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In a city where prix fixe meals can run into the hundreds of dollars, even before wine, Le Tableau's $26 nightly prix fixe 3-course option sounds too good to be true. Fortunately, it's not.

The dimly lit French bistro offers appetizers like roasted red beet gateau with Montrachet and toasted almonds and pan roasted diver scallops with apple and rhubarb compote, complex arrangements of sweet and savory. Main course specialties like the Moroccan spiced rack of baby lamb and the pan roasted pork loin accompanied by yam puree, Gorgonzola, and a Porto reduction emphasize Mediterranean influence while seafood options include a Japanese BBQ Mahi Mahi showcasing the chef's versatility. For dessert, homemade ice cream and Valrhona chocolate truffle cake, appropriate for sharing over the candlelit aura makes Le Tableau prime first-date territory or just a reliable neighborhood favorite.

Le Tableau is lcoated at 511 E. 5th St. between Avenues A & B, (212) 260-1333.

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