Restaurant Week NYC, Recommendations for the Best Deal

Sunday, January 13, 2013

It's that time of year again for the Winter New York City Restaurant Week! It begins tomorrow, January 14th and lasts until February 8th. After that, you'll have to wait for Summer Restaurant Week, which usually starts in July.

My friends and I have always been fans of Restaurant Week. As new college graduates living in the Bay Area, Dine About Town  in San Francisco (which also begins this week and lasts from Jan 15-31), we always made an event of picking out the best restaurants of the bunch and treating ourselves to a taste of the finer things in life. It helped expose me to fine dining and for that, I am forever grateful.

I like to think that nothing in life is ever truly free. We've all heard criticism of why Groupon restaurant deals aren't good for consumers - bad service from servers, limited menu options, etc. - well, the same can be said about menus during Restaurant Week. Check out this blog post from Serious Eats about why you should Skip Restaurant Week.

However, I'm an optimist who likes to think that sometimes, you can win and score a great meal for less. And you know what? I've only had great restaurant week experiences.

Best Restaurant Week Deals

First, let's start off with what I consider a good deal for Restaurant Week:
  • Restaurant Week Menu offers dishes that are pulled from the regular menu and not special dishes made for the cheaper price point.
  • The prices of the 3 dishes combined on the regular menu comes out to more than the Restaurant Week price - this is supposed to be a good deal after all!
  • Servers don't treat me like an underclass citizen for ordering from the Restaurant Week menu.
  • Must have Dinner Menus - I can't take a 2 hour lunch to enjoy a three course meal, so a good deal is a deal I can participate in. However, a $25 three course lunch isn't a bad deal either.
That said, here are my recommendations for restaurants you should check out.

1. Telepan

Telepan in Upper West Side is a classic French Restaurant that doesn't even have a separate Restaurant Week Menu. Just pick 3 dishes from their appetizer, pasta, entree and dessert from their regular menu. I came here with two of my girl friends and we decided to skip the dessert altogether. Here's what we ordered:

Sunny Side Up Egg w/ Fried Green Tomatoes | House-Smoked Brook Trout w/ Corn Bellini | Beet Salad

RECOMMENDEDLobster Bolognese ($5 tasting menu supplement)

Bucatini & Cherry Tomatoes, amatriciana-style, house-cured pork, red onion & garlic

Roasted Chicken w/ wild mushrooms & gnocchi | Codfish w/ lobster marinette | Heritage Pork & Baked Beans
Overall, all of the dishes were delicious, and the Lobster Bolognese comes highly recommended. The staff and service was great, and the overall feel of the restaurant is more on the formal side. It was a great Restaurant Week experience that made for an amazing and affordable Ladies' Night!

NYC Restaurant Week offer available for Mon-Fri Lunch, Mon-Fri Dinner. Make a reservation here

2. Park Avenue Winter/Summer

Park Avenue Winter in Upper East Side is actually a restaurant that changes decor every seasons. So in addition to switching up their menu, their overall decor is changed to fit the season, I love the spacious airy dining room which gives the whole place causal modern feel. I came here for the Summer 2012 Restaurant Week, so the dishes that are presented below are from their summer menu. There is a special Restaurant Week menu, however, there are quite a few dishes that are offered on their regular menu as well. 

Right when we walked in, J and I waited to be seated with our summer cocktails at their beautiful bar. Their cocktails were fun and seasonal, especially made to match the season.

Park Ave has an amazing bar, look at the selections, I love the look of the bottles arranged like this!

Park Avenue Summer, decorated with a more casual summer vibe.

Crispy Soft Shell Crab, avocado, strawberry & passion fruit | Potato Gnocchi, sweet corn and summer truffles

Grilled Filet Mignon, BBQ brisket & potato salad ($10 supplement) | Dr. Pepper Baby Back Ribs, Fresh Peach Slaw

Peach Panna Cotta, Basil Foam & Lemon Cakes | Chilled Banana Parfait, Chocolate & Banana Butterscotch Puree

J and I enjoyed all three courses at Park Avenue Summer and the overall dining experience was great. The service was great, our waitress was attentive, I definitely recommend that you try Park Avenue for a more casual New American menu. 

NYC Restaurant Week offer available for Mon-Fri Lunch, Mon-Fri Dinner, Sun Dinner. Check out the menu and make reservation here

3. The Capital Grille

There are 3 locations for Capital Grille in Manhattan: Financial District, Times Square and Chrysler Center. I've been to the location at the Chrysler building for dinner and it was great. Anytime you can get an appetizer, 8 oz filet mignon and dessert for under $40, you've got yourself a good deal. 

Sadly, I lost my camera in a taxi before I had a chance to upload the pictures from this meal, but I assure you, the folks at The Capital Grille are pros and will give you a great experience. I assure you that your steak will come out a perfect medium rare, just like you asked. Also, we went on a weeknight, so reservations were easy to get and the wait staff was attentive and gave a perfect service.

Keep in mind that since we were in the Midtown area, there will be a bunch of suits dining along with you. However, I came dressed pretty casually and I wasn't treated like they knew I was only coming for Restaurant Week. :)

NYC Restaurant Week offer available for Mon-Fri Lunch, Mon-Fri Dinner, Sun Dinner. Make a reservation for the Chrysler Center here and check out the menus here for the Capital Grille Time Life.

4. Some other recommendations...

Zagat actually has a pretty list going for 22 Restaurant Week Reservations to Make Right Now. Most of the restaurants on the list are by popular New York chefs and do take notice that most of them only serve Lunch, which as I've mentioned, just doesn't work for me. My top pick out of these will be a dinner tasting at Perilla, menu here.

Here's the complete list for your reference:

  • Ai Fiori or Osteria Morini by Chef Michael White 
  • The Dutch or Locanda Verde by Chef Anderew Carmellini
  • Perilla or Kin Shop by Chef Harold Dieterle (Top Chef Season 1)
  • Maialino, a Danny Meyer Retaurant
  • Red Rooster by Chef Marcus Samuelsson
  • DBGB, Boulud Sud, Bar Boulud, DB Bistro, or Cafe Boulud by Chef Daniel Boulud
  • The Lambs Club by Chef Geoffrey Zakarian (Iron Chef America)
  • EN Japanese Brasserie
  • Dovetail
  • Empellon Taqueria
  • Lincoln
  • Nobu/Nobu Next Door
  • Taboon


Readers - Are you going to participate in Restaurant Week this year or have you in the past? Did you have a good experience or was it something you would rather stay away from? Also, if you have any other recommendations, please comment below!

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