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Jul 20, 2008 09:15 PM

OK, so, um, how does restaurant week work?

It's Restaurant Week, apparently.

We don't have such things in LA -- or if we do, everyone ignores them including the entire Chowhound LA board.

So I'm not quite sure how it works (other than that it's prix fixe menus). Am I going to be able to get a table ANYWHERE other than, you know, Pizza Hut? Is it more ludicrous than normal trying to get reservations (I'm leaving Friday morning)?

I like the idea of $35 prix fixe (fits my budget very nicely) but I absolutely hate hassle.


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  1. If you've looked at the list, you will note that some restaurants do only the 3-course lunch prix-fixe ($24.08) while others do lunch and the 3-course dinner prix-fixe ($35).

    At this point, you can pretty much forget about the most popular restaurants, such as Eleven Madison Park and Gramercy Tavern (which only do RW lunch).

    Although every participating restaurant is not on OpenTable, it is the easiest way to check to see what's available at those restaurants which use O.T.

    I just did a quick check, and if you want to do lunch at Cafe Boulud (one of my favorite spots), you can get a reservation. If you prefer dinner, Grayz, Le Perigord, and I Trulli have openings. As I said, this is just from a very quick look.

    You can go down the list, see what strikes your fancy, check if anything is available that fits your schedule, and if you find something, you can book it right there. Talk about hassle-free!

    Here's the link to O.T.'s RW page:

    Good Luck and Bon Appetit!

    10 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      I do remember a poster mentioning that he or she was able to walk into EMP and have the RW meal for lunch at the bar at EMP, which might work for the OP. Might work other places as well - probably worth calling to check.

      1. re: MMRuth

        That's Brian S. who mentioned about walk-in to EMP for lunch during RW.

        Das Ubergeek, since you are from LA and leaving on Friday, you can try some of the restaurants that offer prix-fixe lunch menu all year round e.g. Fleur de Sel, Perry St. and even non-RW restaurants which have amazing bargains. My favorite has to be Jean Georges (main dining room). You are more likely to be able to get into one of these restaurants.

        There are plenty of amazing deals, particularly at lunch time, in NYC without RW. In fact, I like to go to non-RW restaurants during RW nowsdays as I don't have to go through the hassles and these non-RW restaurants become easier to reserve and less crowded as everyone flocks to the RW ones.

        1. re: kobetobiko

          I agree with kobetobiko's excellent advice.

          1. re: kobetobiko

            Yes, it was I who ate TWICE at Eleven Madison Park, both times walk in, and if it is even half as good as it was in January I heartily recommend it.


            When Napoleon said "du sublime au ridicule" he probably was not referring to Restaurant Week, but he could have been. Some restaurants are sublime, but the RW lunches of others deserve ridicule.

        2. re: RGR

          Actually, I just got back from lunch at Gramercy Tavern. They've opened up the Grill to Restaurant Week walk-ins. So, if you don't have a reservation, get there early and you might get a table in the grill room where they're serving the same menu (which was WONDERFUL!!). Plus, they're giving out gift certificates for a future meal again this year.

          1. re: justjoan10016

            What did you order? I'm going there tomorrow afternoon and the menu does sound really tempting.

            1. re: chocokitty

              Hi chocokitty,

              The menu was fabulous; three fish choices (Woflfish has been substituted for the Halibut listed on the RW menu), chicken, steak and lamb.

              Unfortunately, we got there early and didn't get much of a chance to see what anyone else was eating. But we were thrilled with what we got:

              I started with the Lamb Pappardelle - fresh made ribbons of pasta with shredded braised lamb with lemon confit, beet greens and olives. The calamata olives were a bit too salty for the dish. But the rest blended well.

              My associate had the calamari and carrot salad - shredded calamari and carrots with pine nuts in a lovely lemon dressing.

              I had the aforementioned Wolffish, which was prepared with fava and pole beans and sliced yellow and green squash, all served in a salty, garlicky green sauce. My associate had the Striped Bass, which was served with snap peas and mussels on a bed of sauteed greens.

              However, the highlight of the meal was the dessert. We both had the Chocolate Bread Pudding, which was absolutely light and ethereal. It was served with a scoop of cocoa ice cream studded with crunchy cocoa nibs and topped with a chocolate straw.

              I've attached a few pics.

            2. re: justjoan10016

              I presume you mean the Tavern Room at G.T. It's always "walk-in" because they never accept reservations in that room.

              1. re: RGR

                Yes, I mean the Tavern Room. There was quite a line of folks waiting at 11:45 AM for a table. And an equal number waiting when we left at 1:30.

              2. re: justjoan10016

                The Tavern Room has a long bar, and they serve food at the bar. If that is open to RW walk-ins, it's worth a try. In past years, RW meals were not served in the Tavern Room but only in the main dining room.

            3. Fair warning on the RW. Wine is not included and there is constant critcism about waiters being grumpy about serving the RW specials (tips would be down a bit I suppose) and some restaurants skimping on the portions. That being said it is a great way to have a fantastic meal at restaurants whose kitchens are hard wired to make good food - no matter what menue you are ordering from. I have reservations this week at Il Cantinori, le Perigord and Park Avenue Summer - all excellent kitchens and professional staff that are delighted to fill the restaurant on a sultry summer in New York. We'll see. And there are lots of superb places that have 'summer' menues. I had lunch at Le Gigot yesterday - they have a $24 prix fixe that is a fantastic deal. Really good arctic char gently poached with farmers market vegetables and I must say I'm not a dessert person (cena, espresso e basta) but since it came with lunch I ordered the chocolate cake. This was something else altogether - not a 'flourless chocolate cake' thing. It was a cup cake made by an insane Belgian. NO SUGAR NEEDED LETS JUST EAT CACAO. Almost like eating the bottom trailings in a Turkish coffee pot - but chocolate. WOW. MY girlfriend had lobster salad - frisee, tarragon, raw peas, avocado that was fresh and beautiful but not the prix fixe so I had to fight her off on the dessert.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jeffreylydon

                We (4 of us) ate at Jojos (160 E. 64th- a Jean George venue) last week before theater, thus making us eligible for their early dining / RW menu which is going to be slightly different but we got the point. EXCELLENT. I recommend it. Delicious pea soup, unique mushroom ravioli, wonderful asparagus first courses. Good roast chicken or skate (our choices) and yummy desserts. Turned out to be—with drinks and tip—about 50.00 per person. I'd do it again in a New York minute. Glass of oaky chardonnay was just the right temperature (cold) and the table small enough and the upstairs room quiet enough that we could hear ourselves, and others couldn't overhear us.

              2. Just came back from I Trulli. The food was... well, it would have been excellent except it was terribly salty. (I want, however, fourteen litres of the ricotta cheese they distribute with the bread. Oh. My. GOD.)

                Oddly enough, though, the saltiness complaint went away as soon as I started drinking my wine. The Pinot Bianco I had was unremarkable but helped the Apulian bread salad (excellent tomatoes; oversalted), but they've got a Sangiovese blend ("San Clemente" 2003) that was astoundingly good... smoky, which is not an adjective I've ever used to describe a wine, and absolutely perfect with the veal ravioli. I did not drink dessert wine, but the poached peach was slightly too sweet (but very tender). This was helped along by the pastry "nest" on which it was nestled, which was essentially unsweetened.

                I would return but only with people who were going to drink wine.

                Tomorrow I'm going to Opia. (I wanted Le Cirque, and they even had a table, but I don't have a jacket with me and it's not worth either wearing the house jacket or buying one.)

                We'll see about Wednesday and Thursday.