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Affordable tasting menus in New York City

You don’t have to empty your wallet to sample some of the city’s best multicourse meals, thanks to these affordable tasting menus. At these spots, $85 or less fetches a bounty of carefully curated dishes.

 (Photograph: Virginia Rollison)
Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Potato at Aska

 (Photograph: Courtesy of Junoon)
Photograph: Courtesy of Junoon

Saag paneer at Junoon

 (Photograph: Jolie Ruben)
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Torrisi Italian Specialties

 (Photograph: Julie Dentities)
Photograph: Julie Dentities


 (Photograph: Francesco Tonelli)
Photograph: Francesco Tonelli

Black sea bass at Nougatine




Duck rice at Aldea

 (Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson)
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Autumn fruits and vegetables at Battersby

 (Photograph: Jolie Ruben)
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Lamb breast with carrots at Gwynnett St.

 (Photograph: Pedro Feria)
Photograph: Pedro Feria

Pork three ways at Saul

In a series of six dishes, breakout chef Fredrik Berselius delivers a cutting-edge—and cut-rate-priced—expression of Scandinavian cuisine through a Gotham lens.
The scene: Blond wood furnishings, clean white walls and a mural of a red-tailed hawk evoke a modern Swedish living room, devoid of preciousness.
The meal: Berselius’s use of rare, foraged woodland ingredients yields fantastical fare straight out of a Middle Earth epicurean fairy tale. Lichens, an autumn-leaf-and-bayberry stock and mushroom oil dress up the root vegetable salsify, while preserved summer purslane and handpicked turnip leaves accompany grilled squid. 90 Wythe Ave at North 11th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (askanyc.com). Six courses $65.

Michelin-starred toque Vikas Khanna employs five traditional methods of Indian cuisine—prepared by clay oven, open fire pit, cast-iron pan or heated stone, or with curry—to create this colorful tasting menu.
The scene: Regal trappings—including a 200-year-old wooden arch and sandstone statues—will make you feel like a raja.
The meal: Khanna reimagines orthodox Indian food with a modern edge in dishes such as poached paneer gnocchi with spinach puree, or lotus root with hibiscus gel. 27 W 24th St between Broadway and Sixth Ave (212-490-2100, junoonnyc.com). Six courses $75. 
Talk-of-the-town toques Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi were pioneers of the everyman-priced tasting menu at their diminutive Nolita hot spot, offering revised Italian-American fare at unprecedented value. They bumped up the price of their tasting menu (once $45) incrementally starting in April 2010, but it’s still one of the best deals and most coveted seats in town.
The scene: Lace curtains, walls of boxed pasta and a chalkboard menu recall a Sicilian grandmother’s corner shop.
The meal: The menu changes almost nightly, but dishes like warm mozzarella drizzled with DaVero olive oil, veal with kraut and kohlrabi, and lemon cake are characteristic of the offerings. 250 Mulberry St between Prince and Spring Sts (212-965-0955, torrisinyc.com). Seven courses $75.

Chef Anita Lo combines French technique with Asian ingredients in this five-part sampling of her acclaimed, internationally informed food. 
The scene: The dining room—done up with cream colors and dimly lit by candles and hanging lamps—projects a quiet elegance.
The meal:Japanese and Chinese touches update Gallic classics: Seared foie gras comes with soup dumplings, and Wagyu beef is accompanied by escargot and Alba mushrooms. 13 Barrow St between Seventh Ave South and W 4th St (212-741-6699, annisarestaurant.com). Five courses $78.

Savvy diners know that Nougatine offers Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s celebrated French-inflected fare, minus the staggering prices of his eponymous fine-dining temple next door.
The scene: Eames-like chairs and fluted lamps complement the lush views of Central Park.
The meal: Dishes such as tuna tartare with avocado and spicy radish and slow-baked salmon with bok choy and a ginger-chili vinaigrette betray classic French technique with an exotic touch. Trump International Hotel & Tower, 1 Central Park West at Columbus Circle (212-299-3900, jean-georgesrestaurant.com). Five courses $78.

Celebutoque Mario Batali’s mobbed Greenwich Village Italian flagship serves several tasting menus, but the seven-course pasta option offers the most bang for your buck.
The scene: The Rolling Stones on the speakers and the excited chatter of guests make the dining room—with its cubbyholes of wine and gentle lighting—one of the liveliest in the city.
The meal: A procession of lusty pasta dishes—black tagliatelle with parsnips and pancetta, truffle-studded garganelli—is capped by a rosemary olive-oil cake and pieces of bittersweet chocolate. 110 Waverly Pl between MacDougal St and Sixth Ave (212-777-0303, babbonyc.com). Seven courses $80.

Portuguese-American chef George Mendes updates his forebears’ cuisine with a fresh eye and avant-garde technique.
The scene: Glass partitions, aqua-hued drapery and cool gray tones lend the room a thoroughly modern verve. 
The meal: Between the amuse-bouche and dessert, American and global elements intermix freely, including North Carolina shrimp with garlic, swordfish in kombu broth and duck confit with chorizo. 31 W 17th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-675-7223, aldearestaurant.com). Eight courses $85.

Trained at high-end spots Blue Hill and Gramercy Tavern, chef-owners Walker Stern and Joseph Ogrodnek execute seasonal American dishes that draw lines out the door. To guarantee a seat, book the tasting menu—it’s the only way to get a reservation.
The scene: The tin ceiling and candles in mason jars reference a by-now familiar but nonetheless comfy Brooklyn aesthetic.
The meal: The dishes change daily, but look out for the raved-about kale salad, as well as items exclusive to the tasting menu, including turbot with artichokes and lemon, and spaghetti with sea urchin, chili and lemon. 255 Smith St between DeGraw and Douglass Sts, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-852-8321, battersbybrooklyn.com). Seven courses $85.

This unshowy Williamsburg hot spot boasts sneakily inventive food, with chef Justin Hilbert applying his modern training at wd~50 and Spain’s Mugaritz to American plates. 
The scene: Modest, minimalist digs (brick walls, hardwood floors) keep your attention on the plate.
The meal: A patchwork of trends—hyperseasonal produce, New Nordic flavors—inform dishes like sunchokes dressed with hazelnuts and alpine cheese. 312 Graham Ave between Ainslie and Devoe Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-889-7002, gwynnettst.com). Seven courses $85.

Locavore O.G. Saul Bolton spotlights refined farm-to-table dishes at his Smith Street institution, as he has since opening it in 1999.
The scene: A stream of Brooklynites and tipped-off tourists fill the white-tablecloth-topped tables in the simple, brick-walled dining room. 
The meal: Many of the dishes are annotated with their place of origin: A scallop crudo comes from Nantucket Bay, goat cheese on toast points hails from Vermont Creamery, and a panna cotta features cream from upstate’s Battenkill Valley Creamery. 140 Smith St between Bergen and Dean Sts, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (718-935-9844, saulrestaurant.com). Six courses $85.