Restaurant Week Woes

The excitement builds up. The thought of getting a bargain over takes me. And then I abruptly get dropped back down to a sad reality.

As DC summer restaurant week comes to a close, it seems that once again I either a) made an unenlightened dining choice or b) restaurant week really is not all that it’s made out to be.

I remember my first RW fondly. Ann Arbor, a great place, plentiful servings, rich flavors and an overall feeling of contentment. And then my first DC RW experience. It too was enjoyable. I made a good researched choice, the offerings were plentiful and I left feeling that I got a value and an experience that I normally wouldn’t have.

But then I remember all of the other experiences…

For this summer’s RW, I decided to just go with one choice, a lunch. I chose a hugely hyped Greek restaurant that certainly would make for a pleasant Friday lunch. And well, the company definitely was pleasant, but that’s the most I can say favorably… I guess the spanakopita was pretty good too, but then again, I do not discriminate with my leafy, cheesy, flaky goodness.

Restaurant Week is really just a scam. And I realized this a long time ago, but still keep giving someplace new a try every time the foodie holiday rolls around.

I think what gets to me the most is that these places really could do themselves a true service by doing RW the right way. Let’s look at it from the big picture: bring in new customers with a cheaper-than-normal-but-not-by-much deal, and get them to return as regular paying customers.

To achieve this goal, though, restaurants who sign up for the mighty RW really need to give this week their all or these customers will never be back — not even for another restaurant week.

I’m tired of normally over priced restaurants cutting their portions in half, but thinking it is acceptable because the little minnow they are serving over 5 grains of rice is neatly flanked between an appetizer that you get to chose for your very self (!) and a one bite dessert.

My typical plan for Restaurant Week is to review RW menus of places that I am intrigued by and put them up against regular full-priced menus at the same location and then determine where I get the biggest discount. Knowing that I can get a normally $75 dinner for $35 sends shivers down my spine and a smile to my face. And then if I receive stellar service along with a great valued meal, I certainly will be back, or at least keep this place high on my list of special occasion venues.

But the second a restaurant tries to pull a fast one on me and cut down on portions, flavor and typical skilled preparation is also the moment I write my 2-star yelp review, pass on that after-dinner cocktail and book it for the door never looking back.

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