Are you a prix fixe fanatic? Want to upgrade your dining life just a notch? Switch to the tasting menu. Unlike a prix fixe, which provides a limited (usually three course) menu for a set amount of money, a tasting menu generally changes near-daily according to the chef’s whims. There are few better ways to gauge a chef’s style and philosophy. The catch: tasting menus can get rather expensive (at L’Espalier, for example, the menu costs $175 and a wine pairing will run you an additional $95). Just because you’re on the hunt for bargains, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the tasting menu experience. Below, three solid tasting menu values.
•There are two unusually great things about the $45 tasting menu at Lineage. First, it focuses entirely on lobster, which appears in everything from tacos to gnocchi. Second, the wine pairing is a la carte, that is to say $12 per course. Trust: a full wine pairing where each course gets its own glass can get a little…intense and result in you getting drunk at a very nice restaurant, which is embarrassing.
•No. 9 Park’s tasting menu is, admittedly, not cheap at $95 for seven courses ($150 with a wine pairing). We would argue, however, that it still qualifies as a bargain, given the elegance of the food, the gorgeous setting and the exemplary service.
•Sometimes, you just want a fun dinner rather than haute cuisine. That’s where Tremont 647’s $45 tasting menu comes in. Not only is the food great and thoroughly unpretentious, but the $25 wine pairing is one of the best deals in town.
[Photo: Foie gras at No. 9 Park, Flickr: Charles Haynes]