Tasting menus and pleasures big and small

One of life’s small pleasures is telling someone about a great this or that you experienced that s/he should try—and the report comes back with flying colors, just as you hoped it would! Over the past few months I have burnished my foodie cred with a few family members as I talked up the delights of the tasting menu. Intrigued by my Fine Diners Over 40 (FDO40) venture, my college-aged niece asked me to show her what a FDO40 experience might be like. To be on the safe side, I could have suggested places where we could order à la carte; instead, I asked this sometimes-finicky teen if she was up for a food adventure, as in leaving the decision making to a creative, capable chef who has gotten props for his or her interpretation of the tasting menu. She said yes, we dined at Contra (I’d never been so I went fingers crossed), and I became the talk of her town as her aunt who really knows her culinary stuff. Mission accomplished! (Thank you, Pete Wells.)

Then there was the birthday celebration (mine). Piggybacking on my success with Contra, I requested that we try The Eddy, a relative newcomer to the East Village that has earned praise from again, Pete Wells, and Shauna Lyon of The New Yorker. My brother-in-law got the most excited—he was in awe of the knowledge and skill required to craft a menu in which each course builds on the previous in a harmonious parade of flavors and gastronomic ingenuity. What’s more, he really enjoyed not having to make tough menu choices and sitting back and letting others do what they do best.

For anyone interested in doing a comparison of the “best tasting menus in New York,” I give you recent lists from Business Insider, Grub Street, and Guest of a Guest.

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