Traif

Traif

Photo by NY Mag

Address: 229 S. 4th St. (Driggs Ave. & Roebling St.)

Link: http://traifny.com/

Review: When making the trek to Brooklyn from Manhattan you always hope that you won’t be let down. Traif (not conforming to kosher dietary laws) lives up to the name serving some awesome pork and seafood small plates. The back patio was full so we grabbed a table inside.  Though space was a bit tight it pulls off a more cozy than crowded vibe.  Small plates offer the chance to sample the multitude of options ranging from sweet salads to blistered peppers, from pork belly to scallops.  Everything we ordered came out in a timely fashion and were devoured before the plate hit the table.  The prices vary and the items are seasonal so how big you go is completely up to you.  Sometimes going a little out of the way to try something new is worth it, this little gem is one for sure.

Cannibal

Cannibal NYC

Photo by Cannibal

Address: 113 E. 29th St. (Park Ave. S. & Lexington Ave.)

Link: http://thecannibalnyc.com/

Review: Continuing with the transformation of Murray Hill, this beacon of meat, cheese and beer has arrived on the scene.  But Cannibal does not have the cold cuts and bud lights of college dorm days past, rather an array of salumi and aged hams, carefully selected cheese and a selection of craft beers from brewers worldwide.  We ended our night here for some late night grub and some suds.  We sat at the bar and were served by the very friendly and helpful barkeep who pointed us in the right direction for both our food and drink orders.  So long as you don’t go crazy you can get your fill on a tasty selection with out feeling the pain in your wallet.  Cannibal is a good option for a first date for sure – start with some small plates to see how things go, then move on to something bigger if all is well.  Plus you can always judge a person by what drink they order from their massive selection!

Cookshop

Cookshop NYC

Photo by Cookshop

Address: 156 10th Ave. (19th & 20th St.)

Link: http://www.cookshopny.com/

Review: We headed over to this Chelsea newcomer with high expectations.  The ambiance and decor are trendy and the dimly lit atmosphere makes it a solid spot for a date.  The service was friendly and our table was ready when we arrived for our reservation, something that can’t be overlooked at 7:45 on a Friday.  We ordered some tasty oysters to start off and their version of a savory crepe which was a good pick as well.  Our main course however fell a little flat. Each dish had a component that was fantastic and one that seemed out of place.  With the duck came some sauerkraut type side that didn’t really fit and the lamb dish, while there were some wonderful components, had a little brown sausage that was on the dry side and a completely different flavor profile than the rest of the meat.  We’re not sure if it was a bad day or that these entrees just missed the mark.  Given the nice surroundings and comfortable feel, it would’ve been a home run if the entrees lived up to the hype.  That being said, we’re contemplating giving it another shot in hopes that the other entrees are executed better.

Mas (la grillade)

Mas (la grillade)

Photo by NYMag

Address: 28 7th Ave. S. (Leroy St. & Bedford St.)

Link: http://www.maslagrillade.com/home/

Review: Snuggled into the West Village, Mas (la grillade) is one of the true jewels of New York, a culinary gem with the service to match.  There are a limited amount of tables as it is a smaller place, but this allows diners to be doted on by many staffers moving about.  We went here for a romantic holiday dinner and were delighted with everything.  Ordering the 6 course chef’s tasting menu, we put our palettes in the hands of the culinary specialists in the kitchen.  From the amuse-bouche to the petifores, we were delighted with everything that was put in front of us.  Razor clams, salmon, mackerel, duck, steak and two kinds of desserts – it was like the chef new exactly what we wanted.  With a solid wine list for the discerning eye and hearty cocktails to warm you up – Mas lived up to expectations; but so did the bill.  If you are prepared to drop a bundle of cash, but have an off the charts experience, this is the place.

Peels

Peels NYC

Photo by Peels

Address: 325 Bowery (2nd St. & Bleecker St.)

Link: http://peelsnyc.com/

Review: Located in the East Village/NoHo area, this is a terrific spot for a cozy date with some delicious food as well.  The decor is stylish but comfortable.  The booths upstairs are a favorite and work well for a quiet conversation or can even accommodate a double date with some of your pals.  They do a good job of executing some old comfort food standbys – fried chicken, burgers, and shrimp and grits.  With prices that won’t break the bank, Peels is a good spot for a cozy date on a cold winter night to sip on some hot cocktails and fill up on some home style cooking. (They have a great brunch too!)

Kingston Hall

Kingston Hall

Photo by Kingston Hall

Address: 149 2nd Ave. 2nd Floor (9th & 10th St.)

Link: http://www.kingstonhall.com/

Review: Kingston Hall is a nice break from the chaos that can be the East Village bar scene.  This sudo speakeasy is a great place to bring a date or a group (though avoid Thursday through Saturday for a date as it can get pretty loud/rowdy on weekends).  There’s comfy lounge seating, a pool table and a back room that’s great for groups.  Fun cocktails give Kingston Hall a classier feel than the standard East Village bar catering to the beer swilling masses.

Saxon + Perole

Photo by Saxon + Perole

Address: 316 Bowery (at Bleecker St.)

Link: http://saxonandparole.com/

Review: Saxon and Perole is a great spot for some tasty food and cocktails right on Bowery in NoHo.  Grab a seat outside on a nice night and watch the world go by, or cozy up indoors where the interior decor lends itself to a perfect romantic date setting.  The “Little Bit of Everything” plate was the perfect size to share for 2, they have a decent selection of super fresh oysters and if you’re in the mood for some meat, “The Burger” is fantastic.  Definitely try the side of chili-caramel brussels sprouts if they have it, even the non-vegetable eaters will enjoy them.  They also have some good specialty cocktails, though they could be stronger.  If you’re looking for a place with a cool vibe, romantic decor and great food, this is the spot.

Sagaponack

Photo by Sagaponack

Address: 4 W. 22nd St. (5th & 6th Ave.)

Link: http://www.sagaponacknyc.com/

Review: Sagaponack is a classy but casual seafood/new american restaurant tucked away in the Flatiron District.  It’s got a comfy, beachy, hamptons feel and has great seafood dishes to go along with it.  There’s a whole section of their menu dedicated to lobster so of course we needed to try out some of those dishes.  The lobster pot pie and the lobster and shrimp ravioli were great, creative preparations of lobster and the duck and mushroom dumplings are a MUST try.  All in all, Sagaponack is a cute spot to bring your date with it’s intimate and classy, yet casual and comfortable setting.  We’re already talking about going back to try out some of their meat dishes!

Cask Bar + Kitchen

Photo by Cask Bar

Address: 167 E. 33rd St. (Lexington & 3rd Ave.)

Link: http://www.casknyc.com/

Review: Cask Bar + Kitchen is a fun spot to grab a bunch of small plates and drinks with friends in Murray Hill.  We went here with a group of friends for the boyfriend’s birthday, and had a great time.  They have long tables that are perfect for big groups, beautiful rustic decor and a solid selection of specialty cocktails and beers.  The spring rolls, truffle mac and cheese, meatball sampler, tuna tartare and kobe sliders were all delicious.  It gets pretty packed so make a reservation!

Gramercy Tavern

Photo by Gramercy Tavern

Address: 42 E. 20th St. (Broadway & Park Ave. S.)

Link: http://www.gramercytavern.com/

Review: Gramercy Tavern is an NYC classic. With the beautiful setting and perfectly executed dishes, it’s a must try for a special night out.  You have two options – sitting at the bar and eating a la carte off of the Tavern menu, or dining on the chef’s tasting menu.  We were able to walk right in and sit at the bar within 5 minutes.  The Tavern menu has great options – we had the oysters, duck liver mousse, pork and fennel sausage and the chicken.  For dessert we tried the strawberry pie with mint ice cream. Every dish was outstanding, so don’t think by sitting at the bar you are getting shafted in the least.  They also have great specialty cocktails and super friendly bartenders.  So if you’re looking to take your date out to some place really special, and are willing to shell out some extra cash, Gramercy Tavern should be at the top of your list.