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Sep 16, 2010 12:37 PM

Philadelphia Restaurant week, Sept. 2010

For those who are interested:

This has a listing of the restaurants, the meals that they are offering (lunch, dinner, both), and menus.

Unfortunate Story (and let this be a lesson to all):

My boss lives out of state, but resides in Philly during the week. He took his wife to Smith & Wolenski's last night for dinner. After the dinner, and paying his substantial bill, he happened to look over at an adjacent table. The diner had a Restaurant Week menu. Boss asked if he could see it, and found that everything he and his wife had was on the menu. Fixed price of $35. When he asked the waiter why he wasn't given the Restaurant Week menu, the waiter replied: "You didn't ask for it."

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  1. I think that's typical. I was out of town last week and the area where we were was having RW. I knew the restaurant we were dining at was partcipating in RW. If we hadn't asked for the menu, we never would have seen it. Folks who know about restaurant week, and who go to specific restaurants because of the specials, know to ask for the special menu. If it's any consolation, your boss and his wife probably had larger portions than they would have had if they'd ordered off the RW menu.

    10 Replies
    1. re: CindyJ

      So far this RW we've eaten at Butcher and Singer and LaCroix and both of them gave us RW menus -- in fact, LaCroix gave us only the RW menu. But a lot of restaurants do withhold the RW menu and that's something that always annoys us.

      1. re: Beulah

        Beulah, how were your experiences?

        We had a RW dinner at the Swann Lounge a few nights ago, and we weren't happy campers. The menu was limited. All of us enjoyed a excellent clam chowder appetizer, and the salad also was fine.
        The people who ordered the halibut cheek liked it very much. The other choices were rigatoni with a veal meatball and chicken breast. The chicken was dry.
        There were two dessert options, not bad but ordinary.
        No bread was served.
        What caused our unhappiness was the bill. Cocktails were $17 each. Of course, this made our check quite large.
        In general, we have found the best places to go for RW are the steak houses. We have had very good experiences at Capital Grille, Palm, etc. Live and learn!

        1. re: sylviag

          $17?! Is that the normal price in the Swann Lounge?? More importantly, though--were they any good?

          Regarding the menus, I was in Xochitl the other day and the *only* menu available was the Restaurant Week one. This was annoying because I just stopped in for drinks and wanted to nibble. Since we were seated at the bar, they did let us order a la carte from the limited options.

          Since I haven't seen anything on here about post-Jimenez Xochitl, I'll add that we tried a few things and I wasn't very impressed with the food. I like their drinks though.

          1. re: barryg

            Barry, I'm no expert on drinks. To me, the drinks were fine - nothing special.
            When I'm in my appletini mode, I do like the ones at Le Virtu and at Yang Ming.
            Probably other places too, but I don't remember.
            My favorite appletinis are when there is apple juice (sometimes even fresh!) in addition to the apple schnapps, and a slice of apple on top. I'm going to start paying attention to where I get a really good one.
            We go to many byob's, but now I'm getting a yen for that drink.
            I also can make do with scotch and soda, and that's pretty standard.

            1. re: sylviag

              It sounds pretty hard to justify a $17 cocktail when the good bars like Ranstead Room are slinging great ones for $12. That's just nuts. I wonder if it was a RW markup thing?

              1. re: barryg

                Sort of remember cocktails at Butcher & Singer were in that price range as well as most wines by the glass

          2. re: sylviag

            We went to Del Frisco's Steak House last time Philly had RW. It was a zoo! Never again!

            1. re: CindyJ

              So far we've eaten at Butcher & Singer and Lacroix. The martini at B&S was $12 which I thought was a little high. B&S served shrimp cocktail (me) -- 3 huge delicious shrimp and caesar salad (DH) -- ordinary, followed by filet mignon with 2 sides (1 each which we shared) -- really good green beans with almonds and good mashed potatoes. The filet was good and properly cooked. Dessert was chocolate fudge cake (DH) and caramel custard (me), both of which were good. Everything was good but not extraordinary except for the shrimp cocktail.

              Lacroix served crab consomme with dumpling (me) and house salad (DH) - the salad looked very good but the consomme failed to grab me and the dumpling was really a big wonton. Main course was salmon served over eggplant and apple and dessert was a kind of parfait. The salmon was good and the dessert was ordinary. We were disappointed.

              Tonight we're eating at Tweed, and we have Barbuzzo, Le Castagne and Sampan lined up for the rest of the week. Our policy is to eat at either the more expensive restaurants or new restaurants during restaurant week -- if you can eat there at any time for $35, why go for restaurant week?

              Butcher & Singer
              555 Lincoln Dr W, Marlton, NJ 08053

              1. re: Beulah

                Make sure you check out the rest of the menu at Barbuzzo before going immediately to the RW menu. We found that 5 small plates from the regular menu were plenty for the two of us and with a pitcher of sangria our total was $71 before tax and tip.

                1. re: urbanfabric

                  Last night we went to Tweed (previously unscheduled). I had the assorted cheeses for app and DH had the Tweed salad. The cheese plate consisted of 3 nice slices of interesting cheeses on a wooden board, with some black grapes and a small pitcher of honey. We both thought it was a generous portion, as was the chopped salad, which DH enjoyed.

                  We both had the trout with sauteed chicorees (?) which turned out to be a mixture of various bitter greens including chicory and radicchio. The trout was good and crisp and the greens were delicious.

                  For dessert DH had the rootbeer float, which he enjoyed, and I had the chocolate ganache peanut bar, which was very good.

                  We particularly liked the unique breads which they served. Tonight Barbuzzo.

      2. I'd like to plug Estia for restaurant week.
        For $35 you have the option of their amazing grilled octopus (usually $19) to start, their excellent grilled fish as an entree(usually $26 lb), and a run-of-the-mill dessert. Can't comment on the rest of the menu or if they do anything else well, but restaurant week makes a good but usually overpriced meal totally affordable.

        1 Reply
        1. re: FattyFatMan

          Estia actually has a pre-theater menu that's $30 (or at least that's what their web site says). The grilled octopus is a choice.

        2. This happened to me last night at the Water Works. I met some friends there for dinner (they made the reservation). When we were seated and given menus, I asked the waiter if they participated in Restaurant Week. At first he said he didn't know what I meant and then said that they were not participating. As he walked away my friend said that they were on the list of participating restaurants and that was the reason for choosing to go there. When he came back I asked for the RW menus. Eventually someone else brought us RW menus. I don't think they wanted to give them to us because most of the entree prices alone were more than the RW price...

          When I dined at Amada last week, the only menu presented was the RW menu but I think they said we could also order off the regular menu as well. That's how it should be. And the menu posted outside was the RW menu too.

          4 Replies
          1. re: katsak

            I'm sure of you had gotten up to start leaving, he would have magically found the RW menus.

            1. re: katsak

              It makes me wonder something like this is the restauant's policy, or just the server's choice. When you think about it, they are spending the same amount of time and effort serving you a RW meal as they would be serving from the regular menu, but a 20% tip on the RW total is ever so much less. I know that there are a lot of servers who hate/resent RW for this very reason.

              1. re: katsak

                YIkes! This reminds me of the 'used car salesman tactics' from another thread (I believe it was at Buddakan) a number of weeks back.

                How was your experience otherwise?

                1. re: ramenbound

                  Food was good, although I don't think I'd go there if it wasn't RW because it is very expensive. If I wanted to spend that kind of money I would go elsewhere, food didn't match up with the price. Nice atmosphere with an incredible view of Boathouse Row as we were seated outside, but there was a car fire on 76 ;) Service otherwise was good too but the staff was a bit snooty.

                  One other thing to point out was a comment the bartender made while waiting at the bar for friends to arrive. Wines by the glass were pricey too, I think only 1 was under $10 which was a Greek wine called Water Works. I asked the bartender what it was like and the response was "it tastes like dirt". Another way to steer you to the more expensive wines?? Otherwise why would they serve it?

              2. for my disappointing RW experience at Le Castagne, click here

                1. We ate at Le Castagne last night. Hadn't been there since soon after they first opened and was very impressed by the beautiful room. I ordered a glass of wine while I waited for my husband to park and was given a glass with at least 8 oz of wine -- an extremely generous pour. Basically they offered the regular menu without prices and we were told we could choose any 2 items (but not 2 main dishes) and dessert would also be served. We both chose pasta for the first course -- DH had gnocchi (his favorite always) with marinara source, mozzarella and basil, and I had the spaghetti with chestnut sauce. Both were excellent and generous portions.

                  For the main course we both had the scallops with citrus and fennel salad. There were 5 small but good scallops served over and around a mound of razor-cut fennel interspersed with orange slices. I really liked how the fennel was cut into ribbons.

                  Dessert was a combo plate consisting of a cream puff, a lemon tart and a mini-cannoli, plus a little fruit. My only complaint is that they didn't ask if we wanted coffee until after we had just about finished dessert, by which time we were ready to leave.

                  We thought it was a very good deal and had no other complaints.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Beulah

                    Beulah, thank you for your helpful reviews. I trust your judgment!