I am visiting NYC from DC in a few weeks to take a good friend out to a birthday dinner but need some recommendations. I wanted to do Le Bernadin but it is a touch more than I want to spend this time. Also, I don't want to be dissappointed if Chef Ripert isn't in the kitchen.
I am looking for something that I am not going to find in DC. Preferably, new American, French, or Italian. I would like to spend less than about $200 (for both of us with wine by the glass). Also, I would like midtown or within a half hour walk from NY Penn Station. Also, I want to make sure it is a place that will be very gracious to my friend on her birthday (not too much... no sombreros or singing).
Just to give an idea, my first choice was Babbo but I could not snag the reservations.