Monday, July 26, 2010

Restaurant Week: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Last week ended Summer Restaurant Week, a time where diners enjoy a 3-course menu at higher-end restaurants for a discounted rate of $24.07 at lunch or $35.00 for dinner. Usually restaurant week doesn't interest me much. Actually at one point it did, but working at my 9 to 5 provided no opportunity for a long lunch, leaving dinner as the only option. Knowing this, Alex and I made dinner reservations at Bolo (Bobby Flay) one year, but we were so disappointed by the food that I figured that the quality during restaurant week does not provide a true experience of the establishment. That or the food here really sucked! So after that experience I stood away. This year, with my new life of chef instructing I have more day time gaps in my schedule, making it a perfect opportunity to experience lunch!

My good friend Melissa joined me at Bar Boulud (Chef Daniel Boulud). I loved the intimacy and coziness the place offered, not to mention seeing the beautiful pates and terrines displayed at the bar all calling out "Eat me, Eat me!" making it all the more exciting. The menu was very balanced and appetizing. Melissa ordered the Terrine de Porc and I the Thon Nicoise, followed by Dourade Poelee (sea bream) and Steak Roti and for dessert Gateau Roule and I, the Pot de Creme. From start to finish everything was delicious, the atmosphere was calm, relaxing, everything you wanted for a mid afternoon treat. So far so good!

The next day a friend we met at Washington, DC during the Let's Move! event was in town from Chicago, the three of us met at DBGB's (another friend suggested we try it). DBGB has a earthy, manly, but elegant appeal. We sat down ordered wine and then began to order. Melissa and I ordered the Pate de Campagnard, Mecca ordered the DBGB Summer Salad, next she ordered the Housemade Orrechiette and us to girls the Yankee Burger with Cheddar, for dessert Raspberry-Yogurt Sundaes and I the Hazelnut Praline Chocolate Cake. Again another hit, the burger was amazing. I'm just loving restaurant week!

That was until Alex and I reserved a dinner reservation at Dovetail. We were excited to try Dovetail, it's a cute little restaurant that would seem quite stuffy but was actually inviting. We were seated, had some wine, and received a delicious watermelon amuse bouche. Then came our appetizers, Alex ordered the White Gazpacho, I the Potato Gnocchi with Truffles. As soon as I put my fork down I truly believed we were on our way to a great dining experience. That was up until our main dish arrived. I ordered Chicken Breast, Alex the Braised Veal Shoulder. Let's just say we were super thirsty and that night woke up for several cups of water to help our bodies get off the sodium shock it received. Dessert--a part of the meal that serves as an ending--some argue it is the most memorable part of a meal, was even worse. Alex ordered the Banana Cream Parfait, equivalent to a jello pudding snack in a glass and I, Blueberry Crumble aka a fresh out the toaster pop tart with a bit of ice cream. The experience was absolutely disappointing. In all our years of dining, I don't recall us asking for the waiter for the check so quickly.

Restaurant week offers us entry to restaurants at a discounted rate, but that does not mean the food should be as well. It's understandably that restaurant week attracts different clientele that may be different from their regulars, but that is not to say we wouldn't return as a full paying guest in the future. Isn't this the whole point?! Don't get me wrong, I am sure Dovetail serves remarkable food year round, but the execution of their restaurant week menu was mediocre at best (and I'm being kind), but considering what they served that night we won't be running back to find out. Of course, two out of three is not bad. Perhaps I was right with my original sentiments on restaurant week, or perhaps it's best to experience it during lunch time. Who knows! Would I try it again? Sure would, but I would be more careful and selective of where I'm making dinner reservations that's for sure!

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