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Restaurant Week... No More

typhoonfish Aug 10, 2009 10:42 AM

Maybe I'm the only one... I won't eat out for Restaurant Week anymore. I've had nothing but bad experiences with good restaurants. IMHO, they use cheaper ingredients, they try and turn tables to quickly and I've found the wait staffs don't give you the same kind of respect than a "normal" paying customer would receive.

My last experience with Taranta was terrible. I know that it's a fantastic restaurant normally. The RW menu was blah and the waitstaff was downright rude.

Am I the only one?

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  1. f
    Fenway_Frank RE: typhoonfish Aug 10, 2009 10:51 AM

    You'll find plenty of people on here that feel the same way. That being said, I had a great meal at Beacon Hill Bistro last night....which had probably four options for each course, large portions, delicious food and was not super crowded.

    I wonder if the combination of the down economy and the sheer size of the promotion (more than 200 places participating this year) if places will be more on their A games than they have before.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Fenway_Frank
      Allstonian RE: Fenway_Frank Aug 10, 2009 10:55 AM

      I've also had an excellent RW dinner at Beacon Hill Bistro, about 3 years ago.

    2. yumyum RE: typhoonfish Aug 10, 2009 11:14 AM

      I'm surprised to hear about Taranta. They are one of my RW favorites.

      I'm only doing a few this time ... a couple of places I wouldn't otherwise try -- Sorrelina and Sibling Rivalry. Both menus look fun and creative. Will report back.

      1 Reply
      1. re: yumyum
        eatanddestroy RE: yumyum Aug 11, 2009 05:58 AM

        I went to Sibling Rivalry last year. Unlike most places, there are tons of choices on the menu. The dishes were pretty tasty, and I liked that they offered a wine flight with the meal. No wines really stood out, but it was nice to sample a few wines with the meal for a fair price.

      2. MC Slim JB RE: typhoonfish Aug 10, 2009 11:39 AM

        I find Restaurant Week really hit or miss, but accidentally found myself at Estragon last RW, and it delivered a really high-value experience while not limiting their menu too much and staying true to the tapas format. That's a recent RW standout I'd do again.


        3 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB
          Stellar D RE: MC Slim JB Aug 10, 2009 06:24 PM

          We loved Restaurant Week menu at both Henrietta's Table and Harvest last year. Rialto was awful and the server messed up our order- it was a Monday night, so no excuse.

          1. re: Stellar D
            jjbourgeois RE: Stellar D Aug 10, 2009 06:50 PM

            Rialto was the reason we gave up on Restaurant Week. The service was so bad and the food mediocre and salty. We now treat RW like New Years Eve. Strictly amateur hour.

            1. re: jjbourgeois
              Suze123 RE: jjbourgeois Aug 11, 2009 08:00 AM

              I didn't like Rialto when we went on a non-Restaurant Week night. Totally mediocre.

        2. p
          purple bot RE: typhoonfish Aug 11, 2009 08:31 AM

          Never understood the draw of RW when there are plenty of not-so-expensive places where you can get a wonderful meal (and more choices) for the same money.

          9 Replies
          1. re: purple bot
            Canadian Tuxedo RE: purple bot Aug 12, 2009 09:17 PM

            While I have to agree with the hit or miss opinion (I've had both fantastic experiences and mediocre ones), I would say the draw of RW for me was always the opportunity to give some of the high end restaurants a spin for less money. It was particularly a draw back in the day when I made significantly less money than I do now, but still had a desire to eat at the No. 9, Pigalle, or Locke Obers of the "world."

            I would eagerly await the release of participating restaurants and pick the higher end establishments where the price was significantly lower than what one would normally spend for three dishes. Yes, choice (and sometimes quality) was compromised, but the opportunity to afford to eat out at several such restaurants was too good to pass up.

            1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
              purple bot RE: Canadian Tuxedo Aug 12, 2009 09:35 PM

              But why, oh why, would you think you could get the higher end "experience" for $33? You can't. End of story. Restaurants where the per person average (non-RW) ranges from $85-100 simply cannot do what they normally "do" -- for $33. Their food costs alone exceed that. They must, they have to, scale back -- dramatically -- for restaurant week. To expect that you will get a taste of the usual experience is completely ludicrous. Not saying you can't have a lovely time, but let's get real here... it's NOT the full experience.

              1. re: purple bot
                Canadian Tuxedo RE: purple bot Aug 12, 2009 10:42 PM

                So what? The idea isn't to get the entire $100 experience. The point was to get a taste at a much lower price point.

                If the return for the restaurants participating is to fill seats during a time of the year when many of their regular customers are away on vacation, they would do well to at least not scale back too dramatically.

                And now that I can afford the full price "experience," I remember vividly what establishments did not treat the RW customers like second class citizens (such as No. 9) and those that did (like Rialto). So I choose to spend some of my "going out" money accordingly.

                In in my recollection, while my DC and I may not have indulged in an expensive bottle of wine or the cheese cart, the experience at No. 9 a few years ago during RW wasn't that much different from when we go now during the rest of the year. The service was top notch and the food excellent. I guess that may have something more to do with management than the "why, oh why" completely independent cost of business factors you cite...

                Done properly, RW is in no way an "end of story." Unless you have always had the means to eat at higher end establishments. If that is the case, why do you even care?

                1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                  purple bot RE: Canadian Tuxedo Aug 13, 2009 07:45 AM

                  I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. If I want the Sorellina experience, I go to Sorellina during regular time. If I want a great, less expensive meal, I'll go someplace I love that's less expensive. Personally I don't see the point, but that's just my opinion.

                  1. re: purple bot
                    RichardinJP RE: purple bot Aug 18, 2009 04:48 AM

                    Totally agree.

                  2. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                    globalgourmand RE: Canadian Tuxedo Aug 13, 2009 08:19 AM

                    I agree entirely with Canadian Tuxedo. We save the most expensive restaurants that we wouldn't usually visit for RW week, twice per year. We choose places where two apps, two entrees, and two desserts would far exceed $66. We get to see the atmosphere and decor of these places and we usually get quite good, if not great service (reserving earlier in the promotion, earlier in the week, and earlier in the evening all seem to have worked for us.) For example we had a lovely 3-course early lunch at L'Espalier last RW. The service was exceptional and there is NO way we could have ever tried six dishes there for $40. Ever. You cannot try 6 unique preparations at Excelsior or Meritage or Pigalle or Uni or Oishii or No.9 or Radius or Locke-Ober or Troquet etc etc etc... for $66.

                    Perhaps when we run out of $$$-$$$$ restaurants to try, we'll stop going. If you had been to all those restaurants, it wouldn't be the value that it has been for to us. But for us, to experience Boston's "finest," we go to 3 restaurants every RW. We skip places which offer similar prix-fixe menus year-round. We check out the menus in advance to avoid being forced to select a conciliatory salad or burger. We go early.

                    Honestly, I just think it makes a lot of sense. Even if you're not on a budget. I've had nothing but good experiences at "great" restaurants for half the price. Perhaps we're just lucky.

                  3. re: purple bot
                    Boston_Otter RE: purple bot Aug 13, 2009 11:13 AM

                    I'm with Canadian Tuxedo 100%. I'd never expect the full "experience" from a restaurant during RW; I'm going to get a sampler of their flavors and atmosphere so that I can decide whether I want to return for the full $100+ experience.

                    As someone who's had some very mediocre $100+ experiences at "name" restaurants here in Boston, RW does exactly what it's supposed to -- gives me an idea of what to expect. Frankly, if a restaurant doesn't give a crap about its patrons during RW, I'd never return -- Tangerino's, for example.

                    1. re: Boston_Otter
                      globalgourmand RE: Boston_Otter Aug 17, 2009 10:32 AM

                      I agree!

                  4. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                    bgavin RE: Canadian Tuxedo Aug 19, 2009 11:53 AM

                    I agree with Canadian Tuxedo 100%.
                    My first experience at L'Espalier was at RW, same with Mistral.
                    For the record, I have had two great meals this time around: at Toscano and at Sage. Plus the usual decadent lunch at L'Espalier.
                    I don't get the folks who use RW to go to, say, Laurel or Grotto.

                2. k
                  katie_c RE: typhoonfish Aug 11, 2009 09:00 AM

                  I agree, and a lot of times there are items I want to try on the menu that you can't during restaurant week. A great restaurant to try out that has the restraurant week menu ALL the time, reasonably priced food and great service is Grotto. My husband and I love their lobster mac.
                  On a side note, I wrote something comical about table service :) http://oldfashionedgirlink.blogspot.c...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: katie_c
                    MC Slim JB RE: katie_c Aug 11, 2009 09:03 AM

                    I'm a fan of Grotto, too, but I wonder why people go out of their way to visit it during RW. It's one of those places that does a similarly priced prix fixe every day of the year.


                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                      jgg13 RE: MC Slim JB Aug 11, 2009 10:29 AM

                      I think a lot of them don't realize. It seems like a lot of people have a negative experience there during RW, so when I tell them that they can just go some other time and get basically the same deal, they always say that they didn't know that.

                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                        katie_c RE: MC Slim JB Aug 11, 2009 02:26 PM

                        Oh sure I agree, don't go to Grotto during restaurant week. go any time of the year you want to get a great pre-fixe at RW prices... I think it's totally affordable there.

                    2. g
                      ginafly RE: typhoonfish Aug 12, 2009 08:45 AM

                      Completely with you! Gave up on RW years ago. So many places have regular weeknight or "neighborhood" prix fixe menus year round, anyway. RW is just more crowded, and ugh, the kitchens just phone it in that week. I've had ONE good RW meal, which was lunch at Radius.

                      1. g
                        ghostcat RE: typhoonfish Aug 12, 2009 10:58 PM

                        I've never had a bad meal during RW in all the years that I've taken advantage of it. I mostly do lunches, where the portions are a bit smaller and I can handle dessert. I too had a great lunch last year at Radius and this week we've been to L'Espalier where the service and food were flawless. Someone mentioned about price points and how some of these places can't do a decent job and make a profit. I'm not a professional, but I think my twenty dollar lunch probably cost less than ten dollars for the ingredients. The canteloupe soup with grilled watermelon and seared shrimp was wonderful as was the fennel poached Scotish salmon served with a good summer squash stuffed with ratatouille and a perfectly sized piece of peach and yogurt parfait cake was the perfect way to end this very enjoyable lunch. The featured wines were only eight dollars a glass, so I just don't see how anyone could complain about how this might seem like a rip-off. Today it was lunch at Sensing, with a totally different casual atmosphere, but with the same goal to serve quality food at a comfortable price. I was a little put off by the casualness of the place (one waiter didn't know where the men's room was), but my sister enjoyed herself to no end and the portions were too big here. Neither of us finished the fettuccini with all sorts of fresh veggies, lemon confit and a wonderful sause. As full as we were, we were ready to ask for a straw to drain the last of the strawberry and Szechuan pepper soup that was dessert.

                        My feeling about RW is that if you think you can do better, then don't bother with it. Over the years I've been to many places that I don't ordinarily go to, although I go out to dinner six nights a week. I just don't think anyone should be too negative about it so that a someone might feel they are missing out on somethng if they go. You can only miss out on the experience.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: ghostcat
                          Materials RE: ghostcat Aug 14, 2009 09:17 PM

                          I also went to L'espalier for RW lunch this week and really enjoyed it. I look forward to going again, but during regular time. I also think it does help to expect a little less - not the same level of food as the regular menu. Still some restaurants do RW well and others just really disappoint. For example, I don't mind the use of less expensive ingredients - in fact sometimes cheaper cuts of meat can become delicious with really good technique. Seriously, not much skill goes into a top quality steak, but it takes time and skill to turn a tough piece of meat into something great.

                          1. re: Materials
                            teezeetoo RE: Materials Aug 17, 2009 06:53 PM

                            I'm with Canadian. I go to RW to see whether I can get a sense of a place I haven't tried or see whether a place I love can do something wonderful under their normal price point. When a restaurant participates in RW and doesn't strut its stuff, it goes off my yearround list, because its dishonest. Don't participate if you don't want to shine. I dropped Rialto and B & G Oysters because they both made it clear, through their food and their service, that RW was second-class and a pain. I went back to Hammersley and gave more business to L'Espalier because they did the opposite: treated us as if we were there to share a good experience with them.

                            1. re: teezeetoo
                              Suze123 RE: teezeetoo Aug 18, 2009 01:47 PM

                              I am totally with you on this point. I understand what offering a less-expensive menu means...but come now, we've all seen Top Chef. Any chef worth their salt should be able to design a tasty meal at a lower price point. And certainly service shouldn't suffer. Based on some of my RW experiences, I'll go back to Meritage during non-RW, but not Locke-Ober or Gargoyles.

                              1. re: Suze123
                                j02130 RE: Suze123 Aug 19, 2009 08:59 AM

                                Went to Avila with a number of folks from work for RW...very disappointing. I don't expect great food but I do expect something better than fair.....Service was poor. The food was underwhelming. Nothing to write home about. NO to RW for me .

                                1. re: j02130
                                  hotoynoodle RE: j02130 Aug 20, 2009 11:42 AM

                                  avila isn't all that great during non-rw.

                                  i gave up on it ages ago.

                        2. MenuPorn RE: typhoonfish Aug 19, 2009 12:34 PM

                          Had an amazing RW meal at L'Andana on Sunday. Amazing food, service and portions. The next day went to Tremont 657 (posted a different thread on this) and had terrible food.

                          I'm surprised to hear that about Taranta. Last time we were there the chef waited on us himself and selected our entire menu. It was an amazing meal.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MenuPorn
                            SallyCapeCodCat RE: MenuPorn Aug 20, 2009 03:56 AM

                            I would agree about L'Andana. Had a fabulous meal there last evening. These folks went all out. I'll be back. Attentive staff, wonderful food. Class act! Glad this was our choice rather than some of the other failures that have been reported here.

                          2. l
                            Lowren710 RE: typhoonfish Aug 20, 2009 09:18 AM

                            I had a mildly disappointing experience at Lumiere on Tuesday night. There were four of us, and without knowing it, we were all excited to try the pork shoulder that was on the RW website. When we got to Lumiere, no pork shoulder. It had been replaced with meatloaf. BF got the meatloaf and it was good, but meatloaf and mashed potatoes just didn't speak to me. I ended up paying $7 extra to order the hanger steak with frites. The frites were good, but the steak was just ok. I had the corn chowder to start which was very good. Again, I had been looking forward to the ice cream sundae advertised on the RW menu and it had been replaced with mousse. The service was good, but out waiter just didn't seem to like us. Altogether, was $200 for 4 RW meals, two $7 steak add-ons, and two beers - including tax and tip. I could think of lots better chow to spend $200 bucks on!

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