There are a few surprises still left at Barbetta.Photo courtesy Barbetta.
Dear Grub Street,
My parents are going to have their 40th anniversary next month, and I want to do something special for them: a surprise party. It would be really great if it were at a restaurant that had a garden so that they could dance outdoors, which is a big deal for them. Where can we go? We want to get them in without their knowing it’s a big affair.
There are plenty of restaurant with gardens, and some of them would be perfect for your parents. The only problem is that everybody else likes them too. Add in your requirement that it be secure for a surprise party, and it sounds to us like you need a buyout. That’s when you arrange with a restaurant to take over an entire space for the evening. It’s a win-win situation: They like it because they can predict their food costs and don’t have to worry about waste or empty seats, and you get to have the place to yourself.
You could hardly find a more elegant outdoor space than Barbetta, the century-old restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. Even without a buyout, though, it won’t come cheap; you might also consider Café St. Bart’s, the outdoor patio restaurant in the courtyard of St. Bart’s Church in midtown. The space is spectacular, and chef Matt Weingarten’s cooking produces the kind of high-quality, non-weird food everyone can be expected to enjoy. Long Island City’s Riverview doesn’t get enough credit for its outdoor space and mind-blowing views, and though the food is less interesting than Café St. Bart’s, you’re right there on the water. As for dancing, almost no restaurants in New York have a cabaret license. But we would bet that single celebratory waltz by the happy couple wouldn’t get anybody arrested.
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