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Best Bang for the buck on tasting menus?

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trymonlam May 23, 2007 11:27 PM

i know the question is somewhat of a oxymoron, but i am a new student in town, and i absolutely love good food. so out of all the fine establishment around town, which ones do u guys think has the best value vs. quality? any suggestions are welcome.

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  1. limster RE: trymonlam May 24, 2007 12:13 AM

    Here's an idea that you might not have considered but would be worth trying, provided you're willing to do a bit of legwork to negotiate menu/dishes and have ~8-10 people total that you want to eat with. Advance order a banquet menu (typically 10 courses) at a Cantonese place like New Jumbo or Peach Farm. Depending on how much you want to spend, you'll be able to score luxury ingredients like dried scallops or dried abalone, Alaskan King Crab (had a splendid version at Jumbo, cooked 2 ways), live prawns etc.... You'll likely spend about the same as a tasting menu at some of the French places in town, but you'll get up to twice as many courses (10 vs typically 5 or 7), as well as ingredients that will rarely appear on French menus.

    5 Replies
    1. re: limster
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      trymonlam RE: limster May 24, 2007 09:53 AM

      Thank you very much for the reply!! for people who wants to try some exotic chinese ingredient, this is definitely the way to go. however, i am from hong kong, so material such as abalone are no stranger to me. however, for most chinese restaurants, the use of msg, or chicken stock cube is almost garanteed. it's what they teach us at school and kitchens in china. so if u have a problem with that, u might want to find a place that u trust.

      1. re: trymonlam
        limster RE: trymonlam May 24, 2007 10:59 AM

        In that case you might want to try the Gujarati Thali at Namaskar. It's relatively inexpensive (~$20) and you get 5 or six different items, although it all comes at once.

        On the pricier side, EVOO used to do a 7 course tasting menu for $50. Don't know if it's still as good, as I haven't been in a while, but it's worth checking out. Another place on my to try list is the $35 dinners at Aujourd'hui on Tuesdays (Epicurean Evenings, it's called).

        1. re: limster
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          DoubleMan RE: limster May 24, 2007 11:06 AM

          Went to EVOO not too long ago for the tasting menu. it's basically a collection of smaller portions of existing menu items. With 7 glasses of wine it runs $75, which is unbeatable for the food and more than a bottle of wine per person.

          1. re: DoubleMan
            limster RE: DoubleMan May 24, 2007 03:42 PM

            Thank you so much for the update on EVOO, I'm looking forward to another trip back there.

            The Salts/Blue Room/Hammersley thread thread on the board reminded me how much I like Salts. Have had 5 course tasting menus there several months ago for $60-something, don't know if the prices have changed.

          2. re: limster
            Joanie RE: limster May 25, 2007 05:28 AM

            Aujourd'hui's is actually $45. June is pinot noir month.

      2. tatamagouche RE: trymonlam May 24, 2007 03:36 AM

        FWIW, I actually don't think it's an oxymoron. I was at Radius the other day and the a la carte prices have gotten so shockingly high that doing the tasting menu seemed by far the better value. A vegetarian, say (which I'm not), could spend $17 on an app. and $32 on the lone veggie entree, for crying out loud, for a total of $49 (and portions aren't large), or could spring for the veg tasting menu and spend $60.

        1. Joanie RE: trymonlam May 24, 2007 04:36 AM

          Not really a tasting menu but a prix fixe (I assume those count too), but I just noticed that Bon Savor in JP has a special on Tues. and Wed. where 3 courses is $19.95 and 4 is $23.95. And you get quite a few choices, I think it's 3/4/3 and 4/5/3. Elephant Walk has a weekday one with similar prices. Lumiere in W. Newton has a $35 one with a couple choices per course and w/ matching wines it's just $50. As does La Morra in Brookline Vil. (there's might be 4 courses).

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            twisty cup RE: trymonlam May 24, 2007 08:54 AM

            I think the Sunday prix fixe at Rendezvous (In Central Sq. Cambridge) is a good value. It's $35 for 3 courses with many choices:
            http://www.rendezvouscentralsquare.co...

            1. MC Slim JB RE: trymonlam May 24, 2007 09:25 AM

              I think Ten Tables in JP is an outstanding fine-dining value all around. They do a four-course vegetarian tasting menu for $25 every night but Wednesday.

              I think L'Espalier's vegetarian degustation, while expensive ($75), is a good value. Four courses, cheese plate, sorbet, and dessert. Add four matched wines for $55; six wines for $75. Worth selling some of your blood for.

              As others have noted, prix fixe menus are a good cost-saving option. For example, Les Zygomates is a great wine bar and French bistro in the Leather District that has a nightly prix fixe for $29. Lots of range on that wine list, too, like a half-dozen bottles of plonk for $20, and some better ones for under $30 (all the way up to $1000+ bottles)

              Another budget-conscious strategy to consider is fine dining at lunch. Many of the better restaurants in town are much more affordable at lunch, without sacrificing much of the craft or quality that goes into dinner. No. 9 Park is one example that quickly comes to mind.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MC Slim JB
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                twentyoystahs RE: MC Slim JB May 24, 2007 11:31 AM

                And don't forget why they don't offer that veggie tasting menu on Wednesdays --it's 'cause they have that amazing prix-fixe special --any app, entree & dessert off the menu for just $25. Delicious, seasonal food, by far the best value in Boston, I think.

                1. re: twentyoystahs
                  Allstonian RE: twentyoystahs May 24, 2007 11:38 AM

                  According to their website, that's gone up a whole dollar to $26. They seem to have all kinds of bargain priced special deals, though - the Wednesday prix-fixe, Tuesday 4-course wine dinners for either $39 or $40 (it says two different things on the web page!), a new Monday series of 3-course regional dinners for $35, and of course the vegetarian tasting menu.

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                East Cambridge Hound RE: trymonlam May 24, 2007 09:39 AM

                The vegetarian tasting menu at Oleana is great value, in my opinion. $40 gets you five mezze + a dessert of their choosing (no baked Alaska, I'm afraid).

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                  trymonlam RE: trymonlam May 25, 2007 12:07 PM

                  Thank you everybody for your reply. i will keep a list of the places mentioned on this thread and will visit them one by one in june. thank you~

                  1. Dr.Jimbob RE: trymonlam May 27, 2007 06:27 PM

                    This one is unfortunately lots of bucks but man, what flavor. No. 9 Park's chef's tasting menu can be viewed on line at <http://www.no9park.com/index.php?page...>. Me, I unfortunately have retained the eating habits that were reenforced when I was a medical resident -- wolf down food rapidly, since you never know when the pager is going to go off. I will slow down when I'm traveling in European cities, but I have never eaten a meal so deliriously slowly as the tasting menu at No. 9 Park. Each chew brought out more beautifully seasoned flavor out of every dish, and I took absolutely forever to get through the meal. So exceedingly high quality for the high price.

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