HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Discussion

Would Love Some Suggestions for Our Annual Get-Together

Eight people (four couples), friends for 30+ years, in our 60s. We get together (or try to) every holiday season for dinner. Last year we went to De Grezia, but they made us feel like we had somehow stumbled into a stranger's party uninvited.

We all enjoy wine, and we want to be able to sit around a table and converse with each other as we try to deplete the restaurant's wine inventory. This means we're looking for a place that gets what we want to do and won't try to rush us out the door. Also a place where conversation is actually possible.

We generally like to start by ordering several bottles of wine (three or four), chatting and catching up. Then we usually order a bunch of stuff "for the table", where everyone gets a chance to pick something he/she likes on the menu. Then more wine. Then it's time to order a main course. Then more wine. After that, eventually it'll be time for the check and we'll be on our way. Perhaps a little unsteadily, but we all end up in cabs.

Not looking for anything special (it's not so much about the food as it is about our getting together), but something decent. Thinking Italian (except for De Grezia) or American or seafood/steak, but open to other suggestions. We'd like to keep it in the $100 to $150 per person range, before tip, or less if possible. Geographically, we'd like it to be in Lower Manhattan, up to, say, the 40s, east or west side.

We have a couple of places in mind, but it occurred to me that it is probably prudent to ask the Chowhound community. I'm sure there are places out there that would love to cater to a bunch of OFs (Old Farts) like us.

Thanks for any and all suggestions...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. No suggestions but that sounds like a great evening out!

    1 Reply
    1. re: autumm

      Yeah, we think so, too, which is probably why we keep doing it.

    2. Does your $100-150pp budget include all the bottles of wine you plan to consume?

      1 Reply
      1. re: zeeEats

        Yes it does. We recognize that this might cause us to exceed our guidelines, but that would depend on the place and the cost of the wine. I'm figuring that if we pay $60 a bottle on average and we consume, say, 10 bottles, that comes to $600. That still leaves between $200 and $600 for food and stays within our budget. And if we go a little over budget no one's gonna complain, if past experience is any indicator.

      2. I'd suggest a place with a big round table. That makes it much easier to converse. So when making reservation ask for "round table" Tribeca Grill has big round tables, possibly the perfect place for you. Knickerbocker has 2 big round tables.
        Da Andrea(Italian) has 1 round table but not sure if 8 will fit. Gene's ( Italian) has round tables ( the food isn't great). Wolfgang's Steak House is also a good choice. Have Fun

        2 Replies
        1. re: foodwhisperer

          I like Wolfgang's but it is rather loud.

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            Knickerbocker is one of the places we have in mind, although we didn't know about the round tables (or at least I didn't).

            My wife and I have been to Gene's, but not for some years. It is a neighborhood restaurant that is reminiscent of an earlier age. The food is almost (but not quite) beside the point. We had a great time, liked it a lot. Gene's is a good thought.

            Thanks for the suggestions.

          2. How about the Westville on Hudson Street?

            3 Replies
            1. re: Elisa515

              Westville is like a neighborhood diner, certainly not a special occasion place. Do they even have a liquor license, let alone a deep wine list.

              1. re: thegforceny

                I thought the one on Hudson was really lovely--and fairly quiet in the evening. They have plenty of wine, and it seems the OP mostly wants a place where a group can stay for a long time while drinking wine and having small plates.

                The food is delicious, especially in the small plates category.

                "Not looking for anything special (it's not so much about the food as it is about our getting together), but something decent."

                Also, the place was pretty quiet when I went on a weeknight evening, so I thought they might not mind a large group that lingers.

                Oh, and they certainly do have a liquor license, not just wine/beer. Perhaps you're familiar with other locations of this (small) chain? I have only gone to this particular one.

                "Not looking for anything special (it's not so much about the food as it is about our getting together), but something decent."

              2. re: Elisa515

                Thanks for the suggestion. I'll check it out.

              3. Knickerbocker or Strip House came to mind.

                I've heard some real unexpected jerky stories about Knickerbocker's customer service though.

                I can't remember if Odeon has big enough tables but it seems a great choice.

                Ilili is Middle Eastern, but the place is full of round tables for groups, and it doesn't get too loud from what I've experienced.

                Alta has a second floor with a big table. Plenty of wine to focus on, but tapas doesn't always work for groups with big appetites.

                Ippudo has those giant round tables. I don't know how involved it would be to reserve one, and it's a little livelier than you might want.

                I've had dinner at Jane with groups that size without them having to put tables together. Good sides, some of the entrees are better than others.

                8 Replies
                1. re: sugartoof

                  I wouldn't think of Ippudo as a place to drink lots of wine over a long slow dinner.

                  1. re: plf515

                    I'd agree that Ippudo would not be an ideal choice. Neither would Jane, IMO. I don't recall Jane having a great wine list.

                    As mentioned before, I think Otto would be perfect for the ambiance and budget. Possibly more so if you dine earlier than 7pm. Barbuto is another place to consider, they have a large secluded table behind the bar.

                    1. re: plf515

                      Ippudo probably doesn't fit. I was just trying to add to the list of big round table kind of places. Their group isn't even big enough to secure the whole table without sharing it, now that I think about it.

                    2. re: sugartoof

                      "I've heard some real unexpected jerky stories about Knickerbocker's customer service though."

                      That surprises me, as I would not view that as indicative of what can be expected at Knickerbocker.

                      1. re: Blumie

                        That's why they're unexpected. The front of house there can and has ruined a special occasion without showing much care to make things right.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          That's a pretty harsh statement to make based on what appears to be hearsay. Were you there? Would you care to elaborate?

                          1. re: Blumie

                            I've experienced similar behavior there. Dropped reservations, etc.

                            If your interest is in defending the place, I see no reason to go back and forth.

                      2. re: sugartoof

                        As I mentioned in another post in this thread, Knickerbocker is one of the places we are considering.

                        My wife and I have been going to The Odeon off and on over the years, and we love the place. But I don't think it would be the right place for our group. It can get pretty hectic during the evening rush.

                        Ippudo isn't probably for our group, either. But I'll check out your other suggestions. Thanks for making them.

                      3. It does sound like a great night!
                        I actually think Otto would be great- if you can avoid prime time on a fri/sat that would be ideal, but the menu is perfect for sharing lots of apps and their wine list is very comprehensive yet with many bottles at the lower end.

                        1. I too recommend Otto...generous wine pour, good food and atmoshphere. I Trulli might work too.
                          Last time I had a large gathering, we met at Basta Pasta. They had a round table for a group.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Monica

                            I Trulli is a good one. It's one where they would have to be careful not to bust their budget though.

                            1. re: Monica

                              Good suggestions all. I'll check them out.

                              Thanks for taking the time to make them.

                            2. One of my favorite spots for warm and welcoming with great food is Trattoria Toscana on Carmine. I've had long talks there with old friends and never felt rushed. You might request a large table near the window for a bit more quiet. Funny, I had a similar experience at De Grezia -- in fact I remember saying it was like being stuck in the middle of someone's Bar Mitzvah!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: City Kid

                                I'll take a look at Trattoria Toscana. Thanks for the suggestion.

                                Re De Grezia, I wonder if they have any idea how much business they're losing because of their unfriendly vibe. What made it all the more puzzling was that we had all been there before (but not as a group). In fact one of the couples had been dining there pretty regularly for some time before our outing. Had De Grezia given us a warm and friendly experience, we would be returning this year.

                              2. I would suggest the semi-private dining room downstairs at Blue Ribbon Bakery.

                                1 Reply
                                1. What about Hearth? Deep (and very fun!) wine list, excellent food, and a warm environment.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: loratliff

                                    Never thought of Hearth. I've been there, once, a while back, really enjoyed myself. Thanks.

                                  2. Last time I was at midtown Greek place Avra I noticed a really large round table that sat 10 I think. I thought that would be a great table for a rowdy group. Great grilled fish and nicely priced wine list.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: thegforceny

                                      Would never have thought of Avra. I'll check it out. Thanks for the suggestion.