Participating in New York's bi-annual Restaurant Week is always a crapshoot. Some restaurants perform a total botch job, shuttling diners through three courses of chicken and salmon as quickly as humanly possible while others put in a real effort, offering their best service and menus to tempt new clientele to return. For those still considering hitting up a deal, these are the places to seek out and to avoid:
Tried and True:
The Restaurant: The Modern
The Source: The Wandering Eater
The Low Down: Click through for the play by play and food porn, but this is the major takeaway: "In all, The Modern Bar Room for Restaurant Week dinner (they don’t serve lunch for RW) is never a let down. Service was better than what it used to be (as in the servers don’t neglect you) and the food is generally very good. Just stick with any duck dishes and have a coffee caramel dome." The Hounders tend to agree.
The Restaurant: A Voce Columbus
The Source: Two Fat Bellies
The Low Down: "Overall Josh and I both really enjoyed our meal at A Voce Columbus and thought it was one of the better Restaurant Week lunches that we’ve had....I don’t think the restaurant cut back on quality or variety...More importantly, I thought the composition of the dishes were harmonious and flavorful. Getting a taste of this restaurant during Restaurant Week has made me more eager to try its regular a la carte menu. And isn’t that the point of Restaurant Week?"
The Restaurant: Mesa Grill
The Source: Serious Eats Commenters
The Low Down: "I went to Mesa Grill for dinner and loved it! Even their bread basket was delish. I had the cauliflower/chile soup, their mahi mahi with pineapple salsa (an odd first for me but definitely a winner), and a pineapple upside down cake for dessert. It was a great deal considering the mahi mahi dish is usually $29 on its own." [SE]
The Restaurant: Delmonico's
The Source: Yelp
The Low Down: "I was full from the first two courses but had to finish all of it, yum yum," says one Yelper, while another explains, "I ordered the filet cooked medium and quite honestly, it was the most tender piece of meat I have ever had, and I've had A LOT of steak...The potatoes that it was served with also had a very good flavor. However, filet mignon, in general, is not as flavorful as other cuts of meat. That being said, if you don't mind paying a little extra, go with the 20 oz. Delmonico steak. The char was perfect and the flavor was sublime."
The Restaurant: One if by Land Two if By Sea
The Source: Yelp
The Low Down: "I love to see restaurants of this caliber willing to participate in restaurant week. And to do it so well. Everything about my experience here was nothing but top-notch.... Main entree was the steak - my God, it was the best steak I have ever eaten." They also hand out a gift card for a future visit.
The Restaurant: Le Cirque
The Source: Menupages
The Low Down: "They give an ample choice of dishes for all courses, and the portions are VERY generous. I started w/ the shellfish appetizer, which was delicate and delicious. The pork belly for main course was a very special dish. Expertly prepared, extremely flavorful, and a wonderful marriage of textures across the board. I'm typically not a huge dessert fan, but their tiramisu was a game changer for me!"
The Restaurant: Perry Street
The Source: Yelp
The Low Down: "For appetizers, we had the sweet chili crab dumplings (amazing, spicy yet sweet!) and the crispy calamari (a huge portion, and very crispy yet not at all greasy) and then the fried chicken (as good as they say, though the mushroom spatzle on the side was my favorite)." And another: "This was a *fabulous* meal from start to finish. Fish was amazingly fresh & had a wonderful crispy miso-yuzu glaze. I understand WHY NY Magazine called this the "best fried chicken" in NY. HOW do they fry it so crispy yet so light & delicate-tasting?Those yellow bits on top of the batter is lemon zest! Mushroom spaetzle on the side was yummy..."
Update: As a commenter so politely pointed out, some included blurbs were outdated. They have been removed.
The Unimpressive and Avoidable
The Restaurant: Park Avenue Winter
The Source: Eater Reader
The Low Down: A tipster couldn't help e-mailing the general manager (and copying Eater), to complain: " For appetizers, two of us had the ravioli, which was pretty good, and one of us had the soup, which was very tasty. The lamb, however, was awful. We tried being optimistic during the meal, and I'm always very wary of sending any food back due to fears of retribution or surly service thereafter, but I honestly should have sent it back." The Yelpers have mixed reviews.
The Restaurant: Cafe Boulud
The Source: Serious Eats
The Low Down: "A starter of pistou soup was flavorful, but wasn't really anything special. Entrees of agnolotti, salmon w. bacon and lamb were poor to decent, with the lamb being the best albeit it full of inedible chunks of fat. Dessert was the star, my favorite being the pot de creme layered cake of sorts and delicious house made vanilla bean ice cream."
The Restaurant: Anthos
The Source: The Young and Hungry
The Low Down: First, the slow braised pork shank: "It was a massive hunk of meat; maybe Fred Flintstone could have finished it, but there was no way that a girl of my size could eat that much pig. And it wasn't even good. I was looking forward to Greek flavors, but the dish lacked any flavor." But it didn't top off the downright detrimental dessert: "The plate [chocolate karidopita] comprised of four, dry, Entenmann's-like brownie bites, three slices of bruised banana, and one teaspoon of melted ice-cream. It was a complete joke that looked and tasted like something you might see on the Princess line. Anthos, please enlighten me: how is a brownie bite the same as karidopita, the traditional Greek walnut cake? Thieves!"
The Restaurant: Giorgio's
The Source: Chowhound
The Low Down: A 'Hounder on her wedding night has some disappointments: "In general, I found the food well prepared, but unspectacular...Not sure why we had limited service, but hubby had to go to the bar, several times throughout the night, to ask for various items. We seemed to have been forgotten at the front window. We'd already ordered a fig tiramisu for dessert, and were pretty stuffed, so the complimentary baked alaska didn't really help. I found both desserts to be really rich and sugary."
—Compiled by Natassia Miller