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Getting a tasting menu in a restaurant that doesn't have one

Limster | Mar 2, 200103:05 AM

A friend was leaving town, and we were going to have dinner. On a whim, instead of going for the tasting menu at any of the "high-end" places like Gary Danko or Masa's or Elizabeth Daniel, I decided to get Chaz (currently my favorite mid-priced place) to come up with a tasting menu with matching wines. They didn't have a tasting menu nor did they advertise one, but they were more than willing to put a tasting menu together. "It would be fun" assured the chef/owner after I made the arrangements.

In short, we ended up with an excellent 7 course meal with matching wines; 8 courses if you include the palate cleansing sorbet. The price tag was shockingly reasonable - 1 full glass of champagne + 5 half glasses of wine + plus all that food came to $65 per person (not including tip).

I would be happy to describe what we had if there is interest - it was composed of a selection from the regular menu.

I thought it was a great meal that was just half a notch behind the one I had at Charles Nob Hill when Siegel was there. The main reasons that Chaz was behind was because they didn't deal with the more exquisite ingredients as caviars, lobster or white truffles etc... and while the wines were good and generally well suited to the dishes they were pared with, they were not the most luxurious I've had. Obviously, these things can add a lot of ooomph for diners who enjoy them.

On the other hand, a tasting menu with matching wines would cost about twice as much at Charles Nob Hill (or Fifth Floor or Fleur de Lys etc). I thought I got away with great value and would defintely do this again if the occasion calls for it.

I'm thinking about doing this at other places as well, and I was wondering if any has tried this with good experiences at other restaurants in town.

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