July has snuck up on us once again like a ninja on a zombie and that means a few things for us all. First and foremost, it means that the summer is well on its way to being over and the lovely sunny months will soon be behind us. It also means that the Major League All Star game has come and gone and the second half of Baseball season will commence bringing with it, all the glory of wondrous playoff races. As a foodie what this time of the year should mean to you is the beginning of a phenomenal event in New York City known as Summer Restaurant Week.
For those of you who don’t know, New York City Restaurant Week, which actually runs from July 16, 2012 to August 10, 2012, offers a three course pre-fixe menu meal for both lunch and dinner at the amazing price of $24.07 for lunch and $35.00 for dinner. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this fantastic event and all foodies should converge on New York City to take advantage of the crazy savings that this affair offers.
There are over 300 restaurants that are participating this year and the over 20 different types of cuisine that can be found all across, what everyone knows as the greatest city in the world. (Follow this link to see the participating restaurants.) I have been to other restaurant weeks in the past and I enjoy everyone I attend, but there is just something simply divine about donning your finest attire and strutting through the doors of a restaurant that at any other time you could not even pretend to afford the bread they serve as an appetizer.
The Pre-Fixe menus that are offered at the participating restaurants, read like a foodie penthouse forum magazine and our compromised a myriad of choices that range from vegetarian to carnivorous and back. Just a glimpse into some of the extravagant offerings that can be found at any one of the restaurants will tantalize your taste buds and have you rushing to OpenTable: NYC Restaurants to make your reservation. (A Pre-Fixe menu contains a sampling of what the restaurant has to offer. They usually have at least three options for the appetizer and entrée course but may only offer one type of dessert, you can see these menu’s on the NYCGO restaurant Week website.
As a service to my readers I will walk you through the process of attending restaurant week so when you get there you can impress your fellow foodies with the knowledge of a seasoned professional. Follow these simple instructions and you will be ready to take on Restaurant Week and appear as if you have been doing this for years:
1: Choosing the Restaurant: This is by far the best part of this game, I assure you. It takes me days of research and menu perusing to find the perfect restaurant for our group outing to New York City for Restaurant Week. Sometimes we choose a restaurant because the menu offerings are so stupendous that if we missed dining their we would cry ourselves to sleep, other times we venture to a restaurant that was in a movie that we love watching, and then there are the restaurants that look so inviting that the images seem to beckon us from the interwebs. However you decide to choose, make sure they offer something for everyone in your group and then move on to step 2.
2: Making Reservations: Remember Restaurant Week is not a secret, not only am I Blogging about it, everyone foodie in the New York area is screaming from the roof tops about it. Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram is going to be a flutter with Restaurant Week jibba jabba, so you need to plan your visit as soon as possible in order to secure a reservation. I also recommend that you call the restaurant that you have decided on before making your reservation in order to make sure that they are still participating in the event. The secret is to call twice, once to make sure that they are doing Restaurant Week and then again to make the reservation. I have no proof but, I feel that whenever I do both in one phone call, I get stuck at the table near the kitchen or the bathroom, but then again I am a conspiracy theorist, so it may just be me being crazy. You can also use opentable.com to make your reservation after confirming that the establishment is participating in order to gain points for your open table account and hopefully not have to share your table with a urinal.
3: Wine List Research: The day of your reservation you should check the restaurant’s website to see if they offer a wine list that you could peruse, if you do not see one online you can contact them and ask them if they could provide you with one via E-mail, their answer should be yes. Once you have procured the wine list you should jump on the Googles and do some research. If you are trying to impress your friends or a date, nothing will do this better than choosing the proper wine for the sophisticated meal you are about to eat. Read reviews, check prices, use the internet to become an expert on three or four wines that you may order, so if they run out of one, you have a backup plan. If you do not have time to do this research, the Blue Collar Foodie’s rule is to never select the cheapest bottle! Not only does is scream cheap, but it is usually marked up the highest and you will not get the best bang for your buck. The best value is usually in the second or third cheapest wines on the list, which are still marked up of course but, not as much as the bottle of Chateau De Cheapo which makes the Jug of Gallo taste like a vintage Bordeaux from France. When in doubt download a good wine application for your smart phone and let it make the decision for you.
4: The Pregame: In order to save some money on the wine from the restaurant which can be a bit overpriced, we usually meet up in the city in the neighborhood or the restaurant we chose at a local watering hole. Think of this activity as classy tailgating, which as blue collar foodies we can all get behind. Once again you should go to googles and find a moderately priced bar in the area and make it your rally point so you can have a few drinks before your meal and be on time for your reservation.
5. The Event: The time has finally arrived to chow down on some of the best food New York City has to offer. If you did your research up to this point properly, you should already know what wine to order and what you will be eating on the menu, so sit back and enjoy the scenery. These restaurants are not only expensive because of the quality of food you are about to receive but also because of the ambiance and history they exude.
If for whatever reason you cannot make it to New York City for this marvelous event, don’t fret, foodie nirvana may still be able to be achieved. The Picnic, located at 14-25 Plaza Road North, Fair Lawn, NJ, is celebrating their second anniversary with a Pre-Fixe menu of their own for just $35.00 a plate, for the entire month of July. This establishment is also B.Y.O.B which helps save even more money. I will be attending the Picnic’s Anniversary Celebration soon, so expect a review in the near future.