Contra, Fabian von Hauske and Jeremiah Stone's envelope-pushing set menu venue on the Lower East Side, is raising the price of admission later in the week as it adopts a slightly longer tasting format. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant will offer a 6-8 course menu for $67, up from the current price of $55 for five courses.
This is the restaurant's first price hike since opening in October 2013. The new menus will go into effect on Wednesday, April 15th.
Why did Contra make the changes? "We're a year-and-a-half old. Expenses are higher; that's one of the motivations," Hauske tells Eater. " With $55 we achieved what we wanted to, but there are some restraints." He goes on: "With five-courses, we had to do an appetizer, a fish, a meat, a lighter dessert and a heavier dessert. Hopefully with this [longer menu], we can have a little more versatility."
The more expensive tasting will also be available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but Contra will still offer its shorter prix fixe on those days for $52, a modest $3 discount from the current price. The restaurant will also introduce an element of choice into the shorter menu, which will draw from the $67 tasting, with diners having the option to select their main protein (i.e. meat or fish, etc). Currently, there are no choices on the set menu, with the exception of at the bar, where diners can order a la carte. Here's tonight's set menu:
So dinner for two, after tax and tip, will cost $173 for the longer menu. Contra's acclaimed bread course, which is baked to order and typically brushed with rendered beef or chicken fat, will remain as a $3 supplement to both menus, as will the composed cheese course, at $8.
All things considered, Contra is still priced at the lower-end of New York's set menus. This is thanks to its location and environs that, while definitely not uncomfortable, are certainly less plush than Midtown power spots like Marea, where four courses will run $99. Though perhaps the fairer comparison is with a restaurant like Semilla in Williamsburg, where the tasting runs $75. "We still want to be known as a fairly cheap place, where you can stop by and have a bite," Von Hauske says.
This critic named Contra one of the city's best new restaurants in his year-end column for Eater.