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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Twice a year, New York City organizes a wonderful event: Restaurant Week.  Don't let the name fool you, Restaurant Week is actually two weeks long, and I consider it a major holiday.  Beginning yesterday, for a short window of time, us little people are able to see how the other half lives by dining at the city's swankiest restaurants at discounted prices.  Since I work and am not fortunate enough to be one of those ladies who lunch, I am usually unable to take advantage of the $24.07 lunch and instead focus on the $35, 3 course, prix fixe dinner.  Then again, if I was a lady who lunched, I prob wouldn't have to wait til Restaurant Week to check out these places.

Since these 2 weeks of bliss will fly by, choose your restaurants strategically.  A few tips:

  • Get the most bang for your buck.  I'm poor.  To me, $35 can still be a lot of money to drop, so choose wisely.  Let's think about this.  Some types of ethnic food don't lend themselves to desserts.  Asian food doesn't typically excel in this area.  You don't want to feel screwed by enjoying 2 courses and winding up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.  Boring - and nothing I couldn't do in my own kitchen with the help of my friends Ben and Jerry.  Stick to Italian, Continental, and French cuisines and you won't be disappointed with any of your courses.
  • Check out the menu first (most participating restaurants will post them on their websites).  It may seem like the stars have aligned when you see the nicest restaurant in all of NYC on the list.  But some restaurants put more effort than others into their Restaurant Week menu and you don't want to feel like you got the shaft when a fancy restaurant slapped a couple of boring dishes on the plate and clearly returned to focus on the high-paying customers.  
  • Grab a drink first.  Take advantage of happy hour at a nearby bar before going to the restaurant.  You don't want to psych yourself up for a cheap dinner only to get an expensive bill after tacking three $14 martinis onto the check.

There's a slew of newcomers this year, including my top choices of SD26, Braeburn, and A Voce.  If anyone's looking for a buddy with whom to check out any of the Restaurant Week offerings, consider my hand raised.

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