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Best Affordable Tasting Menu

PAYARD PATISSERIE & BISTRO
1032 Lexington Ave.
212-717-5252

Philippe Bertineau must be the most criminally unheralded chef in New York, possibly because you have to get past those cases filled with François Payard's sugary sorcery to get to a place where you can enjoy his talents. But his gifts beautifully complement his benefactor's, and every night he offers a different five-course tasting menu. One meal started with a tuna-sashimi canapé, followed by Maine crab with Oakwood shiitakes, Chatham cod and sweet onions with creamy polenta, roasted pheasant breast and leg confit with apples and black-trumpet mushrooms, then ended with a crêpe Napoleon in a blood-orange coulis and a chocolate cube filled with caramel and caramel ice cream. Hearty and heavenly from start to finish, and $68 for the whole deal. The tasting menu at Alain Ducasse is $225. Anyone daring enough these days to say it's only money?

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