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Belt-Tightening Hits the Menu

Recession specials return.

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New York’s bistros are preparing for leaner times. “This week has been very scary,” says chef Franklin Becker of Sheridan Square, which is offering $50 coupons for checks over $100. Ruby Foo’s recently remade the menu at its Upper West Side branch, offering lower-priced dishes that have reduced the average per-person check from $29 to $20. Strip House, where lobster goes for $29 per pound, stopped selling four-pounders and added two-pounders to the menu. Icon, in the W Hotel on 39th Street, has dropped the price of a tasting menu from $90 to $66 and now offers a BYOB night on Mondays. Le Cirque introduced a $48 three-course prix fixe in its lounge; the regular three-course tasting is $92. And Keith McNally is considering less-expensive concepts for his new space on the Bowery. But not everyone’s cutting back. “I tried to take off the Dover sole, which is $65, and substitute it with gray sole or lemon sole for $24,” says Da Silvano’s Silvano Marchetto. “People started complaining.”

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