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...