It's that time once again—my biannual restaurant recommendations for Free Dessert Week.
Forgive my flippancy, and allow me to explain.
Officially, the area-wide promotion is known as Restaurant Week. More than 200 establishments are offering reduced, fixed-price menus ($20.11 at lunch, $35.11 at dinner) from January 17 through 23. Intended to goose sales at a slow time of the year for the industry, the promotion is being marketed as a can't-miss experience for the young and not-so-flush, a chance to feast on the creations of some of the area's finest chefs at a fraction of the usual cost.
And it can be.
But three courses for $35.10 at dinner doesn't strike me as much of a deal—a handful of places on the Restaurant Week list notwithstanding. It strikes me as a fairly typical night out at a moderately expensive restaurant, with dessert thrown in.
Lunch is, across the board, the better value: $20.10 for three courses is a deal, and particularly if you're dining in a good restaurant that takes the promotion seriously and doesn't view the week as the rabble come to storm the gates. (They're harder to find than you might think.)
That's where I come in, to help you avoid the middling, not-cheap dinners and the uninspired lunches. Eliminating those places that are mailing it in with stripped-down menus or bait-and-switching you with upcharge-laden menus, I've determined who's serious and who's pretending. I've taken into account which kitchens are performing at their peak, and which are merely muddling along. The single biggest criterion in compiling this guide was "value."
Below, you'll find the places among that long list I think are worthiest of your time and money. To further guide you in your decision-making, I've used a tier system to distinguish the restaurants I'd beg, borrow, or bribe to get in (Tier 1) from those that I think are pretty good bets (Tier 5).
For a list of restaurants' menus, click here.
Bistro Bis; lunch and dinner
Bourbon Steak; lunch
Kushi; lunch and dinner
PassionFish; lunch and dinner
Rasika; lunch and dinner
Sushi Taro; lunch and dinner
Againn; lunch and dinner
Cafe du Parc; lunch and dinner
Oval Room; lunch and dinner
Poste; lunch and dinner
Vidalia; lunch and dinner
Indique Heights; dinner
Johnny's Half Shell; lunch and dinner
Montmartre; lunch and dinner
Cafe Atlantico; lunch and dinner
Circle Bistro; lunch and dinner
Trummer's on Main; dinner
Bastille; lunch and dinner
Fogo de Chao; lunch and dinner
Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert; lunch and dinner
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