Contra serves imaginative, New American fare in a small, sleek space in Manhattan’s East Village, and after just three years of operating, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2017. But chefs and co-owners Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske haven’t let the attention shape the restaurant; they want Contra to be a spot for any night, not just for a birthday or a special occasion. Keeping the price point low is crucial to making that happen. Contra offers up its six-course tasting menu for under $100, and to help keep the food affordable, the duo employ a few changes that most diners won’t even notice.
According to Stone, lesser-known ingredients help keep the price down. “We’re not going to give them a huge chunk of beef,” he says. “If we put something more expensive on one course, we might put something that we love, like skate or monkfish that’s a little more affordable, on another course.”
In addition to keeping costs down, Contra has found subtle ways to serve more patrons. “There’s little things that needed to be stripped away,” Von Hauske says. “Our tables are slightly smaller than a fine-dining restaurant, our turns are a little shorter; you’ll be here for about two hours.” Don’t worry: With only six courses, each dish is a little bigger. Diners leave feeling full.
Stone and Von Hauske agree the lower price point changes the experience of the restaurant. “Diners enjoy themselves without feeling like they’re going to spend three or four hundred dollars,” Stone says. “They can feel a little more free to order the wine they want.”
Check out the video above for a look at Contra’s current imaginative, affordable, meal.