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Apr 6, 2005 09:13 PM

Best/Worst Night to Eat Out

  • j

I am having an argument with a friend about the best night to eat out. Three questions:
1) Generally speaking, do you think there is one?
2) If so, which one and why?
3) Is there, do you think a night to avoid - and why?

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  1. 1. Tues, Wed & Thurs, in that order. Because food is freshest, the kitchen is less harried and likely to make compromises, and it needs to please you more. A lot easier to get rezzies.

    Since the "scene" of the weekend is not something that interests, but repels, me, I don't see that as a loss.

    As you progress through the weekend, order things that are less perishable. On Sunday, skip the sole and go for the lobster, e.g.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl S.
      Lindsay Beyerstein

      Agreed, Karl. The only likely exception is a seafood special on a Tuesday. According to Anthony Bourdain, fish only gets discounted on Tuesday if it hasn't moved since the previous Friday. That pretty much fits with my subjective assessment of the quality:price ratio on Tuesdays in NYC.

      So, theoretically. Wednesday dining might outshine Mondays and Tuesdays where fish specials are concerned. YMMV, of course.


    2. I think it depends what you like-- sometimes I'm in the mood for a quiet Tuesday, sometimes I like the chaos of Saturday.

      In general, I try to avoid Sunday brunches. Also, Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day/Eve. One of the best times I ever had was the night before thanksgiving, we were almost the only people in the place-- everything was fresh because they were preparing for the rush the next day, and the staff was relaxed and happy -- the calm before the storm.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Jess

        Oh, yes, one should never expect a restaurant to be anything much higher than merely good on those holidays.

        1. re: Karl S.

          I should have been more specific. I am asking solely about the quality of the food. Not the scene. Not ability to get reservations. The food only. And only on regular, non-holiday evenings. And only at extremely high-end restaurants, such as PerSe and the Inn at Little Washington, and Charlie Trotter. Thoughts?

          1. re: Jimmie

            I think whatever night, the earlier the better. Before the kitchen gets into high gear, and everyone (back and front) is more relaxed. I know it's not fashionable, but we always get 6 or 6:30 reservations; you also never have to wait for your table. Then when you leave, you see the line out the door and everyone running around frantically.

            1. re: coll

              I agree. I would say that 6 pm during the midweek is ideal.

            2. re: Jimmie

              For a truly high-end restaurant with a world-class reputation--like Charlie Trotter's or the Inn at Little Washington--it simply should not matter. Chances are that such a restaurant will be fully booked on any night that it's open, and if for some reason a particular ingredient or item is not available in its optimal state at that time, then it should not be part of the menu. You are paying the same premium price on one night as on another and you should expect the quality and service on which reputations are built whenever such quality and services are being offered and purchased.

              1. re: jbw

       a perfect world.

        2. The ones to avoid are the big three....Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and New Year's Eve. Sunday nights are great for going out and hubby and I do that often. We eat out an average of 4 nights a week and tend to avoid Saturday night. Friday nights are the nights when we have more issues, but that's usually because we out with friends and it's a large party.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Janet
            Linda from Boston

            I often find the food at most of my local haunts either prepared differently or not up to par on a Sunday evening. When I asked the owner of one of the restaurants, he explained that many restaurants use a Sunday to break in new chefs and wait staff. Not sure if this is true for most restaurants, but I can certainly tell the difference in many of the places I frequent. For that reason I would say I love the more leisurely aspect of dining on a Sunday but find the food not up to weekday standards.

            1. re: Linda from Boston

              Sunday is also the day when the second string is assigned.

              It's usually a good sign, btw, if a restaurant is closed at least one day a week (two is even better).

              1. re: Karl S.

                I agree with that. Most places here are closed either Sunday or Monday and a few are closed Sunday and Monday. One great steakplace is only open Wednesday-Saturday and they are very consistent in the high quality of the food and service.

                1. re: Janet

                  I would offer likewise, Janet, in general.

                  And, food quality depends of the particular restaurant's schedule of (1) when they order their fish or other "fresh" items and (2) the number of people being served and in the kitchen at that time. But, as others have pointed out, there is also an ambiance factor that somehow increases the quality of the food.

                  Here in Southern California, a predictable "schedule" seems to be (no absolutes, but somewhat a guide):

                  Sunday is for brunch, not often dinner out. And, brunch can also mean using up food in a new creation what was not ordered on Saturday night. (Some high ends are open Sunday night, though, and the kindred spirit of the day as well as the great recipes make it a GREAT dinner, IMO.) Larger number of and in groups may be dining on Sundays. IMO, there is more of a "comfort and cater to me" factor than a "wow me" factor on Sundays.

                  Monday; many high end restaurants are often closed all day on Monday.

                  Tuesday is often a day of less patron traffic when people are slowing after a weekend schedule and wanting to just stay home and organized. However, "friends" of a restaurant tend to go out looking for their restaurant "family" that day. Food deliveries are often made Tuesday afternoons (if not Mondays), but again, that depends on the restaurant. Some get fresh deliveries every day. Tuesdays can be a secret great day in dining.

                  Wednesday is often a night women get together to go out. It is also considered the "first" day of the "right" nights to go out (W, Th, Fr, Sat). Sometimes, the staff is not yet in high gear.

                  Thursday is busier, but NOT the busiest nights because many working folks don't like to drink and let go until Friday. Food quality if often good on Thursdays because restaurants are expecting a crowd, but is it usually a slower day. So, there is no "harry to carry" to the dining room.

                  Friday is often the night singles go out for drinks and dinner and meeting new people. It is a high demand day in the restaurant business, IMO.

                  Saturday is often considered date night or couples night. Some joke that some go out on Friday often do to find a date for Saturdy night. So, the pace and care of the dinner is often more considerate. A better day to dine than a Friday, IMO. There is often more time to "prepare" for the dinner (both by patrons and kitchen staff) as it is not a 9-5 work day or business lunch day. Expectations are often higher on a Saturday night, with more careful scrutiny.

                  In my experience, if you know the staff schedule and the food delivery schedule, it makes it easier to pick "the best" day to dine in a particular restaurant. But, this information is seldom announced to the public.

          2. Generally speaking if a restaurant is popular there is no best night if one goes for a 'celebrity' or well-known chef. However...

            Saturday seems the most overcrowded and hardest to book so I'd say that's the worst night to eat out if the kitchen is overtaxed.

            Sunday is a close second if you're in a third-tier restaurant that's offering lots of 'recycled' specials from Saturday. Sunday is also bad if they're tuckered out from serving brunch.

            In a Chinese restaurant I've heard Monday is the worst night to go because that's when the head chef(s) are off.

            So there is no hard and fast rule really and that's what makes restaurants so fickle from one visit to another and why Chowhounds rely on each other for reviews. ;)

            1. j
              Johnny Majors

              Sundays by far the worst.

              1. A popular chefs day off

              2. Staff is usually hurting from their after Saturday night lets snort our tips party

              3. Usually little or no "fresh" deliveries on sunday