I've only worked in the city since the middle of January and I'm still learning my way around, so I still need some serious help... Tomorrow is my chance to treat my friend to drinks and dinner - not only is her birthday approaching, but she's also well deserving of a fabulous night out for many other reasons.
I'd like to bring her to a restaurant that has a lively bar scene as well as great dining. Maybe a drink at the bar and then a table for dinner? We're both single, mid-30's and appreciate an interesting, diverse and hip crowd (not too trendy). Prefer a destination not overly sophisticated, but definitely nicer than a gastropub. Best if we don't need a reservation. Any cuisine except for Asian, and no steakhouses. I was thinking small plates or tapas could be nice.
I've not dined out enough to know many restaurants, so I can share what I do know... I enjoy Casa Mono but it's too small, I think Balthazar is vastly overrated, Blue Ribbon seems a little too quiet/casual. My favorite restaurant experiences lately have been in Brooklyn (Frankie's 457 and Bocca Lupo). Aiming for maxing out at $15 apps / $27-$30 entrees.
Alternatively, we could stop at a great bar and then walk nearby for dinner. I was thinking about a place like Employees Only, for example, but don't want to eat there.