ES Local: New Year’s Eve Dinners That Won’t Put You Into Debt for All of 2010


Ah, New Year’s Eve dinner at a fancy Manhattan restaurant. Always sounds like such a perfect, romantic idea. That is, until you start calling around and discover that every eatery this side of Applebee’s is offering a “special” NYE menu at a not-so-special price of something like $250 a plate. WTF! Why is it considered OK for New Year’s dinners to cost five times as much as what they cost every other night of the year? Fine, add a special item to the menu or jack up the prices a little, but eating out on New Year’s shouldn’t be more expensive than, say, getting on a plane and flying to another city.

So we scoured the city to find four classy restaurants that that are offering tempting, high-end New Year’s Eve dinners at (relatively) reasonable prices. Here are our recommendations:

Brasserie 8 1/2: At $59 a head, the three-course prix fixe at this Midtown hotspot isn’t exactly bottom-of-the-barrel pricing, but if you simply must eat at a trendy NYC dining palace, this is about as cheap as you’re gonna get on the big night. And for fluke tartare, rack of lamb, and chocolate-chesnut profiteroles, the deal is actually pretty reasonable. Plus you can saunter down 57th Street afterward and get a (somewhat-distant) view of the Times Square ball drop. 9 West 57th St.

Telepan: This high-end Upper West Side eatery has the standard overpriced NYE prix fixe ($165), but they also make a nod to the cheapskates. The catch is that you have to be willing to eat a la grandma — the regular menu is on offer from 5:00 to 6:30 only. This includes a four-course prix fixe, which costs $55 and includes items like foie gras torchon and braised grass-fed beef brisket, or you can order a la carte. Either option leaves plenty of night left for drinking. 72 West 69th St.

Mercadito: Eat your way to midnight at this popular East Village Mexican spot, where they start serving  a $50, four-course, family-style menu at 9:30. You’ll get a tasting of their unique guacamoles (like mango-jicama-chipotle), along with your choice of two ceviches or other apps, a selection of four tacos, and dessert. Sounds like you’ve got to commit to eating an awful lot of food, but the total comes out to not much more than you’d pay on a regular night here. 179 Avenue B.

The Good Fork: Of course, you can always opt for a fancy restaurant far from the tourist crowds, in which case this homey spot in Red Hook, Brooklyn fits the bill. The Good Fork will be open on New Years Eve for the first time this year, and they’re going completely price gouge-free, serving their regular menu, at regular prices (seriously!) You’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in NYC where you can feast on bacon-wrapped pork tenderloins or hen of the woods mushrooms and come in at under $30 a person. 391 Van Brunt St.

Where else? Know of other great restaurants that offer not-so-awful New Year’s menus? Let us know in the comments.

Oyster: Four Not Outrageous New Year’s Eve Dinners in New York. Coming from out of town? Stay near these restaurants at the Michelangelo Hotel, Buckingham Hotel, or Thompson LES.

(Photo: Gandhu and Sara)

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