First, for anyone that doesn’t know what Restaurant Week is, a brief synopsis:
Lunch $24.07 | Dinner $35.00
Included in these prices is a special three-course, prix-fixe menus at participating restaurants. It doesn’t include beverage, tax or gratuity, however, it’s hard to beat 3 courses for $24-$35!
Usually restaurant week is only 2 weeks long, however, since it has been extended through February 27th, I think this post is still relevant.
Now I have a love/hate relationship with Restaurant Week.
Love: I can try the best restaurants that I usually couldn’t afford on my own through a sampler of an app, entre, and dessert.
Hate: Restaurants are so variable in what they serve. Some serve the cheapest items that do not represent their trust menu and in VERY small portions. On the other hand, some have great menus that really show off the good food and make me want to come back. (Dear Restaurants: Please note that I come in with 5-20 people on business lunches and am in charge of recommending where we eat. INCENTIVE!) I have had some great hits and some great misses over the years. Winter 2009 score summary: 8, 9, and 4.5 Nom Points.
Within the original 2 week planned event, I was very pleased to see that they were now including Sundays and that MLK Day was within the weeks. Usually I cannot take advantage of the lunch specials since I’m working, but this year I scheduled two. Some of the best restaurants only serve lunch, not dinner, so it was fun to have new options. Here is the rundown of my Restaurant Week-Winter 2009:
Date: Sunday, January 18th, 2009
Company: Boyfriend Mike
- Pecorino-Stuffed Risotto Balls: These are delicious little fried balls of risotto and cheese. So delicious, in fact, that I burned my mouth not once but twice to the point of no return while trying to stuff these delightful little noshes into my very hungry mouth.
- Cheese Sampler: Small, especially for the price, but VERY tasty.
- Baked Eggs: This was my entree. It had confit leeks, short ribs, fingerling potatos and ibarra chocolate. At first I was skeptical about chocolate in eggs, but I am skeptical no more! It added a perfect flavor to this hearty brunch dish.
- Eggs Benedict: Mike’s Entree had bacon, fingerling potatoes, and cipollini onions. Quite delicious.
Negative Nom Points: It turns out that the restaurant was listed incorrectly and they were not participating in Restaurant Week on Sundays.
Positive Nom Points: The wait staff was incredibly appologetic and wound up comping us for BOTH appetizers (the risotto balls and cheese sampler).
Overall: It was a bummer to not get the restaurant week menu, but they more than made up for it and the food was DELICIOUS. (8 out of 10 Nom Points)
Place: Cafe Boulud
Date: Monday, January 19th, 2009
Company: Best Friend Lori
- Squash Soup: Lori and I both chose this appetizer. It was quite good, though I prefer a bit of crunch in my soup (such as pumpkin seeds). I also eat squash soup pretty much wherever I go, so I have high standards. I believe the other option was a salmon dish.
- Braised Veal Cheeks: Lori and I again both decided on this entre. We were VERY happy we did. The portion seemed small only because it was so delicious that neither of us wanted it to end. It was as tender as could be and the flavor was amazing. The other option was a ravioli that is presently escaping my memory.
- Passion Fruit and Banana Cake with Banana Mousse, Passion Fruit Gelee and Lime Shebert: Lori ordered this. I was so-so on it as I am a chocolate fan, but it was quite good for what it was.
- Chocolate Financier: Chiboust Cream, Caramelized Pecan, Vanilla Ice Cream and Crème Brulee on a soft fudge chocolate cake… TO. DIE. FOR. End of story.
Negative Nom Points: I’m having trouble coming up with one… perhaps the fact that it’s on the UES makes it slightly out of the way for most New Yorkers… but the travel was worth it!
Positive Nom Points: Great food. Great service. Amazing Restaurant Week offering. Hard to beat. (9 out of 10 Nom Points)
Place: Mercer Kitchen
Date: Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
Company: Boyfriend Mike
- App? It was so bland I can’t even remember it.
- Slowly Baked Salmon with Brussel Sprouts and Mashed Potatoes: As someone who has very recently and delicately entered the world of fish eating, I thought the salmon was a safe choice. I was wrong. It tasted very fishy. I also love the taste of brussel sprouts because they are a good hearty vegetable, however, they were shaved down so small that it tasted a bit like limp lettuce on top of a heap of boring mashed potatoes.
- Ranch Cheeseburger on a Toasted Brioche Roll and French Fries: Mike’s entree… it was a burger. Nothing special. Not bad, not good, just not thrilling in the least.
- Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake with Cocoa Bean Brittle and Vanilla Ice Cream: This saved the meal. It’s hard to go wrong with warm chocolate cake, but this was especially gooey and all the right flavors.
- Creme Fraiche Cheesecake with Blood Orange Sorbet: As someone who can typically take or leave cheesecake, this was worth taking! But I’m still glad that I ordered the chocolate cake and Mike got the cheesecake.
Negative Nom Points: The salmon ruined the meal. Could they come up with more rudimentary things for their menu? Salmon, Cheeseburgers, and Chicken do not make for an interesting culinary adventure.
Positive Nom Points: At least the desserts were good, but I’d never go back. (4 out of 10 Nom Points)
I also managed to go to a few restaurants while they had the restaurant week menu with my job. I wound up ordering a meal or two off the special menus. The top winner is the Hake at Blue Fin. It is a white fish with an almond crust and chestnuts (my fave!) and butternut squash in a light celery broth. DELISH! I also made an attempt to eat at Asia De Cuba. Turns out they have only 2-3 dishes on their regular menu that I can eat (I’m allergic to peppers) so that was a bust. The scallops were heavenly though.
And there you have it folks! Restaurant Week Winter 2009 in a nutshell.