Best-of Guides New York

Best Restaurants to Get Engaged

8 Restaurants
While TikTok wedding proposals seem to be all the rage, there’s something nice about asking someone to marry you in a more traditional manner. With its dramatic floral displays, flickering candles at the table, and chefs walking around in tall white toques, Le Coucou is the closest you’ll get to Parisian fine dining in New York. With all this romantic pageantry and traditional French cuisine (foie gras, Dover sole, grilled rabbit), it wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary for a guest to get down on bended knee. If the River Cafe’s walls could talk, how many milestones—from birthdays to anniversaries—have been celebrated at this waterfront restaurant in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge? Dining at one of the window seats with mesmerizing views of Manhattan is magical; the pianist playing ballads makes the moment even more memorable; and the meal? More than forty years later the food is just as special. Over the years the restaurant’s young chefs have gone on to become some of the most important culinary figures in America (including Larry Forgione and Charlie Palmer.) Current chef Brad Steelman prepares classic American fare—Caspian golden osetra caviar, Colorado rack of lamb, and poached lobster— you’d like to indulge in on a special occasion. For someone who wants to avoid the pomp and circumstance, there is Clover Hill, a charming restaurant in the leafy neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. This cozy restaurant, located in a historic townhouse and decorated with oil paintings and flea market finds, feels like a throwback. From the tiny kitchen, Chef Charlie Mitchell (who honed his skills at Eleven Madison Park) presents a multicourse tasting menu featuring bounty from the best purveyors from upstate farmers to Maine fishermen. The presentation is beautiful, making it the perfect backdrop to pop the question. For those who might not have the patience to sit through a longer meal, reserve one of the velvet banquettes upstairs at Caviar Russe for a caviar and champagne extravaganza. (A shot of vodka might be in order to steel yourself for the big moment, too.) See the other spots that made the list below.

New York City by The MICHELIN Guide

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Updated on 16 May 2024
Caviar Russe
538 Madison Ave., 10022 New York
$$$$ · Contemporary

With a name like this, there’s no ambiguity at all about what sort of experience is on offer: a parade of luxury ingredients with eye-watering prices to match. Offerings of the namesake range from a relatively attainable dollop of Pacific Sturgeon to 500-gram tins of Osetra that cost more than first-class tickets to the Caspian Sea.

Inspector notes: "The menu, available as either a prix fixe or à la carte, is rife with other costly items like king crab, sea urchin and foie gras, with a style that straddles classic and contemporary, as in a chilled white asparagus velouté with a tartare of scallop, accented with almond and a touch of caviar (of course)."

Clover Hill
20 Columbia Pl., 11201 New York
$$$$ · Contemporary

Restaurants five times as large wish they could do what Clover Hill does from its postage-stamp of a kitchen. On a quiet, residential street in Brooklyn Heights, the talented Chef Charlie Mitchell cooks with irresistible suaveness and confidence, making the most out of top-rate ingredients, delicious sauces and thoughtful combinations.

Inspector notes: "From Long Island fluke ceviche jolted with lime zest and sweet melon to Peekytoe crab salad wrapped in corn gelée and set in a pool of warm, silky corn velouté, expect to find vibrant, seasonal eating that never once feels fussy or onerous."

Le Coucou
138 Lafayette St., 10013 New York
$$$$ · French

Le Coucou has a white-hot scene that’s equal parts classic and cool. Patrons linger late into the night enjoying exceptional service and a view of the bustling open kitchen. The menu is unapologetically French, though Chef Daniel Rose infuses his classics with a strong dose of personality. A selection of “gourmandises” showcases such exemplary classics as pike quenelles or sautéed sweetbreads, which achieve prominent flavor when paired with tomato crème.

Inspector notes: "A venerated rabbit dish is presented as three acts: gently braised legs in a clear consommé with vegetables; stuffed saddle with a rustic pan sauce; and the rest matched with delicious mustard-enrobed onions."

Family Meal at Blue Hill
75 Washington Pl., 10011 New York
$$$$ · American

Dan Barber’s New York City outpost displays its utter trust in the products at hand by not interfering with them too much but also by giving them space to let their natural flavors shine. This intimate, sophisticated space is as popular as ever and the team clearly shares the chef's passion and pride.

Inspector notes: "There is just one menu, a fixed, seasonally inspired menu dominated by vegetables (sourced from the upstate Blue Hill at Stone Barns) with grains and some proteins woven throughout the meal."

134 Broadway, 11249 New York
$$$$ · Contemporary

Native New Yorker Chef Chris Cipollone, who cut his teeth at some of the city's finest kitchens, makes a splash with Francie, which has taken up residence in a striking, limestone-clad building. Named for the main character in a Betty Smith novel, this quiet haven—featuring sleek ash wood floors with a center tile mosaic, exposed red brick walls, and widely spaced tables—is very elegant and rather unforgettable.

Inspector notes: "The open kitchen is a true-to-life stage for this team, who can be seen prepping, cooking, and putting the finishing touches on a series of gratifying plates. An earnest, delicate, and expert hand is clearly at work behind the pasta (rigatoni dressed with sweet and meaty Calabrian pumpkin and savory Italian sausage); while a flaky and golden pithivier filled with minced vegetables, lentils, and greens gets a masterful stroke of lush hazelnut curry."

28 Liberty St., 10005 New York
$$$$ · Contemporary

Great views and good food rarely go hand in hand, but this stylish spot breaks that trend. Set in an iconic skyscraper and set some 60 floors up with Manhattan laid out before you, these views truly do not disappoint.

Inspector notes: "Oysters Manhatta with uni and Champagne sabayon is a luxurious start, while the skin-on, seared, dry-aged duck with persimmon, endive and a side of white Japanese sweet potato puree is a standout."

The River Café
1 Water St., 11201 New York
$$$$ · Contemporary

With its stunning location in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, complete with an eye-popping view of the Manhattan skyline, a visit to this landmark calls for dressing up (in fact, jackets are still required for gentlemen).

Inspector notes: "The setting makes this a perpetual favorite for romantic couples, and the ample prix fixe menu offers choices like gnocchi made from Brooklyn ricotta, sauced with beurre noisette and truffles, or wild sea bass with a lobster-studded potato croquette."

70 Pine St., 10005 New York
$$$$ · Contemporary

Saga is the crown of 70 Pine Street, a landmark tower that rises over 60 stories. The space is unique and features an open-air balcony where an aperitif can be enjoyed alongside the stunning views. The elegant dining rooms are set with furnishings upholstered in peach and emerald velvet, green marble tables and carved stone accents. Chef James Kent never allows his cuisine to be overshadowed by the setting, however. Along with his talented team, he presents diners with compositions that embrace luxury and urbane inspiration.

Inspector notes: "Caviar and foie gras are on tap, as is seafood with laksa sauce or a dry-aged duck influenced by the chef's Moroccan background that comes complete with griddled flatbread, whipped yogurt flavored with preserved lemon, carrot hummus and harissa."

Hero image: Courtesy of  Le Coucou