Looking for a great "chef's tasting menu" for $50 dollars or less in manhattan
If you're into Indian food, Suvir Saran's Devi (www.devinyc.com) has a 3-course lunch menu for $25, a 3-course dinner menu for $45, and a 5-course chef's tasting menu for $65. They serve regional Indian food and have recently added some Indian-American fusion dishes to the menu -- their masala fried chicken is pretty delicious!
Best value I can think of wouldn't be considered a chef's tasting menu. But the price-fixe at L'Ecole (French Culinary Institute) is about $40 and for an additional $15 or so they do a wine pairing. Service is tremendous and it's fun getting taken care by culinary students. Highly recommended for an affordable alternative to a typical upscale tasting.
Degustation offers a 5 course tasting for $50 and a 10 course for $75 - and the food is AMAZING. However, when I went with my brother, we created our own 5-course menus (everything at Degustation is small plates) for around $60 each, and could not have been happier with the results.
I think there's a difference between a tasting menu and a "chef's tasting menu." The latter usually has no published menu, offers more courses, and is much more expensive. That said....
The only tasting menu for under $50 that I can think of off-hand is the Fleur de Sel's 5-course *lunch* prix-fixe @ $46. It's available 7 days a week. Always superb!