My partner is just returning from a long trip in Africa and we are meeting in Manhattan for my 41st birthday. We will be staying near 18th and 8th, and are looking for a quiet, hassle-free restaurant not too far from our apt. Must be romantic, comfortable, not too loud or crowded, with a good wine list. Spanish, Italian, French, any Asian, or Latino are all good. African, Lebanese, and Southern U.S. are not good. We're willing to splurge, but not willing to battle a velvet rope and horrendous waits or long waiting lists for reservations (it will be next saturday).
An after-dinner drinks spot with those same characteristics would be great too.