Restaurant week is approaching, and I’m dreading it somewhat. I like the concept, not the overall execution by all involved.
I believe the start of this thing was done with good intention, meant to bring new diners into restaurants, and for restaurants to showcase what they can do.
Well, somewhere along the way chefs got lazy, owners got cheap, and the target market got fed up. So now we have mostly sub-par menus, low quality food, and bargain hunters. It’s time to do away with this thing.
The state of the event is too bad, because it could be a great opportunity for restaurants to highlight their offerings. I believe this, and I write my menu accordingly and have the support of my employers. I also have the luxury of being in Saratoga where we have $10/20/30 categories. I heard from a prominent and well-respected Albany restaurant owner today who said he couldn’t fit their dining experience into a $20 price point. I agree, you shouldn’t have to water down the experience, the goal is to showcase what you do. I worked for Chez Sophie years ago, and we did not participate, since the $30 level was not an option, and the quality of the products were not conducive to a three course meal for $20.
Since I work at a Wine Bar, and have an extra $10 to charge, I can offer a nice menu with offerings that are indicative of what we do. And, since I am not lazy, you’re sure to see a very nice menu. Here’s it is, a French Bistro theme. Yes, I make the effort to have a theme.
Whipped goat cheese, spiced beets, grapefruit, micro basil.
Traditional French onion soup, Gruyere croutons
Country pate, pickled vegetables, Dijon
Crispy confit duck leg, Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, mustard gastrique.
Monkfish, seafood sausage, white bean cassoulet
Autumn vegetable and lentil stew, roasted mushrooms, flaky herbed bread sticks.
Tarte tatin, creme chantilly
Poached pears in spiced red wine
Roquefort, honey, candied nuts
Now, while I’m offering what I think is a nice menu for $30, I find that the majority of diners are out for the $20 option being offered at other restaurants and we are not typically as busy as one might imagine during this promotion. One prolific blogger and experienced diner indicated that he has no interest in Restaurant Week menus. This means bargain seekers.
The front of the house cannot wait for this promotion to begin. “Yes, we’ll have two waters to start, and we” both will be doing the Restaurant Week special, but don’t worry, we’ll still be tipping our usual 12%, and can we get some more bread, with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar this time?” (I don’t have balsamic I’m right now, and won’t for the foreseeable future). This is too common.
It’s said you get what you pay for. That’s generally true. I believe restaurant owners see Restaurant Week as a money losing pain-in-the ass, and chefs see it as a lot of work, with pressure from the owner do use the cheapest products available, and servers believe it’s a busy week without the benefit of a big pay-off.
Again, I don’t like Restaurant Week, I will however do a good job, present a great meal made from quality ingredients, and you will get a good indication of what the food at The Wine Bar is about. No, the restaurant will not make tons of money, nor will the servers, but we will follow through with the original spirit of the promotion and do our best to show what we do best.