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: Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes

1. Richard Gere, at the premiere of Brooklyn’s Finest: My favorite restaurant has to be the Bedford Post. 2. Don Cheadle: BOA, in L.A. 3. Ethan Hawke: Manganaro’s, on 9th Avenue. 4. Wesley Snipes: That’s gotta be home. My wife is an excellent cook! Where do I like to go? Oh, La Dinastia, the Cuban-Chinese restaurant on 72nd, near Broadway. 5. Hoda Kobt: I love 21 Club. I love Tabla. I love Shake Shack, just their burgers. ‘Cause the first time I saw a line, I thought, ‘Who would wait in a line this long for a burger?’ And then I realized, ‘I would.’ There’s something about the size, the texture; they’re moist, they’re delicious. And I like Kefi — on Columbus — the best, best Greek food ever, delicious.

6. Antoine Fuqua: Carmine’s. They have Carmine’s in New York and L.A. 7. Richard Belzer: I hang out in bed with my dog! West Branch is one of my favorites. It’s up here on the west side on 77th and Broadway. And all of Drew Nieporent’s restaurants. Yeah, I get around. 8. Wade Allain-Marcus: I go to a spot like Legion in Williamsburg. It’s a bar. It’s a beautiful thing. 9. Nicoye Banks: I like the Hudson. The Hudson’s always good. The Mandarin has a nice lounge on the 35th floor, if you really want to relax, look at Central Park, be smooth. Good restaurant — Parlor Steakhouse on 90th and 3rd. 10. Grizz Chapman: Actually, I work. I don’t really hang out too much. Favorite restaurant is The Palm, the one on the east side. Being that my diet has changed, my favorite dish would, probably, just be vegetables and chicken. 11. Kevin “Dot Com” Brown: I don’t get a chance to hang out, like I used to. I come to these events, and I never remember the name — I just follow the flyer; whatever address is there; I just follow the address. But I never remember the names of the venues. And when you’re not at an event? City Island. I go to Sammy’s — I go to Sammy’s seafood in City Island, and I overeat! 12. Andre Brown: I hang out at the Rose Bar, the GoldBar, Juliet — that’s about it. 13. Daymond John: Restaurants: I always go to Nobu, Blue Ribbon. Bars, I go to Tenjune. Clubs — well, Tenjune’s like a bar and a club — I go to the Greenhouse and I go to M2. 14. Shannon Kane: Wow! I don’t really hang out at a lot of clubs or anything like that, but I have some really great restaurants in L.A. One of them is El Cholo, a Mexican restaurant. Any favorite dish? The vegetarian burrito, and the fresh guacomole — they make right in front of you. 15. Michael Martin: I used to love Bar Code. It’s, actually, gone now. I love club Amnesia, great place. The Tunnel is gone now. Tammany Hall — that’s a great one. 16. Wendy Williams: Victor’s — Cuban food. 17. Sherri Shepherd: There’s a restaurant on 56th, between 8th and 9th called Bricco’s. And it’s just a nice, little family restaurant, and I go there with everybody because they got fresh Italian food, and the owner — oh, my gosh — he kisses you like you’re the most amazing woman in the world! 18. John D’Leo: John’s Pizzeria in the village has, probably, the best pizza in New York. 19. Carrie Lowell: Bedford Post — the restaurant we own. 20. Lili Taylor: I love Bar Pitti. I like the Cuban restaurant in Harlem on 125th. Sylvia’s Soulfood in Harlem. 21. Bethenny Frankel: I like Kraft. I like the Strip House. I like Abe and Arthur’s. I like steakhouses. I need meat on the bone. I need to feed the baby! 22. D’brickashaw Ferguson: Probably, Junior’s. In Brooklyn? Yeah, gotta represent! Other than the cheesecake, I’m a big fan of their barbecued chicken. 23. Ellen Barkin: I don’t have [a favorite restaurant]. 24. Lena Olin @ “Remember Me” premiere: My favorite restaurant in the city is Nobu! 25. Gregory Jbara: The Standard Grill right now is open now till four o’clock in the morning, and they have a phenomenal menu. They have great waitstaff and you can always get a great meal, after the rest of the town is shut down. I’d recommend the oysters. They have a phenomenal selection of east-coast oysters. Also, they serve an appetizer of dried-crust cheese with English radishes. And you look at it on the table and you go, ‘What am I supposed to do with that — plant a garden?!’ And then you taste it, and you go, ‘This is a brilliant, original way to start a meal.’ Corner Bistro has the best burgers, but, if you want the best glass of wine and want to sample wines, you go to Dell’anima, which is down just south of 14th on 8th Avenue. 26. Peyton List: I love going to Dylan’s Candy Bar. I always go there and get treats or chocolates. I, actually, love the bakery called “Baked.” They have the best Chocolate Cloud cookies. What’s that? It’s a chocolate cookie, and it’s really thick and I love it, ’cause it’s so chocolatey, and I love chocolate! 27. Greg Bello: Oh, Jesus! Oh, I can’t give away all those secrets; then everyone’s gonna find out and they’re not going to be hot anymore. I don’t know what to tell you! Actually, probably, the Boom Boom Room is the hottest room in the city right now. 28. Allen Coulter: Del Posto, Peasants, Ouest –said with a French accent, but I can’t do it, Barney Greengrass. 29. Tate Ellington: ‘Cause I live in the Williamsburg area, one of my favorite places is DuMont. DuMac and Cheese is one of the greatest meals I’ve had in New York. There’s a place called Barcade which is pretty wonderful, as far as a bar, but it’s gettin’ a little packed, nowadays, but it’s a good place and the bartenders are nice. Huckleberry Bar is a nice, little cocktail lounge. 30. Peggy Siegal: Oh, I like the Monkey Bar. I like the new Jean-Georges restaurant at The Mark Hotel. I like 21, the Four Seasons, Michael’s, the Waverly Inn, the Standard Hotel. What else have I missed? I don’t know. Any favorite dishes? No, I’m always on a diet!

Gramercy Park Hotel: Most Overpriced Drink in New York?

As someone with a roommate who tends bar at Dutch Kills, and another who works door at its West Village cousin Little Branch, I’ve been privileged to sample a lot of carefully concocted cocktails lately, filled with as much blood and sweat as they are with gin and orange bitters. These are precise, creative libations worth every penny of the $12 ($9 at Dutch Kills people!) you dole out. That’s why, when a bartender at the Roof Club of the Gramercy Park Hotel charged me $20 for a vodka soda , I wanted to spit up the beverage all over my nice clean boat shoes.

It was the other night, at Nick Cohen’s promotional thingamajig for his Upper Echelon Shoes collection — and it wasn’t $20, it was actually $19, but it stung like hell (especially because I ordered thinking the bar was open). My girlfriend ordered one too, bringing our total to $38. With our own eyes, we watched the bartender toss in some ice, pour an ounce or two of Grey Goose, and finish it off with a splash of soda and a wedge of lemon. When we found out the price, my girlfriend sheepishly asked if we could return them. We couldn’t. I understand it is my privilege to be amongst the beautiful set at the admittedly magical salon-like terrace, but dropping a twenty on a yawn of a cocktail is nothing but buzz murder. Rose Bar creative director Nur Khan was nearby when it went down, and I know he’s not (fully) responsible for this blasphemy, but I felt like going up to him, collapsing into his arms, and sobbing like a lost toddler at the mall. I ask of you, is this the most overpriced drink in the city? Here are some New York treats that are cheaper than the vodka soda at the Roof Club, and way more worth it.

The Queens Park Swizzle, Dutch Kills ($9). ● Cheeseburger, at The Spotted Pig ($17). ● Ramen, Momofuku Noodle Bar ($16). ● The Woody Allen sandwich, Carnegie Deli ($17.95). ● A pitcher of Blanche de Bruxelles Witbier, Radegast Hall & Biergarten ($18). ● Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, Death & Co ($13). ● Porchetta sandwich, Porchetta ($9). ● Kobe Beef Sashimi, Scarpetta ($16).

New York: Top 5 Mac n’ Cheese

It used to be that a plate of gourmet mac n’ cheese was the Kraft dinner I spiked with some dill, diced tomatoes, and a can of tuna. But since moving to New York, a brave new world of haute mac n’ cheese has revealed itself to me, and not only is it often exquisite, but it’s fattening as all hell. Not counting the arrogant $55 plate of M&C at the Waverly Inn, here’s where you can find the strongest marriages of macaroni and cheese in New York.

1. Roebling Tea Room (Williamsburg) – You wouldn’t’ think so, right? But trust. Served in a skillet still sizzling, the pasta is more tortellini than macaroni. Opt for the crisp bacon strips on top, and you won’t be sorry, but your arteries will.

2. Blue Smoke (Gramercy) – This bourgeois barbeque joint sells their cheesy pasta as a no-frills side, which means you have a perfect excuse to order their Memphis baby back ribs and eat away whatever ails you.

3. Dylan Prime (Tribeca) – It’s called the lobster & white truffle mac n’ cheese. You had me at lobster.

4. Dumont (Williamsburg) – Reasonably priced, pleasurably stinky mac n’ cheese for the mature young Williamsburger. Almost everyone in this small space seems to be eating it, and have angular haircuts.

5. Eatery (Midtown) – This modern-interiored eatertorium looks like a place Carrie Bradshaw and the girls might go to blahblahblah; they call their M&C the Mac & Jack. Why? Because rhyming is fun. Topped with frizzled onions and Parmesan cheese, it’s positively oozy. Can’t you just see Samantha removing those onions, and Charlotte scooping them up with that wandering fork of hers? I can!