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Belated Restaurant Week

This is my twice yearly public service blog about Restaurant Week in DC (January 11 – 17). Do you take advantage of this? Restaurant Week takes place twice a year, once in the frigid cold of the post-holidays and then again in the dog days of August. Times when diners are likely to be few. For all the details, Google “restaurant week dc.” For those out of the area, many cities schedule these. A three course lunch (starter, main, and dessert) is only $20.10.

We’ve been doing this for a few years now. We have a group in our office that book lunch at some participating eatery every day of the bargain week. Not the same folks for every place. You know, some really like Italian, but aren’t so keen on Indian, whatever. I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to food; Ethiopian, Peruvian, bring it on. Pass the curried goat, would you? Some folks, eh. Meat and potatoes. If you like to explore new cuisines, like I do, it helps to know a lot of different folks. I usually book for four and we always manage to fill the table. The upshot for the customer is that you get to try one of those $50 and up places at a discount price. And the restaurant hopes that if you like the meal, you will be back.

We have our favorites, places we revisit anytime we can get a deal. Our group likes any place by chef Jeff Tunks; DC Coast, Ceiba, Acadiana, or TenPenh. This time we’re revisiting Acadiana but we try to check out places we have never been before. This year, we are going to McCormick & Schmick’s and Kinkead’s. We have also booked The Palm and The Bombay Club, perennial favorites.

Well, you get the idea. Events like this are a great benefit of working in Washington and make a welcome change from that styrofoam container of noodles from the grazing bar. Its only a week, budget for it both diet-wise and monetarily and you should survive. The best part of it is that you get to eat with friends, always a plus. You can book online for most of these at www.opentable.com, a free reservation service. The tables go quickly.

Next week is Restaurant Week in Alexandria, Virginia ( http://visitalexandriava.com/restaurants-nightlife/restaurants/alexandria-restaurant-week/ ).

Oh, yes, I started a group here on Gov Loop called Gov Gourmet which is dedicated to discussions on food and drink. If you are interested, please feel welcome!

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Ed Albetski

Yes, there are two philosophies restaurants take to this promotion. The one the Jeff Tunks’ eateries take is that they want you to explore what they have and hope you will come back. His restaurants offer a few starters and desserts but open nearly all the entrees to the Restaurant Week deal. This is why we like to return to them. The other philosophy, the “darkside”, is to offer two starters, two mains, and two desserts, whatever they got in cheap that week or whatever isn’t selling well. This was the case at McCormick & Schmick’s yesterday. Some places scale down the portions to what one of our party calls “elf food”. A French place, no longer in business, did this. Service is problematic; the popular places get packed. The good places wisely do not overbook. Sometimes a great experience one year is followed by a poor one the next. A change in management is usually the reason. An adviso to all participating restaurants: give folks a bad impression during a promotion like this and you won’t see any of these diners again. Or their friends. We all go back to our offices to spread the word of mouth. A good place to go? The Palm. They have good $20 lunches anyway, but their crabcakes are usually on the Restaurant Week menu. Two fist-sized balls of backfin. Yeah. I’ll be there Thursday…