Restaurant Week is starting this Sunday, January 18th, so I’ve been getting emails asking where I am going, etc.

I gotta break it to you, I’m not a fan of restaurant week, at least any more. Years ago, I thought it was a pretty good deal and a good way to sample a bit from top/expensive restaurants you might not otherwise get a chance to enjoy. Nowadays, restaurants have a “special” restaurant week menu of mass produced stuff that they don’t usually serve in their restaurants. It seems to always start with a soup or salad, a choice between a salmon dish or a chicken dish (usually white meat, bleh) as the entree, and the dessert is molten chocolate cake or ice cream/sorbet. Good luck with substitutions.

If you never dine at anything but pizzerias and delis, this may be a step up for you, but if you’re not new to restaurants completely, you’re really not getting a great deal. You may be getting more in quantity, but that does not recover poor quality in my eyes. Now that dinner (for restaurant week) is $35, my preference is to not get the cheap appetizer and uninteresting dessert, save the $35 and go to the restaurant (not during restaurant week) and get two or three appetizers off their regular menu or 1 entree, and that will really be experiencing that restaurant’s chefs. From the way restaurant week tastes, I think that’s when all the usual chefs, sous chefs, etc. go on vacation.

For the first time, restaurant week is now including Sundays, possibly because restaurants are really suffering. It looks like a humongous list of participants too. I am sensitive to that, and I do want to support restaurants and hope that most will not go out of business because of the economy. So my advice is, go for lunch. I had a pretty good lunch at Union Square Cafe during restaurant week, last year, and I’d go again. It seems that restaurants are willing to work with their normal level of quality for $24.07 for lunch but not for $35 during dinner, and many of the top restaurants don’t participate in the dinner offer anyway.

The weirdest thing is that some restaurants are cheap enough that $35 would actually be the same thing you’d pay there for 3 courses anyway, so why bother with restaurant week? Go when you can pick off the whole menu.

Despite all this, restaurant week has grown in popularity every year and that just makes me sad. Don’t be duped!

posted by jessica at 06:01 PM Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.