Prix fixe roundup: A sampling of the city’s latest recession-inspired menus

Prix fixe roundup: A sampling of the city’s latest recession-inspired menus

Thrifty times: Set menus are everywhere (Photo by Mzelle Biscotte) 

Bargain lunches, gimmicky pricing, tongue-in-cheek “bailout” menus—dining establishments across the city continue to find creative ways to lure diners away from stovetops and into restaurants. Here, a rundown of the latest spots to jump on the trend, offering prix fixe menus for the growing hordes of frugal diners.

Sidecar has a $24 three-course dinner menu from Sunday to Wednesday. Lobster bisque, steak frites and black tiger shrimp with hand-cut pasta are the highlights. 577 College St., 416-536-7000, sidecarrestaurant.ca.

• Also from Sunday to Wednesday, Tati Bistro offers a three-course menu for a dollar more than Sidecar, though its options (soup or salad, bavette frites or pasta, apple tart or profiteroles) are limited. 124 Harbord St., 416-962-8284, tatibistro.com.

Bodega‘s $30 dinner special includes such mains as grilled salmon and lentils, wild mushroom risotto and flatiron steak frites, as well as crème brûlée and warm banana cake with caramel ice cream for dessert. For $16, diners are served a matching glass of wine for each of the three courses. 30 Baldwin St., 416-977-1287, bodegarestaurant.com.

• The $35 dinner deal at Batifole is for thrifty folks with expensive tastes. Appetizers range from rich (lobster and crab soup) to richer (house-made game terrines and escargot fricassee). Mains include braised veal, and baked bass and shaved fennel in saffron-infused vermouth. 744 Gerrard St. E., 416-462-9965, batifole.ca.

• For only $20, enjoy unlimited mussels (plus an appetizer and crêpe for dessert) at the Québécois eatery Café du Lac every Tuesday. 2350 Lake Shore Blvd. W., 416-848-7381, cafedulac.ca.

Corner House’s $29 three-course dinner (Tuesday to Friday) features lobster bisque and roasted beet salad as starters, along with such mains as Cornish hen and grilled Ontario lamb. Dessert choices include apple-pear crumble and double-baked chocolate cheesecake. 501 Davenport Rd., 416-923-2604, cornerhouse.sites.toronto.com.

Scaramouche’s Spring Stimulus Menu rings in at $58. The lobster-heavy three-course menu (offered Monday to Thursday until May 28) consists of such appetizers as crab-lobster-coconut bisque and lobster sausage. Mains stick to the theme: butter-poached lobster, lobster with pasta and a steamed lobster with a side of spinach. 1 Benvenuto Pl., 416-961-8011, scaramoucherestaurant.com.

Fifth Elementt’s $10 two-course lunch menu is all over the map: bacon-wrapped scallops are listed alongside tandoori chicken and cheese tortellini. The resto-lounge also has a $32 three-course bailout special that is basically the lunch special with a few extra dishes (eight-ounce steak with mashed potatoes, venison, tandoori shrimp and a choice of dessert). We did the math, though, and it costs less to order the $10 lunch three times in one sitting. 1033 Bay St., 416-923-8159, 5thelementt.com.

• Other restaurants are offering bailout menus, but Amaya sets itself apart with its creative, FDR-inspired New Deal. A tasting menu for two (originally priced at $96) will cost one per cent of the Dow Jones’ closing figure. For example, the Dow closed at 8,404.08 on Monday, so the bill would have been $84 (this is a risk for diners, considering the markets are slowly bouncing back). To commemorate the crash of 1929, the Indian restaurant is also capping the markup of wine bottles at $19.29. 1701 Bayview Ave., 416-322-3270, amayarestaurant.com.