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Philly Restaurant Week coming up

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Hounds, if you've ever wanted to try one of the many fine eateries discussed here without forfeiting an upper and lower limb, the Philadelphia Center City District Restaurant Week is coming up from September 14th through19th. I counted 110 restaurants that offer "a minimum" of three courses for a prix fixe of $35 p/p (tax,booze and tip not included) with discounted parking. Not surprisingly, Le Bec Fin, Buddakan and Morimoto are conspicuously absent but Lacroix, Alma de Cuba many other well-knowns are participating. Check out the link below:

http://www.centercityphila.org/life/R...

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  1. there have been inumerable posts about the positives and negatives of this event, make sure to do a board search!

    9 Replies
    1. re: saturninus

      Oh saturnine one, what is your point? There are innumerable posts here touting the positives and negatives about every place we eat. I was offering a friendly reminder to fellow 'burbans that there are some opportunities in the Big Scrapple that might intice the petrol-conscious and otherwise reluctant to venture in.

      If you have some bonafide caveats, don't keep us hanging. Speak up!

      1. re: Chefpaulo

        Well for one thing, it's way too late to get reservations at the good places.

        1. re: Buckethead

          not entirely true, as of last night there was a 7:45 two top at Tinto still available. Your best bet is to go on opentable on the 14th and see whats out there, Amada, Tinto, Lacroix and the Starr spots will all open up

          1. re: Gorp512

            There are definitely pros and cons, I feeling that, if done right, RR can be a real deal for a very good meal. Case in point: Davio's; Le Bar Lyonaisse; XIX; La Familigia. The real danger: spending $35/pp for a great meal and then $70 on a bottle of wine! Davio's usually has a $15 wine flight (one with each course) that is a very good deal.

            1. re: Schpsychman

              Foobooz posted their "guide" to RW:
              http://foobooz.com/2008/09/restaurant...

              I'm done with RW, I think I'll just sit tight and wait for people to start complaining on this board about the service/food/value of their RW dinners. At this point, for me, it's on par with eating out on Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve.

              1. re: urbanfabric

                Say what? That's ridiculous. My wife and I have dined at the best restaurants in Philly and NYC so we know good food, and we never ever dine out on special ocassion times like Valentine's Day or New Year's Eve. But, we are fans of RW because we know where to find the best food-value restaurants. You are being too global in your bashing of RW and throwing out the baby with the bath water.

                That being said, most of the restaurants participating in RW do NOT offer good food to value experiences. But, on the other hand, there ARE values to be had. I have had the RW meal at Davio's twice and the meal and wine flight for my wife and I was a very good value for $90 in my opinion (excluding tax and tip and when it was $30/pp). The same was true of the meal we had at Le Bar Lyonaisse (which was better than Davio's). Service has NEVER been an issue, in fact the service we got at Davio's and Le Bar during RW were both excellent. And, I am sure that, after eating at XIX a number of times, $70 for their meal will be quite a value for what you get as well.

                On the other hand, if you go to places where you'd normally spend $35/pp and often less and/or the food is merely OK, then RW becomes something that isn't that special. There is no one who dislikes "special ocassions" with dumbed-down menu's and overcrowded restaurants more than me. Fortunately, I have rarely experienced that during RW.

                1. re: Schpsychman

                  Good point, but I think the "great value restaurants" are dropping out more and more each RW.

                  1. re: saturninus

                    I agree with you, and that's when I'll stop doing RW. My challenge is going to a nice restaurant for a good value and then not blowing the value completely by purchasing a bottle of wine for $60 that been marked up 400%!

            2. re: Gorp512

              Well, shows what I know! Of course, the value of the RW menu at Tinto (or any other place) is debatable, but that's a subject we've discussed in many many threads..

      2. hello folks. i just arrived in philly last night. i'll be living here for 4 months.
        i'd say that in general. i'm not a major fan of restaurant weeks as many of the entree options are boring salmon and chicken dishes but sometimes it can be fun to just go and check a place out, but not consider it representative of the real restaurant.

        now to the point: being a total outsider (i'm from los angeles) i have no idea of the restaurants scene. i've been recommended bar tinto, bar lyonnaise but is there a sort of short list of places for restaurant week or beyond?

        on top of that are there any good weekday prix fixe nights?

        thanks!

        2 Replies
        1. re: modernist

          check out this recent post for a list of people's favorites
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/551606
          also if you go to opentable and click on the lists of most popular restaurants you'll get a good idea

          1. re: modernist

            My current short list (discounting RW, I'm not a fan) is:

            Ansill
            Zahav
            Osteria
            Kanella (BYO)
            Cochon (BYO)

            Tinto is very good too, definitely worth going to, but I've had better meals at all of the above places.

          2. sweet link!
            thanks!

            any of the more fine dining options have prix fixe nights?

            8 Replies
            1. re: modernist

              Brasserie Perrier has a $35 prix fixe on Sundays.

              1. re: modernist

                Little Fish has a $28 prix fixe on Sundays as well... there was recently a post here about it: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/553836

                1. re: modernist

                  Zahav has a prix-fixe Thursday nights, it's excellent.

                  Supper (the restaurant, not the meal) does Sunday Supper on the first Sunday of every month.

                  Ansill does 'Pif night', a French prix-fixe on Sunday. The chef, David Ansill, used to run a much-loved French BYO called Pif, the Sunday prix-fixe is for Pif fans. It's BYO on Sunday if you are ordering the prix-fixe.

                  1. re: Buckethead

                    I was under the impression the they're no longer doing Pif Night at Ansill, but I very well could be wrong.

                    1. re: Boognish

                      They stopped doing it over the summer, but started up again this past Sunday.

                      1. re: Buckethead

                        Thanks for the info! We've missed Pif since it's closed. Glad to hear Squirrely is bring it back.

                        1. re: Boognish

                          Ansill is also doing a special menu for David Ansill's birthday coming up:

                          http://foobooz.com/2008/09/ansill-hap...

                  2. re: modernist

                    thanks guys, this is exactly the info i was looking for!
                    i will for sure hit these spots and these nights up!

                  3. restaurant week is the WORST time to try a restaurant. chefs and cooks dread it, cranking out 800 dinners a night as fast as possible, with a dumbed down menu for the tourists and cheapos who send back their tuna tartare because it "wasn't cooked enough".

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: silverbullet69

                      hehe, my point exactly

                      1. re: silverbullet69

                        Is that a true story about the tartare? Funny.

                      2. My gripe about restaurant week:
                        the service is rushed
                        the food is rushed
                        you are rushed
                        they want to get you in and out to move the table, its best to avoid restaurant week.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sueshop

                          I have to chime in again and disagree wholeheartedly because my experiences have NOT been like this. Rushed service? Never. I've had 2-3 hour meals for our party of 4 at Davio's, Le Bar Lyonnaise, Salento, and other places that were NEVER rushed. In fact, the service at Davio's has always been top notch during RW and extremely professional.

                          Now I also had a RW meal at Brassiere Perrier which, in addition to not being worth the money and a pretty lousy meal, was rushed because the restaurant was incredibly packed and noisy.

                          Food rushed? Not at the places I've mentioned. In fact the pace has always been well planned, with appropriate waits in between courses. So I have to disagree with posters here who say that it's a "move 'em in and move 'em out" mentality. I think it depends on where you go. At the restaurants I've been to during RW over the past 5 years I and the couples I've attended with have not had these experiences. If so, I would have stopped going long ago. I'm sure that this will also be the case at XIX as well, but I will report back. Choose wisely and RW can be quite enjoyable. This coming from someone who typically enjoys quiet meals in quaint little hideaways!

                        2. I do have a Tinto reservation for Sunday that cannot be used if anyone wants before I cancel....send me your email

                          Also....FYI Amada has a fantastic lunch special.

                          1. We had a delightful and relaxed experience at Lacroix last night. They offered an optional additional course of seared Foie Gras for $12. My husband passed, but I couldn't resist! All of the food was perfectly prepared and just delicious.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: crazyspice

                              Wait a minute, you had a good meal during RW??? No, that's not possible! As you know, the food sucks, the service sucks, the menu is dumbed down and it's a horrible value! Delightful? Relaxed? Foie Gras for $12? I guess if you DO choose wisely it really IS a great value with great food and atmosphere! Well I'll be!!!

                              1. re: Schpsychman

                                I know!! Shocker. ;-D

                            2. I just hate the way people poo-poo restaurant week! If you don't like it - don't go out this week. But my other half and I are huge foodies and we never miss RW simply because there is no risk involved. A decent restaurant will streamline its menu to offer its best highlights, its staff will be trained and its expediters on hand to ensure that food moves from the kitchen to the table quickly and smoothly, moving the meal along and turning over tables without rushing the guests (Brasserie, XIX, Tinto among others - the good ones manage to do this). So... you get the chance to try new places with a minimum financial investment and an hour of your life. What is there to complain about??? Plus, it really does manage to bring people out who may not make it into the city often, and who consider RW an EVENT. I know it's hard on the house, the chefs and the staff, but we are talking about one week here. BTW - We had an AMAZING dinner at Estia last night, and the service was excellent, the food divine and quite frankly, I am not sure I would have gone there if it weren't on the RW list. I am now adding it to my pre-theatre dinner places because I would get the branzino or the roasted chicken again any day of the week. Take your noses out of the air and dive in for a little plebian pleasure!!

                              1. yeah, screw the naysayers.
                                my mom is coming to visit this wednesday and i'm taking her out every night of the week.

                                just to update and thank all the people who posted in response to my questions:
                                here is what i've eaten so far, chronologically from arriving last monday afternoon:
                                parc (dinner with coworkers: wouldn't go back, great decor, but relatively soulless food)
                                tiffin for lunch (great flavors but meat not cooked that well)
                                oceanaire (blowout kickoff party with lots of booze and grand plateau de fruits de mer, crab cakes and chowder - can't really go wrong with that one!)
                                pho 75 (the one way up north by roosevelt blvd) pretty solid
                                nanzhou hand drawn noodles (pretty good but didnt knock my socks off - i just got back from 3 months of travelling central asia and china-so my hand made noodle bar is quite high))
                                lunch at cafe saigon (i've gotten their bun and a banh mi - baguettes, kind of hard but still tasty, the nem nuong are kind of old tasting and dry- but am just glad that i have decent viet options for lunch)
                                ansill - missed happy hour but had a great dinner.
                                4 rivers in chinatown - fairly solid chinese food. but charging for rice raises eyebrows.
                                went to tria last night for some wine and snacks, pretty good.
                                today i got soondubu at Jong Ka Jib Soft Tofu Restaurant. pretty solid.

                                i think for restaurant week i'll hit bar lyonaise, amada, maybe alma de cuba (seems too trendy), perhaps tinto.

                                my answer to RW is that i almost always eat at the bar if there is one - in fact i almost always prefer eating at the bar in any situation. solves the service and rushing problems.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: modernist

                                  Skip Alma de Cuba, do Tinto if possible.

                                  1. re: Buckethead

                                    I second the vote on Tinto.....and I see above that there is a reservation for Sunday available

                                2. Tried Ly Michael's. Good start, then went downhill for some. I say this is a drinks & apps place because they were quite good. Several entrees were misses, though. The place wasn't even busy. Nice enough place & service was pleasant and not at all bad.

                                  1. I am no fan of Restaurant Week. 1- There are plenty of wonderful, unique restaurants in philly where you can get a great meal for a reasonable price any day of the week. 2- The restaurants KNOW what kind of people eat out during this week-the kind that aren't rolling in dough, and don't always tip well. So the service is no where near as good as it is during a non-restaurant week. 3- The portions are smaller than what you'll get regularly, and because the rest. chooses what to have on their prixe fixe menu, they mass produce everything.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Bridget1720

                                      1) You'll NEVER get a meal at XIX, Le Bar, Davio's, La Familigia, Estia (I could go on) for $35/pp, period. 2) Actually the "kind of people" out for RW are those with some money and the service I've had during RW has always been as good or better than during regular hours. 3) The portions ARE smaller, more like European portions, resulting in an adequate amount of food for a 3-course meal. If you're looking for super-sized head to Micky D's.

                                      1. re: Bridget1720

                                        I completely disagree with you! We dine out regularly with no limitations on the cost of the meal and we always tip a minimum of 20%, most times higher. $35 for a 3 course prix fixe menu is perfect for a Sunday night. Everything was freshly prepared and delicious. Mass prepared pan roasted salmon could not possibly be as moist and perfectly medium rare. Our service was excellent.

                                      2. Just wanted to add my RW experience. I like RW, but am very picky about the places I select. Usually I try and select the places that let you choose off of their full menu (although have had good experiences with the limited menus at Amada and Lacroix in the past). This year, snagged a last minute reservation at Ristorante Panorama, which I've been wanting to try for awhile. Service was very friendly and accommodating and the meal was paced well. A Filet Mignon was sent back for being overcooked, but otherwise the food was good to very good. We got pastas as our appetizers (the duck ragout was my favorite) and then ordered from the Secondi Piatti menu for entrees (I could not resist the lure of the Filet). Lots of wine flights priced at $20 for 5 tastes. Overall a nice experience but not out of this world.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jerseytomato

                                          Had a wonderful meal at XIX with freinds. The 4 of us sat by a window and could have eaten on the balcony but it was too chilly. Wahoo sashimi for apps, pork tenderloin and grouper for entrees, and compressed devil's food cake, lychee parfait, and strawberry shortcake for desserts, and all of it was very good. Portions were smaller than their usual size and the food was not as good as their regular menu, but all in all a good value and a very nice evening in a beautiful room with good friends (who were very impressed).

                                        2. Alas, it was our 3rd time at RW, but will probably be our last. I won't mention the place, but my wife's chicken came out lukewarm. My Hangar steak ( a substitutue for what I was expecting) was good, but the Yucca fries cold. Service was rushed and with little attention to detail, even though the place was only about 2/3rds full. I'd rather go on regular weeks.

                                          1. had the worst service experience of my entire life at Palace at the Ben. Were sat in a virtually empty section of the restaurant ( only one other couple) and it took a server 25 minutes to get to us. When she did , she was all over the place, never brining drinks. We had to get the host ourselves for that. When we did get food, it came out at a strange pace. Our entrees came out in two portions, first the dishes themselves, and then the rice to put it on. Then while we had our entrees , the dessert comes out, we didn't want it yet so she obviously just sat it down, because when it finally did come out, it was all melted. We just wanted to get out of there so we told them to wrap up the rest of our food, which was about the equivalent of an entire meal. We then had to get the host again to get our check, we were half way down the block when we realized we never got our box of food. I can deal with poor service, because I can reflect that in the tip, but I paid for food I never got. I can't let that go. Have been on the phone with them trying to talk to someone every single day for a week, they keep giving me the run around . Now its just become a battle of wills. The food was actually good, but I will only be back on their dime.