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moderate dinner for out of towner Wednesday night

Hi hounds- I have an old friend coming n from out of town and she's taking me and another friend out for dinner on her expense account. I don't wish to be greedy or take advantage, but want to go somewhere that's nice where we can enjoy sitting for a while. I don't really know what her tastes are like. I'd like to go somewhere downtown. I'm not sure what price range would feel right and not like a tacky grab at her expense account! Any thoughts?

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  1. Just to clarify, is this dinner tomorrow?

    This will influence where you'll be able to go since you'll be limited in where you can grab a reservation.

    Are you willing to eat early? Wait for a table? The front room at Gramercy Tavern might work...

    I see some availability on OpenTable at Colicchio & Sons Tap Room and Hearth, but of which seem pretty accessible / safe, if you are comfortable with the pricing.

    Perilla? The Dutch?

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      +1 Gramercy Tavern, the food and service are both lovely.

      I've only been to Dutch once but I was seriously underwhelmed by the food. I was looking forward to the lauded fried chicken and found it dry, unimpressive as were the other dishes I tried including lobster that was oversauced and lacking in lobster flavor. Nothing tasted particularly good or memorable.

    2. Yes, tomorrow night. I think she wants to meet at 8.

      The front room of Gramercy Tavern looks like a good idea!

      1. Colliccio & Sons seems a bit expensive, but I can suggest it on the higher end. I'd like to give her a range of suggestions.

        1 Reply
        1. re: luckiestduck

          Did you look at the Tap Room or the Dining Room? Tap Room is going to be a bit less expensive.

          Perhaps you can ask if she has a cuisine preference?

        2. Any slightly lower range suggestions to add?

          1. Assuming you can get reservations, how about Contra? Tasting menu for 55/person seems more than reasonable for most Manhattan expense accounts.

            1. Yeah, the Tap Room has a few entrees in the 20's and go up from there. Feels a bit much when someone else is treating.

              2 Replies
              1. re: luckiestduck

                It does have nice decor, is not super loud or cramped, and you likely won't be rushed there. The cheaper you go, the more likely you are to encounter those features.... I'm struggling to think of places with under $20 entrees where you can sit and catch up a while.

                1. re: kathryn

                  True. I don't necessarily want to go super cheap, and perhaps I'm too modest, but suggesting a place where most of the entrees are in the 30's feels like too much. I'd be more comfortable if there were more options in the low 20's and not so many in the high 30's and up.

              2. Update- something close to the Rubin Museum at 7:15ish is what we're looking for!

                5 Replies
                  1. re: kathryn

                    I've never been to the Chelsea Westville. Is it itty bitty? But that's a solid idea.

                    1. re: luckiestduck

                      Chelsea westville is good sized, way bigger than the original w village one.

                    1. re: thegforceny

                      On first glance, the Gander might be too expensive.

                  2. How about Via Emilia on 21st Street? It's nothing fancy, but I really enjoyed it the one time I ate there; if I lived in the area, I'd probably be there on a monthly basis. The cuisine is Modenese so the menu is just a bit different from the usual Italian fare, but there should be something for anyone/everyone.

                    Antipasti run ~$8-13, with pastas and secondi generally under $20.

                    It's less than a mile from the Rubin museum so an easy walk, and there's plenty of availability on OpenTable for tonight.

                    1. I just saw this, and it's Thursday. Where did you end up?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Pan

                        We intended to go to Montmartre. I couldn't get a reservation, but they assured me they'd have a walk in available for us. The wait was two hours. We strolled down to the West Village and wound up at Blenheim on 12th Street. We had a wonderful time sitting outside and watching the sunset, and it was a perfect spot for an out of towner, with all of the charm of the West Village. The food was pretty ridiculous, though. We had a great night, but the food had nothing to do with it and I wouldn't return or recommend the restaurant, though the staff was very sweet and clearly trying to establish the place gracefully.

                        1. re: luckiestduck

                          Wow. I'm glad you made the best of things.