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Wife Gets A Road Trip, I Get to Make Reservation...

Wife connecting with two college buddies (female hopefully...) in NYC on a Sat night and I have been assigned to finding perfect restaurant. They are staying in SoHo and looking in that area (SoHo, Tribeca, Meatpacking, etc) for great dinner spot. Descriptors: Terrific food, upbeat, stylish setting, price not a major issue but not stuffy, more fun/higher energy/hip but without prohibiting conversation - including comments about how wonderful her husband is to have found the perfect restaurant. Of course they won't know reliance on CH secret weapon. Input much appreciated.

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  1. Charlie Bird is the hippest door in that part of town

    8 Replies
    1. re: AubWah

      HAve to warn you against CB. DO some research. Most experiences have not been good mine included.

      1. re: princeofpork3

        What did you not like about your experience?

        1. re: AubWah

          Here is the recap-
          Farro salad - excellent
          Octopus - excellent
          Chicken - excellent
          Duck Egg Pasta - good
          Bass - good
          Chitarra Nero - Inedible, so salty could not even finish. Just terrible
          Olive Oil cake - OK
          Pistaccio Gelato - good

          All in all a decent meal but certainly not worth all the hype it is getting. Also the service was inattentive and one of our party knew the owner personally. He came and sat at the table with us for a few min. We still couldnt get the drinks we ordered nor our water glasses refilled.

          1. re: princeofpork3

            Sounds like a lot of excellents to be warning people against going

            1. re: AubWah

              Princeofpork's experience is not an outlier... Quiet a few other CHers have reported similar experiences. I mean, I think a dish that is completely "inedible" is inexcusable and it's not the first report of that I've heard.

              1. re: AubWah

                DO a few searches on CB directly. More negative than positive and for me, bad service kills any chance of me returning.

                  1. re: loratliff

                    What Charlie Bird has done an impeccable job with is getting their name out there in a very positive light with the food media as well as getting a long list of celebrities to eat there. frankly, their marketing people deserve a raise. What they don't do is deliver on all of the promise their marketing team has blasted the interweb with...If the OP can get a reservation at Piora - go there...

      2. When is this dinner?

        Rough price range/budget, per person, before tax, tip, wine/drinks?

        Cuisines preferred?

        1 Reply
        1. re: kathryn

          Next wknd, price not a factor, cuisine not a factor either - all 3 experienced travelers/diners. The notion of Italian came up but given short time window, don't think they'd restrict themselves. Thx.

        2. 8 of us enjoyed a fabulous, fun night at Bagatelle a few weeks ago. Good food, beautiful people, dj spinning.


          After dinner, we went next door to the Provocateur Nightclub at the Gansevoort Hotel for a final final and more dancing.


          1. That is a very tall order to fill!! You will be best husband ever if you find that perfect spot. Please let me know if you do! Here are some ideas. Absolutely love Fig and Olive - meatpacking and lots to do in that area after dinner. Restaurant is big enough so as not to prohibit conversation. Other ideas:
            Del Posto
            Val Bella - meatpacking
            Crispo - W 14th
            Minetta Tavern
            Lafayette - E. Village
            Miailino at Gramery Park Hotel
            Monmartre, Chelsea

            2 Replies
            1. re: Kathyd1

              Is the recommendation of Montmarte based on the new chef? I'm curious how the food is now that Tien Ho left.

              1. re: Pookipichu

                Hi there! I wanted to let you know that I went back to Monmartre recently and while the menu wasn't exactly the same, everything we ate was great. I had the brandade and arctic char salad and my husband had the pickle jar and plate of five cheeses. The brandade was more "authentic French" before and has now been reduced to brandade on little toast, but still really good. Salad exceeded expectations and for the cheese, everything on the plate was perfectly ripe and melted in your mouth. Desserts were not noteworthy. Wine list was reasonably priced with many good options.

            2. Either Carbone or Colicchio & Sons will not have the wife asking for divorce lawyer referrals.

              1. Estela or Pearl & Ash—either would be fun for a group you describe.

                2 Replies
                1. re: loratliff

                  + this area/neighborhood is where all the cool kids hang out now- meatpacking is "soooo over".
                  I would also add Lafayette as an option.

                  1. re: loratliff

                    The "Chicken Butter" at Pearl & Ash is awesome, and this is from someone who doesn't even like butter.

                  2. That is a tall order only one week prior, so may need to be flexible re: dinner at 6 or 9p.

                    Places I'd consider based on quick search on Open table with availability:
                    Marc Forgione
                    Tamarind TriBeCa
                    The Harrison

                    1. Be sure to call about a res if open table says they're booked, sometimes there is a discrepancy. Or, they could go and put down their names and have a drink while waiting....

                      1. Carbone
                        Minetta Tavern

                        1. I would say based on your "(female hopefully...)" that you might have bigger issues than where to find a reservation. But that's more a matter for Dan Savage or Dear Abby to deal with than Chowhounders...

                          One week out finding a table at a hip place for a Saturday night is going to be... well, you'll be stuck with mostly leftovers, so to speak. Are they willing to take a very early (5:30 - 6:00) or late (10:00 or later) reservation? That can open things up considerably, as those tables to tend to book last.

                          A number of the places already listed are going to be booked solid (and a search of opentable confirms such, though sometimes they "hold back" a few tables for phone rezzies, so it doesn't hurt to try calling them) - but here's a few options that do have openings in those (or nearby) neighborhoods:

                          Brushstroke (9:15) - excellent Japanese

                          Colicchio & Sons (5:45, 9:30) - always solid though I don't know that it's a place I'd get "excited" about, but then I live here. For someone coming from out of town it could be very exciting.

                          Del Posto (5:30, 10:15) - excellent, but perhaps a bit fancier than they'd want. It's not "jacket required" but it has that vibe.

                          Jungsik (5:30. 9:45) - supercreative Korean

                          WD-50 (6:30, 9:30) - the go-to for playful modernist food. No question it'll be memorable, though some people aren't into the whole modernist thing. Tasting menus only. Surprised they have any openings this close to the date. Some of the best cocktails of any restaurant in the city, FWIW. Jafrul, their head mixologist, is the man.

                          Alder (10:30) - Wylie Dufresne's lower-priced "sister" resto to WD-50, playful takes on bar food. Bill can add up, though, as plates are on the smaller side.

                          Balthazar (10:30) - if you want something scene-y, very little comes close to Balthazar. And the food is always great, if they're not reinventing the wheel or anything.

                          The Dutch (6:15, 10:15) - creative takes on comfort food.

                          Locanda Verde (10:00) - very good Italian, reasonably priced, sister to The Dutch.

                          Marc Forgione (5:45) - creative New American. Menu is about half and half of his "classics" he can't ever remove from the menu and rotating seasonal fare. Offers a pretty reasonably priced tasting menu "tour" of his most famous dishes, usually - it always has his tartare, chili lobster, and baked oysters (all good) plus rotating pasta / fish / meat courses. If the fish is the Halibut "Proposal" it's especially worth it.

                          Pearl & Ash (10:15) - playful modernist plates, similar to Alder in many ways. (Chef Kuo actually used to work for Dufresne, as I recall)

                          Public (6:45, 9:15) - always trendy, seasonal fare with occasional Southeast Asian twists. Creative & fun, good scene, great cocktails.

                          Recette (7:45, 8:15, 9:30) - creative mostly small plates, cozy atmosphere, hip neighborhood. Decently priced tasting menu options if that's their thing.

                          It never hurts to call some places that show no availability - some restos hold back a few tables for phone rezzies. Babbo or ACME could be worth a shot, but have something locked down via opentable first, as for all we know half of what you see listed today will be gone by tomorrow.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sgordon

                            If something stands out but shows no availability, make a back up plan and that morning upon opening call to see if there have been any cancellations. I did that driving into Manhattan a few years ago and scored a table at Grammercy Tavern.

                          2. if misery loves company, i’m with you.

                            note that with 4 weeks minus 1 day in advance reservations (at most of the suggested places), time didn’t allow flexibility or choice either. my options were early (5:30/6:15pm) or late (9:30/10ish) and/or wait list.

                            1. Uncle Boon's
                              Mercer Kitchen
                              The Dutch

                              1 Reply