Restaurant Week in New York

Ever since I moved to New York, I had one, two three opportunities to go to the notorious Restaurant Week and this time I took it.
Restaurant week started out as being a mere week of culinary experiences offered by three to five star-restaurants all over Manhattan during lunch and dinner hours (most of the time excluding Sundays) for the price of $24.07 and $35 (the lunch special being the symbolic price of 24.07). Now, I don’t know how many people make it out for lunch. I certainly feel stressed out just by the thought of having to tolerate long waits and slow waiters/cooks/other obstacles during a one-hour-break. So I didn’t bother about booking something for mid-day but went straight for the dinner option.
You see, there is this Web site, at which you can find all the restaurants participating in the bi-annually food event. After scamming through the 320-something establishments, I still had no clue where to eat out. I knew I didn’t want American food, for this is, forgive me Americans, just not the climax of culinary expressionism. I also was not too keen on Japanese food or French items, just because I had badly overeaten myself a few times before. And, since I am a vegetarian, my main focus, was not on the steak houses, either.
Thus, I asked around and listened to a few opinions. My fellow vegetarian coworker suggested Scandinavian food and the restaurant Aquavit in Midtown. I considered this option well. The Roomie, who wanted to join me under the premises that we do not go for American food (See, I am not the only one with this prejudice!), suggested Spanish food and the Bar Basque in Chelsea, which is, I am allowed to say, not too far from where she works. After switching back and forth a few times (I wanted a taste of Argentinean food in Tribeca or Puerto Rican dishes in SoHo), and canceling a reservation made at one restaurant already, we ended up booking an evening out at the aforementioned bar. I had also figured that the Roomie would be the only one of us working overtime and that we should at least go somewhere she could walk to if the worst case scenario came true.

So our Wednesday night at 7:30PM was dedicated to eating Basque in Chelsea. After running into a few problems with the unfriendly door girls and hostesses, we were finally seated at one of the nicest spots the restaurant could have chosen to convince us of themselves before trying their food: Outdoors, surrounded by skyscrapers, green bushes and flowers, and with the chance of catching up the last rays of sun light in Manhattan. What a classic setting! One bonus point for this!

Bar Basque in the Hotel Eventi
New York City feeling at its best!
the outside space
nice outdoor seating
Night view

The waitress tending our table was one of the nicest I had experienced in New York. And yes, this means a lot! 2 bonus points for her efforts of making our evening a wonderful night out and not letting us feel as if we were just cockroaches on her shiny way of earning loads of tips and being discovered as the next Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey). We still considered her belt-sized skirt a bit over the top and started pitying her half-way through the evening, but she was such a sweetheart to us straight from the beginning. Get rid of that mini-skirt, girl, you don’t need it!

Restaurant week specials offer a diversity of three-course prix fix menus: Appetizer, main dish, dessert. We were so looking forward to the dessert! But first we each choose different appetizers:
The Roomie failed to read the term “beets” when she ordered Local Roasted Beets (she was shooting for the caramilized goat cheese in it).

Beets appetizer

I got a Sautee of Spicy Garlic Shrimp and Garbanzo Beans.

Shrimp appetizer

We both found our dishes very interesting and satisfying. Two bonus points for this nice surprise!

Dinner was composed of a cod-fish dish with a sauce called garlic aioli for her. The fish was tenderly-cooked and the sauce formed the perfect match for this kind of fish.

It was golden snapper time with a sauce named sweet Bilbaina piperade for me. Both dishes were served with wilted spinach, garlic and chiles.

I favored hers but both main courses were a bit small in size. We refrained from ordering side dishes, even though we were tempted. No bonus points for this.

Now, dessert was the highlight:
She ordered the chocolate cinnamon tart served with roasted orange ice cream.

I went for the Pina Colada, a coconut flan topped with rum caramel and spiced pineapple pieces. Both dishes were so good, I have to give them two bonus points each!

Considering the fact that you have to pay taxes, tips, and drinks (if you’re one of the drunken sort), RW is really not that big of a saver anymore. They surely know how to make something look cheaper than it is. Drinks at these establishments are often two times the price than at other restaurants (a glass of wine starting at $12 at Bar Basque). You also have to take into consideration that the dishes are smaller than normally served in the restaurant and if you’re having quite an appetite, you could leave and still feel half-starved. We were fine after the dessert, because the sugar rush kept us just on the right flow. I choose not to get any drinks this time, though, maybe a wise decision.

And if you’ve asked yourself halfway through this post why I had the chance to be a part of this only a few days ago, even though RW started well before this date,well, there is an answer to almost everything: Restaurant week typically is extended up to three weeks during the summer! That’s right, six weeks. No clue why it is being called restaurant week if it should be weeks. But that‘s just New York. They make an effort to patch up their slow summer season and mostly only the locals know it’s still going on. I might just have to try out some more restaurants during the next opportunity, that would be winter-RW, and if this blog is still on I will keep you posted. For now, cheers! Indulge in the pictures!