The use case for the original St Tropez in the West Village is pretty simple: go for low-commitment dates. And you should use the Soho location in much the same way. This dimly-lit spot on Spring Street has some bar seating and a big communal table in the middle of the one-room space, but the best seats are at the handful of small, candlelit tables. The entirely French wine list has 45 options by-the-glass, which are all under $20, and if you come during Happy Hour (4-7pm), you can try four three-ounce pours for $15. You don’t need to eat a full dinner here, but the shareable small plates - like escargots, grilled octopus, and meatballs with ratatouille - are enjoyable and affordable (they're all $12), especially for the neighborhood.
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Lure Fishbar is still just as much of a Soho party yacht as it was when it opened in 2004. The food has only gotten better.
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Le Pain Quotidien, you are officially on notice. Maison Kayser is better, and people can actually pronounce it. Sort of.
When it comes to FiDi, Augustine is pretty much as good as it gets. Think Balthazar, but for bankers, and with somewhat better food.
Daniel Boulud's "casual bistro" Bar Boulud is one of the best places to eat near Lincoln Square.
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The Ten Bells
The Ten Bells is a natural wine bar on the Lower East Side that serves some good small plates and $1 Happy Hour oysters every day.
Ruffian is a tiny East Village bar with a huge natural wine list and a short menu of really good Mediterranean food.
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