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Mar 27, 2008 07:18 PM

Seeking divine culinary experience that won't break my wallet--help!

Hello everyone--I am trying to plan a birthday dinner in early May for my boyfriend's 25th. We are both big-time foodies and I am looking for something extra special for him for the occasion--a culinary experience, if you will. We went to Babbo last year and loved it. I started making this list of restaurants to consider, but I find that most are too expensive--I was hoping to spend under $300 altogether.
-Eleven Madison Park
-Del Posto
-DB & Donatella

Our favorite restaurant is Degustation, but we've been there already so I want something new. I would love to find a tasting menu with more than 3 courses for under $100pp with a great atmosphere. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. We live downtown but will be uptown for the evening so any neighborhood is fine. Thanks!

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  1. Just to clarify: you want the food to be less than $100pp, but want to spend under $300 total, so the other $100 is tax, tip, and wine? Assuming you tip 20%, that doesn't leave a whole lot for wine! Does your total figure include alcohol?

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      Hoping to find a bottle of wine in the 50-75 dollar range, plus tax and tip, so if it comes out to a little more than 300, that's fine. I have heard Blue Hill is great but I want an atmosphere that is a little more lively. I hear BH is very casual.

    2. It is possible to dine at Eleven Madison Park for under $300. Of course, the Gourmand menu is out. However, depending on exactly what you drink, you might be able to do the 4-course prix--fixe @$102pp. The 3-course prix-fixe is definitely doable. At $82pp, that leaves plenty of room for a fine bottle of wine or, if you prefer, pairings. Let John Ragan, the sommelier, know about your budget, and he will happily choose wines that will fit. Keep in mind that both the 3- and 4-course menus include two amuses (a plate of hors d'oeuvres and a cup of soup) + mignardises at the end. Service is always very cordial and polished, and the space is gorgeous!

      If you have your heart set on multi-course tasting menu, then I highly recommend that you consider Fleur de Sel. The contemporary French cuising is superb, and the 6-course dinner tasting is $89. There's an excellent wine list, service is professional, and the small space has stylish decor and an intimate feel.

      Happy 25th Birthday to your b.f. and Bon Appetit!

      4 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        Both are great ideas. EMP is a very special atmosphere--I have been there before for the Gourmand menu and it was spectacular. I had no idea you could get a 4-course for $102. That sounds perfect. Fleur de Sel looks amazing as well. Thank you so much!

        1. re: almcgal

          Hey, almcgal,

          Glad to hear that you enjoyed your previous experience at EMP, which, as regulars here know, is our favorite NYC restaurant. We did the Gourmand in January and it was, indeed, spectacular!

          When we were there for lunch a couple of days ago, staff members told us that the spring Gourmand menu will be unveiled next week. Can't wait! Shortly after, the regular dinner menu will begin changing for spring. Thus, if you and your b.f. do go there in May, the menu will be quite different from what it is right now. However, the sensational duck for two, a signature dish, will remain, so if you do the 4-course, I highly recommend that you include it.

          As for Fleur de Sel, it has always been on our list of favorites. We did the 6-course tasting a couple of months ago, and it was truly delicious. No doubt it will be different in May though I'm sure it will be equally as wonderful.

          1. re: RGR

            Dammit, I'm going to EMP tonight, why can't it be spring yet?!

            1. re: kathryn

              If you haven't done the super-sensational winter Gourmand menu, I highly recommend it.

        1. The Momofuku Ko tasting menus is only $85, but who knows if you'll be able to get in.

          Craft recently re-instated their tasting menu, and it's $110pp, BTW.

          1. I went to Daniel last night - it was an amazing experience and one that I'll never forget. But I don't think you'll be able to get away with a bill less than $300. The three course menu is $98 each - factor in some wine, tip plus any supplementary cost for special items (I had a foie gras that was $18 supplementary - worth every penny) and you'll probably go over $300. But it was truly one of the best dining experiences you'll ever have.