A freelance writer, and amateur photographer Dora also teaches creative writing classes. Check out her website at www.creativejuicy.com
Published April 9th 2011
Finding great value for money has been a hobby of mine since I earned my first pay packet pumping gas at the age of 14. I like the idea of budgeting carefully, so that you can have that splurge on something wonderful if you really want it.
When it comes to dining out, part of the joy is finding great places with wonderful food and all the trimmings. Sometimes, the very best value can be found with prix-fixe (or fixed price) menus and New York is bursting at the seams with restaurants providing just that.
Here are a few I've put together that offer prix-fixe menus for under $50.
'21' CLUB. If you're a New Yorker, you'll know this iconic place as the head turning restaurant with all the jockeys lining the whole front of the building. It has a great atmosphere and superb cuisine. They serve a fixed price menu for lunch and dinner.
Cost: $30 luncheon, $40 dinner, available Monday to Saturday.
You get to choose from four appetizers, four main courses and four desserts. From the luncheon menu, I chose salmon tartare as an appetizer, grilled pork belly for a main and was too full for dessert, but the rocky road and caramel salted bombe looked curiously delicious.
ARTE CAFÉ. Italian themed place on the upper west side.
Cost: $12.95 (yes it's true) luncheon, available Monday to Friday.
They have a three course menu, with four appetizers including steamed mussels, which were my choice. The serving was huge but I did find the individual mussels a little small. For entrees, you can choose from six panini gourmet sandwiches or six traditional Italian pasta dishes. By the time I had finished my fettucini, I couldn't believe that mains were still to come. There are six dishes to choose from the main menu including chicken, grilled salmon and steak dishes. You may never eat again.
Given the name, you would probably think Phillippe Restaurant is French, but it's actually an upmarket Chinese restaurant.
Cost: $20.10 for 3 luncheon courses. available Monday to Friday.
Entrees include hot & sour soup, chicken satay lettuce wraps and crispy seaweed (which tastes like a crunchy bite of the ocean). Main courses, all served with steamed rice, include Beijing chicken, crispy salmon, crispy beef and velvet chicken breast. A moderate serving, but quite delicious. Dessert is a simple choice of sorbet, or ice-cream, Chinese tea or Illy coffee.
Beacon Restaurant and Bar. Open fire and wood fire cooking and earthy flavourful cusine is my kind of food, and with a fixed price menu, I was pleasantly surprised.
Cost: $45 for three courses which include appetizers, entrees and dessert.
The servings are not huge but adequate and the rich flavours make up for the size. The crab bisque was superb. For entree, I chose spit roasted ten herb chicken panzanella. And yes, it tasted as good as it sounds. Dessert was devils food chocolate cake with smoked vanilla ice cream.
La Grenouille is an upmarket restaurant featuring classic French food.
Cost: $36 for a 2-course luncheon menu offering a starter and a main.
The food is prepared the way only the French can do it. Baked clams, sweetbreads, duck confit...it's all too delicious to describe. And if you don't mind adding an extra $12 to your prixe-fixe deal, you can have the frogs legs sauteed provencale. C'est magnifique.
There are hundreds of restaurants in New York that offer great value for money, more food than one human can eat in one sitting and a sense of satisfaction that you've got money left over to spend on the other wonderful things New York has to offer.