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Restaurant Week, August 2012


DonRocks
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Ladies and Gentlemen restaurateurs, if you buy in (literally buy in) to the scam that is Restaurant Week, prepare to take criticism if you don't perform up to your normal standards - I have NO SYMPATHY for you. Smart restaurants are beginning to opt out, and the fact that you opted in is because you're flat-out greedy. Hopefully, this will be your final time participating ... right?

Members, feel free to lambast underperforming restaurants. They're getting what they deserve for supporting this moneymaking scheme which actually costs diners *more* money than if they'd simply use their brains.

Restaurant week needs to go away. The sooner, the better. Everyone is being taken for a ride by this marketing charade.

Diners: Think restaurants like you being in there? Nope! They hate your guts and want you to get the hell out. The overpaid servers that you're tipping 20% (on the full price)? They couldn't give a shit about you. They want you gone so the tables turn over.

And quite frankly, I also have precious little sympathy for members of this website who buy into this promotional gimmick as well. Sorry, my friends, but you of all people have been warned about this for years, and yet, you do it anyway. Why do you continue to do it? God only knows. Greedy? Delusional? Thickheaded? Beats me.

Sorry to be so blunt. I love you guys, but it's time for some tough love.

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And quite frankly, I also have precious little sympathy for members of this website who buy into this promotional gimmick as well. Sorry, my friends, but you of all people have been warned about this for years, and yet, you do it anyway. Why do you continue to do it? God only knows. Greedy? Delusional? Thickheaded? Beats me.

You know why I "do it anyway"? Because my birthday happens to fall during Restaurant week and previously my fiance who up until recently was a student and an intern looked at it as a way for her to "treat me" while feeling like she wasn't breaking her limited budget. It makes her feel good regardless of if the restaurant or the waiters who work there care about us or not. While it certainly may be a case of perception vs. reality, calilng it "Greedy? Delusional? Thickheaded?" is at best bombastic and at worst thoughtless.

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These statements essentially conclude that we are fools for dining out anywhere in the DC metro area, ever, since the market is inflated.

It costs about $.05 to make dough for a Neopolitan pizza, but we pay the $12-$14 for the finished product not because of metrics.

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I do it because:

1) It's the middle of January/August and I'm stuck in DC working. I need some nice meals to brighten my month.

2) RW is a relatively low risk way to try high end restaurants for the first time. If a restaurant can pull off RW with good service and well prepared food, that's a restaurant that I can trust a birthday or anniversary to.

3) For places where the entrees are normally in the $30s and apps are in the teens, RW can be a very good deal.

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And quite frankly, I also have precious little sympathy for members of this website who buy into this promotional gimmick as well. Sorry, my friends, but you of all people have been warned about this for years, and yet, you do it anyway. Why do you continue to do it? God only knows. Greedy? Delusional? Thickheaded? Beats me.

Are you saying that people should avoid going to restaurants that have extended RW as well? Just curious. In order to go to the restaurant I want to go to for my birthday, I'm dining at a place featuring a RW menu even though RW will be over.

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RW was orginally concieved to bring new people in to try new places during a time that they are typically dead. It is now overly successful, and too many people are coming in for a dumbed down meal never to return. I see no diffeence between RW and a coupon. That being said, there are some gems out there, and places to avoid. I agree, vote with your forks and avoid the places that are in it for the money and not the deal.

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Don just occassioanally forgets to take his pills and feels the need to fire us up for some reason. Little does he know that we are perfectly happy writing the occassional review, disagreeing with TomS an his chatters, and arguing over pizza.

That said, eat something disagreeable Don. :wub:

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As I recently posted,

http://www.donrockwell.com/index.php?showtopic=1082&st=150

I had a fantastic meal at Rasika West End...last time I was there for lunch, I spent close to $40, this time got a comparable meal at $20.

Yeah, I feel like a real idiot. :)

In addition, I first sampled all the restaurants that I consider myself a regular at during RW.

Boy, were those places stupid to run a promotion that would hook a customer for life. :)

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I have participated in every restaurant week since its inception and have never had a bad experience. Not one. Restaurants that are consistantly good when it's not restaurant week know how to handle the promotion. And no server or bartender likes to be in the weeds for a full week, but most are professionals and handle it like professionals.

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RW is how I learned about DC's fine and finer dining scene..,and geography. New in town, on a strict budget, and at the start of my food awakening, I spent many pleasurable hours researching restaurant menus, non-RW prices, locations, and reputations. There were some disappointments (though never really any bombs), but many of my favorite restaurants hooked me first as a satisfied RW customer. Besides, it was impossible to convince similarly young and poor friends to try nicer places without the gimmick of being "on sale." RW definitely had its place if you were willing to do the work. These days, there are so many RW guides and google maps available that you don't really have to exert yourself to find good deals. *sniff* the kids have it easy nowadays!!! I admit I haven't had many RW meals in the past few years, but that's because I hate crowds and my favorite restaurants either don't participate or have similarly good deals at other times of the year.

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Now, the discussion of whether or not RW is worth the trouble is a different animal entirely. For every "hooked for life" food lover they gain, the restaurants have to put up with at least dozens of peevish, couponers with outlandish expectations. Similarly, for every great RW meal, the diner has to cope with certainty of crowds and the uncertainty of restaurant performance. Given the burgeoning popularity of the promotion, it seems that it is still considered worthwhile by both sides, but at some point, like Groupons, the costs of participation may begin to outweigh the benefits.

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I do find it amusing that Don's anti-RW manifesto comes sandwiched between two of the best RW meals I've had. I was planning to go back to Rasika West End today, but it was utterly packed...I guess everyone read my review. :) ...so I went around the corner to Ris instead and had an excellent meal. They've got the RW menu set up as a tribute to Julia Child...very cool!

http://www.risdc.com/index.php/site/menu/restaurant%20week/

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Now, the discussion of whether or not RW is worth the trouble is a different animal entirely. For every "hooked for life" food lover they gain, the restaurants have to put up with at least dozens of peevish, couponers with outlandish expectations. Similarly, for every great RW meal, the diner has to cope with certainty of crowds and the uncertainty of restaurant performance. Given the burgeoning popularity of the promotion, it seems that it is still considered worthwhile by both sides, but at some point, like Groupons, the costs of participation may begin to outweigh the benefits.

I'd agree with that, certainly. But it doesn't change the fact that painting all diners who partake in RW with the same brush as being moronic sheep who simply follow the herd is a wholly close-minded and ignorant opinion. Fact: if it weren't for RW lunches in college, there's a number of restaurants I never would have tried, and who knows if I ever end up loving food as much as I do now?

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I walked in to Bistrot Lepic for lunch this week, not having remembered that it was RW. I had several tables to choose from, and enjoyed a very nice meal, choosing three courses from basically their full menu, for $20, in a leisurely, very pleasant atmosphere. I don't think the place filled up the entire time I was there. I loved both my pigs feet appetizer and the very generous veal kidney entree, and walked out stuffed. And again, for $20. I think they pulled off RW in its intended spirit. My only complaint about the meal was the tiny glasses they served their red wine in, but I don't think that's got anything to do with RW!

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I deliberately skipped RW restaurants when I took Bob out for his birthday on Tuesday. We were at Ripple (I'll get to doing a review eventually) and had the dining room all to ourselves for at least the first half-hour (arriving at 6:30).

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Sorry Don, I had a great RW meal at Elisir tonight.

I’ve held off on dining here, due to the price point not seeming quite proportional to the quality of the food. But this is only an impression since I haven't dined here myself. This makes RW a perfect opportunity to scout it out, since most of the entrees are in the $35 range.

The service was delightful and there wasn't an employee in the place who didn't treat us with the utmost courtesy. Our server in particular was gracious and did an excellent job (in a perfectly polite way) of talking about some of the dishes on the RW menu and what we could expect on the regular menu. Great way to entice us back.

Highlight dishes were the Italian style sushi rolls and smoked seared Diver scallops stack – both first course options. I was also impressed with the spinach pappardelle in a ragu of Hudson Valley duck. (loved the crispy Vidalia onions on top).

Would I go back to Elisir at full price? Probably. I like the atmosphere, and it is mercifully not too loud. The food that we had tonight was quite good, so if it is a dumbed down version of food at other times, then wow. My only hesitation is the price. Which brings me to the conclusion that RW is a perfect time to enjoy Elisir. If that makes me greedy, delusional, and thickheaded, so be it.

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In my limited experience there are good places to go for restaurant week, and bad ones.

I find myself often surprised it's RW due to not paying attention. I think there's some definite merit in Don's original post but then some of it's too absolute for me. The above captures the reality of it imho if you also replace "customers to attract" for "places to go" as a follow on statement from the restaurant POV. No doubt RW may make some business sense for some restaurants while being a decidedly bad deal for others. My experience this week when I ran into 2 RW menus that I hadn't sought out:

- Lunch at Willow. Very good, two of us agreed. An excellent gazpacho, nueske bacon with fried green tomato BLT and a wonderful Chef Kate tiramisu-inspired light and crispy cake along with the same nice chocolate chip cookies I've enjoyed there previously. When we first arrived and opened menus, my dining companion and I both had the same "oh, it's RW" reaction and ordered from that simply because the food sounded good. And so it was.

- Four of us had booked the chesapeake crab boil at New Heights after I saw it promoted here on DR.com. Not sure if this was an RW promotion but I don't think so? It was a different but fun experience having messy but tasty blue crabs in a fine dining restaurant (big steamer bowls and claw crackers but no mallets!) on white linen rather than brown paper.

All said, 'tis true though, the many ways that promos and discounts seem to be taking over the restaurant business have many downsides for all concerned along with benefits depending on all sorts of factors.

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had a RW dinner at Rasika West End tonight, although it was not an intentional plan to take advantage of RW. I think the restaurant benefited in this instance. There was no other option but the RW menu. Seven appetizer choices, nine entrees, and five desserts. They had a packed house with everyone guaranteed to order 3 courses. It's probably easier for the kitchen this way. I figure I saved about $3 had I ordered the same things at another time. I really didn't care. The food and service was great, consistent with my previous visit a few months ago- if not better.

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