I don’t know how widespread of an event this is, but I know several big cities in the US participate in Restaurant Week. I believe it started in New York though! The idea behind it is that participating restaurants offer prix fixe lunches and dinners for a set price. Last year they raised the prices to $25 lunches and $38 dinners, but even so, it’s still often an opportunity to try out places that would normally be out of your budget! In NYC, it happens twice a year, during the winter and the summer. This time, I went to lunch with Yaling and then to dinner with my boyfriend.
Yaling and I went to a Mediterranean restaurant around Gramercy, called Barbounia. It took us days to choose a place because we wanted to go everywhereeeee. I ended up picking this one mostly based on the dessert choices, haha. No regrets – everything was fantastic (I tasted some of Yaling’s meal and gave her a few bites of my food – definitely everything) and I would gladly go back to try their regular menu! It was such a cute, cozy place too, with high, arched ceilings, chandeliers holding rows of (fake but still atmospheric!) flickering candles, booths covered with throw pillows, and cheerful music. I wish I hadn’t been too afraid to take pictures of the decor! social anxiety why do you do this to me.
Bread and olive oil that was super delicious. I hate it when restaurants give you awesome bread because then you end up eating all of it and filling up before your food arrives. But somehow I managed to inhale everything I ordered ;)
Mine: Harrira soup with braised beef, red lentils, Swiss chard, chickpeas, and preserved lemon.
Yaling’s: Fennel and citrus salad with homemade labneh, crispy pita, baby arugula, and sumac.
Mine: Rosewater panna cotta with strawberry confit, pistachio gelato, and kadaiffi (this was my favorite thing oh my god I shall cherish the memory of this forever)
Yaling’s: Silan with Turkish coffee ice cream, rice crispies, shredded halva, and tahini-silan cremeux.
For dinner with my boyfriend, we chose Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse in Midtown West. I normally don’t eat a lot of meat – I’m more of a fish and vegetables person (who probably has high protein and iron deficiencies as a result), so this was something different!
My boyfriend refused to let me take photos of his food -____- though honestly this place didn’t seem to care too much about presentation.
I did insist on getting a photo of boyfriend’s bread pudding with cinnamon rum sauce. So good! I had wanted it too, but you know when you’re trying out a new restaurant and you don’t want to order two of the same thing in case it’s not good or you miss out on something awesome? hahaha
So I picked the key lime pie, which ended up being awesome too – not too sour, but still nice, tart, and limey. And the crust wasn’t too sweet.
I was slightly disappointed by Frankie & Johnnie’s – my boyfriend said their steak was good, but since the only Restaurant Week entree with actual steak came with shrimp (to which I’m allergic), I had to pick something else. Everything we ordered was really good (except, according to my boyfriend, the shrimp), but I don’t know, I was expecting a bit more and I probably wouldn’t go back. The actual restaurant is awesome though – it was a speakeasy in the ’20s and then was the home of John Drew Barrymore. I learned this from the recordings that played while I was on hold for ten minutes trying to confirm my reservation ugh. Also their receptionist sucks and could benefit from some speech therapy or a training course on how to talk on the phone or something. She spoke so fast and held the phone so close to her mouth that I had to listen to the three second voicemail she left me like eight times to figure out what she was saying. She was working the next day when I called to confirm my reservation, and asked to put me on hold four or five times before I understood her. In that time she could have just confirmed my registration. Major eye roll. I’m a native New Yorker and I know we speak fast, but if even I can’t understand you, then you have a problem. Plus this place is right around Broadway and the Theatre District; I am sure there are tons of tourists who call in, some of whom might not know English fluently. I just have very little tolerance for people who don’t even make an effort to have common sense. Especially when they work customer service.
Anyway rant over, and I’m still declaring Restaurant Week a success for me this winter! Can’t wait for the summer one, I have a list of restaurants I didn’t end up choosing this time that I still want to check out! And maybe in the summer I’ll have time to go to more than two, haha.