My mother’s birthday is coming up next month. She’s coming to NYC and would like to have French for dinner. In the past we’ve gone to places like La Cote Basque or Le Grenouille. She doesn’t want to go to such a formal a place this time. I’ve been racking my brains for an alternative and all I can come up with are bistro type places that serve variations on typical bistro fare. Balthazar, Capsuoto Frere and the like which are too casual. I’d like to find a place that had some more contemporary French style cooking but isn’t Daniel. Is there inventive French food that isn’t served in a reverential setting? Is there anything like a NYC version of Chez l’ami Jean or even a Café des Musee? Heck I’d settle for a Joe Beef doppelganger. There was a recent NYT review of Calliope which sounded interesting but it appeared to be a bistro heavy menu. Any opinion on that as a choice? Have I just missed something in this category or am I just in a rut whenever I go for French? As to price, there’s no limit as it mom’s birthday, but to give a point of reference, I can easily see spending $150 pp on just food. Need to be able to get a table for 8 too. Any suggestions?