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Dining on Holidays


hillvalley
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Many people around here avoid eating out on certain holidays such as New Years, Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day. They call it "amature night" and claim that for the most part you can't get as good of a meal as you would on any other typical night. Others make excuses for why they eat out those nights.

Is this true? Is the meal doomed because of the date? Why?

If I go to Komi or Palena or Dino or Two Amy's on one of those nights why shouldn't I expect as good of a meal, if not better?

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Many people around here avoid eating out on certain holidays such as New Years, Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day. They call it "amature night" and claim that for the most part you can't get as good of a meal as you would on any other typical night. Others make excuses for why they eat out those nights.

Is this true? Is the meal doomed because of the date? Why?

If I go to Komi or Palena or Dino or Two Amy's on one of those nights why shouldn't I expect as good of a meal, if not better?

I think we put our best foot forward on nights like this in terms of the food. Limiting the menu allows us to really focus in on what we are doing. Do we have a service flaw or two? Unfortunately yeah. When we do twice what we do (or 2.5 times :P ) its inevitable that we drop the ball once or twice, but I in now way will accept amateur night service on a holiday.

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Having worked a few "amateur nights" and patronized a few as well, I'd suggest that, no matter how sincere a restaurant is, in trying to deliver an exceptional experience, it's hard to do so when you're serving half again (at least) as many customers as usual. I did work an exceptional dinner at Le Pavillion, but they were a one-seating restaurant anyway -- so a full house was the norm, and there was no table-turning pressure. In addition, the people who could pony up the kind of money LP was demanding back then ($100 tasting menues in 1984. God knows what we charged on New Year's Eve) knew how to act in a restaurant, so the people who annoy the hell out of your waiter on Mother's Day were not in attendance.

But, save a place that has made an effort to limit its custom that day, I'd stay out of the way on any of the big nights.

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I agree with Heather. I've been disappointed enough on those evenings (whether restaurants taking advantage, being absolutely swamped, or just happenstance, who knows), that I won't eat out on those 'high pressure' holidays.

On that topic, I've got a babysitter lined up for the 17th of February (long story why so far out, but bottom line, it's a Saturday). Do ya'll think it's safe to assume that the V-D revelers will have had their fill on the 14th (a Wednesday)?

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I agree with Heather. I've been disappointed enough on those evenings (whether restaurants taking advantage, being absolutely swamped, or just happenstance, who knows), that I won't eat out on those 'high pressure' holidays.

On that topic, I've got a babysitter lined up for the 17th of February (long story why so far out, but bottom line, it's a Saturday). Do ya'll think it's safe to assume that the V-D revelers will have had their fill on the 14th (a Wednesday)?

Reality. It's like Restaurant Week, but full-priced.

Look. It's not the lacking quality of food and service. It's the glaring schism between expectations of a Special Night Out and realities of high-volume dining. Unless you are renting a restaurant out, you and your high expectations will be dining cheek to jowl with other sets of identical expectations while the kitchen! is churning plates out at top speed, and the waiters! run around between you and twenty other tables, and the bartender! is growing blisters from uncorking three bottles in ten seconds.

That's not to say you shouldn't go. If you want to, you should go. But leave the expectations of a magical night in your bedroom.

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I went to one of the restaurants mentioned above as part of a group of six for dinner on NYE. It was one of those places that are excellent on any other night but sucked much rear for dinner that night. We had a five course dinner. Our reservations were for 8:30pm and we did not get out of there until 11:45. This was not because we were lingering over a bottle of wine. This was because it took forever to be served. We were even once served someone elses second course which ended up being incorrect, not for our table. They were then swooped up form beneath our forks and plopped down on another table. Plus it was expensive as hell.

Next time we are eating in.

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We have had difficulties with NYE almost every year, and we have gone to a great variety of restaurants here and around the world (we always think it might be better somewhere else, so we try there, and it pretty much never is). We usually leave feeling completely ripped off. Only two years have served us well: Last year, we did the Burger Bar in Vegas, which might be an overpriced hamburger generally, but makes a really good inexpensive NYE dinner (especially as it was a good night at the tables), and this year we did Citronelle. We chose to do Citronelle this year because they had just one seating. Sure, it cost a lot more than we would typically pay for dinner, but we felt that every penny was worth it. (And, it was much less than we usually pay for the flight and hotel that we often need to accompany the dinner). I wish there were more places that would take this approach and make it into a real party instead of just cramming in so many people.

BTW, we never go out on Valentine's Day.

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Not to seem like a stuck record, but we went to Corduroy for NYE and the food was as it always is. Everything cooked and seasoned to perfection. If I hadn't filled up on parsnip soup and that wonderful bread, I could have finished the potato/leek salad that came with the Halibut. Dame Edna got to finish that. :P We split a warm chocolate sabayon and, though chocoholics would just love it, we thought it a bit too rich after the dinner we had. Ferhat was our waiter, so the service was top-notch, also as usual.

LoganCircle was there with a large party and JLK was supposed to be there later that evening. Maybe they would like to add something if their experience was different from ours?

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Hell, name names. Of course you could also go somewhere that does it right. :P
I had a BLT at Tonic and it was fabulous :D

If I am understanding Nadya correctly it seems that part of the problem is that everyone in the restaurant is expecting a special night out, instead of only a percentage?

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NYE dinner at Eve was fabulous, even with multiple seatings and a full house in both the tasting room and bistro (plus the bar.) The special 7-course TR menu had two choices per course including GOOSE fois gras, lots of truffles and Beluga caviar with some of the dishes. The optional wine pairing offered a different wine for each individual item so as a couple, Beau and I were able to try all 14 dishes and their paired wines. Everything was pretty amazing from the creamy carrot veloute with Perigord truffle cream to the marinated white tuna with gorgonzola dolce, onion marmalade and white alba truffles, the briny oysters with pickled salsify & osetra, the aforementioned goose fois gras on a bed of goose leg confit, huckleberries & cipollinis, the melt-in-your-mouth butter-poached fluke with the Beluga caviar, roasted sea bass (perfectly crispy skin!), the sweetbreads, venison loin, Polyface Farm* beef tenderloin (topped with seared fois gras) and ending with a lovely chocolate fudge cake and plum pudding 'flambe'. Sipping a little champagne before dinner with another toast at midnight while everyone in the restaurant sang 'Auld Lang Syne' made for a perfectly lovely evening. No amateur night there!

*for you fans of "The Omnivore's Dilemma"...

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NYE at RTS was the same as on any other night: perfect.

Last year on VD we went to A&J, thinking everyone would be somewhere else. Boy were we wrong. In order to avoid a hellishly long wait we ended up sharing a 5-top with another couple (strangers). Interesting experience.

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I already raved over on the RTS thread, but I had a great dinner at Ray's the Steaks on NYE. The reason we chose to go there is that:

1) Steak!

2) Regular Menu

3) Casual and not a "destination" restaurant, except for those of us in the know :P

4) Um... steak!

The food and service were the same as always.

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I concur with Barbara: it was business as usual at Corduroy which meant that I left stuffed to the gills, pretty buzzed and feeling like it was worth every penny. Rissa, Ferhat, Scott and the crew never made us feel like they'd rather be elsewhere (although we wouldn't blame them if they did!). Our service throughout was graceful and welcoming, and Rissa was wearing the most elegant suit. :P

We had a special lobster salad with basil oil (excellent) and kabocha squash soup (lick the bowl clean delicious) to start. For our mains we had the rib eye (full of beefy flavor and nicely dotted with salt) and lamb (wondefully flavorful meat, but oh, those ravioli!). For dessert, we enjoyed the chocolate sabayon (which my friend loved, but it was very rich--I don't think I could eat the whole thing) and the apple tart tatin, and complimentary dessert wines selected by Ferhat.

Just like RW, Corduroy does NYE right.

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I would get flamed to death if I named names.

I am also positive that this was a symptom of too many people and too much food trying to come out of the kitchen so I think that this night should not be the final determination on the greatness of this joint.

That said, I am still pissed that the two of us spent nearly $300 and it was totally not worth it. $300 on a normal night at this place would get you stuffed silly and an expensive bottle of wine to boot.

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I went to one of the restaurants mentioned above as part of a group of six for dinner on NYE.
My money is on Palena.
Nope. You are wrong, sweetie. But that is all I am going to say. :D

Well that leaves a very short list now doesn't it. I know that there were no parties of 6 at Komi when I was there... :P

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Why do even good restaurants have such a hard time maintaining their standards on traditionally busy holidays like Mothers and Fathers Day, Valentines, etc.

I hate going out to eat on those days- food quality deteriorates, service is abominable and the joy of dining out is diminished by the lack of value either absolute or relative.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

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