So, pretty much nobody likes restaurant week. Victor Fiorillo does a pretty good job of breaking it down here. Essentially, restaurant owners are making less money, servers are working harder for less or hardly more money, and the customers are getting lesser service and food.
The original concept was that for a prix fixe price of $35, customers would get to try new joints and add those places to their rotation but what’s actually happening here is different. With costs temporarily lowered, customers who are not exactly either great or unwashed are taking the opportunity to fight outside their weight class and the schmancy people are staying home. So joints like Vetri and Zahav may have a tushie in every chairall week, but when the bell rings and everyone returns to a neutral corner managers and servers alike say that these folks are not heard from again. They slink back to North 3rd and Mad Mex or wherever they get their grub on, only to reemerge for the next RW like cicadas who tip.
The whole thing reminds me of this scene which we all know ends in a most unappetizing fashion. But what can ya do? Can you just end RW? Lots of people enjoy it, it’s just none of those folks are members of the Center City Restaurant community. Though he originally purposed the quip for slavery, Thomas Jefferson could certainly have been at the city tavern discussing Restaurant Week when he failed to attribute that “wolf by the ears” quote to Emperor Tiberius.
I don’t have answers, I do have an anecdote as to why I disdain the whole thing. My birthday usually falls during the midwinter Restaurant Week that they use to break up the dead space before the Superbowl. It’s after Christmas, its cold and dark and icy and nobody wants to go out. Everyone is broke and fat from the holidays so Restaurants are sort of in need of asses for those seats.
Since only recently has eating fancy and learning non-epethetical uses for words like succulent and encrusted become part of my vocation, my dining compatriots and I were formerly exactly the kind of huddle massholes the classy joints in town were less than thrilled to see arrive teeming on their shore. As I have many dear friends who often like to celebrate my birthday, I would typically find myself partaking of the RW menus three or sometimes four times during that wretched week. And though no restaurant would ever publicly admit it, we were treated differently than when I’ve dined during regular bidnes hours.
The most egregious example of this happened at Lacroix a few years ago. To start with, my date and I were seated at a weird angle, a right one. The Lacroix dining room has a row of two-tops along a window and we were seated at one of them with a chair on the west side of the table and a chair on the north side. I had to turn my head to look into her eyes. Years later a manager there hinted that they had probably done that to sneak an extra table or two into the joint. It just felt unspecial. And I don’t go to nice places that often. Part of the reason you put on a sportcoat and a shirt with buttons and black socks is to feel special and here we felt like cattle. And that was before the waiter practically laughed in my face. They were offering some dish with a gribbiche sauce. I had never heard that word before and, in fact, thought he might have made it up. I inquired as to what the fuck a gribiche was and he practically scoffed as he uttered a bunch of words that essentially added up to mayonnaise. As he departed I asked my date, “WTF was that about?” She agreed this was not the birthday experience she was trying to give me.
This is but one example. My position here is akin to my assessment of turmoil in Asia Minor. I have good answers but they aren’t practical. I have practical answers but they aren’t good. So I actually don’t really have any answers. Do you? if so, holla in the comments.
Having said all that, here is a complete list of places to eat above your station this week.
– Adam Brodsky
Adam Brodsky, is, in no particular order, a World Record Holding Folksinger, Writer, Baseball fan, and Beer League First Baseman who hits for average. He is also the editor of Phoodie.info. His Novel will be out when he fucking finishes it, so get off his back! You can follow him @adambrodsky
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