Our all-star intern Grace Kang has been making the Restaurant Week rounds. With so many restaurants keeping the prix-fixe menus out until late-February, you still have time to check out Grace's faves. —Erin
After two weeks of eating beyond my budget and my belly, it was a relief to just tuck into an egg and some greens. I don't know how fancy-pants restaurant critics manage to eat out so much and not get fatigued by all the rich food. Another squash soup full of excessive amounts of cream and butter? Blagh.
That being said, I enjoyed every one of my Restaurant Week meals this year, despite the occasional crowds and hiccups in service. I focused on the higher-end offerings, since they seemed to be the best bangs for bucks: Cafe Boulud, Gramercy Tavern, Park Avenue Winter, Scarpetta, and the Bar Room at The Modern. Now that Restaurant Week has been extended to February 27, there's still time to check these places out.
Best Service (and Freebie Gift Card)
Gramercy Tavern. No big surprise here. Danny Meyer's restaurants are renowned for their hospitality. After hearing about a line out the door for lunch on the first day of Restaurant Week, I was worried walking in, but when my cousin and I decided to go the second week, we were seated in less than ten minutes. Restaurant Week can be notorious for bringing out the crankiest in servers, who aren't into the "normal folk" dining, but this was excellent service—the type I've come to expect from Meyer's establishments. Plus, it was sweetened with a $24.07 gift card for each diner to be used anytime, lunch or dinner or at the bar, before March 27.
Scarpetta's black cod with roasted fennel and concentrated tomatoes—perfectly cooked and the most satisfying dish out of all the meals. It's certainly not something I could recreate at home. With the black cod retailing for $28, this was certainly a steal. And yes, I did have the famed spaghetti with tomato and basil, but sadly, it was overcooked.
Most Exciting Selection
The Bar Room at The Modern. It's not that I was expecting the worst. I just wasn't expecting the best. But the more casual room of The Modern was a pleasant surprise. The prix fixe menu here offers ten choices for appetizers, ten for entrees, and seven for dessert. Such a marked contrast from the stingy three choices at many other restaurants. It wasn't quantity over quality either; the food was good, except perhaps for dessert.
I had been warned about the Bar Room's tiny portions, but honestly, unless you're a brawny lumberjack or just really hungry, the portions are fine. In fact, our helpful waitress warned us that the tarte flambée appetizer was big, so of course I had to get it and egads, she was right. If we had finished it, it would have been enough to feed both my companion and myself for dinner.
Best Wine Deal
For lunch, Park Avenue Winter offered a glass of wine from a select list for a meal total of $30.07—the perfect amount for someone who had to go back to work after. For dinner, Scarpetta has a supplemental wine pairing for $20, making dinner and three glasses of wine $55. Gramercy Tavern offered a bottle of wine from a select list for $24.07, but a whole bottle at lunch? I wish I could indulge in liquid lunches daily, but for two people it was certainly too much. Or as some might say, not enough?
The Bar Room at The Modern
Park Avenue Winter
Related: Anyone Going Out for NYC Restaurant Week? [Talk]
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