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Jul 23, 2012 08:40 PM

EMP: Grid v Tasting

I have read the other threads on this topic. But am looking for direct feedback on our situation.
Will be there (party of 2) for dinner to celebrate a major birthday.
We love get the largest variety of tastes and so we regularly order different dishes and share.
So we are trying to decide between the grid menu or the tasting. I have heard that the tasting is 8 courses and both menus have the same extra courses included.
So is it justified in the extra cost to get the tasting instead of picking 8 courses off the grid between us?
Wondering if the tasting is longer than we heard? Different/better dishes?
Thanks in advance for all the help.

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  1. Both menus do NOT always have the same extra courses included.

    I know a little while ago, only the tasting menu folks got the "clam bake" as part of the canapes in the beginning.

    The seven (?) courses on the tasting menu are typically two vegetable, foie gras, seafood/fish, a meat, cheese, and dessert. The tasting may not be the way to go if you don't want that format.

    I personally didn't care if I had vegetables as a course or a cheese course during my last visit.
    For example, we did the 4 course when I went in December. I had crab, winter truffle pasta, duck (off menu/available by request -- this was my protein and also my husband's protein course), and dark chocolate. My husband had lobster, seared foie, duck as well, and blue cheese.

    Also you'll both be served the same preparation of a course unless you specifically request otherwise.

    1. The tasting menu comprises, though they say seven, more like fourteen different "courses" - though some are small amuses, or little groups of amuses like the clambake. Generally there are six (IIRC) proper "courses" taken from the regular grid menu, and if you don't ask them to do otherwise they might serve you the same versions of each. If you ask, though - since most if not all of the grid dishes have two different versions (i.e. for the foie gras, there's hot seared & cold mousse options) - they'll bring you the "pairs" rather than the same dish for some of those courses. When we did the tasting menu, the two veggie courses and the fish were the same for both of us but the three others they paired.

      I attached a photo of the two menus below - though note that one of them was misprinted, we actually got two different squab preps.

      7 Replies
      1. re: sgordon

        Hmm. So it seems like the cliffs notes is:
        Tasting is 6 from the grid, cheese, and a couple extra canapés.
        Grid for two is 8 from the grid, no cheese, and a couple less canapés.

        This has us leaning to the grid. I think the tasting gives more variety for most. And the pairing preps of like ingredients helps.
        But if you are a couple who coordinates what you order and share, then it seems like you possibly get to experience more.
        Plus, the grid seems unique to EMP. While the tasting seems in line with the format at, say, Per Se.

        Does this sound accurate? I think the tasting is geared more to people who just want to order and not coordinate with the table or share.

        Of course, thill will be our first visit to EMP. Hence, reaching out to people who actually know what they are talking about.

        1. re: Heeney

          If you like sharing plates, I think you'll be better off ordering from the grid so you'll be able to sample more of the menu. I prefer coordinating with my sister who is frequently my dining partner. We're lucky because we have similar tastes in food.

          1. re: Heeney

            Well, the tasting is actually nine from the grid - or at least it was for us. three courses for which we got the same prep of the ingredient, and three others where we each got different ones. I'm sure if you asked them to, they'd do the "pairs" for all six of the courses, totalling twelve different dishes. ANd the number of extras - canapes, intermezzos, etc - is MUCH higher with the tasting. Not even listed on our menu were the "black & white cookies" - one traditional, to end the meal, one made of foie gras to start it.

            The grid isn't really unique to EMP - it's just a four course prix fixe, same as any other restaurant with a four course prix fixe. The only thing unique about it is the way they present it to you, only listing the main ingredient.

            Also, you get the brandy bottle with the tasting. It's not, like, a '74 Chateau Laubade or a 2000 Germain-Robin Anno Domini or anything, but hey - it's a self-service bottle of brandy. Can't complain about that.

            1. re: sgordon

              I've always gotten the brandy bottle with the prix fixe, too.

          2. re: sgordon

            I did not know you could request the pairs on the tasting menu in my previous visits, great info! Do they charge extra for requesting different preparations? And if so, how much more per person/course?

            1. re: justtryit

              No extra cost. You just have to ask. There may be some courses where they're particularly proud of a given prep and think you'd be better off having the same one - because it flows into/from the next/previous course particularly well - we just left it up to them to decide what was best, rather than specifically request ALL of them be paired. (Also, we had some issues with our main waiter that night - but that was a bit of a fluke...)

          3. If you haven't been to EMP and don't know if you'll go back, I highly suggest the tasting menu. We just did the tasting. Including a trip to the see the kitchen, we were there for five hours. We also received different courses when we specified (my husband does not eat cheese). I will say that the tables on either side of us ordered off the grid and throughout the entire meal, they were staring at the plates brought to our table and asked their servers what we were eating for multiple courses. I think you get to taste more dishes with the tasting menu than off the grid. The menu I received is 14 courses, and doesn't even include a few of the extras we received.

            9 Replies
            1. re: studentwife

              If you order the tasting menu you can also supplement that with ordering from the grid if there is something you really want to try. It can get expensive. I think they charge an extra $100 if you want the duck included in the tasting menu.

              1. re: stevel

                Is that $100 per person to add the duck as an extra course or as a replacement course for the tasting menu?

                1. re: ellenost

                  I think it's a extra $100 pp. it's in addition to the tasting menu. If you really want the duck and your doing the tasting menu, I'm pretty sure you can substitute it for one of your main courses at no cost. I didn't know this the last time we ate there. I would have paid the extra money and added the duck. I think it's actually 2 courses. I'm going back in a few weeks and might do that.

                  1. re: stevel

                    I just read another thread from late 2011 where they said the duck addition was a $35 cost.
                    Is it now $100? That's a big jump.

                    1. re: Heeney

                      I think the $35 per person charge is to substitute the duck for the protein in the 4 course grid menu. I think the $100 per person charge is to add the duck to the tasting menu as an additional course.

                      1. re: ellenost

                        Hmm. Well, now we are leaning slightly to tasting menu (though it fluctuates basically every other minute).
                        We'd be interested in the duck as an add-on. But a $200 charge plus the fact that we'd be eating a whole duck in addition to a full tasting, is making us think we should skip that.
                        It's a special event we are celebrating. And I've eaten at Per Se without feeling overly stuffed (though my wife was). But a whole duck in addition to the menu? That just sounds like pain.
                        Bliss. But also pain.

                        1. re: Heeney

                          I'm pretty sure it was $100 (or actually $95 IIRC) to add the duck for two, not $100 per person. That would be a bit ludicrous, even by a high-end resto's standards.

                          You could always do grid + duck (as opposed to grid w/duck in lieu of course three) as well.

                          1. re: Heeney

                            You'll not be eating the entire duck--only the breast meat that is carved tableside and a portion of duck confit in a potato puree. I wouldn't spend $100 per person or per couple to add the duck. I'd substitute it for one of the proteins in either the 4 course or tasting menu. The duck is my favorite protein preparation at EMP.

                            1. re: ellenost

                              Yeah. You TOTALLY don't get the whole duck. You get SHOWN the whole duck, but only the breast makes it onto your plate. (The confit, obviously, doesn't come from the duck you are shown.)

              2. If this is your first visit, I strongly recommend the tasting dinner. Most of the dishes on the grid
                can be incorporated into the tasting menu. The tasting can average 4 hours depending on your
                own pace and weather you requested a kitchen tour. If you are wine or beer drinkers, I would also
                get the house pairings which are superb!

                4 Replies
                1. re: mrrbi

                  We will do the pairing no matter which option we take.
                  Dang, this is a tough call.
                  We also have considered the duck since it is our favorite protein. But not sure if we want to swap a course for it. So it seems like it will get $$$ if we add it.
                  Can you do the kitchen tour even if you don't do the tasting? The thing I loved about the EMP cookbook is how they give the kitchen and dining room map. Would love to see it in person.

                  We were set on the grid...but now. I dunno. :)

                  1. re: Heeney

                    I know that whether you opt for the grid or the tasting, getting a tour of the kitchen should not be a problem. Although a tour cannot be always guaranteed ( depending on the number of requests), calling in advance to request one is always a good idea. So I would advise you to call ahead and also mention that your reservation is a special occasion. That would probably
                    do it. I believe EMP likes to keep their guests happy.

                    1. re: Heeney

                      I've done the grid and gotten a kitchen tour. Part of it is timing. We had an early reservation at 6:15pm. They may not do it when the kitchen is busy and there's a full house in the dining room (like closer to 8pm).

                      1. re: kathryn

                        If you do wine pairings, make sure to let the Sommelier know your likes and dislikes. New World. Old world, High acid, etc. Unfortunately my last pairings were not great. If your adventurous you can mix up the pairings. Wine, beer cocktail or what ever the sommelier thinks best. Enjoy!