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Affordable Ways to Experience Boston’s Priciest Restaurants

These high-end restaurants have some options that are easier on the wallet

Menton’s Gold Bar
Menton’s Gold Bar
Menton/Official Site

The Boston area boasts a large number of upscale restaurants that offer top-notch tasting menus for a fixed price, putting diners in the hands of the chefs. That price is often quite high, relegating these restaurants to the special-occasion-only pile in most diners’ minds. However, some of these restaurants have begun diversifying their price points, finding ways to draw in diners on a more frequent, more casual, and less expensive basis.

From snacks and wine at a standing bar to late-night bites inside a brewery, here are some ways to experience some of Boston’s best high-end restaurants at a fraction of the usual cost.


The Table

2447 Massachusetts Ave., North Cambridge

Chef Carl Dooley is about to introduce an a la carte option to the menu at The Table at Season to Taste in Cambridge, which typically features just a four-course prix fixe. The catering space-turned-tasting-menu-restaurant will add an eight-seat patio this May (assuming the weather cooperates), as Boston Magazine reports. The outdoor space will accommodate walk-in guests who can order a la carte items, including dinner dishes and bar snacks. The restaurant does not have a full liquor license but serves an assortment of apéritifs, wines, beers, and ciders.

There’s one other option for a la carte dining — well, snacking — at The Table: Stand at the bar and order from a small menu of snacks, such as house-made terrine with pickled shallots and multigrain toast ($11) or a sunny-side egg and kimchi with roasted peanuts and Jonah crab ($9).

The Table at Season to Taste
The Table at Season to Taste
Katie Chudy for Eater

Journeyman

9 Sanborn Ct., Union Square, Somerville

On Thursday through Sunday, Journeyman serves a tasting menu that runs between nine and 11 courses, showcasing local foods and wood-fired cooking. It runs $115 per person (tip included); there’s a $15 to $25 discount if you buy tickets ahead of time online instead of just making a reservation.

But on Monday through Wednesday, Journeyman transforms into its more casual sibling, Heat, serving an a la carte menu with items such as duck, pork, or mushroom skewers ($6-$8), lobster spring rolls ($14), a scallop crudo with green strawberries and burdock ($10), and more. No tipping; service is already included in the prices.

(Want to enjoy Heat’s more casual, a la carte feel while still spending the big bucks? Try the $83 “steak and bake” — a 12-ounce strip loin with a fried egg and baked potato.)

Heat at Journeyman
Facebook

Menton

354 Congress St., Fort Point, Boston

In its earlier days, Menton served only tasting menus — among the highest-priced ones in town. Now in its seventh year, the fanciest Barbara Lynch restaurant has expanded its options to include an a la carte dinner menu alongside the $155 “Chef’s Whim” tasting menu, as well as a lunch menu with a two-course “express” prix fixe ($34) and a la carte dishes. None of these are cheap by any means, but they’re certainly less wallet-busting ways to experience a restaurant that will costs hundreds of dollars should you go for a full tasting menu and drinks.

But perhaps the best way to experience Menton in a slightly more affordable way is to visit its swanky Gold Bar, which accommodates walk-ins at its six-seat bar and in the 10-seat lounge area. The a la carte menu includes a variety of crostini ($12), oysters and cocktail shrimp ($3/each), Menton’s famous foie gras frankfurter and potato salad ($24), desserts ($9 to $12), and more, along with a fine cocktail (and mocktail) selection.

Menton
Menton
Bill Addison/Eater

Tasting Counter

14 Tyler St., Ward Two, Somerville

Located inside of Aeronaut Brewing Co., Tasting Counter’s focus is tasting menus; there’s no a la carte option at lunch or dinner, and the very elaborate tasting menus start at $60 (lunch) and $180 (dinner) and increase depending on the day of the week.

But head to Tasting Counter on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night between 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., and the restaurant’s upscale vibe chills out as it transforms into a late-night wine bar with snacks that mostly cost $5 each (think miso duck sandwiches, spicy noodles, and fried dumplings) and wines that start at $8 a glass.

Update, 4/18: Tasting Counter’s Natural Wine Bar is now open five nights a week — 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

A minimalist, bright white restaurant interior featuring a high-end tasting counter
Tasting Counter
John Skibbee

Asta

47 Massachusetts Ave., Back Bay, Boston

Asta offers its tasting menu — and only its tasting menu — for dinner five nights a week, priced at $80 and $110 for five and eight courses respectively, but this month, it’s bringing back a lunchtime fried chicken and biscuit pop-up that first appeared in June 2016. The aptly named pop-up, “Fried Chicken & Biscuit,” kicked off its 2017 season on April 1 and will reappear every Friday and Saturday (and Marathon Monday) from noon to 2 p..m. throughout the month. Follow Fried Chicken & Biscuit on Instagram for adorable chicken photos and news about when it will pop up again in the future.

Update, 4/24: Asta is launching a new pop-up called Savage Matcha for three weeks in May 2017, serving matcha and sweet treats from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

A restaurant facade with large, reflective windows and a black sign outlined in red
Asta
Bill Addison/Eater

Got any other tips for experiencing Boston’s priciest restaurants in slightly more affordable ways? Drop a comment below or hit up the tipline.

The Table at Season to Taste

2447 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140 617-871-9468 Visit Website

Tasting Counter

14 Tyler Street, , MA 02143 (617) 299-6362 Visit Website

Journeyman

9 Sanborn Court, Somerville, MA 617 718 2333 Visit Website

Menton

354 Congress Street, , MA 02210 (617) 737-0099 Visit Website

Asta

47 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02115 (617) 585-9575 Visit Website

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