Thursday, March 19, 2009

High Dining For Low Prices

I've always been a fan of expensive culinary fare. Although I have had the opportunity to dine at some of New  York finest restaurants- Balthazar's, Ben & Jack's, The Ocean Grill  - it's always been with a longfaced parent or boyfriend in tow. 

Now single, and with parents who, after four years of visiting in New York, are less inclined to dine at Daniel's, I have been increasingly forced of late to- gasp!- supply my own culinary adventures. Naturally, I'm much more inclined to look for deals, especially in light of the current economic climate.

And while looking for bargains in fine restaurants, I've been pleasantly surprised at how many places are offering terrific deals. (And I'm not just talking about the monthlong restaurant week.) Not only that, but there are several restaurants offering delicious meals for less than you'd spend at lunch at Chipotle. Here's what I've been able to come up with thus far:

Okay, okay, I know it's a chain. But Ruth's Chris has a history of delivering when it comes to steak, but at an average of $30-40 for the filet alone, few of us can afford to splurge very often.  But just recently, the steakhouse made a smart move, introducing a pre-fix menu dubbed Ruth's Classics. For just under $40, patrons get a full three course meal with their choice of side. Selections include filet topped with shrimp with a fresh cream chocolate mousse for dessert- how can you go wrong?

While sitting on stools hardly qualifies as fine dining, I had to include Mary's anyway. The restaurant has gotten rave reviews since opening in 2000, and you certainly can't beat the prices- everything on the menu is under $25, and the vast majority of selections under $15. Be sure to try their famous lobster roll, but be prepared to wait for it.  Oh, and beware the pricey wine list. 

In a city where you can get a slice of pizza for a buck at anytime, anywhere, it may seem extreme to spend $4.00 on a slice after waiting on line for 30 minutes- but do it.  Artichoke, a closet sized pizzeria which opened on 14th st and 1st in late 2008,  may have the best damn slice of margarita in the city, if not in the whole damn country. 

The menu is short and succinct- crab pizza, margarita, and finally, their namesake artichoke- a thick crusted piece of heaven covered in cheese, artichokes, spinach, butter and wine.  The settings may be less than gourmet- the restaurant is lit by a lamp in the shape of a woman's leg (to scale)- but none of that matters when you take that first perfect bite. Plus, the place is open until 4 am on weekends, so it's the perfect way to soak up a shot or two after a night out.

Bon Appetit! 

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