Ask the Critics: Where Should I Send My 21-Year-Old Godson For Birthday Fun?


Miriam A. asks: My godson is turning 21 and I’d like to get him a gift certificate to a restaurant worthy of such an occasion but that’s not too fancy or stuffy for a young man. Suggestions?

Dear Miriam: Twenty-one, what an exciting birthday! The first time when we can drink (legally) in a dining establishment.

Since a drinking culture is so embedded in the symbolism of the 21st birthday, how about a restaurant where the main focus is on the booze? Rye House has an extensive whiskey roster, offering everything from Maker’s Mark to Hudson Manhattan Rye, as well as a collection of signature cocktails like the great Rye House Julep, made with peach-infused white whiskey, applejack, and mint. And the food is good, too, with both simpler fare like the house burger or truffled grilled cheese and larger portions of braised short ribs and roasted chicken. Gift certificates can come in any denomination, but you have to get them at the restaurant.

If food is more important, though, why not go for a classic and send him to Peter Luger Steakhouse? Gift certificates can be purchased on their website for $50 or $100. Steak and creamed spinach is what I’d order, but if he’s the casual type steer him toward the burger, available only at lunchtime. One hundred dollars almost covers a burger a month for the year.

I also think Fatty ‘Cue would be lots of fun. The restaurant gives barbecue an Asian twist with dishes like coriander bacon and red curry duck, and the cocktails go down like molasses. The restaurant offers gift certificates in denominations of $50, $100, and $250, with the average meal costing $50 per head. Just call the restaurant with your credit card information and they’ll take it from there.

The fried chicken dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar is also a good mix of fun and fancy. One hundred dollars gets your godson plus up to seven of his friends two fried chickens (one Southern-style and the other Korean) along with pancakes and dipping sauces. Gift certificates can be purchased on the Momofuku website in any denomination and can either be picked up at the restaurant or sent to you. Make sure to plan ahead, though, as the fried chicken dinners are mighty popular.

Finally, if you want to be a really, really cool godmother, you can always send him to Hooters. Gift cards come in $10, $20, $25, and $50 denominations and must be purchased at the restaurant. Hey, the chicken wings are actually pretty good! And what 21-year-old gent doesn’t like breasts wings?