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Nicest kosher restaurant atmosphere NYC

Lwoods2012 Oct 20, 2013 05:09 AM

I know this question gets asked, but with the frequent changes in the NYC restaurant scene, I'm asking again. Feel free to ignore.

Looking for the kosher restaurant(s) in NYC that make the most effort to LOOK like a nice restaurant. Also want at least passable food, but am more concerned about looks. Am bringing my non-Jewish, no experience with kosher parents there to meet my kosher-keeping boyfriend. It's going to be awkward enough already, so I would love to take them to a place that communicates "look, even though you can't get dairy here, this still looks like a really nice non-kosher restaurant, so please be slightly less grumpy." I don't live in NYC so can't make this determination myself.

To clarify, I ask because I have been to kosher places with great, high-quality food that, because their food was great, didn't make a lot of effort aesthetics-wise. Would prefer to avoid that.

  1. g
    GilaB Oct 30, 2013 06:43 AM

    Lwoods2012 - where did you end up choosing? How did it go?

    2 Replies
    1. re: GilaB
      Lwoods2012 Oct 30, 2013 08:11 AM

      Parents ended up postponing--for unrelated reasons, so haven't gone yet. However, you guys are seriously so awesome for all these suggestions, I really appreciate it!!! (And if nothing else, I will definitely be going to Pardes now with our without parents lol)

      1. re: Lwoods2012
        GilaB Oct 30, 2013 08:23 AM

        Good luck!

        I love Pardes, but agree with those who say to skip it for this particular occasion - it's not really about the ambiance, especially once you're past the season where you can comfortably sit at the outdoor tables out back.

        Chagall Bistro is an excellent suggestion, I'm sorry I didn't think to make it myself earlier.

    2. e
      Expenseacctfoodsnob Oct 28, 2013 05:36 PM

      Hands down, Pardes in Brooklyn. Whenever I go in there I always see non-Jews eating alongside Jews. How did I know they weren't Jewish? They were talking about Easter plans! The service is a bit spotty, but the food and ambiance compare to non-kosher places I have eaten (I eat dairy out and didn't grow up religious). Otherwise, J-SoHo. Depending upon how frum, you could always do second ave deli. It is certainly an experience-- I'm actually having a co-worker take me there for my 'welcome lunch' because I'm tired of the dairy options in the 'hood.

      1. e
        EatMeNow Oct 24, 2013 10:42 AM

        If decor is your primary concern, I'm a big fan of Chagall in Park Slope. Aside from being in the hip part of Park Slope (change the sterotype of Jewish bkln) the place is authentic French bistro. Meaning the place is amazing. Food is excellent as the menu was recently upgraded.

        1. m
          Moishefrompardes Oct 21, 2013 07:57 PM

          add to these wild ginger on smith in BK. the crowd wont freak them out either.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Moishefrompardes
            tractarian Oct 22, 2013 12:21 AM

            I love that place! Although, the hashgacha may not be acceptable to all, although I can vouch for Rabbi Scwarcz 100%. Why not recommend them to Pardes, Moishe?

            1. re: tractarian
              bagelman01 Oct 22, 2013 02:31 AM

              Moishe abides by CH rules. He can't push his own business.

              1. re: bagelman01
                Moishefrompardes Oct 22, 2013 06:38 AM

                beyond that it would be a bad recommendation, all of my chassidim would scare the daylights out of the folks, they arent ready for that yet.

                1. re: Moishefrompardes
                  bagelman01 Oct 22, 2013 02:34 PM

                  This misnagid isn't they crazy about them either....but I don't scare easily. Your food is worth putting up with the clientele....However I wouldn't bring my MIL there.

                  1. re: bagelman01
                    GrowandBehold Oct 29, 2013 08:12 PM

                    I am the biggest Pardes fan around. This is NOT where you take non-jews who you are trying not to freak-out. Maybe after they are m'kareved...

                    1. re: GrowandBehold
                      AdinaA Oct 30, 2013 02:31 AM

                      Of course yo can take non-Jewish foodies to Pardes - in fact, if they are foodies, you owe it to them to take them there, provided that they are people with open minds and sophistication. Not the prospective in-laws, not a new business contact. But a chowish chap? certainly.

                      1. re: GrowandBehold
                        bagelman01 Oct 30, 2013 04:27 AM

                        I believe this comment should have been directed to TRACTARIAN.
                        I specifically said I wouldn't bring my MIL. I never suggested this for the non-Jewish, not kosher exposed parents. AND as OP said 'passable' food was fine as long as the atmosphere was normal and very nice, I assume th eparents are NOT foodies.
                        The OP's post is not about where we CHs would like to eat, but what kosher meat restaurant in NYC is upscale generic enough to impress the folks from Podunk (with apologies to Podun).

            2. d
              DevorahL Oct 21, 2013 08:49 AM

              I'm surprised no one's mentioned Chagall Bistro in Park Slope. It isn't quite as fancy as Prime at the Bentley or Prime Grill, but has an upscale French bistro feeling that I think is lovely, and the crowd tends to be an almost equal mix of yarmulka-wearers and non-yarmulka-wearers. Every time I've been there, the service was impeccable, the food delicious and the owners nearly always stop by to say hello.

              5 Replies
              1. re: DevorahL
                cheesecake17 Oct 21, 2013 11:19 AM

                Chagall is great for these types of gatherings, but the only thing is their menu is a bit more adventurous. At least in a steakhouse there's always the option of plain steak or salmon. (If the parents are picky...if not then its a great place)

                1. re: cheesecake17
                  DevorahL Oct 22, 2013 02:46 PM

                  Chagall has some more adventurous options, but they also have steak, chicken, salmon for the safe eaters. I think it's perfect for this kind of situation. And their desserts are fantastic!

                  1. re: DevorahL
                    cheesecake17 Oct 23, 2013 11:08 AM

                    Thanks for correcting me. We went when they were relatively new and I don't recall any "safe" options. And yes, the dessert (soufflé) was delicious!

                    1. re: cheesecake17
                      DevorahL Oct 23, 2013 01:01 PM

                      That makes sense--I get the feeling the owner enjoys serving creative, more unusual dishes but adds a steak to the menu to satisfy less adventurous palates. In my mind, this makes it a great choice for a mixed crowd that includes people who would find Pardes intimidating and those who find typical kosher steakhouses boring. Something for everyone! (and yeah, that souffle is incredible!)

                      1. re: DevorahL
                        cheesecake17 Oct 23, 2013 06:24 PM

                        Exactly! The owner was the friendliest gentleman- truly aiming to please through good food. I hope to get back there soon

              2. r
                rehtse Oct 21, 2013 07:38 AM

                I suggest Mike's Bistro. The cuisine is very good and the service is on par with or exceeds most high-end non-kosher restaurant. The setting is good, not spectacular as other suggestions, but the overall combination of service, food, decor and friendly atmosphere sends the right message.

                3 Replies
                1. re: rehtse
                  DeisCane Oct 21, 2013 07:57 AM

                  I haven't been in a few years but always felt that Mike's interior was below the par of the service and food. It felt tired to me.

                  1. re: DeisCane
                    rehtse Oct 21, 2013 08:25 AM

                    the interior is not impressive, but the food and service is.

                    1. re: rehtse
                      cheesecake17 Oct 21, 2013 11:18 AM

                      Agree. Was there recently and the service and food was perfect-- understated but excellent.

                2. a
                  ahuva Oct 20, 2013 07:53 PM

                  Prime at the Bentley doesn't have an extensive menu but what they lack in offerings they make up in view - it's penthouse level with a long balcony and an incredible view. The new Prime Grill is also beautiful, with chandeliers and a second level. Solo in the Sony Atrium has a charming light wall but a chinese menu so you'd want to make sure that your guests wanted chinese. Nobo in Teaneck gets my vote for outside of New York.

                  1. j
                    JackieR Oct 20, 2013 04:04 PM

                    Tevere 84 is lovely and the food is great. Ladino is a solid choice too. Great food nice decor. If you want to save some $$ and a more casual ( but still charming) atmosphere, Noi Due is nice. Le Marais is nice in its way but noisy and I wouldn't recommend it for this kind of social situation..

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: JackieR
                      Miri1 Oct 20, 2013 06:26 PM

                      Haven't been to the places listed above because I don't live in NY, but may I also suggest Orchidea in Boro Park? Amazing service, lovely dining room, good food (dairy) and pricey but not over the top.

                      1. re: JackieR
                        GilaB Oct 20, 2013 07:26 PM

                        Nobody of my circle who's ever eaten at Ladino has been impressed by the food, and the room is very loud. With regard to Orchidea, honestly, I'd avoid Boro Park entirely in this particular situation, it may trigger stereotypes that you don't want to bring up.

                        1. re: GilaB
                          AdinaA Oct 21, 2013 04:40 AM

                          I'm afraid that one of the things you want to avoid in this situation is a crowd that "looks" too "frum" A high density of black hats and suits can be daunting, especially to non New Yorkers who are not accustomed to this kind of ethnic clothing.

                          I recommended Tevere 84 because the crowd tends to look Upper East Side. i.e., they look like ordinary, upscale Americans with an interest in fashion. The sheitlach look natural and the men's suits look like ordinary business suits.

                          The steakhouses often have a frum-looking crowd. If there happen to be sheva brochot in one of the glassed-off rooms, or some other reason for people at a table to feel celebratory and even - gasp - sing! it can really weird-out a non-Jewish (out-of-town) business associate, let alone a pair of innocent parents whose daughter is - in their nightmares - about to marry Kuni Lemel.

                          1. re: AdinaA
                            cappucino Oct 21, 2013 04:10 PM

                            I agree. That was another reason I suggested Tevere. If you want casual plus eclectic (i.e. Jewish and Non Jewish crowd) they might cross the bridge to try Hummus Elite in Engelwood, NJ. It has the cool Hummus angle which is hot in Non-Jewish circles right now plus the basic Mediterranean grill food which is interesting to Non-Jews without being too adventurous. The only issue is the bridge and the casual ambience of the restaurant.

                          2. re: GilaB
                            masteraleph Oct 21, 2013 05:51 AM

                            We weren't wowed by creativity at Ladino last night, but they do meat at least as well as Les Marais and are somewhat more creative. It is loud, though.

                            Edited to take AdinaA's comment into account: at least in terms of croud, Ladino was pretty varied.

                            1. re: masteraleph
                              AdinaA Oct 21, 2013 06:01 AM

                              Right. I didn't mean to imply that Ladino has an especially frum-looking crowd.

                              It's just not in the category: nice, meet-the-in-laws nice.

                        2. t
                          tractarian Oct 20, 2013 10:23 AM

                          You essentially need to roll out all the stops in this situation. The following are the high-end kosher places in the area:

                          Prime Grill
                          Tevere 84
                          Basil Wine and Pizza Bar
                          Wolf and Lamb
                          Le Marais
                          Ladino Tapas

                          These are all high-end kosher options, and all but Basil are meat. Basil offers great food and wine in Crown Heights.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: tractarian
                            susiejane Oct 20, 2013 11:43 AM

                            We had the worst service ever at Basil for a Sunday brunch, and my son went with friends motzi Shabbos and had similar complaints. And if they put you in the back room it is so cramped and hardly atmospheric. But the food was good.

                            1. re: susiejane
                              tractarian Oct 20, 2013 12:02 PM

                              The atmosphere is very swanky for a kosher place (marble tables, candles, etc.) I found it to be very romantic when I went. I only ever ate there on weeknights, and I always thought the service was fine.

                            2. re: tractarian
                              LA Hungry Oct 21, 2013 06:36 AM

                              Pretty amazing that no one mentioned J-Soho on this list. One would have thought that based on the original post, the restaurant would fit the bill given the "atmosphere".

                              1. re: tractarian
                                zsero Oct 21, 2013 03:58 PM

                                Add Chagall to that list

                              2. bagelman01 Oct 20, 2013 07:27 AM

                                I take non-Jewish clients to Wolf and Lamb if we have to be in that aea. Looks like a 'normal steakhouse.

                                Click on link for pictures;

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bagelman01
                                  Lwoods2012 Oct 20, 2013 07:45 AM

                                  ooh that's perfect!

                                  thanks for all the great suggestions on this weird inquiry!

                                2. weinstein5 Oct 20, 2013 07:20 AM

                                  Others I would recommend - The Prime Grill an Abigaels on Broadway - both very nice ambiance and excellent food - I have taken non-kosher eating people to both of these restaurants and they enjoyed the food and atmosphere

                                  I also happen to like the atomosphere at Le Marais but it tends to be loud.


                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: weinstein5
                                    Lwoods2012 Oct 20, 2013 07:25 AM

                                    I love the food at abigael's but my parents are not from the city so I worried they might be put off by the windowless basement situation and associate it with kosher restaurants rather than just NYC

                                    1. re: Lwoods2012
                                      weinstein5 Oct 20, 2013 08:36 AM

                                      Good point - then I The Prime Grill - they will have great experience and their new location is very nice -

                                      I also would second Wolf and Lamb - atmosphere is great but the I have found the food to be inconsistent - when they are on they are as good as any steakhouse in nyc but when they are off it is just ok -

                                      1. re: weinstein5
                                        cheesecake17 Oct 21, 2013 11:21 AM

                                        Husband was at prime grill recently with clients- non Jewish & non kosher keeping. Said they were SO impressed with the food, variety, drinks, and service but it was LOUD. He'd go back and ignore the volume, because when they ordered a round of drinks after dessert and took out some files, no one rushed them out.

                                  2. c
                                    cappucino Oct 20, 2013 05:45 AM

                                    Is price an issue? If not, go with Tevere 84. It is an Italian bistro ambience. Civilized. If you don't need to be in Manhattan, go to Nobo in Teaneck because they will see that you can get more for your money and that kosher is not the biggest ripoff on the planet (if you think that will matter to them). Also, they have a nice wine list.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: cappucino
                                      Lwoods2012 Oct 20, 2013 07:06 AM

                                      Both sound like what i'm looking for, thanks! (they really are nice people, I swear).

                                      1. re: Lwoods2012
                                        cappucino Oct 20, 2013 04:17 PM

                                        I didn't mean to imply that they weren't. It's just that sometimes people not used to kosher are put off by the pricing. I figured you wanted to do your best to make them feel good about the evening. Have a nice time.

                                        1. re: cappucino
                                          AdinaA Oct 20, 2013 04:42 PM

                                          I agree completely with Cappuchio, Tevere 84 is not only lovely and the food delicious, it will feel the most "normal" to people unused to the NY kosher restaurant scene.

                                          1. re: cappucino
                                            Lwoods2012 Oct 20, 2013 07:05 PM

                                            No, no, you didn't at all!!! I just feel ridiculous asking this question! Thank you all for being so helpful!

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