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Tasting Menus Let Chefs Play, Guests Benefit

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Those who wish to be a little more indulgent, a little more decadent, and try some more luxurious items, will be happy to hear chefs are turning more and more to tasting menus.

With tasting menus chefs can create dishes with ingredients they might not use ordinarily, including luxury cuts of meat. While some chefs offer tasting menus as a matter of course, others put them together for special events and occasions -- including Restaurant Week, which is just around the corner in New York City. (In fact, here it actually takes place over two weeks).

TravelsinTaste has rounded up some of the most luxurious Restaurant Week tasting menus with mouthwatering ingredients you won't want to miss.

In New York, Strip House's executive chef, John Schenk, has created a luxurious tasting menu for an exclusive Jan. 30 event: A Decadent Sunday Night Supper at Strip House. This $150 menu (inclusive of wine pairing, tax and gratuity) includes Foie Gras Raviolo with Oyster Mushrooms and Black Truffle Cream; Filet Mignon Carpaccio; and Standing Prime Rib Roast Au Jus with Yorkshire Pudding and Creamy Horseradish. It's topped off with a Baked Alaska for dessert. This once-in-a-lifetime event is hosted at a communal table for 10 serious foodies.

"Tasting menus give me the opportunity to take our everyday great ingredients at Strip House and tweak them to refract different tastes and combinations. I can play with the ideas I have been thinking of doing for the menu and see how they work in an actual 'in service' environment," Schenk said. "Also there is the feeling of being out of one's comfort zone and cooking without a net -- frighteningly fun."

Of course, there's another way to do the tasting menu: Let your guests do the choosing. Executive Chef Daniel Humm recently changed the entire focus of his menus at Eleven Madison Park to an omakase style, meaning he provides a list of principal ingredients from which guests make choices and discuss preferences. The kitchen designs the meal from there. Principal ingredients include such decadent items as foie gras, white truffle and, of course, beef. A four-course dinner is $125, while five courses cost $195.

The miX restaurant at Mandalay Bay (MGM) serves world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse's Grand Tasting Menu for $120, not including tax and gratuity each night. Another $55 adds a wine pairing. The latest menu includes the piece de resistance, a Filet Mignon Rossini with Foie Gras & Black Truffle topped off with Baba Au Rhum.

Valentine's Day is always associated with luxury ingredients, and a number of tasting menus are being prepared with the holiday in mind. Emeril Lagasse's Table 10 at the Palazzo (LVS) in Vegas is serving a tasting menu for the occasion for $95, exclusive of tax and gratuity. It stars a Seared Filet Mignon on Lobster Smashed Potatoes with an Artichoke Black Truffle Ragout. Meanwhile, the Venetian Tao's Valentine's Day Tasting menu contains a half-dozen fresh oysters served on the half shell and topped with a Yuzu-Champagne Gelee to start and a Surf 'n Turf with six ounces of Kobe filet grilled and served alongside three jumbo prawns, seasoned with salt and pepper and lightly dusted in flour and wok fried. The dish is finished with X.O. sauce and stir-fried chinese broccoli.

Strip House in Houston is hosting a Remy Martin dinner pairing Feb. 9 in homage to the gentlemen of AMC's Mad Men. Schenk is preparing a four-course meal with Filet Mignon Rossini with Louis XIII Butter & Black Truffle Bordelaise, Black Truffle Creamed Spinach and Shallot Tempura.

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