I'm thinking of visiting NYC in jan and heard about their restaurant week. Is this worth checking out? From my past experiences in other cities with a restaurant week, they usually serve mediocre food but of course for a much cheaper price.
Restaurant Week is worth it if you plan ahead, choose restaurants carefully, and don't walk in with superhigh expectations. Are you available to dine during the week for lunch? If so, that opens a LOT of options.
Restaurant Week is indeed a great IDEA but you need to be aware of the pitfalls:
- don't expect normal portions of high quality ingredients like steak, etc. as a rule
- huge crowds and rushed service: most well known and high quality places are slammed due to the extra diners, and there will be a higher percentage of diners who typically don't dine out that often
- some restaurants cut corners by offering, say, only two choices per course -- chicken and fish, none of the signature dishes, etc.
- getting shut out of reservations since you didn't call 28, 30, or 31 days in advance...many popular places book up as soon as their books open up for that date
- the *really* high quality and popular restaurants usually do not participate
- participatings restaurants often already have a prix fixe deal that is in that price range: Devi, Tocqueville, a few of the Daniel Boulud restaurants like Bar Boulud & Cafe Boulud, Gotham, Aldea, etc. You could pay one price for the regular lunch prix fixe any other time of the year or you could save a few dollars and dine there with more people, a harried kitchen, fewer options on the menu....
I've always had a good experience at any Danny Meyer restaurant like Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park (who no longer participates), Union Square Cafe, Bar Room at the Modern, etc. I also typically dine well during RW at restaurants who usually don't have a large lunch crowd but are popular for dinner. I enjoyed past RW lunches Lupa, SD26, and A Voce. I've also seen reports where other CHers enjoyed Park Avenue Winter/Summer, Convivio, and Quality Meats.
HOWEVER, a lot of Danny Meyer places have stopped participating (EMP) or only participate for a partial part of the Restaurant Week. The Danny Meyer restaurants who are did the full RW this past summer for RW Summer 2010 were Bar Room at the Modern, Blue Smoke, Tabla, and Maialino. I fined at Maialino and it was great. They also gave a voucher for weekday breakfast (I think it was $20 off or so). My review:
There have been MANY MANY threads on RW previously:
FYI, for anybody who is reading this who doesn't know about RW: participating restaurants will be serving special lunch and/or dinner menus: three-course, prix-fixe meals for $24.07 and $35, respectively, not including beverages, tip or tax. Some restaurants participate only for lunch, others only for dinner, and others do both. Many of the restaurants will restrict participation to Monday-Friday (no weekends) and do lunch only. They're trying to drum up business on their slow days, and if a place is going to be full on a Friday night or Saturday night anyway, they don't need additional diners during those times.
NYCGo holds the list pretty tightly until it's officially announced. They are the ones who run RW and don't let people know the full list until they want to. HOWEVER, NYCGo says reservations "start" on on a specific date, BUT most restaurants open their books about a month in advance, so you can gamble and make reservations at places you THINK will participate, and then cancel later.
Opentable page where you can book online is typically released a few weeks beforehand.
170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012
20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010
42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003
41 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010
Park Avenue Cafe
100 E 63rd St, New York, NY 10021
57 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019
116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016
1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017
31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011
2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010
19 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010
We had lunch at the River Café during last January's Restaurant Week, and there were several choices for each course (we were surprised). The food was terrific & the weather was great - the view of Manhattan was spectacular. They take reservations months in advance so, if you're game for an easy trip to Brooklyn (by subway or taxi), you should take Kathryn's suggestion and book now. It'll be a great highlight to your NYC trip.
If you go to http://gonyc.about.com/cs/restaurants..., there is a list of "participating restaurants" for 2011 NYC Restaurant Week. However it appears to be subject to final verification, which might very well be delayed until Jan 12. Not sure how useful this information is to anyone, but thought I'd pass it on just the same.