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Help me pick a restaurant for an occasion dinner?

I'm turning thirty (!) in a couple of months, which means that I get to pick the restaurant for dinner with my family & my boyfriend (we'll be five). I am overwhelmed by choice.

Price range is pretty wide, since my dad is also a restaurant lover and it's a big round number birthday, but I'm not going to be asking for Per Se or Masa or top-flight sushi (although, mm). I'm inclined toward the idea of something starred—had a beautiful meal at Ai Fiori early this year (although ideally a smaller room, less midtown-y, would be nice). I've been dying to try Daniel for years, but am concerned it might perhaps be a little formal and a little (more than a little?) expensive. I love a good steak, and have been thinking about this especially since Frances Lam's piece on dry aging—so have thought about Minetta Tavern, but this seems like such a nice opportunity to get something dazzling, and I'm not sure Minetta Tavern is that (though because of a connection, we'd get a good table and good service). I'm also fond of shellfish, nose-to-tail, and the usual seasonality stuff.

Any thoughts or suggestions are much appreciated.

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  1. So how much do you feel comfortable spending per person, for food?

    Daniel's prix fixe is $116pp, is that too expensive for you?

    Do you want a tasting menu? Or a prix fixe? Or a la carte?

    Do you have a favorite food or cuisine?

    5 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      I think that's in range, though the more extensive chef's tasting menu ($195) feels too expensive. In general when my family eats out together a la carte tends to be easier, but I'm not totally opposed to requesting a tasting menu—personally, I like them.

      I'm an omnivore with enthusiasm for red meat, seafood, and great salads. I'm super into bone marrow (and many kinds of offal); love oysters, mussels, scallops, clams; consider a good (i.e. super-crunchy) French fry a delight. I like some heat, I like some richness, I like texture.

      Until it closed, my hands-down favorite restaurant in the city was Upstairs at the Bouley Bakery—everything I ever had there was interesting, complex, and satisfying; I still remember a meal with scallops in a funky, bright, rich mushroom & corn sauce and a champagne gelée with mandarin segments. Current favorites include The Dutch, Prime Meats, Brooklyn Fish Camp (there's this unbelievable Brussels sprout slaw), Karen DeMasco's desserts, the anchovy-dressed kale salad at Al Di La, the lemon-dressed kale salad with almonds at Northern Spy Food Co., the gazpacho at Applewood, the pretzel croissant at the City Bakery, the tripe tacos at Tacos Matamoros, chicken livers right out of my own skillet. I tend to gravitate to a basically "New American" sensibility, I think, though I have love for Japanese, Mexican, Mediterranean (in which I include Italian) and French cuisines/influences and am interested in some of the new Scandinavian stuff.

      (Thanks for the questions!)

      1. re: prolix

        Have you been to Craft already? They have excellent salads, steak, seafood, and offal.

        1. re: kathryn

          Yep, have been to Craft (and Colicchio & Sons)—definitely like it, right up my alley, but am thinking I'd like to try something new.

        2. re: prolix

          Have you been to bouley? The tasting menu looks like its beyond your budget ($195) but a la carte would be more managable.
          Have you looked at A Voce? The madison location is more intimate IMO preferable to columbus circle, and they have a really extraordinary wine assortment with helpful non-attitudinal advice to go with your meal

          1. re: Ttrockwood

            The dinner tasting menu at Bouley is $175 (which may still be more than the OP wishes to spend).

      2. How about Quality Meats?

        Or maybe the new Juni, if you want something a big lighter.

        1. As I have said before I tend to recommend places that are new, fresh in my mind, and gave me a great experience, with that in mind I have to suggest Betony.

          1. Steak, Seafood, I'm thinking Costata or Marea.
            In Costata you can share the "Costata" 44 oz. Tomahawk Ribeye. Great crudo, i.e razor clams, scallops and of course pastas

            1. Les Halles is always a good choice.

              http://leshalles.net/

              I was at the The Knickerbocker the other night also a good choice.

              http://knickerbockerbarandgrill.com/

              2 Replies
              1. re: bifpocaroba

                No, Les Halles is most definitely not a good choice given the OP's stated criteria.

                1. re: bifpocaroba

                  Neither meet the OP's criteria.

                  Knickerbocker? She's turning 30 not 80. :)