SMART MOUTH

In NYC, a Meal Steal

Foodies take note: Jean Georges Vongerichten, deemed New York's top chef by many a tough critic, now regularly makes his gourmet French fare available at prices to suit travelers on a budget. At Jean Georges, the Swiss-born chef's elegantly appointed dining room just below Lincoln Center, our socks were recently knocked off by a lunch that came complete with appetizer, main course and dessert for $35 a person--compared with a $75 average cost for dinner. A four-course version goes for $45.

Several other top Manhattan restaurants offer similar prix-fixe lunch deals, including Lespinasse ($36 for three courses) and Lutece ($38).

In a city where the cost of eating out can easily break the budget, fixed-price meals have become a popular offering. Precursor: New York's annual summer promotion in which top restaurants offer lunch for under $20 during one week each June, which was wildly successful. In all cases, reservations are a must.

Jean Georges, 1 Central Park West, 212-299-3900.

Lespinasse, 2 E. 55th St., 212-339-6719.

Lutece, 249 E. 50th St., 212-752-2225.

WHY2K?

Party Line

Afraid you've missed the millennium boat? The Travel Industry Association assures us that tickets to hundreds of New Year's parties are still available across the United States. Its 28-page calendar has prices and reservation info. One family-friendly option: the alcohol-free First Night Annapolis, with more than 200 performances of music and dance. Details: 410-268-8553, www.firstnightannapolis.org.

Access the calendar at www.tia.org (click on Discover America) or by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to TIA, 1100 New York Ave., Suite 450, Washington, D.C. 20005.

EXIT LINES

Nervous airline passengers for whom the EgyptAir crash last week only exacerbated fears of flying can research safety records of airlines and plane models at www.airsafe.com . . .

Cruisedom's biggest ship ever, Royal Caribbean's 142,000-ton Voyager of the Seas, still has cabins available "in all categories" for its Nov. 21 inaugural sail. Which begs the question: How big is too big? . . . Trolling for a cheap hotel room or airline ticket? Watch out for a new $5 "processing fee" that Priceline (www.priceline.com), the "name your price" Internet site, has just begun levying on successful bidders.

Bargain of the week

Two for the Road

Lufthansa is offering a two-for-one special to more than 100 cities throughout Europe. Purchase one standard economy round-trip ticket and pay only taxes on a companion ticket. The two-for-one deal between Washington Dulles and Vienna, for example, costs about $800, a $150 savings over two tickets purchased separately at the lowest excursion fares. Tickets must be purchased by Feb. 15, and travel completed by March 31.

You May Have stumbled across the funky fiberglass cows that graced the streets of Chicago this summer in a city-sponsored art project. Now you can own one: Tuesday night, part of the herd will be auctioned off at the Chicago Theatre. You can also bid for others at www.metromix.com. The cows are cool, but they ain't cheap: The bidding for one bovine, spattered with paint in Jackson Pollock style, has topped $5,000. For tickets ($25) to the live auction: 312-902-1500.

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to:

cogo@washpost.com. By fax: 202-334-1069. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.