Five Great Affordable Tasting Menus in NYC

Contra's chicken
Contra's chicken
Bradley Hawks

Multi-course degustation journeys have proliferated in this city over the years, and while an hours-long feast can make for a unique dining experience, the expense can take a toll. Lately, some niche restaurants have offered a solution: four- to five-course menus that don't break the bank and change regularly, depending on what's fresh that day. Here are five great tasting menus in NYC, all $55 and under plus tax and tip.

Contra, 138 Orchard Street, 212-466-4633 $55 for five courses At this LES 44-seater from savvy gastronomes Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske, a restaurant signboard flickers in neon and alternative rock hums in the background. The duo offers a $55 five-course menu of thoughtful New American classics that echo dishes of their past. You might find crisp-skin chicken beautifully roasted and placed within the framework of chicken almondine with whole almonds, thin carrots, and a veil of seaweed jus. Or you might have a nuanced broccoli rabe balanced with a lemon confit and whole scallops and sharply garnished with rehydrated dried scallops. Dessert might be a combination of beet, yogurt, and hazelnut cremeux, a play that tastes like it could have been deconstructed from red-velvet pudding; that final course might be preceded by a bright tangerine granita with light-as-air popcorn mousse. No telling, since the menu changes every day.

Five Great Affordable Tasting Menus in NYC
Laura Shunk

Sushi Dojo, 110 First Avenue, 646-692-9398 $45 for 10 pieces of nigiri Everything in David Bouhadana's East Village temple of pristine edomae-style sushi screams upscale — except for the prices. $45 buys you an omakase experience that exceeds most others in the city. You'll eat two kinds of fatty tuna — otoro and chutoro — and creamy, sweet lobes of uni from Santa Barbara (or, if you'd like, from Maine or Hokkaido) on loosely-packed warm rice. Silvery skin-on kohada (seabream) glistens like armor; sweet amaebi (shrimp) is sweet and supple, deep orange Alaskan king salmon is clean and luxurious, and fatty saba or a satiny fluke might be dotted with monkfish liver. Extra pieces are modestly priced a la carte, so ask for more if you're still hungry.

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