Gourmet

The very word doesn't fit in a Cheap Eats issue. That's why it's here-and near the top of the pyramid.

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Cheap Eats 2007: Tuna with gazpacho salad at Bar Jamón
Tuna with gazpacho salad at Bar Jamón

Photo: Ben Goldstein

Tuna with gazpacho salad at Bar Jamón
Don’t think of tiny Bar Jamón as just a waiting room for Andy Nusser’s hugely popular Casa Mono. Instead, sit at the bar and have this light meal, which pairs peppery tuna nuggets with a vivacious “gazpacho salad,” starring a blanched hollowed red onion filled with cucumber, tomato, sea beans and olive oil croutons ($10). 125 E 17th St at Irving Pl (212-253-2773)

Smorgasbord at AQ Café
This plate at Scandinavia House’s lobby canteen condenses Aquavit’s sprawling brunch spread ($48) into a budget collection of bites ($15)—a Swedish meatball with lingonberry jam, mashed potato, smoked salmon, gravlax, baby shrimp salad and three types of herring—artfully arranged around a pool of mustard sauce. 58 Park Ave at 38th St (212-847-9745)

Oyster pan roast at the Grand Central Oyster Bar
Some lunchtime regulars order the oyster pan roast every single day. Though your PPO would hardly endorse it, at a healthy $10.45 you can afford to indulge in this old-fashioned extravagance of butter, cream, paprika, bluepoint oysters and toast. Finish a whole bowl at your peril. Grand Central Terminal, Lower Concourse, 42nd St at Park Ave (212-490-6650)

Wild-mushroom chow fun at Buddakan
While the bar snacks here are mostly under $12, the real bargain lies buried in the much pricier main dinner menu (also available on request in the upstairs lounge). That’s where you’ll find the generous $9 serving of wild-mushroom chow fun, a deluxe—and delicious—vegetarian rendition of the slippery wide-noodle Chinatown staple, dolled up with shiitake and button ’shrooms. 75 Ninth Ave at 16th St (212-989-6699)

Whole-wheat lasagna with bolognese at Falai Panetteria
The whole-wheat lasagna at Iacopo Falai’s Panetteria—the bakery-café across the street from the chef’s high-end flagship—stacks silky fresh pasta sheets between pitch-perfect layers of creamy béchamel and slow-cooked beef bolognese. It’s the next best thing to a trip to Bologna. 79 Clinton St at Rivington St (212-777-8956)

Fried organic egg with polenta, pancetta and tomato at E.U.
Though most dinner entrées at E.U.—the much-blogged about gastropub in the East Village—break the $20 mark, brunch is a steal. On weekends, chef Akhtar Nawab offers a personal crock of buttery buckwheat farina (imagine a cross between polenta and Cream of Wheat) richly anointed with stewed tomato jam, crisp pancetta and a duck egg sunny-side up ($10). 235 E 4th St between Aves A and B (212-254-2900)

Smoked chicken wings with pickled chili peppers, garlic and scallions at Momofuku
While it’s hard to resist David Chang’s pork soups and buns at Momofuku’s cramped counter, the Pan-Asian wunderkind also turns out to be a whiz with wings. Presmoked, then seared on the flattop until golden and sticky, eight arrive in a glistening heap, showered in sweet soy, pickled chilies, garlic and scallions ($10). 163 First Ave between 10th and 11th Sts (212-475-7899)

PEI mussels with lobster broth and fennel at Ed’s Lobster Bar
The contentious fish shack opened by ex–Pearl Oyster Bar sous chef Ed McFarland works an ingenious maneuver to transform its mussels into a destination dish. The compact bivalves, from Prince Edward Island, are steamed in a rich, fennel-scented broth made from emptied lobster shells. You get an entrée-sized portion for the price of a starter ($10). 222 Lafayette St between Kenmare and Spring Sts (212-343-3236)

Oysters at Lure Fishbar
Lure Fishbar, with its faux yacht interior, is one of the classiest settings in town for getting your raw-bar fix. Weeknights—during the remarkable oyster happy hour between 5 and 7pm—it’s also among the cheapest. For the almost giveaway price of $1 apiece, the restaurant’s raw bar shucks to order (and serves up on ice) pristine oysters and littleneck clams and a delicious gratis bar snack of seasoned potato chips. 142 Mercer St at Prince St (212-431-7676)

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