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Restaurant Week Reviews, lets hear 'em

I know that some people on this board poo-poo restaurant week, but I like it because it gives me an excuse to get out of the burbs & try some new places in the city. This year I went to Brassiere Perrier and to La Famiglia (I had never been to either place).

BP: I wasn't really blown away and this is the place I'd been looking foward to the most. First, I was irritated that when we got there they wanted to seat us in the bar area vs the regular dining room (yes, we had reservations). I think it was because I was with my sister & we both look young, as if we're both in our 20s (although I'm in my 30s). We were well-dressed, and I don't like sitting in the bar when I want the full-out tablecloth service. So we told the hostess that we didn't want to sit by the door (we should've just said that we don't want to sit in the bar), but the hostess insisted we sit by the window because it was near a heater. We tried it out & then asked to be moved to the regular dining room because it was still cold & it's in the bar.

Ok, onto the food. I had escargot for the app & they were very very yummy, although a small portion (as I expected). I then had the branzino which was delicate & flaky and sat in a shallow pool of tangy sauce, yum. And for desert I had creme brulee, but I didn't really want it. I thought their dessert selection was sort of cruddy. The choices were creme brulee or sorbet and I can't remember the last one but it was very plain, common, and dull. If you wanted a chocolate molten desert it was a $3.00 upcharge, which was sort of annoying. The portion size of the creme brulee was larger than I had thought it would be. (oh, and for anyone who cares, my sister had their soup which was basically tomato soup - nothing special, I can't remember her entree so it wasn't that great, and she an apple dessert ... oh, that was the last dessert! Like caramelized apples w/ cinnamon ice cream, again, fine, but nothing special)

Onto La Famiglia: I really liked this place & would like go back. It's formal looking inside w/ marble floors, white tablecloths & tuxedoed waiters. I'm not really a fan of Red-Sauce-Philly-Italian and I thought that would be how this place was. But it wasn't like that at all, it exceeded my expectations. For an app I had gnocchi in a marania type of sauce, very good. But my husband's app was better -- he had crabcakes. Now, I love crab, but I didn't order these because I assumed it would be the size of a silver dollar and would be mainly breaded filler. But he actually got 2 crabcakes (not huge, but larger than I thought they would be), and they had virtually no filler whatsoever. We both agreed that this was one of the best crabcakes that we've ever had.

For an entree I got seafood risottto (which, looking back on it, was not really the right combination of food to get since I had just had the gnocchi for an app). The risotto was buttery and tasty and great and the chunks of shrimp & calamari were plentiful. My husband had the chicken -- now, when he ordered chicken I had wrinkled my nose & said "CHICKEN? You came here to get chicken???" But it was really, really good. It was chicken breast topped with spinach & smothered in cheese and had a creamy pale yellow sauce around it & was served with mashed red potatos & broccoli and everything on his plate was delicious. For dessert La Famiglia served us each a trio of tastes -- a pear that had been soaking in something sweet & yummy, a chocolate creamy something or other, and then something like a cream puff. It was all very good. I thought it was a great value for $35 each and I'd now like to go back & try the regular menu.

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  1. Starbuck, neither of your experiences surprise me. We went to BP for restaurant week a few years back and had a so-so meal, in a very crowded and noisy setting, with so-so service. I think the restaurant is past its prime and not worth it, even during RW. La Famiglia, on the other hand, is worth every penny of the $35 charge but they are pretty expensive to dine at other times (and their wine menu, while incredibly extensive, is likewise quite expensive).

    My wife and I went to Salento and had an excellent meal. They served 4 courses (app, primi, secondi, and dessert) of createive fare which, with their portion size, was really too much food. It was all excellent though. Given that it is BYOB, the $75 ($5 extra for espresso's, $95 total with tip) we thought was well worth it for the quality of meal we got (though we realize not THAT much of a savings). The setting is much larger than their sister restaurant (L'Angolo), my wife liked it better, I did not. It was a little stark for me but the white-washed walls do create a south of Italy feel. Service was very good.

    1. I'll pile on to Brasserie Perrier (and Restaurant Week) also. We made a Rest Week res there a few years back through Open Table for the Friday of that week. I get a call from them saying that the Rest Week menu would only be served in the bar (which was the smoking section then). Then, they tell me that they could not get me into the restaurant section at the same time on another night because they were booked up (duh! It's RESTAURANT WEEK!!!).

      So my feeling on RW is if you want to put your own rules and conditions on it, just don't participate. That was their chance to try to get me in the door and make me want to come back when RW was over and they blew it. We don't even consider them for any of our nights out.

      In general, I feel that RW is more of a hassle than it's worth. We're probably going to drop around $100 no matter where we go, so I'd rather go when I can be expected to be treated like a "real" customer, order from the full menu, and pay the full price.

      1. I think RW has pretty much jumped the shark. Every county around here is doing it now, it seems. Having said that, the wife and I are headed off to the Prime Rib tonight. Yeah, yeah, save it. I know. But when the hell else am I going to get a full prime rib dinner for $35? Can't wait to show up for my 8:00 rez and be told "Uh, sorry, we're fresh out".
        The best RW meal I had was the very first, with my son, at Lolita, a couple of years ago. Actually ordered from the RW menu and it was great.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Rondo

          The Prime Rib offers that menu for patrons who are seated prior to 6:00, so you can avoid the crowds of Restaurant Week. While the portions are smaller than those on the regular menu, there is s still plenty of food. I've had several of the entrees and enjoyed them

          1. re: artgary

            We ate at Brasserie Perrier, Bistro 7 and Le Bar Lyonnais. We had no trouble being seated in the restaurant at Brasserie Perrier. We thought the menu was OK with enough choices. I had the chicken and my husband had the branzino -- don't remember what we had for the first course. The chicken was OK and he said the branzino was very good. The creme brulee was fantastic and he said the apple galette was excellent. Not super but well worth the $25.

            We enjoyed the second meal at Bistro 7 but I can't really remember the dishes now. It was good but not a great bargain.

            It was the third Restaurant Week meal at Le Bar Lyonnais that really blew us away! They took over Le bec Fin for the event -- apparently for the whole week. There were 4 selections of appetizer and entree, of which I chose the seafood salad for app and my husband had the baby stuffed eggplant. Both delicious! We both had the scallops for the main course, with a light curry sauce and apples and potatoes cut like noodles. For dessert there was a choice of lemon tart or Le Bec Fin chocolate cake, as well as ice cream/ sorbet. We shared the lemon tart and chocolate cake. Really a superb meal. Plus they offered a Rhone wind for $6 a glass! Absolutely fabulous.

            We love La Famiglia, and often eat lunch there before enjoying a film at one of the Ritz theaters (we're retired, so no other obligations.)

            1. re: artgary

              My wine/dinner club ate at PR during Restaurant Week and we all enjoyed it. If those were smaller portions, then the regular portions must be enormous! I almost never eat steak or prime rib when I dine out, but this was the best prime rib I've ever eaten, bar none.

          2. really enjoyed Amada, the shortrib flatbread and fish and chips were amazing. Would def. go back, but next time I want to try the tasting menu.

            1. Went to Bistro 7 this year for RW. Really wanted to try Le Bar Lyonnais but entrusted the reservation-making to the BF. Sadly, Bistro 7 didn't really impress. We had the lentil/goat cheese soup and gnocchi appys, salmon, and jasmine rice pudding and chocolate pot de creme for dessert. The gnocchi was very good, lentil soup blah, salmon was way too sweet with the sauce which was a shame b/c the mushrooms were great in it, choco creme decent, and jasmine rice pudding delicious. Not bad, all in all, but too many other places to try to warrant a special trip back.
              I did RW at BP maybe 3 yrs ago and hated it. They were out of several items, brought us the wrong items twice, service sucked, and food was only decent. Yeah, I know it's RW but c'mon, other restaurants manage, and one that's supposed to be as good as BP should step it up.
              Best RW meal ever was at LaCroix, but sadly they no longer participate.

              1. Four of us had an excellent dinner at Estia on the Sunday night of RW. None of us had eaten there before. As appetizers we had the fried cheese (yummy), the octopus (very good, but not much there) and the greek salad (mostly tomatoes, did not taste this so cannot comment). As our main courses we had grilled Lavroki, grilled Tsipoura, grilled lamb chops and roasted chicken. I only tasted the grilled fish and both were delicious (lightly seasoned and moist). Each couple ordered a side of grilled vegetables which were tasty and perfectly cooked (no char). For deserts we had the Baklava and the walnut honey cake. The Baklava was the best I've had in quite some time as it was flaky and not too sweet. The honey cake was good too. We were there early (5:30) and did not find it to be too noisy (our table was close to the main hallway). The restaurant was full by the time we left. We will definitely be going back. The service was good.

                1. 3 of us went to Meritage. We had the potato leek soup (the best) and tuna tartare (very good) for first courses, roasted chicken which was moist and crispy and salmon for main course, and banana bread pudding and a chocolate tart for dessert. Everyone enjoyed their meals, we found a tasty and reasonably priced pinot noir on the extensive wine list and the atmosphere was cosy and friendly. I would definitely go back.

                  Earlier in the week I went with 2 other friends to Bistro 7. We had the lentil soup and a complicated and pretty salad with a romaine, radicchio,and apples with gorgonzola dressing and spice-toasted walnuts for first courses, salmon with mushroom risotto and pork with spicy mashed sweet potatoes for main courses and pot de creme and a fancy rice pudding for dessert. Overall the meal was nice but not over the top. Bistro 7 has a 4 course tasting menu for 35 dollars but I would not rush to go back there again with so many other BYOB's doing similar food in more exciting ways.

                  1. We had 2 reservations: Branzino and Le Bar Lyonnais.

                    We were pleasantly surprised. I had read reviews beforehand and was not sure what I should expect. When I made the reservation, I was told that all seatings were limited to 90 minutes. Our reservation was on Sunday at 3:30. The diners were me, my SO and his daughter. For appetizers, we had the grilled calamari, mussels and tuna carpaccio. The calamari was very good. The mussels and tuna were good. Our only complaint was that the tuna stuck to the plate.
                    For entrees, we had branzino, the bass and the shrimp scampi. My branzino entree was very good. The scampi was also good. It differed from traditional scampi since is has a blush sauce. My SO had the bass which was too salty and overdone with accoutrement.
                    We ordered custard, the chocolate cake and tiramisu. I lucked up again since the custard was phenomenal. The custard was perfectly creamy. My SO and his daughter raved about the chocolate cake and my SO thought the tiramisu was good.
                    Overall, we had a very good experience as the service was prompt and friendly. We would definitely return.

                    Le Bar Lyonnais. I went to Le Bec during the summer of 2006 when they were offering 3 courses for $40. It was superb. Both the meal and service sparkled. For RW, they did not serve with their traditional flair. However, the meal was absolutely excellent. This reservation was on Monday at 9. We waited a bit before being seated. Since the vestibule was full, we had a drink at the bar while we waited. Due to the circumstances, the wait didn't bother us at all.
                    Then, the splendor began. I ordered a seafood appetizer that came with shrimp, calamari and what I believe was lobster in a delectable sauce. SO had the smoked salmon which was presented in a cakelike fashion. Both were delicious. For our second course, I had scallops and SO had roast beef. My scallops came with an savory apple concoction and a magnificent sauce. The beef was accompanied by polenta and another delicious sauce. Our desserts were creme brulee and a chocolate cake. It was perfection and we would definitely go back. Le Bec now has a 4-course meal for about $100. I would gladly pay full price.