Tuesday, February 1, 2011


By: Amanda Halkiotis
Twice a year (summer/winter) New York foodies rejoice as some of the pricier, more popular restaurants around town participate in Restaurant Week. Going on its second week, Winter Restaurant Week will continue through February 6th (excluding Saturday the 5th) and features three-course prix-fixe meals to over 300 restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. All participating restaurants offer up their own unique cuisines and dining atmosphere for an affordable price: $24 for lunch and $35 for dinner.  

While this may not sound like the cheapest meal in the city, many of these eateries do take measures to slash their retail prices to accommodate the fixed constraints of this event. Some of the most expensive restaurants in the city, like the famed River Café in Brooklyn, (home to breathtaking views, impeccable service, decadent to-die-for desserts pictured below and $21 mimosas) have been returning participants for years enable to promote a sense of community and encourage a visit from residents who would not otherwise be inclined to drain their bank accounts on a meal, no matter how memorable.

Japonais New York
Part of the fun also lies in trying something new, like sushi at Japonais (111 East 18th Street) if you tend to go to the same reliable hole-in-the-wall Japanese place within walking distance from your office or apartment, it's time for a temporary upgrade asap.
Brasserie NY, 53rd Street
Brasserie 53RD Street, NY: Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwich
While others may relish getting dressed up for fancy French food at Brasserie (100 East 53rd Street), a spot by Lexington Avenue brimming with high-class charm and an occasion that may turn into some prime people-watching. Opening at 7am during the week, Brasserie offers up three square meals a day to some of the most notable movers and shakers in the city. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been known to hold a power breakfast or two inside its spacious and chic circular dining room.

Even classic American comfort food like burgers and ribs gets great PR during Restaurant Week, and the opportunity to partake in simple fare with elegant flair, especially at places like Resto (111 East 29th Street); their burgers have gotten considerable buzz since opening in  2007. Or Blue Smoke (116 East 27th Street), Danny Meyer’s upscale barbecue place takes a serious approach to the art of the pit, offering some killer signature cocktails, Blue Smoke radiates with a very cool downtown vibe.

How To Be a Restaurant Week Pro
  • Book Multiple And In Advance: If you have the time to kill and the money to burn, book as many tables for lunch or dinner as possible. You can always find people to go with you later on, or cancel the reservation completely, which will most likely make someone on the waiting list very happy.
  • Be Assertive: Depending on the venue and the politics, (an owner thinks it’s a great idea, while the staff might be gritting their teeth during Restaurant Week), the servers may not be enamored with diners on a budget. And you may be given a regular menu for example, this means you should ask specifically for a Restaurant Week menu. Or you might even become the victim of an “upsell” attempt, where pushy encouragement to order a drinks, an appetizer, a cheese plate before the dessert. In this case expect it, and then just deflect it. Be courteous but firm, and the staff will get the hint.
  • Tip Well: Some restaurants offer complimentary coffee and tea service as part of their Restaurant Week package, while others, like Thalassa in Tribeca (whose tasty brew comes at the premium price of $4, so be sure to get your free refills), charges you a la carte for any incidentals. Don’t be caught off guard and don’t take it too personally, as you’re already getting a great deal on the meal. Some even offer perks, Mexican restaurant Rocking Horse Café (182 Eighth Avenue) for instance offers a complimentary margarita on their Restaurant Week dinner menu. So if you can afford it, be sure to tip your waiter a little extra, in return, doing the same amount of work for a third or less of the regular tab price really cuts into their cash flow at the end of the night, or at the end of the two-Restaurant- Week run.
Reservations anyone? Go HERE.

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