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Frame: Why I Don’t Like Restaurant Week

March 12, 2011

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t like Restaurant Week. I know the masses create a cyber-stampede on OpenTable when reservations open up, but after really trying to give it another chance last summer, I give up.

At its best, the idea behind Restaurant Week (I think) is to allow people to try new restaurants at a cheaper price. Sounds good in theory, right? A three course lunch for $20.11 or a three course dinner for $30.11, a discounted option for tasting appetizers, entrees, and desserts from new places – what could be better?

The problem is that most restaurants seem to hate Restaurant Week as well- they slap together cheap-seeming (and tasting) options that don’t include anything from their normal menu. My most disappointing experience occurred last summer at Harvest – a much lauded Cambridge spot – which I visited for the first time during RW. I was hoping to be dazzled by Chef Mary Dumont’s local focus, but was instead greeted by a harried waiter (not his fault- RW is very busy) who took far too long and messed up my order. Of the six dishes that I ate that night- my dining partner and I each ordered completely different items for tasting purposes- I remember only one being even moderately interesting. Bored, I wrote Harvest off  until I had the opportunity to  taste Chef Dumont’s food (amazing) at Cochon 555. How many restaurants have left diners with a bad impression after a sub-par RW meal?

But then, maybe most people don’t care about the food, and are just looking for a cheap night out. If that’s what you’re after, then RW is for you. And, there will always be a sizeable contingent of Boston diners that enjoy being seen at the hot spots drinking a martini, regardless of the food quality- another reason why I don’t like RW: I’ve been trying to make reservations at some of my favorite places this week, and they are all booked up. Stuffed full with people looking for a deal, a scene, and a martini. Damn you, Restaurant Week, you owe me dinners at Hungry Mother, TW Food, and Oleana, all for $30.11.

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