What Is A Tasting Menu?

 

If you have looked at the menus or websites for many high end restaurants, you have probably noticed that most of them offer a tasting menu. For the adventurous, ordering dinner without regard to what might arrive to your table could be great. Even for the less curious, most restaurants can accommodate allergies or a dietary preference and still offer a tasting menu. However, ordering dinner at a restaurant, and not knowing in advance what you might be eating, is taking a big leap of faith. This is especially true if you have never dined at a restaurant. Hopefully, we can shed some light on the question, “What is a tasting menu?”

 

As the name implies, a tasting menu is a selection of several dishes, usually in a series of 5, 7, or up to 10 courses. At Gracie’s, we offer a 5 and 7-course tasting menu. These courses change weekly, and are often based on seasonality, and what is available from our local vendors. The portions of each dish are smaller than a regular entree, but are quite filling when you consider that the tasting menu is, in essence, several smaller portioned entrees, and also includes complimentary bread.

Focaccia and Honey Beer Bread - photo by JWessel Photography

Focaccia and Honey Beer Bread – photo by JWessel Photography

What is a Tasting Menu AND What Does It Look Like?

 

You’ve made the decision to try the tasting menu. Great! Now what? Assuming you have ordered the 7-course tasting menu, your dinner will start with a cold dish – usually a salad, though this can vary quite a bit. This week, our starter is a dish of Nantucket Bay Scallops, with persimmon, breakfast radish, orange, watercress, and sorrel.

photo by JWessel photography

photo by JWessel photography

The second course is a pasta or soup. Pictured here is Parsnip soup, with marcona almond angolotti, whipped maple, asian pear, and pancetta.

photo by JWessel Photography

photo by JWessel Photography

Photo by JWessel Photography

Photo by JWessel Photography

Photo by JWessel Photography

Photo by JWessel Photography

The third course in the 7-course tasting is Foie Gras. Here we have Hudson Valley Foie Gras, with sesame crust, soy glazed carrot, beet pickled ginger, rice crackers, and trumpet mushrooms. In the 5-course tasting, this course is omitted, and your next dish would be a fish entree.

Photo by JWessel Photography

Photo by JWessel Photography

For the fourth course in the 7-course tasting menu, fish is served. Here we have local Monkfish, with  house-cured bacon, sweet potato, braised red cabbage, and cabbage sprouts.

Photo by JWessel Photography

Photo by JWessel Photography

Following your fish entree, a meat dish will arrive at your table. Pictured here is venison, with juniper, salsify, apple, crispy wild rice, squash, and brussel sprouts.

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Photo by JWessel Photography

 

In the 7-course tasting menu, the meat is followed by a cheese plate, then dessert. In a 5-course tasting menu, you go from meat, straight to dessert. Here we have Angelito Mousse with sunflower seed crust, molasses candied black currants, carrot cake, and carrot sherbet.

Photo by JWessel Photography

Photo by JWessel Photography

The tasting menu can also be paired with wines that are chosen to complement the flavors on your plate. At Gracie’s, we also offer a vegetarian tasting menu, and can work with you to accommodate allergies or dietary preferences. So if someone asks, what is a tasting menu? Now you know, and I don’t know about you, but I am feeling a bit hungry. Join us at Gracie’s for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays by calling 401.272.7811 to reserve your seat at the table.

 

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