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Mar 18, 2012 11:05 AM

Grill 23 Restaurant Week

I almost hate to post this inquiry knowing how much may of you dislike RW but saw that Grill 23 is participating this year and we're going to give it a try. Am I correct to think that they haven't been on the list in the past or have I simply overlooked them? I think it's worth an outing. Do you?

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  1. Not a huge Restaurant Week fan, but my sense is that you're likelier to have a good experience at a luxury steakhouse than many other fine dining restaurants that have a similar average check size under non-RW conditions.

    Few of the really high-end places in town deliver what I'd call a satisfactory RW experience: they mostly disappoint, and I suspect it's because they're not really trying to convince you to come back to pay full price. They just go through the motions and serve something they can still make a profit on at $33/head. Often, it's not remotely like the real deal in terms of food or service, even though you get to sit in the room. (I wonder if they hide the good china and silver, too.)

    I can't recall if Grill 23 has participated in RW before. I'd be curious to know whether it still serves prime Brandt Farms beef during RW; that's my favorite thing about it, one major differentiator from the rest of a category that tends toward dreary uniformity.

    Update: Grill 23 sent me a note online saying this is indeed their first-ever RW, and that they will still serve Brandt beef.

    13 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Do you really think so? I think Ruth Chris gives you exactly what you would get for 2-3 times the price when it is not restaurant week. I have been 3 times and have always had delicious steak or crab cakes with great service for about $20 for lunch and $33 for dinner where these would normally cost about $80 with the appitizer and dessert added in.

      1. re: debidokun

        I haven't been to Ruth's Chris for RW, but your experience supports the point I was making: that the fancy steakhouses seem to do a better job of delivering value for RW than many similarly-expensive non-steakhouse restaurants.

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Capital Grille also serves up an excellent RW meal.

          1. re: shaebones

            I've always enjoyed The Palm lunch offering for RW. This is one of the many times of the year that I regret working in the 'burbs now.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Oh my you're right! Looks like they are moving elsewhere in early 2013 . . . in theory.

                Too bad, I liked that space.

        2. re: debidokun

          Back when they still served strip for lunch i thought it was the best restaurant week deal, and never felt like they were trying to be cheap and provide the full luxury steakhouse experience. However, the last time I was there, servers and foodrunners were dryhumping each other in the main dining room, like they were trying to reenact a scene from Kitchen Confidential. But for RW pricing I can live with childish behavior in exchange for discounted USDA prime.

          1. re: debidokun

            This a also supports MC's point. I had RW lunch at RC today and it was great. This was my second or 3rd time. $20 for lobster bisque, tenderloin (perfectly done rare) mashed potatoes or creamed spinach and bread pudding made for a great meal value. Service was up to non RW standards...which is to say high.

            If I have to look for a complaint, I'm with Andy that I preferred a strip to the filet; but that's a small quibble and I had a nice cut that I rarely order.

            Other drawback is that I can't eat the Waygu tips that I had planned for dinner on the bbq..:) almost went with the crabcakes.

          2. re: MC Slim JB

            slim, is brandt sold at any area markets, or just restnts?thx.

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              Per Brandt's website, Concord (MA) Prime & Fish, The Prime Butcher in Hampstead,, NH, and the Cronig's mini-chain on the Vineyard carry it. Grill 23 and Davio's are the only two local restaurants serving it. You can order it online from Dean & Deluca, too.


              1. re: MC Slim JB

                I believe Gaslight also serves Brandt beef—at least for their bavette steak. At least they used to.

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  That list appears to be just highlights and not inclusive. They carry Brandt Beef at Wilson Farms.

                2. re: opinionatedchef

                  Also sold at Concord Provisions, which is just down the street from Concord Prime and Fish. Looks like Concord looooves Brandt....

              2. You inspired me to book...hope it's good

                28 Replies
                1. re: bclarke25

                  We had another great RW experience at the Capital Grille in Burlington last night. Have never been disappointed there. Ruth's Chris on the other hand was just terrible last August. We felt like we were at a really bad wedding eating meals that felt pre-plated and were served by staff who hated us for existing. Three of 6 steaks were not prepared to order and had to be sent back, one of them twice! (how many times do you think it was spit on in the kitchen?? ) Really got the sense that everyone hated the week and all it brings with it. If that's the case, a venue should just take a pass instead of taking it out on customers.

                  1. re: tweetie

                    I feel the pain of restaurateurs during these weeks, but yeah, I totally agree with that last sentence. Hear, hear.

                    1. re: Jolyon Helterman

                      Being served by the Fellowship of the (Justifiably) Miserable is probably the single biggest thing that keeps me mostly away from Restaurant Week venues. Can't blame them, but I think I'll come back in a couple of weeks, thanks.


                      1. re: Jolyon Helterman

                        I'm not sure I understand "feeling the pain of the restauranteurs". Isn't RW supposed to be a promotion of how great their restaurant is so maybe they'll entice you to come back? I was always taught that P/R is what gets you customers. I would think they'd put their best foot forward.

                        1. re: CocoDan

                          I think maybe what Jolyon was getting at was that the crowds attracted by RW aren't always the most urbane, polite, or generous. RW might now be like what frequent-flier programs were: a fun, effective affinity program at first, now a semi-obligatory cost of doing business, a drag on profitability with no differentiating value.

                          It's clear that many restaurants have lost the meaning there, and it's hard to tell ahead of time which ones are still getting into the spirit of the thing. I would dread working as a server in most of them during RW. "The chicken and salmon crowd" doesn't order good wine, might run you ragged and then tip five bucks a head, and probably isn't coming back to pay full price anyway.


                            1. re: Jolyon Helterman

                              Believe me, I hear what you and MC are saying. I guess I've been in business long enough to know when it's good to lose a deal hear and there. RW would be one not to be part of. I'll just stay away.

                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                              So, then, I gotta ask: why would a restaurant engage in RW? They don't have to, so they do have a choice. And so many do engage...and do so year after year, so there must be a reasonable reason why they do so.

                              Certainly, if as MC says, the crowd RW attracts is so mercenary, there'd seem to be small reason for many of the restaurants we're discussing to "do" the week. Margins during RW must be compressed, so it wouldn't seem to be in a restaurant's short term interests to engage in RW...yet they do. So what am I missing?

                              Sign me,
                              Looking For Enlightenment

                              1. re: hondodog

                                I'll speculate that it's more in ownerships' interest, factoring in the marketing value and bulging receipts if not margins in a slow week. That doesn't necessarily align with the interests of servers, who often have to hump twice as hard for smaller average check sizes and tips. So you could have owners who are satisfied with RW and servers who are not.


                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  rw is all about marketing. maybe that rw person won't ever come back, but perhaps will tell a friend they had a good time. steakhouses are barely breaking even, but with most here being part of a chain, it's an easier expense to float than for an independent.

                                  at someplace where the check average normally exceeds $100 pp, the servers are running their butts off for diners who now are spending 2/3 less than that. they rarely buy wine and even a soft drink is a splurge. they never ever tip on what the bill "would" have been. yes, there are butts in the seat, so volume is greater than it otherwise might be, but chances are you are still going home with less money waiting on 20 rw peeps than you would have with 10 regular diners.

                                  for servers, it's a pretty demoralizing and exhausting two weeks.

                                  yesterday, we had somebody ask that since she didn't want desert, why couldn't she have 2 entrees instead. sigh.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    So this sounds to me like this: if you go to a restaurant and you know you're going to be sitting in your seats a long time (for whatever reason), you always should let the server know, at the beginning, you'll be there a long time and you WILL make it worth the server's time and effort (and lost potential extra tip from the slow table turn) by leaving an outsize tip.

                                    During RW, maybe it makes sense, at the beginning of the meal, to let the server know that you know it's, you know the server is doing double humping, and you appreciate their effort both in thought (by what you're saying) and in deed (by leaving a generous tip).

                                    Hotoy - the "entree equals dessert" story says much. Worth some bittersweet mirth.

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      "...since she didn't want desert, why couldn't she have 2 entrees instead?"

                                      More reasons to hate Restaurant Week: customers who don't get around enough to comprehend the prixe fixe concept, or who understand it (it ain't exactly rocket science, after all) but still try to gouge for more anyway. I can't stand to be around chiselers in a restaurant. Why not fill your purse with dinner rolls and steal the salt shaker while you're at it?


                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        "Why not fill your purse with dinner rolls and steal the salt shaker while you're at it?



                                        So you've met my grandmother..:


                                        Actually mt RW experiences have been overall very good to excellent. No decline in service..and tip provided over what a "regular"meal would cost.

                                        RC, this trip was an outlier, where I was a guest and never saw the bill. Could have ordered from the whole menu..but it would have been bad form; with a $20 special, it's rude to order the 4 lb lobster and don't commando the wine list. I'm sure the hosts tipped full boat...and service was A+.

                                        That's been my general experience...treated well with great service.

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          My wife was a waitress at Bertucci's in her former life and has some stories about people ordering extra rolls for a "direct deposit" into a large purse.

                                          So has anyone actually been to G23 this week and care to report?

                                          1. re: bclarke25

                                            Wondering the same thing myself. We're going Sunday.

                                            To the discussion on dead beat diners, are there really that many who behave like neanderthals, enough to ruin it for the rest of us who simply like to explore venues that are ordinarily beyond our comfortable price point? Seems to me that folks like the roll bandits and entree/dessert swappers would be the exception and more likely to be found at mass market restaurant chains and wouldn't even know about many of the finer dining establishments featured during RW. I think most of us use our napkin, don't pick our teeth or belch at the table, treat our servers respectfully and tip accordingly. Call me naive.

                                            1. re: tweetie

                                              my carer has always been in fine dining, so i don't have much to add for the low- to mid-range perspective.

                                              while the waitstaff is sympathetic that most of the rw guests simply can't afford the regular price tag, it doesn't make the grueling slog any easier, nor more profitable. checking their history through opentable shows they only visit at rw. regular guests who visit during that period don't bother with the rw menu.

                                              lol, just treat your server respectfully so they can do the same to you. a few extra bucks over 20% is most appreciated. :) once it's over, it's much like the pain of childbirth. you mostly forget the horror til the next one comes around.

                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                HT, I'm certain you have more experience than me in both childbirthand fine dinining. than me;.and I have a lot more in FD than childbirth..:).

                                                The places I've gone for RW include Asana, Sensing, Palm taranta, 606 Congres (that Ft Pt place with a clothing store in front that closed). Not places I'd normaly go for lunch. The Ruth Chris was just a lucky break and when the payer says,"ooh look at this $20 meal, I'm a team player..:)) He didn't know from RW til we sat down.

                                                I've never gotten anything less than superb service; and I don't wear a sign that says "regular diner" and will tip appropriately; though I do.

                                                Taranta is the only plave I'd say I'm "known." Asana was pricey and while I enjoyed the meal, unlikely I'd go back; but the service was impeccable. Maybe reading the WSJ "house provided" that made the difference..:)

                                                Next week, the experiment continues with Del Frisco's. I'm betting that they'll provide fine service.

                                                1. re: 9lives

                                                  606 congress is the place in the renaissance hotel. the "clothing store in front" place that closed was persephone.

                                                  i'm quite sure you're a reasonable and wonderful restaurant patron. none of these places should give anything less than their standard fantastic service, and i'm glad your experiences have all been positive. don't mean to be all sour grapes. i'm sure you'll have a great time at del frisco's too!

                                                2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                  I had something to add re: servers on restaurant week and maybe adding a little extra tip on for the effort (to make up for the fact that your party didn't have a bill up to the usual level at that restaurant).

                                                  I went to Radius last night for RW and fully had this premise in mind for when the bill came out, but as the meal started I got the sense that once our server realized we were not going to go for the +$22 tack-on for the sea bass or an expensive bottle of wine, they basically mailed it in with our table. Don't get me wrong, our server was pleasant, but barely spoke to us and didn't provide much in the form of "service" in the hour and a half or so we were seated. So, long story short, we still gave a 20% tip, but backed off the idea of padding it a bit to acknowledge the RW aspect.

                                                  I am wondering if others have had similar experiences or if anyone thinks this was poor form on my part...

                                                  1. re: ebone

                                                    if you didn't feel they deserved extra, that is entirely up to you. tipping is subjective and very delicate issue for so many.

                                                    once esti parsons and christopher myers were no longer involved with radius i felt the service went way downhill and i have stopped going.

                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                      I am not even saying that the service was "bad" per se, I just didn't feel like our server did much. I think I just found it interesting that I was actually looking for a reason to show my appreciation, but wasn't presented with one.

                                                      All of that said, I am certainly not expecting a server to do a song and dance for my extra couple of dollars. I suppose my comment just relates to the chill I felt as a RW customer.

                                                      1. re: ebone

                                                        Honestly, that's lunch at Radius. It has nothing to do with Restaurant Week. The service is always like that.

                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                      You hit on one of the major drags, one timers coming in and leaving a crumb of bread for a tip to hard working waitstaff. I'd rather avoid the week and dine during a time where they have a regular menu. IMO, RW really is no deal, like putting lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig. Perception is everything!

                                      1. re: treb

                                        Isn't RW a marketing tool meant to entice the uninitiated? I don't think the focus group are those who are already converted and regular customers. It's a lure for new bodies in the seats or at least that's how I've always seen and used it as a diner. All the more reason to put on your lipstick and pucker up!

                                        1. re: tweetie

                                          I know there's no real way to track it, but I would be curious at how many people return to a high-end (or at least, high cost) place after a good RW week experience. Would they enjoy it as much if it had cost 3 times as much to begin with?

                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                            Actually restaurants can quite easily track it through Open Table. What's more challenging is quantifying the imperative to visit the expensive restaurant generated by that good experience. If I have an amazing meal at Frank's Bistro, for example, and I like the look of the regular menu, I might go back. I would want to go back. But since I'm a single parent working three jobs, it's unlikely. What I will do, though, is tell all my friends and coworkers about my fantastic experience and how good the menu looked, and since they all know I have impeccable taste, they might then visit the restaurant, and if all goes well (for Frank and his bistro) it will have a snowball effect, and Frank will have his 15 minutes of fame in the Twittersphere.

                                          2. re: tweetie

                                            Your premise is correct from the owners perspective, unfortunately there are those who will only go for that one event and, in the end, the waitstaffers pay the price.

                                      2. re: CocoDan

                                        Putting butts in the seats on historically slow weeks has a lot to do with why RW exists.

                                2. Attended Grill 23 during RW and my companion went with the RW menu while I got the steak a la carte with a side of creamed spinach. This place is totally overpriced. The food is OK, which isn't saying a lot considering it should be amazing. My companion's fish dish was raw on first presentation and my steak was too charred IMO. The server couldn't explain the difference between wet aging and dry aging and overall was nothing impressive. Such upscale restaurants seem to have no problem making an impressive place but the food never seems to match in grandeur. If you are on an expense account, by all means enjoy it, but for a regular diner it is totally not worth it ($10 for a little bowl of creamed spinach?).

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: observor

                                    Yep, the sides are where they getcha at a luxury steakhouse. I don't care much for the format, and a server ought to be able to explain dry vs. wet aging (it's not complicated), but at least Grill 23 serves better prime beef than most, from a small producer.

                                    The dramatic char is also pretty typical thanks to much higher-heat grills in such kitchens than most home cooks ever work with. I like a good char, myself.

                                    Which cut did you order? I almost always opt for one of the dry-aged cuts, the ribeye or strip. Lots of local competitors only wet-age. Dry-aging costs the restaurant some weight, and not every patron likes the resulting flavor. I think the prime skirt steak-frites is also really good, and a relative bargain.


                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      mc, what is being called 'wet aging'? thnx.

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                        Wet aging means the beef is vacuum-packed in plastic and allowed to sit in low temperature refrigeration for a period of days or weeks. No loss of weight due to drying and exterior spoilage, and a less rich, concentrated flavor.


                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          We were completely disappointed by our March experience and wouldn't try again. At the Capital Grille on Sunday, however, we had another great meal. It's now the only place we go to during RW and have nothing but wonderful food and service.

                                          1. re: tweetie

                                            Did The Capital Grille still have their awesome Kona Crusted Sirloin steak on the RW menu? One of my favorite steaks in the city anyway, for a song during RW. We didn't go to Capital Grille this year for RW, but have in the past, and have always found it to be a good deal.

                                            1. re: tweetie

                                              I think the Capital Grille is an excellent RW value for the dry-aged bone-in Kona alone which is a solid but not inspiring steak, but in my experience overall it doesn't compare to Grill23. Enthusiastic but amateur service (poor wine serving skills, lots of water, the business card schtick) and very uninspired sides with sloppy overall plating. I have also seen this at a regular seating too. Feels like a chain restaurant... and well it is, but there are other chain steakhouses which make you feel less like you are in one. For RW overall, I would rather save my $33 to have the skirt steak in the bar at Grill 23 at a later date and feel they have the edge on service/sides, but it does sound like Grill 23 could be shooting themselves in the foot by finally joining RW and getting bad reviews even on the regular menu. Restaurant Week chaos or not, the CG does seem to give it a real try.

                                              1. re: itaunas

                                                I've never eaten at Grill 23 on RW, but haven't been very impressed the three times I ate there during regular service. I thought the steaks were fine (though I had to send one back once since it was well done, not the medium rare I ordered), but I've never ordered the skirt steak there. I was pretty pissed about the truffled tater tots when I got them once. They were $8-10 and there were like 10 of them. They were OK, but not worth $1 a tot!

                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                also a softer texture. dry-aging, which reduces moisture, makes a firmer steak.

                                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                                              I think I would rather just order mail order from their same producer. I ended up getting a wet aged strip because I was already concerned about the cost and it was bone-in, which I was told is better. Not sure why the dry aged was boneless. Will have to try dry aged next time. I just wish that these places could match the food to the surroundings. It is offputting to be surrounded by splendor and have the food just be OK.

                                            3. re: observor

                                              I ate here a few weeks ago (regular menu) and I was pretty disappointed, too. $49 dry-aged ribeye should be cooked properly. It wasn't. Neither was my date's filet. We were coming from work and had an engagement afterwards, so it wasn't really a possibility to have them refire new steaks (both of ours were overdone) due to time constraints.

                                              The sides were SO bland. I expect pricey sides at a steakhouse but I want some measure of flavor outside of salt.