Restaurant Week: Summer 2014

It’s Restaurant Week in NYC!  Or should I say, “Restaurant Almost-Month.” The summer restaurant week runs from July 21 through August 15- and I’m about to drop a sizeable chunk of change to try some restaurants that I couldn’t normally afford.

But with over 300 restaurants participating, it’s no easy task deciding which places you’d like to tackle.  Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck, while also ensuring a worthwhile culinary experience (sounds fancy, huh? It is).

(This was my friends entree at David Burke's Fishtail. So pretty!)

Is there a big difference between the lunch and dinner menus?
At some restaurants, the lunch menu, which is $25 for three courses, is identical to the dinner menu, which is $38 for three courses.   You do the math. Often, the lunch menu is offered until 4 p.m., and with the amount of food you get- it’s definitely possible that you could pull an “80-year-old in Florida” and make it your dinner.

Save the Restaurant Week dinners for places that either don’t offer lunch, or offer a lunch menu that you’re just not feelin’ (But I’m telling you, the lunch menu is almost always very similar.)

Am I getting the goods?
Sorry, but I’m not dropping $30 on a lunch if my best appetizer option is a kale Caesar salad and the best entrée is some chicken with vegetables. You can keep your “assorted gelatos.” But anywhere giving me seafood options, lamb, duck, creative desserts, etc., I’m all in.

Will I actually experience the restaurant? 
Are they actually offering signature dishes from their typical menus? Or are they offering lame dishes made “special” for restaurant week? If there’s a dish you’ve been dying to try at a place, but it’s not offered on the restaurant week menu- save the trip, and splurge on that special entrée you’ve been eyeing.

Can you eat here another time for around the same price?
If this is a restaurant you can typically afford anyway, don’t go during restaurant week.  I usually look at their price rating on Yelp or similar websites.  If they’re a $$$$ restaurant- the chances I’m treating myself to a night there without it being restaurant week are very slim.  But $$, I can manage on my own at a later date.

Do they have regular prix fixe menus?
If the restaurant offers a prix fixe year-round, and it’s affordable, save it, and go to a restaurant without a regular prix fixe option.

A few more tips:
  • It’s also important to consider whether or not you plan on drinking, how much the restaurants cocktails typically go for, and if you are a dessert person or not.  If you would rather get a cocktail or two and not order dessert, maybe the prix fixe restaurant week option at that particular restaurant isn’t for you.
  • Be adventurous- don’t make reservations at 4 Italian restaurants or 3 different sushi bars.  Chances are, the options, given the smaller menus, will be very similar among restaurants with the same cuisine.  So why not try sushi one night and Indian the next? You live in NYC, the options are endless.  Get out there and try new things!
  • Take notice of supplementary charges on the restaurant week menus- a lot of times, signature dishes will cost an extra $7-$12!
  • If you're like me, and love Instagramming your food- #NYCResaurantWeek is giving away gift cards to the best pictures! Get your X-ProII on and arrange those plates!
  • Plan ahead, and make reservations.

What are my plans for the remainder of Restaurant Week, you ask?

Dovetail, mas (la grillade), Tamarind – Tribeca, Lure Fishbar. And I went to Fishtail on Sunday (review to follow!)

Leave me comments if there's any other places I NEEEEEED to try :) And h
appy eating!