The impact of changing seasons is indescribable to someone who has grown up in perpetual summertime. January-February? Get your cardigan. March-April? Magical. May-November? Get used to the smell of your own body. Indoors. With all five of your AC units blasting to keep the house at a comfortable 50-degrees that feels like 90. December? Marry Christmas, Santa, I do hope your reindeer enjoy the same lion cuts my sister’s cats are rocking around their Christmas tree.
Cats across the country in December:
Cats in Texas:
(Someone get this guy some pants!)
You see, with the changing seasons you have things to look forward to, like snow in winter (which still enchants me every time it falls softly to the ground, blanketing the earth in glittery powder). Or the vivid and equally spellbinding leaves in the fall. Or the warmth of the summer sun when it finally hits your shoulders (because here, it’s finite). Or Christmas…except more authentic because I can’t tan in my backyard while the ham is roasting.
But more than any of this, the changing seasons bring with them another kind of magic. A magic that warms me to my very core and embraces my soul in a way that makes me feel as though I can conquer the world. And this magic is available once in the winter and once in the summer.
BRING ON RESTAURANT WEEK!
Look, say what you will about the hoards of rude diners and the sub-par quality of food and service. Restaurant Week is a way to get diners – some of whom wouldn’t go if they had to pay full price – in the door, spending a little money on food and an exorbitant amount on alcohol, and (if restaurants play their cards right) raving about how good the food is to friends. It’s brilliant.
Oh and what’s that? You’re above Restaurant Week? Well then you may take your hoards of money elsewhere and I’ll take my jealously and teeny wallet to one of the high end restaurants offering great deals for loan-laden millennials like myself.
Every year, twice a year, I anxiously await the ping of the email announcing that the menus are up. Oh boy, at that point? Clear my MF schedule, I’m BUSY the rest of the afternoon. Looking at menus, taking notes, and deciding which restaurants I like for lunch, which I like for dinner, and which are my top 5 that I must try (because let’s be honest, even though thirty bucks for a three-course meal in Boston is a steal, I’ve got to keep my loan shark – aka that conniving bitch Sallie Mae – off my back).
So what are the criteria for such an important and exclusive list? In addition to the general reputation of a restaurant, I consider the following:
- Have I been there? If the answer is yes, it defeats the purpose.
- How expensive is the normal menu? I feel like $33 for three courses anywhere is a great deal, but I definitely don’t need that much food. If I can normally get an entrée for less than $25, I’ll pass on that establishment for Restaurant Week and try it at a later date.
- How’s the drink menu? Delicious food? Great. Delicious food but no unusual cocktails or wine to try? It goes on the “maybe” list. With more than 200 restaurants to choose from, you’ve gotta trim the fat somewhere.
- What’s on the menu? This is the most important question. Usually the other three criteria help me narrow down the list to about 30 (no, I’m not even remotely kidding), and from there I look at the menus to see who is offering at least one item I’ve never tried. Steak, chicken, and salmon just aren’t going to cut the mustard during Restaurant Week. Extra points if the menus have something I’ve never tried and something else containing duck, mushrooms, or any combination of the two. Or bread pudding…that erases any number of sins.
This year, after much deliberation –
my Top 5 for Restaurant Week are:
I can’t decide what’s better – the crepes parisienne or fried brie for an appetizer, the tagliatelle with pork belly, or the fact that the price includes a glass of wine. I love me a good deal.
As the lower priced, but still certainly not inexpensive, little sister to the brilliant Ken Oringer’s Clio, I frankly don’t give a damn what’s on the menu. I’m just excited I get to sample Chef Oringer’s food while sipping cocktails from Clio (served at Uni) that take me into another flavor dimension.
Another Ken Oringer creation, Toro is my unicorn. No matter what I do, plans to make it there always fall through. It’s a Restaurant Week list staple, not because I wouldn’t go when it’s not Restaurant Week, but because hey, maybe a discount on dinner will somehow get this to work out.
They have a large Restaurant Week menu that includes fresh oysters, duck liver terrine, escargot bourguignon, and duck a l’orange. Need I say more?
Ok, so I know I’ve been to Craigie before, and I know they don’t really do Restaurant Week. They offer their Sunday night “Chef’s Whim” menu throughout the week instead. They market it as “not wanting to sacrifice quality for price,” which (aside from being a brilliant marketing ploy) benefits both the restaurant and the customer. They get to use up whatever ingredients they have in excess, the chefs get to experiment a little, and the diners get something that was created especially for them at a heavily discounted price.
I don’t care if I’ve been, this place is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to and if I can take advantage of deals, I’m going to.
If you want more information on Restaurant Week, go to the official site for a full listing of restaurants and published menus. They also have information about special deals, like who includes wine, which menus have been extended, non-traditional Restaurant Week specials, etc.
For the record:
Restaurant Week favorites from the past include Marliave, Umbria Prime, and L’espalier. We had less-than-favorable experiences at Mare (BEFORE they revamped the menu, though) and Sibling Rivalry. All of these reviews and more are available on my Reviews page.
What are your Restaurant Week top five? What were your best and worst Restaurant Week experiences?