Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Some thoughts on Restaurant Week (ends Sept 6)

Restaurant Week in New York has been extended through Labor Day (September 6), which has a lot of people excited. And for good reason, right? I mean, when else can you eat a meal for under $35 at such wonderful restaurants as Les Halles, Café Boulud, Le Cirque, and Nobu? Prix fixe menus at $24.07 for lunch and $35 for dinner are pretty great deals in this town – but you get what you pay for.

Restaurant Week can be a great way to visit restaurants beyond your neighborhood, comfort zone, and price range. But far too frequently, a Restaurant Week meal can turn into a real disappointment. Maybe the restaurant’s signature dish isn’t included in the Restaurant Week Menu. Or the portions are noticeably smaller than they ought to be, or the food comes out luke-warm – or even worse, it tastes like it took a trip through the microwave. All too often, Restaurant Week yields meals that are sub-par for the restaurant, with the house’s attention and kitchen’s efforts focused more on regular diners and à la carte menu items.

Obviously, this isn’t the case everywhere and Restaurant Week does have its perks. But if you’re worried about getting fleeced, a little research can help you take advantage of Restaurant Week prices without rolling the dice on your meal. Over the last two years, the restaurant industry has been hit hard, and many restaurants developed “recession specials” just to survive. Fortunately for New York’s hungry diners, not only did a lot of these restaurants survive, but their specials did too. Some of these specials are still in their original form, while others have been reincarnated into new bar menus, weekly one-night specials, and secret-code arrangements with organizations like and Tasting Table.

With just over three weeks left in Restaurant Week (yes, that sounds silly), go ahead – make that reservation, visit that restaurant you’ve been eying. But remember, if you look in the right places, New York’s “restaurant week” never really ends. Just make sure you keep seeking out those new places and foods!

1 comment:

  1. When we lived in NYC for five years we participated in this week but that was from 1992-1997. We went to come cool places like Tavern on the Green and the Russian Tea Room.