I really need input, but first I did read threads answering this. Those threads didn’t answer my question, but were great help in refining how to ask, “where to go for special occasion dinner?” My husband & I will visit NYC to celebrate a dreaded milestone bday (mine) on a Saturday night about 2 months from now. Even though I will be hideously old, because we are a childless couple who travel a good bit & go out a lot, we like to think we are younger than our age, (doesn’t everyone)? For reference, here is a partial list of restaurants experiences that I remember in the past several years. Le Cirque (in the Palace hotel); Balthazar, Pastis, Schiller’s; Payard (on the UES); Union Square Café; Sant Ambroeus (in the WV); Ippudo; Trigo; Kellari Taverna; Raoul’s; Firebird; Macao Trading Company; Blue Ribbon; Chez Josephine; Jane; Mercer Kitchen; BLT Burger; BLT Fish; Spotted Pig; Katz’s; Tavern on the Green; Russian Tearoom; Felidia; Cornelia Street Café; Bar Americain; Smith & Wollensky; Brasserie Ruhlmann; Tribeca Grill; Lure Fishbar. To give you an idea of our taste, from the list above, the places that I would classify as appropriate for a special occasion would be Le Cirque for the grand atmosphere, spectacle of the crowd/people watching, very good food & service. Balthazar because the ambiance is very cute & it’s hard to get a bad meal there, but also because the party atmosphere. Raoul’s because it’s super cute, fantastic food, and buzzy, happy atmosphere. Following is my list for this occasion. Strict Don’ts: celebrity chefs, multiple locations, Asian or Indian food; sedate or reverential atmosphere, outside of Manhattan, anyplace we’ve been already. Do’s: any area of Manhattan, warm atmosphere, great food, professional friendly service, any price range is fine, very good wine list; really looking for someplace that is very New York, and must be crowded with people laughing & having a good time. By the way, we will be very dressed up. As you can see, my aversion to celebrity chefs & quiet, hushed temples of haute gastronomie rules out some of the usual suspects such as Per Se, EMP, Bernardin, Grenouille, Bouley, etc. Now the disclosure: We have a rez at 21 Club basically because it’s such a legendary place, I’ve always wanted to go there, and to me is the quintessential image of a New York restaurant. Obviously we have time to cancel which is why I’m reaching out to you Chowhounds. Would I like the Waverly Inn? As you can tell, I’m floundering around a bit, and I need your guidance. Thank you so much!