Prix Fixation

We’re not sure if it’s the downward-dropping Dow or just a timely topic, but it seems that the San Francisco food scene is all about the prix fixe menu right now, with both Michael Bauer and the Guardian’s Feast issue noting the growing trend.

We can’t say we’ve noticed any more prix fixe options than normal, but then again, we’ve always been a big fan of set menus and tend to select the option when available. And, like Bauer, we agree that it can often be a better deal to get your; appetizer, main course, and dessert for a set price — and with the economy in a slump we think the prix fixe menu is a good idea for the frugal foodie on a tighter budget.

As the Guardian points out, both Zazie and Le P’tit Laurent offer three-course menus for less than $25, which is quite the steal for a quality sit down meal. Other affordable set menus? Town’s End Restaurant & Bakery has a good thing going with three courses for $21.95, as does Home, in the Castro, if you find yourself eating dinner between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.—they offer a three-course meal AND wine for around $12, which is ridiculously affordable.

But possibly the best set menu deal in town goes on at Careme 350, the restaurant run by California Culinary Academy students over in Portero Hill. They’re open Tuesday through Friday for limited lunch and dinner hours, and you can eat three to four courses for as little as $3.50. Crazy, right? To be fair it ranges from $3.50 to $20, but still, that’s pretty darn good, not to mention the Friday night buffet for $29 a person.

The good thing about a prix fixe menu is you know exactly how much your meal is going to cost, which can sort of feel like getting permission to eat out if you’re counting pennies. Factor a prix fixe meal into your budget once a week and viola, you can dine about town without having to count your dimes.

The growth of fixed-price menus [SF Gate]
Feast: The fixe is in [SF Bay Guardian]

[Photo of trout entree at Zazie via Alexis Wright]

Prix Fixation