I am new-ish to the city, and celebrating my birthday with 10-15 friends in a couple weeks. I would love some helpful suggestions for a fun, friendly interesting restaurant that has great food, preferably in the downtown/plateau/mile-end area. Since we are all early twenties and don't want to break the bank it would be great if we could eat for around 30$ maximum. I was interested in doing a Tapas-type meal but the places on the boards don't have me 100% convinced. BYOWs are great but someone told me once that they don't usually take reservations, I'm not sure if it's true. Nothing too greasy, fresh inventive dishes would be great. Someone recommended l'Academie to me recently as a fun place to take a group- the service and food was abysmal- but the lively atmosphere appeals to me.
Thanks so much!