Cheap Eats?

The recession has had its perks - especially for people who love to eat. In New York City, it seems like there's a proliferation of joints opening every week: the next beer garden, pizza makers, cupcake spinsters and burger masters. And that's only the beginning.

Even celebrated and well-known chefs have turned to offering customers with more affordable options. Some have extended prix fixe specials while others have opened entire new restaurants with a more urbane appeal.

In school, we've debated what this all means for chefs. Does it mean we compromise on creativity? Or worse yet, quality? Not necessarily, chefs have told me and my classmates. On one night we talked about the all-American burger. One chef despises them. He called it an easy out to cooking, and a way to pander to American tastes. On the other hand, another chef said, "good food is good food."

So when I ate at Daniel Boulud's newly opened DBGB on a recent night, I settled the debate for myself.

First, DBGB was Daniel's first foray outside of high-end dining. Still, the restaurant is quite nice compared to many places. So I jumped to the Yankee burger right away. The bun was made from an artisan sesame bread, the beef natural and juicy, the cheese local and the mayo replaced with aioli. It didn't taste like a fancy burger but a good one. That said, can a $16 dollar be considered cheap? Maybe in New York. But I'm not so convinced this is what most people would consider cheap.

I was more than satisfied with my meal, but it still left the question in mind, "Does cheap mean good?"

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