12.27.2011
By Terry Flanagan

The Art of The Deal: Tasting Menu Lunch, Michelin Star Style

Some readers may be thinking, ‘If I’m going to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant, I’m not doing prix fixe, and I’m certainly not just doing lunch’. Then again, there are days when lunch at one of the usual places simply won’t do, and many times, being able to reserve a table at these not-so-usual restaurants for dinner can be a bit tricky. If you’ve ever tried reserving no more than one month in advance–most restaurants’ limit–and then being told that all tables are booked solid for the next two months, you’ll know what we mean. What to do, then, when you crave more than the usual plate of stuff at your desk and can’t wait a month for that fancy dinner? Block out two hours for lunch, snag a (relatively easy) lunch table, and ask for the (relatively less pricey) tasting menu, of course. Today, we focus on two stellar lunch tasting menus in Chicago and New York.

CHICAGO


Blackbird. A few other star-spangled restaurants in The Windy City–Longman & Eagle, NAHA, Sepia–offer lunch, but only a la carte. Since a tasting menu showcases the broadest sample of a chef’s offering (and ability to awe), we take a look at Blackbird, currently the only Michelin-starred restaurant in town to have a lunch tasting menu. At $22 per person, we daresay this is the best deal in town, too: feast on three delicious courses at this uber-chic, modern venue and enjoy the unexpected flavor twists, from warm noodles with avocado and lime or asparagus soup with lamb bacon to start, to roasted chicken and sausage with tamarind or a wood-grilled sturgeon with ham hock, to a dessert of chocolate ganache with Tahitian vanilla and…parsnip ice cream? Just thinking about how the flavors come together already has us drooling (and wishing we were in Chicago more often).

Blackbird | 619 W. Randolph Street., Chicago | 312.715.0708 | blackbirdrestaurant.com

NEW YORK


Bouley. Step into the foyer, lined wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling with fresh apples, let the scent go to your head, and experience iconic American chef David Bouley’s opulent interpretation of the French countryside and its cuisine. You’ll forget that you’re in the middle of the workday as the $55 five-course tasting–six, really, if you count the amuse bouche, and seven if you add the tray of petit fours after dessert–regales you with starters that are green and crisp (roasted asparagus, or a carpacci dish done up as if you were on a boat in the Mediterranean somewhere), a to-die-for porcini flan with Alaskan crab, or an incredibly tender roasted Long Island duck breast. A surprisingly clean, cool melon soup and a selection of desserts (Cheese plate! Chocolate soufflĂ©! Caramelized pear!) finish up the quintet. Sit back in your plush surroundings, remember to block out an extra half hour or so to luxuriate, and remember these two words: bread basket.

Bouley | 163 Duane Street, New York | 212.964.2525 | davidbouley.com

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