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Jan 29, 2007 04:55 PM

RW - trying to make the best of it

I understand that most CHers are wary of Restaurant Week dinner picks, except at the select locations that I can't get a reservation at anymore. I booked Friday dinner at Firebird, but a recent posting has me anxious that it won't live up to expectations, service or food-wise. Now I am trying to salvage it by making a Sushisamba reservation. Is there a difference in quality between the Park and 7th locations?

Please help a fellow CH out - I am trying to make up for missing my friend's birthday and would like to treat her to a nice dinner at a place we normally can't afford (we're grad students.)

Thanks so much,

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  1. RW gets a bad rep because:

    1. Many of the best restaurants don't participate
    2. The ones that do often (but not always) lower their standards in repsonse to the lower prices
    3. Service can be spotty because of the increased volume
    4. It's often not even that great of a bargain

    I'm not trying to convince you to cancel your reservation, but another option would be to pick a place that's outside your comfort zone--if that's possible--that a fellow Chowhounder has recommended. There's plenty of bargain dining experiences in NYC, RW or not.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Mazzer

      Had a great RW dinner at Thalassa (in Tribecca) that was very good in every aspect. Went with a group of three, and with the exception of maybe a tomato/goat cheese salad, everything else was great. Other apps included crab cake, octupus, mains included lamb chop, and 2 different types of fish. Everything was excellent.

      1. re: h0wie201

        I agree about Thalassa. My boyfriend and I had a very enjoyable meal during RW. They definitely did not lower their standards just because it was RW.

    2. That is the third option. My friend doesn't really care as much as I do about food, but admittedly part of this is to assuage guilt at missing the birthday. We had a very pleasant meal at Tigerland based upon a fellow CHer's recommendation. I am looking for something with slightly more panache, but that won't break the budget.

      So much of RW has to do with timing - I remembered it was happening before Christmas but they didn't have the updated list of participants then.

      1 Reply
      1. re: windycity

        Checking the listing on OpenTable of restaurants offering a RW dinner menu, I see a few places that I would be happy to go to if I were doing RW, which I do not.

        Compass and Pampano would be my top choices. Both serves delicious food and have very nice atmospherics.

        Giorgio's of Gramercy, which is not on OpenTable, is doing RW dinner. A lovely restaurant with very good food.

      2. Not sure if there is any availability, but we had a fantastic RW dinner at Jovia last Thursday. Really good food in a nice atmosphere. 4 choices for each course, all on the regualar menu, good sized portions (ended up with a doggie bag). We all left saying it was such a good value. Regular prices significantly more, but we said that we would definitely go back.

        1. RW is a joke. Here's the deal:

          virtually all of the good restaurants only offer lunch. of course, they already offer the same (or even cheaper!) lunch year round.

          the few decent places that offer dinner (Compass for example) already offer the same $35 dinner year round.

          it has become a cynical way of making money off of people who think they're getting a bargain.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Nathan07

            Even though I don't participate in RW, I'm not sure I completely agree with your view that it's a cynical ploy. Yes, many upscale restaurants offer a similarly-priced 3-course prix-fixe year round. But in some instances, the RW cost is quite a bit lower. For example, EMP's normal 3-course lunch is $36, and Cafe Boulud's is $38.

            Furthermore, this is an opportunity for restaurants on other levels to raise their profiles and increase patronage. I recall a recent post by someone who had lunch last week at Barbounia mentioning being told by the staff that RW had increased business substantially with many diners trying it for the first time. If they like the food, it's a good bet they'll go back.

            Note: Last summer, we had lunch at Cafe Boulud. At that time, they were extending the $24.07 RW menu until Labor Day. Though we have no problem affording their regular prices at lunch and dinner, the RW menu was so enticing that we ordered from it. In a word: sensational!

          2. well, you just proved my point.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Nathan07

              Who proved what point?

              There are good RW deals and there are bad RW deals.

              Yes, there are some places that offer prix fixe meals at the same prices year round, but there are also places you would never be able to get three courses that cheaply otherwise.

              Yes there are places who put together boring RW menus and offer lousy service, but there are also places that go all out for RW week in hopes of winning over new business.

              I can't help but feel that all these people who are so down on restaurant week are the people who can afford to eat at top-notch restaurants regularly. For people like me, fresh out of college, RW provides an opportunity to eat at places I wouldn't be able to otherwise.

              There are RW ripoffs, but if you do your homework, there are real winners too...