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:
1. Gaslight Brasserie
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.
2. Uni Sashimi Bar
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?
5. Craigie on Main
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.
The Wine Cellar, Meritage, and Brasserie Jo. Everything in Cambridge is a runner up; unfortunately, we don’t make it over there as often as we’d like.
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?
(It goes without saying – or maybe not, because I’m saying it – that anything said on this blog does NOT reflect the opinions of my company or anyone working there, and in no way do my sailor mouth, crass sense of humor, and weekend Southern drinking habits represent my professional abilities.)
(Yeah. I just started a work-related post with the word “poop” in it. Way to look professional, Knight. Source.)
If you read this blog with any regularity (I’m assuming you don’t, especially since my posting as of late has been…nonexistent) you know I very rarely discuss discuss my job. I feel very grateful to work for a company that allows me a loose leash for my creative outlet, so I generally try to steer clear of work-related topics out of respect. Even so, this is a food and lifestyle blog, and it was only a matter of time before the two converged.
My blog is 100% my hobby…which is unfortunately why I disappear from time to time. During after-work drinks with a few colleagues at Julep Bar, my boss asked me about my recent disappearing act and said that she can always tell when I’m buried at work because I stop updating the blog. This is a fairly accurate assumption. And, since the majority of the questions I receive (both for the blog and in life) are about what exactly it is that I do, I used my boss’ keen observation as an opportunity to ask whether she would be ok with me writing about it. She kindly consented, so here’s a brief overview.
What IS PR?
The short story is that I work in public relations.
The reason I get so many questions about it is because a) there is a lot of confusion about what, exactly, public relations is or what that means (it is NOT marketing or advertising), and b) it’s a popular industry so people want to know what it’s really like to do it.
(I know it’s overdone, but it just says it so well.)
My family did not understand what I do until about six months-to-a year ago (despite the fact that one of my sisters works in PR, so this is not new information). I think my friends and Ryan’s family have given up trying. It gets even more granular than typical public relations because I work in public affairs, a specific sector under the public relations umbrella.
Let’s start out with what it’s NOT: I am NOT Samantha Jones.
(Not me. Source.)
What she does IS a type of PR (obviously glamorized for television), but it definitely doesn’t capture the less-than-glitzy pieces of the job and it bears no resemblance whatsoever to MY job. My company deals with the business and policy side of public relations – crisis management and strategic communications for the healthcare, education, real estate, professional services and nonprofit industries. In other words, we are not party planners (usually), but consultants who advise clients on a wide variety of matters including:
Internal communications – communicating to employees during a merger or crisis, or guiding management through a change in leadership
Government and community relations – informing audiences about legislation the client is backing or a community about the permitting of a controversial building
Relationship building with key stakeholders and thought leaders – helping a client’s voice reach these audiences by setting up meetings or securing speaking engagements
Crisis management and labor relations – managing media coverage of unfavorable situations, minimizing the risk of a strike
Traditional media outreach – social media, press releases, editorials
Among many, many other things.
Most people hear this spiel and they’re like:
But y’all, I LOVE what I do. It’s like ten jobs in one. No two days are ever the same, I am constantly challenged and pushed outside my comfort zone, I learn new things about new industries HOURLY, and I get to pick the minds of very intelligent, successful and powerful people…and I’m only 26. When I say I have my dream job, I am not kidding. I’m very, very fortunate.
Ok I’m bored, and you’re using fewer pictures of LOLcats than you normally do. What’s it REALLY like?
I had a friend once who said PR is the perfect field for people who like business and writing. Depending on your field, you likely spend about one-half to two-thirds of your day writing and/or researching, and the rest of the day talking to clients, pitching stories to reporters, and reading the news.
Regardless of the type of PR you decide to do, there are some very general trends that are almost always part of the job:
1. It’s a highly competitive field and your starting pay will SUCK.
Everyone wants to be Samantha Jones, or at least a raging socialite, so actually landing a job in public relations is half the challenge. You need a strong resume and some really good experience through volunteer opportunities and internships, and it usually helps to know someone who can act as the point of the sword. I had a roommate in PR who helped me get my resume and cover letter to a good place and taught me how to apply for a PR position. If it hadn’t been for her and a series of very, very lucky breaks, I would probably still be looking.
Oh and if you’re just starting out? Enjoy late nights and lots of ramen. As you move up, you have more autonomy over your schedule and, thankfully, more fulfilling paychecks (PRSA has a good chart for industry standards here), but the first year or two is killer. My advice? Be a passionate learner, work your butt off and move up as quickly as possible.
It’s also likely that you won’t talk to clients or see the inside of a conference room until you’re an account executive or higher (unless you work for a smaller agency). Until then, your bosses are your clients. Treat them as such, it’s a good primer. That way, when you f*ck up (and BELIEVE ME, you will), you’ll learn more and the consequences won’t be as catastrophic.
2. It’s not a 9-to-5 gig. All hours are “normal” hours.
PR people say this so much it should be tattooed on our heads, but the fact of the matter is that your time belongs to your clients and your boss(es), especially during the formative years. Your job lasts from the time you finish up your to-do lists from the previous two days (because you will NEVER finish it day of) and start on your list of deliverables for the day. My days probably average about 9.5-10 hours, and during busy periods I usually leave the office around 7pm (sometimes earlier, sometimes later).
Again, I work for an outstanding company that appreciates its employees having a reasonable work-life balance, given that you’re getting your work done, but this is a rare characteristic in the industry.
3. If you don’t already enjoy the sauce, you probably will.
Client dinners, happy hours, cocktail parties, functions – most people in PR have such a refined ability to throw back the alcoholic beverages and appear totally normal that they put Don Draper to shame.
4. You will learn to think in the confines of 5 bazillion little boxes.
You think you’re organized now? No.
Everything is done in grid format. Everything. Media lists, strategy memos, timelines, vulnerability assessments, etc. etc. etc. While it may take awhile to wrap your brain around it, you’ll probably emerge having guzzled the kool-aid and see grids as the quickest, most efficient way to organize and reference information. So much so that you start thinking in grids.
I love them. LOVE them.
5. You will become permanently knock-kneed from all the pencil skirts.
I hate those damn things.
6. You’re probably at least marginally cranky 99% of the time.
This is a service industry, which means that everyone else is more important than you. You tirelessly work to please others and pull rabbits out of hats, all while moving at a ridiculously fast pace – and you probably thrive on the stress of it all. It feels good. It also probably means that your patience and tolerance for bullsh*t is non-existent. The nice thing is that your coworkers are all in the same boat, so you can roar at your computer or snark at something absurd (“Look at that bitch and her stupid ponytail. I HATE MOTHEREFFING PONYTAILS!!!!!!!”) and you’ll probably just get laughed at.
This also contributes to #3.
Personally, I’m shocked they haven’t filmed a reality show from inside the walls of a PR company yet. The colorful characters, ridiculous conversations, and general bat-shit-craziness of it all would be great fodder for primetime. Despite its many quirks, I really love working in PR (in case I hadn’t said that part enough already).
This is a very brief, high-level overview of what it’s like – if you have more specific questions or you’d like more information, feel free to email me. Also, if you’re in the Boston area and looking for a job in PR I’d be happy to sit down for coffee and pass anything I know along that might help you out.
What’s your job like? If you work in PR, what would you add?