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Kind of specific tasting menu request. Need the crowd's genius.

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Hi all,

I don't usually post to Chowhound, but you've gotten me so many answers over the past couple of years, I'm hoping you can help me out.

For my birthday next month, I'm in the mood to do a tasting menu- I'd like for it to be five courses or more (and if five courses, then only one is dessert). I'd also like for it to be reasonably affordable, as I'll probably be subsidizing my non-foodie boyfriend (let's say $85 or less). Brooklyn or Manhattan, no preference.

The problem is, my boyfriend is a very picky eater. He doesn't eat eggs, he doesn't eat fish (I'll eat anything, and hope to meet some of you at the Bug Dinner at Brooklyn Kitchen later this month). So that means that if this mythical tasting menu even exists, it either has to be at a place that will be reasonable at subbing in other dishes for him, or will let me be the only person at the table getting the tasting menu (which is preferable).

Am I SOL here? Does anyone know of a restaurant that matches these annoyingly specific terms?

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  1. For Brooklyn, I'd post to the Outer Boroughs board, BTW. This board is limited to discussions about Manhattan eating and drinking.

    Most restaurants require the entire table to do the tasting menu, so I'm not sure your request for only you to do a tasting menu is possible. It is much more difficult for the kitchen to time things if the restaurants allows some diners in the same party to order a la carte or a smaller prix fixe menu, whereas others order the tasting menu. I've only heard of two restaurants that allowed this "mixing": Telepan and Gramercy Tavern, although that was a few years ago.

    I think Gramercy Tavern would work best for you but is definitely a bit above your price range. It offers a prix fixe menu in the formal dining room, as well as two tasting menus: a chef's tasting and a seasonal vegetable tasting (note that it is a vegetable-based tasting menu but NOT strictly vegetarian).

    However, diners can mix and match to their heart's content. If something on a tasting appeals to you but you are doing the prix fixe, you can switch a course in/out. Ditto for if you are doing the tasting menu, but something on the prix fixe menu appeals to you more. They are one of the most flexible in this regards.

    You can easily do substitutions for any fish and egg dishes on a tasting menu for your boyfriend given their flexibility, but I'd also make sure to confirm this when making the reservation as well as confirming the reservation about a day before hand. Kitchens are used to requests about dietary restrictions (especially for diners with allergies, diners who are vegetarians, diners who don't eat red meat, etc.) and a good restaurant will work with you in advance (given a reasonable amount of time).

    Check out their menus online to see if the food appeals. It's also a popular restaurant so if you like the looks of the food, I'd reserve ASAP. They fill up fast.

    Good luck!

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    Gramercy Tavern
    42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

    Telepan
    72 W. 69th Street, New York, NY 10023

    1. First question: does $85 include tax, tip, and drinks? HUGE difference in what's available.

      That aside, 5 courses for $85 would be pretty hard to come by.

      Assuming you're talking about pre-t/t/d on your price, I'd say go Italian. At many Italian places, the prix fixe will be four courses rather than the standard three (antipasti, pasta, secondi, dolci) - add in the inevitable amuses (of which many tasting menu plates are) and you've got least five courses. If you can up your budget $10/pp, Del Posto is fantastic.

      For much less, I highly recommend Falai - they have a $55 four-course prix fixe, though the choices are limited and the portions scaled down a touch - you can see the options on their website. That said, you could easily do four courses a la carte (fuller courses, wider selection - which would be good considering the bf's picky eating habits) for about $75/pp pre-t/t/d. And I can say from experience there are always amuses, post-desserts, etc.

      With selective ordering (and if you could get a reservation) you could probably pull it off at Babbo as well. Babbo also has two tasting menus - $69 and $75 as I recall - that would probably be fine. If I remember right, neither had any seafood in them, but they'd probably make substitutions.

      If Mr. Picky will eat Indian food, Tabla has two tastings at $54 and $72 - the former is served "family style" so he can just eat the things he likes and skip over the others without issue.

      Some others I can think of:

      Annisa - $75, 5 courses
      Rose Water (BK) - $56, 5 courses
      The Grocery (BK) - $85, ? courses
      Aldea - $80, 5 courses (with the caveat that I wasn't terribly fond of them - but a lot of other people are...)

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      Babbo
      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      Del Posto
      85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

      Annisa
      13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

      Falai
      68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

      The Grocery
      288 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

      Aldea
      31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

      Rose Water
      787 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

      1. Recette has a five course tasting for $75, and the restaurant accomodated my dining companion's request for no eggs, dairy, etc.

        The food was good, but the portions were excruciatingly tiny, just as a caveat.

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        Recette
        328 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10014

        1. These are all amazing so far- thanks so much to everyone. To clarify, $85 does not include tax, tip, or drinks.

          1. Cafe Boulud has a 5 (plus extras) tasting menu for 89 with an optional wine pairing for 55.

            Great deal. Great food. Huge pours on wine (I had to tell them to pour less).

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            Cafe Boulud
            20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021