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Restaurant Week


mojoman
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Restaurant Week started yesterday (1/14) in Washington, DC. My GF and I had a rather disappointing meal last night.

GF hypothesized that the resto feels that the patrons are a bunch of bargain hunters and does not perform up to normal standards.

Questions for the forum:

1. Do you use RW as a tryout for restos, seeing if you want to return at full price or are you a bargain hunter there that one time?

2. Do you think restos consider most of the RW customers to be bargain hunters, not to return and they don't put their best foot forward or do they consider it a tryout for future, loyal business?

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I'm my experience (both in BoH work and a patron) it's nearly impossible for a restaurant to give the full experience for restaurant weeks. Usually the types of establishments that are hit with the higher expectations are the ones whose price point is considerably higher than the 30 dollars or so they charge for restaurant week.

Mostly you get scaled down versions of the normal offerings, or you get a different menu altogether which (while probably prepared with skill) can still fail to dazzle given the restaurants stellar reputation.

I think it's some of both--there is no clearcut answer. A lot of people go to just check out the restaurant, and some go fully expecting a gourmet experience for like 30 dollars.

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Here in Sacramento, I've heard some complaints about the restaurant week offerings off of the Yelp boards...in essence, restaurants have been putting together some rather lackluster menus using cheap ingredients in an effort to get butts in the door. Not cool. Still, I think the entire restaurant week concept is an excellent one if executed correctly, and some restaurants certainly do, offering a good value and a nice way to try out a restaurant without committing to a blow out dinner. For me, if I liked a place's restaurant week offering, I'd definitely come back again when the special offer wasn't made...but who knows if that's true for all or even most people.

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1. I do use RW for trying out new restaurants. I'd say I'm both a bargain hunter as well as looking for places to return to. I like to take my dining budget and spread it out over a bunch of places for a week.

2. Not sure what they are thinking, but I tend to think that really well run places would use RW as marketing and looking at it like an investment. If they aren't, its probably not that great of a place.

I feel that increased volume, drink sales, portion control, and seeing it as a marketing expense should allow places to serve well executed food. If they can't, then I am less inclined to go back for the real deal.

Edited by MattJohnson (log)
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RW experiences depend on a couple of things. First, those restaurants that have prices that are normally quite a bit more than what it is for RW tend to have limited menus and scaled back portions or quality. After all, it is difficult to provide a three course meal for $30.08 when your normal entrees are in the $30 plus range. However, the good ones make sure that what is offered is high quality and shows off the talents of the chef. I've been to quite a few here in DC that do just that. On the other hand, some places, especially those who do a land office business normally, tend to be somewhat less.

The other restaurant type is the one where a three course meal would normally cost around $40 so they can make sure to offer the entire menu (sometimes with a minor upcharge for the more expensive entrees) and still offer the same quality as is the norm.

I tend to avoid RW, mainly because I eat out often anyway (and since my wife also has a good job) as I can afford to go almost anywhere I want when it isn't RW. If I do RW I tend to do lunch with folks from the office (I take the folks who work for me out once during RW for lunch and pick up the tab) and we go to where they choose. This way, we get to try some places that would normally be beyond what they would want to spend themselves.

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