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Apr 20, 2010 08:12 PM

Tasting menu for singles?

I notice many of the tasting menus specify they are for the entire table. I usually do Prex fixe as a single traveler but am interested in trying a tasting menu. Any recs? Thanks

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  1. The "entire table must participate in a tasting menu" doesn't mean that you need more than one person to order the tasting. If you're a party of one, you ARE the entire table. Most restaurants won't have a problem if you reserve a table and order the tasting. One notable exception is Babbo, last I heard.

    Why this warning? Mostly, I think it's to prevent one person from ordering the tasting and, say, their companion ordering a la carte or the prix fixe. That way the kitchen can properly pace the meal. It's much easier to coordinate that way rather than figuring out how to serve one person 6 courses and another 3 courses.

    Nearly all restaurants will serve a tasting menu to a party of 1. Sometimes you can't order the full tasting at the bar, though, if you're seated there; and a lot of restaurants have a different "bar menu" than the full "dinner menu," especially if they want the bar to function mainly as a pre-dinner and post-dinner destination. My guess: if you want to try the tasting menu and want to make sure you get a chance to have it, you would probably need to reserve a table for 1 in advance.

    It's always best to call and confirm a restaurant's poiicy since it's not likely to be on their web site.

    10 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks Kathryn. And, I DO usually sit at the bar because I am a single person and I don't mind at all not taking up a table for 2+. I've actually had a few places in the past tell me when I called to make res I would need to sit at the bar since I was a single and it was a small restaurant. I'll be sure to ask about that when I call.

      1. re: kessdarln


        At EMP, our favorite NYC restaurant, you will have no problem being seated at a table whether it be for lunch, where the 5-course Gourmand is offered, or for dinner, when there are two tasting menu options: the 6-course Seasonal or the 11-course Gourmand.

        Photos of the 11-course Gourmand we had in January can be viewed here:

        Lunch Gourmand in January:

        1. re: RGR

          RGR - I saw in another post from last year a rec from you for aquavit. Thoughts?

          1. re: kessdarln

            We haven't been to Aquavit recently. The three times we've been there (one of which was for the Sunday Smorgasbord), I've liked the food. However, service can be chilly, and I have no idea how a solo diner would be treated.

            1. re: RGR

              We went to Aquavit three times last year (my husband is obsessed with their herrings and Arctic Circle) and while we didn't feel that the service was chilly, we did notice in our last two visits that the waiter didn't seem very experienced, almost like a busboy filling in for a real waiter. Their tasting menu was OK. Food was good but we weren't blown away.

          2. re: RGR

            But you should know you CAN'T do the tasting menu at the bar at EMP. as Kathryn pointed out, EMP is one of the places with a separate a la carte only menu at the bar.

            You can do the 4 course menu at Marea's bar though...and I recommend that one if you prefer to do a multi course at a bar.

            240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

            1. re: hightemp

              I did the lunch tasting menu at the bar at EMP, with my girlfriend. This was Sept '09.

          3. re: kessdarln

            As a habitual solo diner, I can tell you that it is fairly common for restaurants to refuse to serve their tasting menu at the bar (even for parties of more than one). Most of these restaurants would happily serve the tasting menu to a solo diner at a table -- just not at the bar. So this is something you should always ascertain in advance, if it's important to you.

            1. re: Sneakeater

              kyo Ya or En has tasting menu and you can sit at the bar which is better than a table in these places

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                Kyo Ya's "bar" is not simply a bar, they offer the option of sitting at the chef's counter where you can watch the chef in action!

                Kyo Ya
                94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

        2. I've decided to try one that I haven't seen anyone suggest. Pergola des Artistes. The new 6 course menu with wine for $105 looks inviting.

          Also the Aroma Kitchen and Wine Bar tasting menu since the price is right and I've been wanting to go there.

          Has anyone done the World Yacht dinner cruise? Worth it?

          Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions!

          3 Replies
          1. re: kessdarln

            Whoa! Pergola des Artistes? Now there's a blast from the past!! It's been ages since I've been there (early 1980's). Unless things have changed radically with regard to the food, not a place I'm itching to go to these days. Not that the food was horrible, but it never rose above the so-so level.

            1. re: RGR

              Oh really? It seems to have a bunch of recent (2 years) reviews through Google search and trip advisor gives it 111. Well heck, the 6 course menu looks tasty and like it would be a good experience.

              My preference is to have the gourmand menu at EMP but $300 -- I'd want the wine, I'm not sure I can justify that to myself ($300 would pay for 2 more nights in town) I do have it on my list of lunch places – anything you recommend 2 or 3 courses, I don’t want to eat heavy when I’m walking all day.

              <sigh> I wish I lived there and could try all the food instead of having to narrow it down each year.

              1. re: kessdarln

                If you want to keep lunch at EMP light but seriously delicious, I highly recommend the following:

                Composition of Spring Vegetables:


                Seared Diver Scallop with Rhubarb, Celery, and Yuzu:

                If you want to end with a sweet, something from the tart cart:


                Ice Cream and/or Sorbet:

          2. EMP is my favorite restaurant, so that definitely gets the nod.

            But I also strongly recommend Blue Hill. The last time I ate there I was alone eating at the bar (as I often do when I go out to eat) and they treated me very well. Get the farmer's feast and enjoy all the amuses/vegetables. Elegant without being stiff, good food, and they treat solo diners well.

            Blue Hill
            75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

            1. Spigolo on 82/2nd has a tasting menu every night. For single person their bar is a perfect venue for you although they do not take reservations for bar seating. However for a single person the wait should not be terribly long or go pecisely at 530pm when they open which almost guarantees you a bar seat. Of course they have regular tables you can make a reservation for and outdoor seating for first come first served basis.

              1561 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

              1. if you're not up for sitting in the dining room the salon at Per Se is a great option and you can order the full tasting menu.

                Per Se
                10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                3 Replies
                1. re: 3crazydogs

                  Since when can you order the full tasting menu in the salon at per se????????????????

                  This is big news! Last year they only let you order from the truncated a la carte salon menu.

                  1. re: Sneakeater

                    Not that the salon matters, I think Per Se is up there with EMP as far as not really in my price range. I'm thinking somewhere closer $150 or less range before tax, tip.

                    Per Se
                    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                    1. re: Sneakeater

                      I was there in Feb and you could order anything on the menu - including the tasting menu.