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Warnings/complaints about Restaurant Week on Post DC Dining Chat

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Is it the thought that counts?
Go to washingtonpost.com, to the "live" section for Sietsema's weekly chat (every Wed. at 11am)

Several complaints about Restaurant Week, and folks, I could see this coming, which is why I won't be taking advantage of the offer.

While it's noble & practical to try & lure in customers after 9/11 brought down business to the hospitality & restaurant industries, restaurants should be upfront about their policies & special menu this week!

$20.01 is a LOT to pay for lunch for 1 ($30.01 for dinner), excluding tip, taxes & any beverages/drinks, altho appetizer & dessert is included.

But all the restaurants are limiting Rest. Week diners to limited menus, including, according to complaints online, some of the cheapest entrees or ones that don't sell well. One chat person complained that Oceanaire's definition of a Rest. Week dessert was a small cup of ice cream.

Also, some of the participating restaurants, like Reeve's, are casual & have low-priced entrees where the normal grand total would be MUCH less than $20.01/$30.01.

So enjoy Rest. Week, but CAVEAT EMPTOR of the limited menus, of restaurants wanting to know at reservation time if you WILL be ordering off that menu, of mandating that all in the party must order the Rest. Week menu, and of limiting the special to certain times, like 11:30-12 for lunch!

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  1. From what I gather so far, it should have been called "Grilled Salmon Dinner Week".

    1. Does anyone have feedback on the special menu at either Olive's or Equinox? I have reservations for the end of the week, but I won't bother if it's not worth it. Thanks!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ronna

        I have taken advantage of Restaurant week every day this week so far: Tosca for dinner on Monday, Butterfield 9 for lunch on Tuesday, and Olives for lunch on Wednesday. At Tosca only one of our party went for the $30.01 'special' (no choices at all--you take what they give you, and not too inspired); Butterfield 9 offered a choice (but again, not up to their usual standard). Only Olives was 'special'. I had the grilled squid and octopus as a starter (excellent) and the butternut squash tortelli in brown butter sauce (also excellent, though I preferred the version I made at home from the Olives cookbook--interesting). Even dessert--a coconut tart--was quite good.

        Over all I would have to say that the "special" is not too special, and I am a bit disappointed. But today I go back to Tosca to take my sec'y out for a treat. Hope the menu is not the same as Monday's, since the lunch choice did not thrill me.

      2. Does anyone have any idea what the menu for Kinkead's is like during restaurant week? I have reservations for Friday lunch, but am considering whether or not I should be looking elsewhere. Thanks in advance!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Drambuie

          I had the promotional lunch at Kinkead's today (Thursday) and was quite happy with it. I had the mushroom stuffed with prosciutto, the swordfish and the bailey's ice cream. My companion had soup, fish and chips, and chocolate cake. The best item, counter-intuitive though it may be, was the fish and chips. But everything was done nicely and it was certainly worth the price. Mind you, it's not a once-in-a-lifetime deal, but for an interesting meal at a moderate price, it was more than satisfactory.

          If you still have the reservation for tomorrow, be on time. They are crowded.

        2. I am heading to Red Sage tonight for R.Week -- will let you know!!! Not feeling v optimistic from today's WP chat.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jane

            well, we ended up eating off the regular menu and paying almost $30 just for our entree. The "set menu" consisted of a salad, chicken entree and sorbet - not very inspiring... Our entrees from the regular menu were good, but I think this offer has been misrepresented. I wasn't expecting lobster, but a couple of choices and something a little less obviously the absolute cheapest things they could find. Hey, I would prefer just to have a more modest offer than something that turned out to be not what it seemed.

            1. re: Jane

              See my Red Sage review below- not v. good.

            2. First a disclaimer. I'm a Butterfield regular, and I love their food. That said I went in for restaurant week last night with some trepidation. They have been beseiged with people wanting to eat there -- I have never seen the place so crowded. We managed to land two bar stools and ate at the bar. Could they manage to maintain their standards in the midst of such mayhem? Yes -- mostly.

              Their 30.01 special is a choice of three selections from their regular menu. The appetizers included a salad, their wonderful squash soup, and their gnocchi with garlic and truffle oil. Entrees included a pousin, salmon and bison ribs. Deserts were creme brulee, sherbert or cookies.

              I had the soup, the pousin and the creme brulee and all were wonderful. The squash soup has been better on other nights but it was still a flavorful and hearty soup with a dollop of creme fraiche and roasted pumpkin seeds. The pousin was a very tasty hen, served with spatzle and I want to say black eyed peas, but I forget. I've had hen cooked their jjust bursting with juice and tenderness. This one rated about a 9/10. Their creme brulee was perfectly crusted and creamy.

              For 30.01 it was a good value. Ordinarily the pousin was $25, the soup around $8.00 and creme brulee about $7. So you save a little bit.

              My wife ordered off the regular menu -- the cumin crusted pork tenderloin with a corn cake and slice sweet potatoes. This is an extraordinary dish. I had it on another night and it redefined how pork should taste. Last night's was not quite as juicy as the time before but it was still a wonderful dish. At $22 its tempting to forgo the $30.01 and just get that.

              Happy eating!

              1. I went into dinner last night with some anxiety due to the volume of discontent on this board about this week's promotion. Needless to say, I left pleasantly surprised.

                We had only two choices for each course but they were IMO desirable options. The starter was either a white bean soup with root vegetables or an arugula/endive salad with Maytag blue cheese and candied walnuts. Both my dining companion and I enjoyed the salad. For the main course, I got the half-rack of lamb and roasted garlic lamb jus (at $28 the most expensive item on the menu -- evidently the Grays are not being cheapskates this week as others are), while my friend opted for the rockfish. Again, excellent. The dessert was either a chocolate bourbon cake or coconut sorbet. Both were tasty. We also got the wine pairing for an additional $18. The chardonnay was eh, but the cab went well with the lamb and I loved the dessert wine (a very sweet Johannesburg riesling).

                The service was magnificent. If/when I can afford to go back, it will be with great anticipation and enthusiasm.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Silent Bob

                  As the owner - with my husband Todd Gray, of Equinox - I thank you for your kind words. We did look at this as an orrpotunity to bring in new customers. We will again participate in Restaurant Week this Janurary (for two weeks again - dinner only). We put out the food we did because we are purist and always strive for excellence. Participating restaurants are ALL doing it again because it was such a success overall. Some just get it quicker than others. I do hope to see you again. Thank you & Happy New Year Ellen Gray

                2. I had a good experience at Prime Rib for lunch during Restaurant week. But I was a walk-in and looked at the menu before choosing to stay. I had a house salad, which was large and tasty if a bit overdressed. The entree was a HUGE portion of perfectly cooked prime rib, PLUS large sides of spinach (fresh tasting, but underseasoned) and mashed potatoes (fantastic). It was followed by a pretty decent creme brulee. Overall, a satisfying experience that would have costed 3x as much a la care for dinner!

                  1. Not all restaurants offered a very limited menu for restaurant week. Corduroy offered the full menu for the whole week. I hope you will try Corduroy, the next restaurant week(actually 2 weeks) is January 14 through the 28th