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Tempo prefix menu. Opinions?

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Somewhat recently Tempo (5th Ave, Park Slope, Brooklyn) changed their menu, turning it into a 3 course prefix dinner.

It sounds good -at first- when you consider that the price is $25 during the week and $35 during the weekend.

But when you examine the menu, you will see that several of the items have a surcharge. My bet is that often it is on an item you will want to order.

So you might actually pay about $41 for that $35 Friday or Saturday dinner. And if you do not want a dessert, you can order a cheese course instead & pay a surcharge again.
How much depends on how many cheeses you choose. So, suddenly your $35 dinner might cost you $47 or over $50 (I do not remember how much for 6 cheeses).
-For one person. -Not including wine or drinks. (or tax or tip). On Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn.

What if you are one of those groups (or people), where not everyone wants an appetizer (and/or a dessert)? Sounds like suddenly you are paying a lot more...for way more food that you want to/ will eat.

I am curious about what other Brooklyn Tempo patrons think about this new arrangement?

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  1. I am a big fan of Tempo, both pre and post prix fix menu. While the surcharges do apply to some of the dishes I like (luckily not the duck pastilla roll), it is still a bit of a bargain on weekdays. On weekends, you do end up spending, with wine, about 50-60 per person including tax and tip. In truth, that is what I always spent before the prix fix menu, so it ends up being about the same. It is more of a perceived bargain than anything, but it certainly isn't a ripoff!

    13 Replies
    1. re: elecsheep9

      So you must have been ordering, in addition to the entrees, at least appetizers -and some desserts even before the prefix menu. Otherwise it would be impossible for your cost to be the same both before and after the implementation of the prefix "deal". Unless you started to order much cheaper wines. (Impossible for us).

      Just to be clear: I never said -or even implied- that it is a rip-off.

      We only go to Tempo on a weekend evening, though, so the $25 weekday menu deal does not benefit us.
      For the two of us, our food cost has gone up (even without surcharges) - for food we do not want to eat. And of course, we often want precisely the dishes with the surcharge.

      We just cannot eat that much. For me "more" is not automatically better. I am a "quality over quantity" -girl. We both are.

      Instead we splurge on a good bottle of wine. So, even before the prefix menu, we would spend anything from $60 to over $100 on the wine. (They carry gorgeous wines).

      I wish Tempo allowed customers (who do not want to eat 3 courses every time they dine there) to order their dishes separately, like before. (I would not mind paying a bit more than before for a main course, if that allowed me to order just one dish.) Many restaurants have this arrangement.

      We have been huge, devoted fans of Tempo for a long time... have really, really loved the place...

      Actually, what makes me most sad right now, is to realize that some really nice staff members are gone. Luckily there are a few really nice people left -and I really hope the newest ones get trained to be as nice and caring and attentive & genuine (how do you train "genuine"? ;-) ) as their predecessors.

      After all, my first, very positive, reaction to Tempo was: "Wow, Manhattan quality service, food, wine list and ambiance -in Brooklyn! With Brooklyn prices!"

      I wish them the best, and I hope they will do really well. It would be a huge loss to the neighborhood if Tempo disappeared. There still are no other quality places, with as great a wine list as Tempo's, anywhere in the area.

      1. re: FoodWine

        It's great fun to debate myself, but I have no choice, since no one
        else has questioned my statements.

        After our initial negative reaction to the pre-fix menu, and after my latest
        post here, we have now dined at Tempo several times and I have to admit
        that I need to take back some of the things I claimed here.

        First of all:
        It seems to us, that Tempo has gotten even better than it used to be.

        I do not know what they have done, but the food has been consistently very,
        very tasty – really well prepared.
        It’s like they have new energy, a new drive. The same applies to the service.

        We have also found our way “around” the menu, so it does not actually feel
        that we are eating too much. Well… one night I just could not finish it all, so
        I got half of my entrée and both our desserts wrapped up, and happily enjoyed
        them the next day.

        But even at the weekend $35 pre-fix price, at this level of cooking,
        this is the best restaurant deal I know of in New York.

        And for people who have a chance to dine at Tempo during the week,
        the $25 pre-fix dinner is an absolute steal!

        So, we have been really happy with our dinners there, and always look
        forward to dining there again. Actually, the weekends that we have other
        commitments and are not able to go to Tempo, I miss it.

        I stand by my earlier statements elsewhere on this board: Tempo is the best
        restaurant in Brooklyn.

        (With the possible exception of River Café, but that one also is super expensive
        – And I have not dined at River Café for years, so I do not know how good it is now.)

        1. re: FoodWine

          Glad to hear that you have finally come around to my thinking on Tempo. It has long been a favorite of mine and I agree that it is, if not the best, then in the top 5 restaurants in Brooklyn. And the prix fix deal really is great.

          1. re: elecsheep9

            We've been going regularly since they opened and maybe a little more regularly since the fixed price menu started. It is truly one of the best daily bargains for well prepared food in a very adult environment in the entire city. Right up there with Tues/Wed at Chestnut. We had several visits of various out of town friends and relatives in the past few weeks and have brought each of them to Tempo... all loved the place. It remains one of our favorite places to eat comfortably and be able to communicate without shouting or saying "what?" over and over. Highly recommended.

            That being said, it's a little over the top to make it sound like its the best in Bklyn. Not that I think less of it, but there are more than 5 other places in its league. And that's a good thing for us Bklynites.

            1. re: Steve R

              Steve, do you often call an opinion that you do not agree with, "over the top"?

              In any event, I would be interested in hearing what those other places "in its league" are.

              1. re: FoodWine

                No, I dont. And I'm sorry if you took it personally... you're clearly entitled to your opinion about it being the best in Bklyn (with the possible River Cafe exception noted). And I'm always pleased with enthusiastic CH reports.

                However, although Tempo is one of my favorite places in Bklyn (I eat there often and am friends with 2 of the owners... both of whom were previously at the River Cafe, by the way), to describe it as the best in Bklyn may be setting the bar a little high. Those who read the review may expect too much.

                As far as who's in their league? Well, although each have a very different type of cuisine, I'd put Saul (which I dont really like as much, but recognize the quality), Henry's End, al di la, Convivium, Applewood & Chestnut in that grouping without blinking (in addition to the River Cafe, as you said). A case can be made for Stone Park, Dressler, Lugers and Queen as well.

                1. re: Steve R

                  No need to be "sorry", Steve, I did not "take it personally". But I was intrigued
                  by your choice of expression, since, due to my profession and expertise, I
                  have always been interested in language as a tool (of manipulation,
                  indoctrination, etc.).

                  I am happy for you that you are content with so many Brooklyn restaurants;
                  that gives you a lot of dining options. I wish I could agree with you: it would
                  be easier for us. (Less commuting to Manhattan).

                  You might very well be right about Peter Luger, which is a landmark & receives
                  rave reviews, but it, just like the River Cafe, is more in the "special event"
                  - category, and is VERY expensive; in a totally different price category than
                  Tempo or the other restaurants mentioned here.

                  But just for the sake of common sense; yes, you are right, probably River Cafe
                  and Peter Luger are the best restaurants in Brooklyn.

                  Having said that; since my husband does not eat red meat, and I, personally,
                  am not crazy about the steak house formula (= boring!), for us, Peter Luger
                  really is not a better choice than Tempo. I demand more creativity than the
                  usual boring sides that are offered at steakhouses. We also cook way better
                  lobsters than steak houses do, for way less money. (And also, if you consider
                  "bang for the buck" maybe these two are not the best restaurants here, after
                  all, but that's another story.)

                  As for the other restaurants in question, we find that Al Di La is nowhere near
                  the level of Tempo. Neither is Convivium or Chestnut. We were not crazy about
                  Stone Park, either...
                  We are willing to give Applewood another try, but friends who have dined there
                  after us, were not impressed either...

                  Actually, the only restaurant I consider capable of competing with Tempo, is
                  Saul. We used to love Saul. But as I wrote in one post (somewhere on this
                  board), after dining at Saul almost weekly for a long time period, we got a bit
                  tired of Saul, and then we discovered Tempo, and switched. We went back to
                  Saul once, last year, but found it too expensive for what it was and felt the
                  service was awkward. Still, since we used to like Saul so much, we are going
                  to check it out again, soon I hope.

                  If you take a really careful look at the wine lists of all the restaurants you
                  have mentioned here (except for River Cafe & Peter Luger), you will see that
                  Tempo's wine list is quite impressive.

                  We are wine snobs. Tempo not only has a very respectable wine list (although
                  we admit it tends to be heavy on the Italian side) but its partner/manager/host/
                  sommelier/ (everything-in-one-man) -wonderful Robert truly loves and is passionate
                  about wine and matching wine to food.

                  So even if everything else was equal (cooking, ambiance, service), the restaurant
                  with the best wine list, knowledge and passion for wine, gets our vote for the best
                  restaurant:

                  So, with the risk of starting to sound like a broken record: With the exception of
                  River Café & Peter Luger (SO much more expensive), Tempo is like a Manhattan
                  restaurant with Brooklyn prices:
                  Delicious food, fantastic wine-list, great service, great ambiance.

                  Sorry, but I have not found this "package" in any other restaurant in Brooklyn.

                  Every now and then, we do eat at these other restaurants mentioned in your post,
                  but like I said above, when we are not able to go to Tempo, I miss it. (Except if
                  we are in some very good restaurant - in Manhattan).

                  1. re: FoodWine

                    Actually, I find it hard to disagree too much with your analysis. It's why we find ourselves at Tempo more than almost any of the others. Once the "bang for the buck" is factored in, its "no contest". But, if going solely on food quality, I still think several others are their equal.

                    I note that you omit Henry's End from your descriptions. Have you been there? What did you think, not only of the food, but the wine list (totally USA but, at least in my opinion, as solid as the Italian-based list at Tempo), If you need more than my word on it, ask Michael at Tempo ("tall Michael", not "chef Michael"... he's mostly at T.Presto these days). He and Mark (the owner of H.End) are friends and a mutual admiration society. I think Robert would also agree &, as you say, he's quite expert at this. I recommend you give it a couple of shots and see what you think. Try the duck, go back when game is on the menu (your husband can eat poultry or fish... there's plenty of it on the menu). Of course, the ambience is totally different, as it's a loud, frenetic place and no where near as relaxing as Tempo. Different approach....very homey and outgoing.

                    Although the menu at Chestnut is very limited compared to either place, I think Daniel does an excellent job in creating interesting and tasty food. The wine list is above average as well and, if you are looking for value, their Tues/Wed $25 is above the norm.

                    And, even though Convivium has changed chefs several times, they always seem to have talent in the kitchen. By far the best days were when Jodie Williams was cooking (the current chef at Morandi, by way of Gusto, both in Manhattan), but I'm pleasantly surprised by their ability whenever I'm there. And the wine list is eclectic and makes up for depth with interesting, less available, choices.

                    Well... enough. See you at Tempo. Next time you go, ask Robert to point us out. Sounds like there's more than a good chance we'll all be there at the same time.

                    1. re: Steve R

                      I just went to Tempo again last night, this time alone, and, once again it was absolutely wonderful. The duck pastilla roll continues to blow me away, the pork scallopine was delicious, and the sticky date and toffee pudding has become my favorite non-chocolate dessert. And even though I was alone, everyone was incredibly friendly and I never felt uncomfortable (even started chatting with the people next to me for a little while).

                      Such a wonderful restaurant, I'm glad to see some people are giving it its due.

                      1. re: Steve R

                        My husband has dined at Henry's End, although it has been a while. He thought is was "OK". I have not dined there. We have not felt compelled to come to Brooklyn Heights for dinner for a long time. If we hop on a train, we might as well continue into Manhattan...

                        Your strong case for Henry's End intrigues us, and were it not for its all-American wine list, we would be interested to re-try/try it soon. This is purely our personal taste (as is anything anyone says on these boards), so I am not declaring that an all American wine list is wrong for everybody, but for us, it definitely is.

                        Although there are (a few) exceptions, we simply are not partial to American wine. It is often way too big (and / or mono-dimensional at that) and/or WAY too high in alcohol content (= we really loathe that trend).
                        I am not saying that we do not enjoy big, bold wines, but there has to be more to the wine than its "bigness".
                        There rarely is any finesse or subtle layers of tastes in American wine, until you get to the really high end, and at that price point, we might as well drink a Burgundy, which tends to be more food friendly anyway.

                        But we will keep Henry's End in mind.

                        Meanwhile, we "had" to go back to Tempo this weekend. It was quite, quite delicious -and delightful. We definitely feel they have hit a new "high".

                        1. re: FoodWine

                          We love dining at Henry's End for the great food and convivial ambiance. Mark, Bonnie, and Ali make it feel like home. How they continually turn out such great food in such a tiny kitchen is always a source of amazement.

                          I have to agree about the wine list. We never drink American wine. The style just isn't pleasing to us. We enjoy a wine list that is more varied, with French and Italian wines featured. Of course, Henry's End has always featured American Wine. I have been going there since I was a child , and, so for many, the large selection of American wine is a big plus.

                          Not for us, so, we enjoy the great food, and especially the Game in season, but miss having a really fine wine to accompany it. Have you tried the Fried Chicken? The best!

                          Tempo is consistently good. Dinner there this weekend was excellent. King Salmon with PiriPiri.

                        2. re: Steve R

                          We were let down on the last of our infrequent visits to Convivium (id say it was 5-6 mo ago. It was not that it was bad, not at all, just that, after looking forward to it, it was not the scrumptious meal I had remembered from prior visits. Id like to hear more reports.

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            We have been dining at Convivium for two years. We, too , had a not up to their usual meal there about 6 months ago, We decided to try it again last weekend, and it was great.

                            So many really fine restaurants can have an off day. At Convivium, I think it depends on what you order. I find their pasta dishes are always unusual and outstanding.

                            I love the ambiance in the wine cellar. It reminds me of a wonderful restaurant in my old neighborhood in Paris that was in a 17th c. wine cellar...Au Franc Pinot. The facade is in the Metropolitan Museum.

                            Where have you been recently that you really liked?