Group Dinner Lottery

Organizers of big group dinners have it rough. The individual is subjected to the whims of 5 to 15 people or more, often on an email chain where the last suggestion paired with a witty retort or clever anecdote about the level of attractiveness of the staff at such-and-such restaurant wins. Well, screw it. If you volunteer to organize a group/birthday/going away/welcome home dinner, use this new fool-proof method and eliminate haggling amongst potential dinner-goers. It’s not complicated. It’s a lottery, but unlike the New York state variety or credit card roulette, in this game of chance everyone wins. Write down each restaurant on the list below on a separate piece of paper, shuffle ’em around, and pull from a hat. First restaurant wins. It’s not complicated, it’s just science. Bon chance!

Bacaro Sit in the cavernous basement wine cellar for a candle lit evening that’ll mask the group’s escalating inebriation. Make a private party reservation if you have a large group and get your own Phantom of the Opera-inspired room.

Abe & Arthurs Sure, it’s a little sceney, but the menu is pretty easy for everyone. They have Spinach & Artichoke dip, fish, pork, steak and pasta, and salads for girls who don’t eat. It’s also a one-stop shop in that you can take the crew directly downstairs to SL. Just remember, no physical activity for 30 min after eating.

Scuderia Let’s face it, Da Silvano is for your parent’s friends. But during the summer, the outdoor sidewalk seating just crushes it (in terms of awesome-ness). Scuderia has a younger vibe and your friends will thank you after a night of 6th Avenue people watching and catching up.

Gemma Easy to book a biggun’ as long as you plan ahead. They’ll forget the ‘no reservations’ policy if you have a group of 12 or more, and they prefer to arrange a prix fixe menu for you and the gang.

The Smith East Village American Brasserie with a photo booth in back! Just in case you get bored with the seating arrangement.

Barbuto Groups of ten or more can reserve the kitchen table and sample the chef’s tasting menu. Way cooler than the way the proletariat does it.

Freemans Reservations for 6 or more, and nothing says celebration like escaping the city rush up Freemans Alley and stepping into Narnia/Hogwarts/The Wardrobe/Whatever mythical realm you prefer.

Dumont For groups up to 15, the Williamsburg hotspot reserves the breathtaking terrace, and if you’re smart, you’ll request the ‘treehouse’, that rises above the garden and gives your party a little more privacy.

Los Feliz Tri-level taquería has plenty of room to accommodate your rowdy group, plus their lounge stays open until 4am, so the odds of getting kicked out early are nearly impossible. There are also 150 tequilas in stock here, in case you want to set some sort of record.

Alta The seasonal tapas menu is extensive, and there’s no food envy as everything’s share-able. If you’re feeling aggressive, order “the whole shebang” for $420. It is one of everything on the menu, and no one will go home hungry. Request the upstairs area through the kitchen for super secluded private dining.

Where Celebs Go Out: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Ben Stiller, Alan Cumming

At the Date Night premiere: 1. Steve Carell – “Boy! You know what? On the way in, we drove by Shun Lee. My wife and I, when we lived here, we ate there all the time. John’s Pizza was one of our favorite pizza places. Any one, but, certainly, the one in the Village, and I think they opened one up off Times Square. That’s just always good.” 2. Tina Fey – “My favorite restaurant in the world is a restaurant in Chicago, called the Athenaeum Room. Favorite dish? Chicken on french fries.” 3. Taraji P. Henson – “The Little Owl. I went there the other night!” 4. Jimmi Simpson – “Providence, on Melrose, in Los Angeles. Any special dish? The five-course tasting menu.” 5. Carol Alt – “Actually, I like Pure Food and Wine because it’s a raw restaurant. What do you like there? Well, just about everything, but their ice cream is killer! Raw ice cream — unbelievable, unbelievable. I eat at a lot of Japanese places, so I can have raw fish. I’m a raw foodist, so it, kind of, limits.”

6. Common – “I love Café Habana. It’s located on Prince and Elizabeth. I’ve been, consistently, going there. It’s not anything new. I’ve been going there for, like, 10, 11 years. Cuban food; great music. You got to eat the corn. The corn is the best. I like the camarones, too — the shrimp; they’re incredible. I also enjoy a place called Stan’s, in Brooklyn. It’s like Cajun, but new food. It’s like New Orleans, but slash some other feel to it. It’s a great restaurant. I’m a restaurant guy more than a club guy. I like going to the movies different places, like, what’s the one on Houston? The Angelica. I love that.” 7. Serena Williams – “I don’t go to restaurants here, so–.” 8. Jane Krakowski – “Can’t think of any. Sorry!” 9. Shawn Levy – “Well, I’ll go with New York. I like– I ate there last night– Scalinatella, at like 61st and Third, that place underground. I like Nobu. That’s really not surprising. I like Cafe des Artistes, with that great antipasto cafe. Does that give you enough? All right.” 10. Ben Stiller – “Bar Pitti.” 11: Keith Powell – “I live in Brooklyn, and I live in Fort Greene. And in Fort Greene, there’s a restaurant called No. 7. And No. 7 is the most amazing restaurant. The head chef is a guy named Tyler Kord. And he used to be the sous chef for Jean-Georges. And the menu changes every month, and he comes up with the most amazing concoctions, both in terms of drinks and food. It’s wonderful. Anything that man makes is, kind-of, a work of art.”

At the YourSingapore launch in Times Square: 12. Matt Harding – “Oh, my gosh, I’m totally blanking on– I love garlic, so I love The Stinking Rose restaurant in L.A. and San Francisco. They just drench everything in garlic. You’re sick the next day, but it’s fantastic! My favorite restaurant in Seattle– I love Tom Douglas. He’s a Seattle chef. He’s at the Dahlia Lounge. New York, there’s just so many fantastic restaurants, I couldn’t think of one. And Singapore, actually, my favorite place to eat is out on the street. The Hawker markets are fantastic! Where’s your next stop? I’m going home to Seattle, and then maybe to Afghanistan.”

At the NY International Auto Show benefit preview for the East Side House Settlement: 13. Fe Fendi – “I like Le Cirque. It’s like going to a family restaurant for me. For lunch, always Cipriani! Cipriani for lunch — dinner at Le Cirque.

At Dressed to Kilt: 14. Alan Cumming – “Gnocco in the East Village.” 15. Shani Davis – “I live in Chicago. My favorite restaurant — fast food — is Harold’s or, maybe, Portillo’s. I love Giordano’s a lot.” 16. Eric Daman – “I’m a huge fan of the Mercer Kitchen. I love their mac and cheese and their carpaccio sea bass.” 17. Kelly Killoren Bensimon – “My ultimate favorite restaurant is Le Bernardin–Eric Ripert– he catered my wedding. It’s, probably, the most incredible restaurant, actually, in the world. But one of my favorite restaurants is Brinkley’s, which is right around the corner from me. It’s a really, really, cool, fun bar, and one of my friends that went to Trinity — ’cause I went to Trinity — went there, so I go there a lot. Any favorite dish anywhere? Wherever– whatever– I like to explore and have fun with the menu. I really, really like and what they’re making is more exciting than just for me to sit there and be like, ‘Yeah, I’ll have rice and vegetables. This is really fun.’ I’d rather have someone make something and be creative.” 18. Al Roker – “Oh, golly! That’s like asking, ‘What’s your favorite kid?’! If it’s Italian, it would be Girasole or Fresco. If it’s a steak place, it would, probably, be Ben Benson’s or across the river, Peter Luger’s.” 19. Nigel Barker – “Del Posto. I love that place. I used to go there on dates all the time. My favorite pub is Dublin 6 in the West Village. It’s my old, local Irish place — D6. And Barbuto is another favorite of mine. It’s not as upscale. It’s, kind of, in between the two. It’s on Washington.” 20. Donald Trump Jr. – “Wow, that’s a — in New York, there’s really no shortage of great restaurants, but, I guess it depends what food we’re going for. If we’re going formal, Jean-Georges is good; Le Cirque is good. If we’re going low-key, there’s a lot of great ones lying around. We’re opening up a great one on Friday — Quattro — in our hotel down in SoHo that’s going to be opening, so a little bit of a Miami, downtown flair.”

Promoting Burlesque to Broadway: 21. Quinn Lemley – One of my favorites is Maloney & Porcelli. They have a great wine dinner that’s all inclusive, and wonderful steaks and oysters. There’s a new Academia del Vino that’s up on Broadway and 89th. It’s where Docks used to be. They have a great wine bar and wonderful food. It’s the same people that have Cesca— it’s that restaurant group. And it’s very happening. It’s so exciting to see something on the Upper West Side above 86th Street.

At Our Family Wedding: 22. Mark Indelicato – “I like to go to places that aren’t mainstream chain restaurants. Sometimes, I’m just walking down the street with friends, and we see like this small, little cafe, and we just go in. Don’t even know the name of it, don’t know what it’s about, but I just like the small, boutique restaurants, like Alice’s Teacup here on the Upper West Side. It’s small and not a lot of people know about it, but it’s still really cool.”

Hugh Dancy’s Wild Side

Thrust into fame as one-fourth of a front-page celebrity sex scandal, Hugh Dancy’s tabloid past now seems a distant memory as he prepares for his two most satisfying roles yet: in his latest film, as a man with Asperger syndrome, and next month, as Claire Danes’ husband. (See more of Hugh Dancy in BlackBook here!)

“I like having paint on my hands,” says Hugh Dancy, picking at the telltale yellow specks on the tips of his manicured fingers. “It lends the illusion that I have an honest career.” Only an hour earlier, primary colors were splattered across the 34-year-old actor’s body and face, a nod to the troubled abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, at BlackBook’s rebel-themed photo shoot. Now, over pints of toasted lager at Barbuto in Manhattan’s West Village, he considers the characters he has just inhabited. “James Dean portrayed rebellion brilliantly,” he says, “but I don’t necessarily think of him as a rebel. If anybody deserves to be considered a rebel in his own right, it’s Marlon Brando. He really overturned things.”

Dancy’s transformation into the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious was more difficult for the affable Brit, for whom the bassist was a beautiful and tragic figure, but also a nihilistic showboat. “He had a wild, self-destructive bent,” says Dancy, “and I guess there’s something rebellious about that. But to be a real rebel, you must have a clear vision of not only what you don’t like, but also what you want to replace it with. It’s about more than just cutting yourself with a razor.”

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Ultimately, Dancy, who graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in English literature, aligned himself most closely with the late-Victorian era writer Oscar Wilde. “I think Wilde did something remarkable,” he says, “at least by the standards of his society: He painted his vision of life, not only by being gay, but also through his shockingly new ideas about how we should look at art.

“Lord Byron was also clearly a remarkable man,” he adds, referring to the controversial, flamboyant pioneer of Romanticism. “He clearly didn’t give two shits about what anybody thought of him.”

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Not so for Dancy, a charming actor who plunged head first into the muckrakers’ den after he became romantically linked to actress Claire Danes, with whom he starred in 2007’s Evening. At the time, Danes had been dating Billy Crudup, who left Mary-Louise Parker, seven months pregnant with her first child, for the Romeo + Juliet starlet. It’s a tangled web, to be sure, and one that Dancy and Danes, set to marry in September, have refused to discuss since going public with their relationship. Rumors about Dancy’s sexuality and sex life have since fueled rag fodder in equal measure to his commanding onscreen presence. “I’m English, and I have a very well developed sense of denial,” he says, polite but guarded. “When attention like that becomes a problem, I try to blot it out as if it’s not there. I guess it’s in my genetic makeup.”

With the release of this month’s Adam, an earnest film centered on the life of a man with Asperger syndrome, Dancy hopes that public interest will shift to his profession—sort of. The difficulty inherent in playing anyone with a disability, he understands, is that expectations of naturalism are set impossibly high. The consequences have not gone unnoticed by Dancy, who admits, “This project was rife with opportunities for me to fuck it up enormously and, by doing so, prove my own limitations. To botch the whole thing would have been calamitous.”

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Recognizable, in large part, for his work in agreeable, urbane fluff such as Ella Enchanted, The Jane Austen Book Club and Confessions of a Shopaholic, Dancy embraced the opportunity to delve more deeply into his dramatic side. “I’m delighted to have done Adam, but I’m just as proud of Shopaholic,” he says. “Actually, I should calibrate that. I’m more proud of Adam, but I’m not automatically more proud of it because I play a character with a ‘condition.’”

He looks up from his second beer, his sharp eyes like two daggers dipped in syrup. It seems unlikely that the coiffed and tailored former Burberry model would have much firsthand experience with rebellion. But Dancy was forced into acting, initially, as punishment for “kicking the bricks” as a teenager. “I didn’t get in that well,” he says. “And I made a lot of noise because I wanted to impress people. I trace a lot of that now to being a miserable, pissed-off teenager.” Dancy is no longer fighting and screaming for attention—there’s more than enough of that in his life at the moment. “As actors,” he says ominously, “we’re reliant on how we’re perceived. But one has to be careful, because that way madness lies.”

As James Dean: T-Shirt by H&M, Jeans by Calvin Klein Jeans. As Oscar Wilde: Shirt and Jacket by D&G, Pants by Prada. As Sid Vicious: T-Shirt by John Varvatos. As Jackson Pollock: Shirt by Banana Republic, Jeans by J Brand. Grooming Rheanne White @ See Managment. Prop Stylist Shawn Patrick. Location Industria Studios.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARY ELLEN MATTHEWS STYLING BY EMILY BARNES