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When planning a private dinner for a small group, consider restaurants tied to culinary schools. Since the staff is made up of students, costs are lower but the atmosphere is similar to a regular high-end restaurant. For example, Le Cordon Bleu's Technique, found in 14 cities around the U.S., offers prix fixe menus starting at $10 for a three-course lunch and $15 for a three-course dinner. techniquerestaurant.com