No.9 Park dinner tasting menu - is it worth it? 7 or 9 courses?
As tasting menus go, I certainly feel that it's among the best in town (for my personal tastes, Clio and Troquet round out Boston's top three). The real question is how you feel about tasting menus.
The biggest complaints I hear about the tasting menu at No. 9 are also the biggest complaints I hear about a tasting menu in general: it's expensive, and some people find the portions too small. If you already have some experience with tasting menus, No. 9's is a great example of the craft, particularly for Boston. If this is something new for you, the experience could go either way.
The seven vs. nine course question could be taken two different ways. If you're asking if you'll be too full to enjoy nine courses, I'd say probably not, as the portions are, in my opinion, appropriately sized so as avoid rupturing your stomach. If you're asking if the extra two courses are worth the extra $25 (or $50 with wine), this is a much more difficult question to answer. I find that traditional notions of "value" are kind of out the window in a stratospherically-priced environment like this. The two additional courses certainly won't be filler, but rather two more interesting creations from a very gifted kitchen. I'd ask yourself if, as you left the restaurant, you'd draw a distinction between thinking, "Wow, I just spent $400 on a great tasting menu," and thinking, "Wow, I just spent $500 on a great tasting menu."
It's tough to quantify value when it comes to fine dining. Is the restaurant making a nice profit on a $110/ 9 courses tasting menu? Of course they are, but if you consider the whole experience, service, atmosphere, presentation, and obviously taste, I think No. 9 is one of the better restaurants in Boston. Portions are small but very rich, so I don't think you will leave hungry after 7 courses. The last time I was there the 9 course meal included a foie gras course, and pasta with truffles, which were omitted from the 7 course, so if you like those( and who doesn't?) you might want to splurge. After all, its not like you will get out of there cheaply regardless. If you are into cocktails they make some of the best in the city, as good as the food in my opinion, so check those out.
I've had the tasting menu twice (once the 9 course and once the 7) and they were both two of the best meals I've had in my life. The wine pairings are particularly good, as are the cheeses you can get extra. The upside of the 9 course is that it will have a couple of more luxurious courses that won't be included on the 7. The downside is obviously the cost and that you might find yourself full before the end of the meal. My recommendation would probably be to get the 7 and the cheese supplement. Have fun.
re: Josh M
My man and I did the 8 course tasting for lunch, with the wine pairing.
It was wonderful, and a LOT of food. The lunch offering is priced much more reasonably, and when we went, we had the luxury of enjoying a very quiet space after the main lunch rush was over around 1:30. It was very, very nice.
This thread has reminded me that we must get in there for another round of tasting!
I loved the 9 course tasting menu I had at No. 9 Park last fall (better than my meal at Manresa, that's for sure), but the extra two courses were my least favorite dishes. One was a foie gras dish and one of the poorer foie preparations I've had. This is based on one experience, but I'd get the 7 course next time.