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Restaurant Week 2010 - What are your picks??

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I am trying to book several restaurants over the next week, and want to be sure I try out the best ones that offer the dinner promotion. What are your picks.

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  1. My pick is to eat at home during RW :-)

    1. I dined at Park Avenue Winter last night for the first time (as a grad student, I have a tight budget!), and enjoyed it a lot. The RW menu did not skimp on portions as far as I could tell. Our server brought us an amuse bouche to begin, and I don't recall exactly what it was but it was small and fried and delicious, with a hint of lemon. For apps, I started with the butternut squash soup which was delicious and creamy. It had something I couldnt detect drizzled on top-maybe balsamic vinegar? I would definitely order this again (though when it's not RW, the price is $15! Maybe once I'm out of college I could afford it...). My friend had the mushroom ravioli which was equally delicious and also a generous portion.

      For mains, I went with the salmon which was a huge piece of well-cooked salmon. It didn't taste fishy at all, and it came with I think swiss chard or perhaps kale (can never tell the difference). It also came topped with crouton-ish things similar to the amuse bouche. The portion was so big I actually had leftovers today, and they were surprisingly gracious about giving me a doggy bag. I never know at fancy restaurants how they'll react if I ask for one, and they were very nice about it here. My friend ordered the miso glazed lobster ($10 upcharge, and SO worth it). This lobster was awesome, and I was lucky to grab a few bites because my friend devoured it pretty quickly. It came on a plate with all kinds of stuff...something with cilantro, some veggies, it was very colorful and tasty.

      Desserts were a coconut panna cotta for me and a banana chocolate parfait for my friend. My panna cotta was delicious and tasted akin to a coconut ice cream one would get in a thai restaurant. It came with toasted, tiny crunchy bits of coconut on top of a creamy mousse and then the panna cotta on the bottom. So good! And it came with two coconut biscotti that tasted very similar to Danish Wedding Cookies. I saved the cookies for the next day and they were still great. My friends banana parfait was a little too banana-y for my tastes, but he loved it. There was something with butterscotch going on in it, and it had a bunch of layers.

      For the RW menu, they also have a $7 glass of wine option, and they give you a choice of two reds and two whites. I opted not to order the wine, but that seemed like a great deal compared to the regular drink prices. Overall, I would definitely recommend this restaurant for Restaurant Week or for a regular dining experience, though don't go here if you don't have the bank account if it's not RW! Also, while we were served our courses promptly with plates taken at the appropriate times, we did not feel rushed even though we were "bargain" diners, which I think is important.

      -----
      Park Avenue Cafe
      100 E 63rd St, New York, NY 10021

      1. You are probably already too late for the best ones (like Convivio and The Modern's Bar Room). If they do have space, still, there may be only 5pm and 10pm left. I would also ask about waitlists or trying to dine as a walk-in. Ideally, you would have booked weeks ago. Especially if you wish to dine on a Friday.

        I would try Apiary, Lure, Park Avenue Winter, Allegretti, Blue Smoke, Aquavit, Tocqueville, Red Cat maybe. A lot of the better restaurants only do lunch.

        Have you done any research already and has anything caught your eye? RW has been discussed a few times before.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/680029
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/682488
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/679677
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/676106
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/588710
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/683253

        1 Reply
        1. re: kathryn

          We actually had a better visit at Aquavit during RW than regular times. I definitely recommend it.

          We have res at Park Avenue Winter, Alto, Gotham Bar & Grill, and Nobu Next Door. I'll report back.

        2. My wife and I just had RW lunch at SD26. It was our first visit. It was really good. We started with the seared tuna & puntarella and the raviolliio (sp?) apps (a single large ravioli with an egg on top). I haven't had puntarella that good since Rome. The raviollio was amazing (based on the tiniest taste my wife would give me). For mains, I had the chicken, my wife had the bass. Mine was better. We chose for desert the panna cotta and a chocolate & mocca log. But looked like more than we could eat, but we managed to put them away. Very delicious. Service was good but not overbearing. The room is really pretty. I liked the touch screen wine list "thingy". It gives more information that one can usually get, although I'd like to see it match wine with food. The wine pour was a little small, I thought. The focaccia was really nice, too. I wish they were on opentable though. That might account for them not being full.

          -----
          SD26
          19 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010

          13 Replies
          1. re: jcooper

            Thanks for the review. BTW, SD26 is on Open Table.
            http://www.opentable.com/rest_profile...

            1. re: kathryn

              OK. In the NYC RW web page, it says "Call Now" as opposed to "Book Now" in the Reserve column. I just assumed that meant no Opentable. Good to know.

              http://www.nycgo.com/restaurantweek

              1. re: jcooper

                THE MODERN-BAR ROOM
                I just dined at The Modern-Bar Room for RW last week, and was sadly disappointed with my experience, which didn't live up to my high expectations. My Shaved Pumpkin Salad was tasty but nothing special, Duck Confit a l'Orange was salty and overcooked, and Hazelnut Dacquoise was creamy and the best part of the meal. My girlfriend had to send back her Scottish Salmon tasted extremely fishy, as if it wasn't fresh. My other friend's Saffron Taglietelle was savory, flavorful and delicious, however, and my fiance's Red Snapper was cooked in a creamy, complex and tasty sauce. I thought their strong suit was their dessert course, and enjoyed my fiance's Coffee Caramel Dome the most.

                ILILI
                I dined at Ilili last summer for RW, and LOVED the experience! Not only was the food delicious and service impeccable, but the portions were so large that we couldn't finish them and they had to be taken home! I HIGHLY recommend their Black Cod, which is definitely worth the supplemental cost. It was the most moist, delicate and flavorful cod I've ever had, and complemented by the black rice it was served with. I'm going back there tonight!

                MEGU
                I tried Megu last winter for RW, and thought the interior was beautifully decorated and the food was delicious. Their wagyu beef melts in your mouth. However, I only wish the portions were bigger. My fiance and I had to go for dinner immediately following dinner here! The entire dinner was like an appetizer.

                1. re: monamiestephanie

                  I couldn't disagree more about Megu. I went last night (as part of RW) and was completely turned off by the service (especially the host and hostess), the dark room, the portions, and especially the quality of the food. The portions were laughably small (really, we all laughed) which was fine, given that my black cod with miso was disagreeable: smelled fishy, slimy--a seemingly depressed 4 oz. of flesh all one on a tacky ceramic plate. (I actually think the plate is what they typically serve as an appetizer.) I get better cod at almost any Japanese restaurant, including my local joint. The res snapper salad was a mass of nuts with a thumbful of red snapper atop of which they poured hot, tasteless sesame oil. In any case, I felt robbed even with the $35 RW check. I'll never go back.

                  1. re: paulnyc

                    I have to agree, Paul, that was my experience at Megu last winter during RW. Unfriendly service and about 3 bites of not-very-good beef. Negatively impressed.

                    1. re: paulnyc

                      I wasn't impressed with Megu either, but Nobu Next Door this time was worse! What is it with these places? Just 'cause you're in Tribeca and filled with d-bags, food doesn't have to suck but it does.

                      Another VERY positive experience at Park Avenue Winter. We'll definitely be returning non-RW time, probably come spring. Excellent food and service.

                    2. re: monamiestephanie

                      I went to the Bar Room at the Modern last week and had an opposite experience. Loved my mushroom soup with chorizo ravioli. They were deep fried and crispy -- resembling empanadas. Unfortunately there were only three on the plate. The mushroom soup was also good. Very flavorful and tasted like high quality, gourmet mushrooms, as opposed to the standard supermarket varieties. And the saffron tagliatelle with cider braised rabbit, wild mushrooms, and baby zucchini was also excellent. Well seasoned, full of umami flavor. My husband's seared duck breast was good (as usual, we've had it 8-10 times by now, at least) as was his tuna, but I think I liked my tagliatelle the best.

                      Desserts stole the show though. The modern cheesecake with fromage blanc ice cream and almond crumble and berries! Cheesey and creamy and sweet and nutty, with a host of textures playing off one another. Apple Strudel with pecans and prune armagnac ice cream was also great. The apples were still a little crunchy and tart but the studel topping was warm and crispy, again, great contrasts, and the armagnac ice cream also gave it some complexity and kept it from feeling too sweet overall.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        I, too, loved the Modern -- consistently excellent and they really put their best foot forward during RW. The tuna tartare is my gold standard for that prep and the hazelnut dacquoise is simply out of this world!

                        Ate at Park Ave. Winter last night and enjoyed it very much -- huge caesar salad with plump anchovies, healthy serving of delicious roast salmon on cooked greens, and banana parfait...$7 to include a glass of good wine. Quite a deal!

                        1. re: City Kid

                          I, too, went to Park Ave Winter on Fri night for RW, and while it was totally fine overall, I could tell it's not on the same level as, say, the Modern, at least for RW. I split both the Carmellini Challenger meatball slider (fine, nothing noteworthy) and the porcini ravioli (easily the highlight of the meal). Got a generous pour of pinot noir in a goblet of a glass, which was nice. The lamb shank was fine, but the dish itself seemed a little amateur compared to other places - it was like a beginning chef trying out a new combination. It wasn't bad, but nothing I would have thought is really worth putting out on the menu (this was on the regular menu too I believe).

                          Boy were we stuffed after the meal (portions are quite generous). I'm glad I went, etc. but for bigger "bang" for the buck, I'd go to the Modern.

                          And before someone blasts me for comparing all other RW restaurants to the Modern, so what? I only think there are a few restaurants worthy of eating at for RW, so I'm not going to bother comparing this experience with, say, City Crab.

                          1. re: janethepain

                            LOLs. There's a reason why the Modern is a RW week Chowhound fave. I did Park Ave a few winters ago and it was nice but not memorable unlike my Modern experiences.

                            1. re: windycity

                              yeahh.. the Modern is a usual stop during RW but thought I'd branch out this time. Bummer.

                              1. re: janethepain

                                I had a very similar experience at Park Avenue Winter to you Jane and actually sampled some of the same dishes. My overall conclusion is that this is not a serious restaurant but rather directed to a combination of old people who have lost their sense of taste and people not really interested in food. Only god knows why I ordered the Carmellini Challenger meatball slider (probably people's recommendations on this site)- but eating it I started to feel embarrassed for the chef. The ravioli was the highlight of the whole meal. The lamb shank was striking in how tasteless it was. It is amazing the difference that two chefs can produce with virtually the same dish. If I compare a lamb shank that I had at Au Pied De Cochon to this dish it is like comparing chocolate to a piece of turd. The dessert was amateur hour.

                                As an aside and in reference to some of the previous posts above, I'd have a tough time deciding between cutting off my pinkie and going back to Megu.

                2. re: jcooper

                  Based upon your review, I went to SD26 for lunch with a coworker and they seemed fairly full. I had the tuna and puntarella. Excellent puntarella. Flavorful, well cooked seared tuna. The proscuitto wrapping was nice and crispy whereas the center of the tuna was rare and meaty. I had the chitarra and liked the al dente, chewy strands of pasta. Generous amont of sauce and basil. The mocha log was also very good and not too sweet, but rich and chocolatey. Overall, quite good. Service was excellent, as well. Friendly, attentive. I would definitely return.