Thursday, September 9, 2010
(Re-blog, originally posted 2/27/2010)
According to Wikipedia, Restaurant Week started in New York in 1992 to welcome the Democratic National Convention (DNC) to the City. And actually, the low-cost, prix fixe menus were offered for lunch only. Not sure how it went over with the DNC, but New Yorkers took to the dining experience and extended it to dinner. The idea then grew to travel the east coast to DC, Atlantic City, Baltimore, Boston and of course, Philadelphia.
For anyone not in the know, Restaurant Week is when seldom diners make a special trip out of the suburbs to see what's cookin at some of the top restaurants in the city. They do this because $35 for 3 courses seems like an impossibly sweet deal, and without this incentive, and a list of participating restaurants, they would never dream of venturing out farther than whatever's located in the closest strip mall.
Okay, totally not fair to the suburbanites (of which I am) or to restaurant week. It actually seems like a great promotion for the City and participating restaurants, and fun for patron's of all type.
Normally, I make a point to have a first time dining experience with at least 1 restaurant, during RW. I remember when it started in Philly back in 03, a time when I had full-time employment and some disposable income; I sampled 4 restaurants during the week. Which regardless of prix fixe, is still a fortune to spend, especially when you add in drinks, tax and tip. I opted out of September 09 and January 2010 Restaurant Week festivities, due to finances. Although, truly my budget seems to extend to IHOP and other assorted diners and fast food places. If I pooled those $ together in a month, I could have enjoyed the ambiance and culinary skills of at least one new Philly hot spot.
My friend Thom mentioned to me that a restaurateur he knew complained that restaurant week should never have been extended to two weeks, that he was thinking of backing out next year because it presented some logistical and financial difficulties. A light bulb went off in my head, this could be a good angle to cover for Tinsel & Tine; so I wrote to 22 participating restaurants asking them to please answer the following 3 questions as a follow up to Restaurant Week 2010:
1. What is it that you try NOT to do during restaurant week?
2. a) What dish out of all the courses was the most popular?
b) Was this dish already on your main menu?
c) if not, have you added it?
3. If you could change anything about Restaurant Week, what would it be?
I am very appreciative of the three restaurants that replied: Le Castagne, Friday Saturday Sunday, and Positano Coast.
1920 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-4634
Thank you for considering my opinion in this matter. I myself do not blog, but I am happy to contribute to Tinsel & Tine:
1. I try not to overbook my reservations. Although I should, I want the customer to be able to be seated at their requested time. Of course there are always unforeseen circumstances that occur that make it impossible for 100% of your customers to sit exactly at the reservation time.
2. There is not just one dish, more to the point, one category, which is pasta. We sell more pasta then anything and we sell them evenly. All the pasta is on our menu. But if I have to pick one it would be Gnocchi Tartufo. Truffle gnocchi in a truffle cream sauce.
3. The only thing I would like to change is the people who make reservation and do not honor them. I cannot tell you how many no shows we get and that is even after we confirm them. It is the most annoying thing about restaurant week. The problem is it precludes us from taking more reservations and accommodating the people who want to come in. -
Friday, Saturday, Sunday
261 South 21st Street,
(off Rittenhouse Square)
We are in our 37th year and our 6th or 7th (I can't remember) Restaurant Week year. To respond to your questions:
1. We don't do complexity. In other words, keep it simple during RW. We are very heavily booked and many of the diners are infrequent restaurant goers so we try to make it easy for them with offerings that are appealing and fairly easy to understand as well as proven crowd pleasers. We also offer our regular menu but only about 20% order from it.
2. They order the Petit Filet with the Burgundy Wild Mushroom demi glaze. This comes with potatoes gratin and a sautéed veggie. It's an attractive deal and very good.
3. No shows are a thorn in a restaurant's side because we're holding a table which could be seated by customers who have walked in without a reservation. This is a rare occurrence except during RW. I think the organizers, Center City District, could request people to call in if they're not going to show and not to make multiple reservations for an evening. - Weaver Lilley, Owner
Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti
212 Walnut Street, 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
1. We do not limit the guests' selections to only the restaurant week menu. We like to offer the regular menu as well, so that guests have the option to order from either one, and so they have the opportunity to see everything else that we serve on a regular basis.
2. The grilled shrimp over the mizuna salad was the most popular appetizer. The dish is already on the regular menu.
3. We would bring restaurant week back to one week. It made it more exciting, for both the guests and the staff. Running it over the course of 2 weeks makes it less special.
Thank you for your time. Please let me know if you need anything further.- Denise Sanfarraro, Marketing Coordinator
So there you have it, bottom line- please patrons, if you are not going to show, please cancel in a timely manner. If you're using Open Table.com, it's very easy to hit the cancel reservation button, can be done right from your phone.