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Aug 10, 2009 10:42 AM

Restaurant Week... No More

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. 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

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

    2. 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

        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. 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

          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

            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

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

        2. 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

            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

              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

                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

                  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: Canadian Tuxedo

                    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.

                  2. re: purple bot

                    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.

                  3. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                    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. 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

                    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

                      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

                        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.