Best Bougie Tastings for Under $100

In a city like New York you can expect your meal to cost as much (and sometimes even more) than your rent. But you're young, you need good Instagram pictures and you're tired of eating Thai every weekend. So what do you do? You look up interesting dining options in NYC and two words, "Tasting Menus" comes up. 

Should you splurge for that $200 without tax/tip/drinks meal? Well yeah you could but let me save you that extra $100. Here are my three favorite tasting menus that are worth every penny.

1. Contra

From left to right: Fresh bread and butter/    Oyster, caviar and almond/Carrot, uni, sabayon and truffles/Veal breast, celery and apple/Lobster, radish and burrata/Short rib, treviso and raspberry/Vanilla parfait and rangpur lime curd/Coconut, tangerine and olive oil

From left to right: Fresh bread and butter/Oyster, caviar and almond/Carrot, uni, sabayon and truffles/Veal breast, celery and apple/Lobster, radish and burrata/Short rib, treviso and raspberry/Vanilla parfait and rangpur lime curd/Coconut, tangerine and olive oil

Favorites

The fresh bread and butter made by co-owner, Fabian von Hauske (extra $3) is a knockout. It is the perfect opening to the meal and you'll be tempted to eat the butter on its own. 

Uni with roasted carrots, truffles and sabayon (light custard). I'm a firm believer that if uni is in a dish, it is instantly the star. I was so wrong. I can still remember the candied carrots and how delighted my mouth was to explore how uni and truffles can elevate something so simple like a carrot.

Contra offers a daily changing 5 dish tasting menu that costs $67. So if you're in need of an adventure. GO! 

2. Salinas

From left to right:     Anchos Jardinera, smoked chicken croquetas and queso mozarabe/Butternut squash, blue cheese, baby kale, toasted seeds with Chardonnay vinaigrette/Spicy shrimp and fish empanadas/Oyster in creme fraiche with tuna tartare/Popcorn crushed baby octopus, spicy pepper squid ink aioli and preserved lemon/Grilled yellow fish tuna skirt steak/Squid ink pasta with shrimp/Grilled chicken, wild mushrooms, judion beans with a vinegar reduction/Pistachio ice cream, crushed nuts and dark chocolate. 

From left to right: Anchos Jardinera, smoked chicken croquetas and queso mozarabe/Butternut squash, blue cheese, baby kale, toasted seeds with Chardonnay vinaigrette/Spicy shrimp and fish empanadas/Oyster in creme fraiche with tuna tartare/Popcorn crushed baby octopus, spicy pepper squid ink aioli and preserved lemon/Grilled yellow fish tuna skirt steak/Squid ink pasta with shrimp/Grilled chicken, wild mushrooms, judion beans with a vinegar reduction/Pistachio ice cream, crushed nuts and dark chocolate. 

Favorites

Popcorn crushed baby octopus, spicy pepper squid ink aioli and preserved lemon was the 5th course to be served and somehow I had the room to eat every bit of it. Squid ink aioli deserves to be on everything but pair it with lemon, crushed almonds, octopus and lemon and you have the perfect seafood bite. 

Salinas has the best cooked tuna steak I've ever had. The sear on the steak is nice and caramelized while the fish is still tender and juicy. 

Salinas is the best Spanish style tapas you'll find in the city at three amazing price points and the dishes are served family style (shared by the table). The options are as follows: $65 (8 courses), $80 (12 courses) and $95 (14 courses). Eat a light lunch before coming here. I could barely make it to my Uber after dinner.

3. The Musket Room

From left to right: Wild goose oysters with smoked vinaigrette, grapefruit and finger lime/ Ora King salmon, oil, seed, and herbs/Quail, blackberries, bread sauce and roasted onions/Cantebury angus, eggplant and Sauce Americaine/Grapefruit and dill/Carrot cake, curd and chai. 

From left to right: Wild goose oysters with smoked vinaigrette, grapefruit and finger lime/ Ora King salmon, oil, seed, and herbs/Quail, blackberries, bread sauce and roasted onions/Cantebury angus, eggplant and Sauce Americaine/Grapefruit and dill/Carrot cake, curd and chai. 

Favorites

My only complaint is that I wish I had more quail. The quail paired with blackberries almost reminded me of Thanksgiving (but classier, of course). The bread juice was a nice way to add moisture to the dish since quail can be dry.

Can you tell how amazing the Cantebury angus dish is from my picture? I think you can tell that the sear was perfect. The angus was cooked medium rare and seasoned well. Pro tip: when you have good quality meat, the seasoning is merely icing on the cake. 

The Musket Room offers a 6 course tasting with the option of an all vegetarian tasting for $85. If you've always wanted to see New Zealand, consider getting a taste of it first here!