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Spago Tasting Menu, in Photos

So I finally made it out to Spago. From what I've read on Chowhound, it seems like the consensus is that while ordering à la carte is nothing special, the tasting menu is divine. I am happy to report that the tasting menu did not disappoint. In fact it was one of the best meals I've had in recent memory.

The menu in brief:

Amuse Bouche 1: Spicy Tuna Tartare in a Sesame-Miso Cone
Amuse Bouche 2: House-Smoked Salmon on a Lemon-Herb Blini
Amuse Bouche 3: Hamachi Ceviche
Amuse Bouche 4: Osetra Caviar Tart
Amuse Bouche 5: Bacon Confit En Croute
Intermezzo: Cucumber Sorbet
1: Maryland Crab Duo
2: Sautéed White Asparagus
3: Pan-Roasted Alaskan White Salmon
4: English Pea and Mascarpone Agnolotti
5: Rabbit Duo
6: Lacquered Carpenter Ranch Squab
Supplement: Grilled NY Steak of 100% Japanese Wagyu Beef
7: Cheese
8: Chocolate and Hazelnut Tart
Mignardises

See the following for details and photos of all the food: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fus...

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  1. great write up as usual!

    1. How much did the tasting menu cost?
      Not a lot of food...Were you hungry afterwards?
      I've been to Spagos, enjoyed it, but it's obvioulsy overpriced, among other things. Why does he need to get asparagus from Austria, I think Ca. has good asparagus. I wonder if that's true?? I'm not a big fan of asparagus either, but if it's prepared right, it can be really good.

      10 Replies
      1. re: hazelnutty

        8 courses and 5 amuses is not enough food? egads! =)

        1. re: wilafur

          The portions looked really small...e.g. the steak looked like one strip and the salmon looked tiny-it could be the photos, perhpas larger in real life...I can take an apple cut it into 8 pieces and there you have 8 courses--it doesn't matter how many courses what matters is how much is on the plate...

          1. re: hazelnutty

            i do agree with the fact that the quantity of food residing on the plate is paramount.....however, by looking at the pictures, all the amuses + courses still looks like a meal that would be able to satiate the average eater.

            1. re: wilafur

              I agree with wilafur. 8 courses + 5 amuses should at least be 21 bites of food, if each course is two bites and each amuse 1 bite. My friend made fun of me for putting it this way, until I asked her if someone gave her a box with 21 pieces of dim sum or 21 pieces of nigiri, would she complain that it wasn't enough food? No

              Of course, a box of nigiri or dim sum wouldn't be as expensive as dinner at Spago, but if we're just talking about quantity of food needed to sate an average person's hunger, it should be enough. Plus we have to remember Spago is the whole experience, not just the meal. It's like instead of dinner and concert tickets you decided to spend all the cash on dinner.

              1. re: Pei

                I like your nigiri analogy! I'll keep it in mind next time.

                1. re: Pei

                  haha. i like your dim sum/nigiri analogy as well. the "whole experience" note is oh so true.

              2. re: hazelnutty

                The portions were on the small side but exactly what I'd expect from a tasting menu. In fact, I rather enjoy a progression of small dishes, as it allows me experience a broader range of flavors.

                1. re: kevin h

                  That's true it was a tasting menu-I like small portions myself...not a fan of pucks though so maybe that's the problem. The photos looked very nice...I do want to try Cut. When are you going to Cut and when can we see some pictures???hehehe

                  1. re: hazelnutty

                    I also want to try Cut. It's high on my to-eat list. I'm not sure when I'm going but I'll definitely be taking pics though!

            2. re: hazelnutty

              The base price is $125 for food only, which I believe is close to the cost of tasting menus of comparable eateries.
              I thought it was a decent amount of food. I wasn't hungry afterwards, but I wasn't too full either. I was perfectly sated.
              As for the asparagus, I'm not sure if the fact that it was Austrian made a difference or not. I just know that they actually made me like asparagus for a change!

            3. Great photos! I'm so bummed though that I can never order tasting menus because I don't eat fish.

              That chocolate and hazelnut tart looks amazing and I'm not even a big sweets person.

              P.S. I love the Flying Dog Ale - you can pick it up at Beverages & More.

              3 Replies
              1. re: LisaStitch

                Hey LisaStitch -

                You can indeed order tasting menus at MOST places and have them sub in either veggie or meat dishes instead of fish courses. It helps to call ahead, just to be sure they'll do this, but I'm allergic to fish and seafood and I've never had a problem with tasting menus - in fact, many chefs consider it fun and will often come out and discuss options with you before you embark on your set courses. It's really been great for me and a tasting menu is a restaurant experience you don't want to miss if you're on this board (and you are...). Let us know how it goes if you take the plunge.

                1. re: LisaStitch

                  You could ask whether the restaurant would substitute something else for the fish course on the tasting menu. It is not always possible, particularly if a place is busy or if the tasting menu is reflects a specific concept for the chef, but many good restaurants will try to accommodate allergies or aversions. You could call in advance to inquire.

                  1. re: New Trial

                    Thanks for the tips. I never thought that, since the menus tend to be so fish-heavy. I will keep it in mind & let you know if/when I take the leap!

                2. Does anyone know how much the Spago tasting menu runs per person (both with and without wine pairings)? Thanks!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: WestsideLisa

                    It's $125 for food only, or $180 with wine.

                    1. re: kevin h

                      As can be seen from the last photo-they are very generous with the wine pairings...I was quite tipsy after our meal.

                    1. Thanks for the report. Looks absolutely fantastic!

                      So I am guessing the whole table has to get the tasting menu? Looks like more food than I can possibly finish...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: notmartha

                        yep..most places make the whoe table get it....and it is easily enough food. When we did Spago, we were STUFFED.

                        1. re: Diana

                          We were satiated buy not quite stuffed.

                          And yes, the entire table must get the tasting menu. I believe the only places I've been to that didn't have that policy were Matsuhisa and Nobu.

                      2. Ditto the compliments on your review. Out of curiousity, when did you tell the staff you would be documenting your dining experience in writing and pictures on myspace?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: vinosnob

                          Actually that never came up. I just went about my business without bothering anyone and nobody seemed to care. In fact I've never had a problem with photos in restaurants. I don't use flash so that definitely helps.

                          1. re: kevin h

                            I just wanted to say, "Thank You!" for the lovely writeup and photos. It has been many years since I dined as Spago, but I believe a return trip is in order.

                        2. I am going to be in the area on Tuesday, guess I know where to go for lunch, I wonder if I need to make resveration? or should I go to Ivy? I always wonder if they are over rated, but thank you for the great detail

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: monkfanatic

                            In terms of food the Ivy is to Spago as Sears is to Barneys for clothes.

                            1. re: tony michaels

                              I think the Ivy is fantastic. Whichever you choose, you'll definitely need to make a reservation for a weekday lunch as they are both power-lunch spots.

                            2. re: monkfanatic

                              If you would like to order the tasting menu at lunch you need to let them know in advance. Also either of the two restaurants require reservations. The Ivy is more about the scene with decent but very expensive food, while Spago is less sceney these days (older crowd than the Ivy) but significantly more ambitious cuisine.

                            3. The tasting menu has actually changed from the way it was done even a couple years ago. Used to be even more amuses, and the courses always felt a little bit bigger. Oh, and you used to be able to select your own cheeses from their cart and even have samples of up to a dozen different ones (talk about being stuffed!). also, while you can still get really unique stuff, the amuses haven't really changed in a while (e.g. several years)

                              still a great tasting menu, but it's not as dazzling as it used to be. in fact, when we were there not too long ago, the waitress told us, "well, it'll start with the usual amuses, then an appetizer, then something cold, then a pasta with truffles (whatever they have in season), then a seafood dish, a fish, a meat, cheese, and dessert." when you can break it down THAT simply, then it's harder to be surprised anymore.

                              still a great tasting menu, just not as great a value as it used to be.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Bert

                                Still, that's like saying what'll be on the omakase menu when going out for sushi:

                                "Well, we'll have a bunch of fish and rice."