilled with the venue and the food.

                      2. Its also fun to sit at the pass at Hearth and whatch how the kitchen runs. Very smooth and efficient.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: princeofpork3

                          I think the pass at Hearth maxes out at three people, though.

                        2. Just wanted to thank everyone for the suggestions and to let you know how it worked out. Blue Hill at Stone Barns was excellent. The tasting menu features more incredibly tasty and creative vegetable tastings than at other comparable restaurants (including a recent trip to EMP) and for us, that was a most welcome treat. The dining room is elegant, the service is friendly and we will certainly be back. (The $20 cab ride from the Tarrytown Metro North station is a breeze and the Stone Barns team has the timing of the ride back down to a science).

                          We were also very pleased with our chef's table experience at Blue Ribbon Bakery. The room just outside the bread kitchen is great; there's a lot to watch if you're so inclined, but if not, it's fun just to have a semi-private room that's quiet yet not closed off. The service was terrific and we liked the casual atmosphere. And the fried chicken is delicious!

                          Thanks again to everyone for the great suggestions!