Don't Put Anything on My Fish
October 28, 2010 6:13 PM   Subscribe

NYC restaurant filter: Taking an elderly, out-of-town couple (that we don't know well) out to dinner. We'd like to take them somewhere reasonably nice (cost not a concern), but we do know that they prefer plainer foods that are easy on the digestive system. Manhattan required, midtown preferred. A little extra detail inside.

The couple is Marge & Ray. My wife spoke with Marge:
I asked her what she likes to eat - she said she can't eat Italian, because it doesn't agree with her, but she likes "potatoes, and a nice plain piece of fish." Says Marge, "I just tell them, 'Don't put anything on my fish, now, just leave it alone.'" I thought this was sort of cute and hilarious. She said they'd like to go to a casual place, as she didn't want to have to bring Ray's dinner jacket so that's an interesting set of parameters to work with.
Not too worried about the "dinner jacket" problem, obviously - more concerned about finding an appealing menu at a place that's not diner-level. Thanks for any help!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Something about your vignette makes me think that The Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal might suit this sweet couple. Fine dining in a train station - only in New York! Don't forget to do the whispering trick under the arches outside.
posted by Quietgal at 6:22 PM on October 28, 2010

Maybe Aquagrill? They'll do a piece of fish up however you want it. Definitely not cheap, but it's really good and no jackets required.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:27 PM on October 28, 2010

Souen is a macrobiotic restaurant that's quite delicious and none of the foods are crazy. It's been a while since I've eaten there, but I don't remember them being pushy about the macrobiotic aspect. It was just really good, simple food. I'm 99% sure they had fish, but their website isn't loading for me right now so I can't check (sorry). I think they have multiple locations in Manhattan.
posted by hansbrough at 6:32 PM on October 28, 2010

Aquagrill's a good call. Also:
Gotham Bar & Grill
Gramercy Tavern
posted by mkultra at 6:46 PM on October 28, 2010

I highly recommend Estiatorio Milos if cost is not much of a concern. They have a great menu of fresh fish that they can do grilled. And it's smack dab in the center of midtown.

Here's the restaurant's description of its cooking process: "When the raw products are of such flawless quality, as they are at Milos, covering them up with sauces and forceful flavours is exactly what should not be done. Milos prides itself on its delicious food – the idea is perfect simplicity, to preserve each ingredient's distinct flavour and nutritional value. Why interfere with what nature has already mastered? Fish are put in a special hinged grid that goes directly on the hot grill. Then they are lightly dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice, so the fresh tastes of the sea remain undiminished."

Not overly fancy at lunch time, and I'm sure you can get away with any type of dress at dinner as well.
posted by slide at 6:49 PM on October 28, 2010

I really like Oceana, and I know that you mentioned that Italian is out, but Osteria al Doge is Venetian, definitely not the standard American Italian fare that she might be used to. Fish is prepared very simply there, and the food is fantastic overall.
posted by mewithoutyou at 6:55 PM on October 28, 2010

Park Avenue Autumn. Fresh, seasonal fare. Lots of fish choices. Something for everyone.

Eleven Madison Mark. (They ask if you have any dietary restrictions before the meal and prepare to your liking!)
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 6:59 PM on October 28, 2010

Correction: Eleven Madison Park*
posted by blackcatcuriouser at 6:59 PM on October 28, 2010

I generally find sushi very easy on the stomach, along with accompanying miso or noodle soup and salad. Would that be an option?
posted by amtho at 7:08 PM on October 28, 2010

Oh, then, absolutely Craft! (There's rarely any reason to eat anywhere else.) The food is great and everything about it is fantastic but it's all exceedingly plain and not at all fussy. Fish and meat comes unsauced; sides are sides.

They will also take complete 100% direction regarding special food preparation orders with great happiness.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:18 PM on October 28, 2010

(And as for casual I've eaten there in shorts and t-shirts quite happily.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:18 PM on October 28, 2010

I would ixnay the sushi and Souen (both of which I love) and go old school: the Gotham, The Palm or 21.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:21 PM on October 28, 2010

Is this their first time in NYC?

I'd vote for taking them somewhere they've likely heard of in movies.

Bar Room at 21

Four Seasons (he can borrow a jacket!)

Russian Tea Room

Sardi's doesn't seem to have any fish on the menu.

Sadly, Tavern on the Green has closed.


The Sea Grill at Rockerfeller Center

I know this isn't the most exciting, foodie list, but for an elderly couple who hasn't visited NY often, any of these would be an Iconic, memorable experience. (Of course, if they go to the city all the time, ignore me).
posted by anastasiav at 8:04 PM on October 28, 2010

Not midtown, but: Craft, Craftbar, or Blue Hill fit the bill. Craft and Craftbar are in the Flatiron area, a quick cab ride from midtown, and Blue Hill is a little further south. All offer local, seasonal, fresh food, and all go out of their way to accommodate dietary requirements. I've never encountered heavy sauces at any of them, particularly on fish. All are casual dress, and all are available for reservations on OpenTable.
posted by bedhead at 9:39 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think Sardi's is a terrific idea. Iconic, easy to get to, and used to making elderly out of towners comfortable. (I go all the time. Great joint)
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:53 AM on October 29, 2010

It's on 68th (so technically Upper West Side), but La Boite en Bois is a lovely little French place. My brother interned at Le Bernardin as a fish guy, and when I went to NYC I asked him to recommend the best meal he'd had while staying there, and/or a fantastic meal that wasn't at one of the big places. He directed me here, and I had a very nice meal from the prix fixe menu (several choices; not too limiting). There was a nice mix of younger and older people, both those who seemed happy to sit and talk and those who were in and out.

One caveat: it's down a few steps, so if one or both of them have mobility issues that might get in the way. But I think there aren't very many, and there are sturdy railings.
posted by Madamina at 12:52 PM on October 29, 2010

Response by poster: We wound up going to Oyster Bar. I was concerned about the noise level in the main dining room (thanks to the ceiling), so we asked to sit in the "saloon" in back. In this room, though, they had music playing at the bar which made things kind of loud here, too. Fortunately, the manager lowered the volume for us, and we didn't have any problems hearing each other. Our guests enjoyed their food and the location. And they even managed to appreciate the whispering arches outside, hearing aids and all!

Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:41 AM on October 30, 2010

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