Michelin is one of the most esteemed dining guides in the world and not all restaurants have the chance to be awarded a Michelin star. That is why there is an impression that eating in a Michelin-starred restaurant will cost a lot of money.
That kind of thinking cannot be avoided because Michelin has been one of the gold standards of the restaurant industry for the longest time. It is made even more prestigious with its star rating system that some find to be somewhat mysterious.
It is popular around the world, but in the United States, Michelin only covers four cities and those are New York, San Francisco, Chicago and the recently added Washington, D.C.
When we travel, we want to make the most out of the experience and one of the ways that we can do that is to eat at the best restaurants wherever we go. However, the cost of fine dining can be a little tough on the pocketbook. Fortunately, there are ways on how you can still have a delightfully memorable, yet affordable dining experience.
Tips on How to Eat at a Fancy Restaurant Without Breaking the Bank
One important thing to remember is that you should always book in advance because it can get pretty hard to get a reservation. Aside from that, below are other tips for saving money while enjoying a great meal.
- Sit at the bar
It is common for high-end restaurants to have a different bar menu with lower prices. There are even several restaurants with Michelin stars which have reinvented the experience for bar patrons.
Take, for instance, the Restaurant at Meadowood, which has three Michelin stars. This place is considered as one of Napa Valley’s crown jewels because of its carefully composed farm-fresh cuisine. For $40, you can take advantage of its snack program which serves up seven bites of the chef’s fancy. Considering that the restaurant’s tasting menu costs $330, the bar bites are such a great deal. They may be small but they are as sophisticated as the full-sized courses.
- Try a mini tasting menu
Similar to the seven signature bites of the Restaurant of Meadowood, Aldea in East Coast, New York also launched a similar one in celebration of its seventh birthday. This new feature from chef George Mendes involves Portuguese snacks that are all bite-sized versions of the one-starred restaurant’s well-loved dishes. It means that even for a significantly lower price, you are not sacrificing the classic Aldea experience.
You can choose three bite-sized snacks for $21, five for $35, or all seven of them for $49. Some of the standouts are the duck confit rice with chorizo, uni toast with cauliflower puree, and salted caramel conhos or fried dough to cap off a nice meal.
- Drop by the restaurant for lunch
It is a common knowledge that most restaurants have a more affordable lunch menu than dinner. But, if you go to Fiola’s, which is a one Michelin star Italian restaurant, you will be blown away by their budget-friendly lunch offerings. Probably one of the factors for the spot’s affordable prices is the fact that it has been rated for the first time, as it is located in Washington, D.C.
For only $20, you can get a great deal by ordering their “Presto” lunch, which consists of one entrée and a beverage. To make the most of your experience at Fiola’s, try their ahi tuna and hamachi crudo, mushroom risotto, or olive oil poached halibut. For the drinks, try their Prosecco spritzer or their ginger and basil lemonade.
- Ask about the weekday specials
Quince is a three-star restaurant in San Francisco, serving contemporary Northern California fare with French and Italian influences. It has a signature tasting menu set consisting of 12 courses for $220. But, if you dine from Monday to Thursday, you will also have the option to have a six-course seasonal prix-fixe for only $165. Although some may say that it is still quite expensive, you will definitely enjoy the same delicious food usually served at a higher price. Some of the excellent dishes include white truffle pasta, Tsar Nicolai caviar, and spiny lobster.
- Go à la carte
Tasting menus at most of the Michelin rated restaurants usually start from $85 per person and up. You can go for a more affordable alternative by going to those which offer à la carte options like the Dabney in D.C., which recently got its first Michelin star. You can easily share small but satisfying dishes for under $35 per person. Some of their great dishes include the whole barbecued quail for only $18, roasted beets with smoked scallops for only $14, or the charred bok choy hush puppies for only $13.