For numerous years I have been an avid fan and participant of the NYC Restaurant Week movement. I know there are hundreds of haters that disagree with the savings, despise the menus, and talk shit about the service, but I am not one of them. If you are, kindly piss off and save your hate mail for some other blogger. However, if you are trying to choose an interesting restaurant to venture to this year please continue reading.
If you are like me and this is not your first time rocking Restaurant Week you are tired of the regular RW haunts. If you are a virgin to the Restaurant Week game this post is really not for you. Please go to the NYC GO website and do some research, I assure you it is totally worth it! However, if you are tired of eating where Frank Sinatra punched Elvis in the junk, where Edgar Allen Poe wrote some words on a napkin that he blew his nose in, or at a spot that used to be hostel for starving artists that you have never heard of, this is the post for you!
This year my top 15 really has nothing to do with history, decor, or prominence. My methodology was simple. I scoured the menus that were available for every restaurant on the RW list and picked out the ones that gave me a food boner. Feast your eyes and get ready to hide your erection because without further ado, here are my selections for the summer session of the 2015 Restaurant Week!
Burke & Wills: This Australian eatery ain’t the fucking Outback! It is the real deal and they serve actual Australian Cuisine. Their menu for this RW session offers the likes of Kangaroo, Octopus, Lamb, Veal Sweetbreads, and Prawns. In other words, if you are looking for a little down under strange, this is the place to visit!
The Cecil: In the immortal words of Monty Python, “And now for something completely different.” The Cecil is described as New York’s first Afro-Asian-American brasserie and it serves some exceptional dishes. The highlights from their Restaurant Week Menu include Crispy Squash Blossoms served with Shrimp and for a ten dollar supplement you can sink your teeth into a Grilled Lamb Saddle topped with a Spicy Tomato Peanut Sauce. Make sure you also sample a beer direct from Africa if you stop by the Cecil!
DBGB Kitchen and Bar: This downtown hot spot is what you get when a French brasserie meets an American tavern, has one too many and slips one past the goalie. Normally, I would not recommend a burger during Restaurant Week but one look at their menu and I was dreaming of The Frenchie Burger, which is described as a 7 oz beef patty topped with confit pork belly, arugula, tomato-onion compote, and morbier cheese all served on a peppered brioche bun. Not to mention DBGB offers 25 taps and 75 bottles of beer to wash down that behemoth burger.
Inakaya: It is true that not all sushi is created equal but for the most part great sushi is all pretty comparable. Inakaya not only boasts remarkable sushi, which you can find on their RW Menu, but they also provide a show while you eat. Inakaya uses the traditional method of Robata-Yaki, or Grilling Around a Sunken Hearth. In other words the Chefs play to the crowd while they grill each dish in their open kitchen, using only the freshest ingredients they can find.
Junoon: I am a sucker for Indian food, so I knew at least one of them would end up on this list. The aroma, the depth of flavor, and the occasional heat not only intrigues me, but entices me like a bag o’ blow speaks to Charlie Sheen. Junoon won me over the second I viewed their menu and saw the Bhut Jolokia which is described as a Ghost Chili Yogurt served with honey and 65% Chocolate. Sure they have several great appetizers and entrees as well, but who cares… GHOST CHILI YOGURT!!!
Kin Shop: Kin is the Thai word for eat, and at this casual yet hip establishment that is exactly what you will want to do. In a sea of Thai restaurants that are popping up faster than pimples on a teenager, Kin Shop really is one of the Stand Outs. What caught my eye of this menu was the Steamed Bouchot Mussels that are served in a Siamese Curry Sauce and the Braised Hampshire Pork served in a Panang Curry. Deal with it, I am a curry whore!
L’Ecole, The Restaurant Of The International Culinary Center: Ever wonder where tomorrows top chefs hone their skills? Question no more, L’Ecole is the culinary world’s Minor Leagues and some of these powerhouses are ready to be called up to the Bigs. I am a storyteller, as you can tell, so the chance to eat a dish prepared by a Chef that potentially could be the next James Beard is just too good to pass up. Not to mention, their menu is quite extensive! If my ass lands in one of their seats I will be dining on the Country Pate with Truffles, Pistachios, and Cornichons and The Roasted Duck Leg served with House Made Pappardelle. I don’t care what Daffy says, for me it is always Duck Season.
Le Colonial: Both the decor and the menu serve as a “tip of the hat,” to a forgotten time when Southeast Asia was colonized by France. The fare is generally traditional Vietnamese but possesses a French flair that adds a subtle, yet wonderful uniqueness to each and every one of their dishes. If you choose this spot I recommend the Suon Nuong: Grilled Baby Back Ribs served with Lemongrass and a Sweet Soy Sauce paired with The Trio: Grilled Prawns, Beef Brochettes, and Cha Gio Herbed Vermicelli Salad.
Miss Lily’s: My Boxador, half Boxer and half Labrador, is named Lilly, so I immediately checked this restaurant’s menu out when I saw it was participating in Restaurant Week. Furthermore, ever since I got back from the Caribbean I have been craving Jerk, just about anything. Enter Miss Lily’s, bringing Jerk BBQ Ribs, Jerk Grilled Corn, and Jerk Chicken to the RW world. To top it all off their is a Curried Goat dish that needs to be in my belly immediately!
Mr. Chow’s: This ain’t your corner Chinese Restaurant! The menu is not delivered to your door, nor is it depicted by 1970’s photos on a giant back lit rectangle that hangs above the counter. The menu at Mr. Chow’s is comprised of a combination of old Beijing cuisine and original recipes that have been delighting New York’s fashion and music elite for damn near 30 years. The name of the game here is Family Style Dining, so bring people that like to share, and don’t miss the Famous Mr. Chow Noodles.
Park Avenue Summer: Talk about trendy! This epic eatery not only seasonally changes their menu but they change the entire decor as well. P.A.S. makes my top 15 due to the amount of choices they offer on their Restaurant Week Menu. Most places offer a very limited selection but Park Avenue Summer is offering 6 different options for both the appetizer and the entree portion of the meal. If you are looking to hit up RW with a semi-large group, I assure you that everyone will be able to find something that tickles their fancy. However, if someone doesn’t order the Dr. Pepper Baby Back Ribs you have failed Restaurant Week and you should be ashamed of yourself.
Raymi: Raymi is an upscale Peruvian Restaurant that blends the flavors and culinary traditions of Spain, Japan, Chinese and Peru itself. The star of Raymi’s Menu is the Ceviche that captures the savory yet elegant taste that only this delicacy can deliver. Not only can you score some of this amazing seafood but you can pair it with some Carapulcra, or Roasted Pork Belly. If you are not into Ceviche, I suggest you rock the Pulpo Meloso, or Charred Octopus, which I might suggest Kat gets when we go, so I can try both.
Root and Bone: No food sticks to your bones like Soul Food, and even though it is summer time I simply can’t say no to this Uber comfort food. If you enter this restaurant and don’t order the Award Winning, Fried Chicken and Waffles you are no longer allowed to read my blog, so lucky for both of us it is on the RW menu! I am sure the other items are solid but FRIED CHICKEN AND WAFFLES!!! As a bonus, if you are ginger and eat here enough, you might acquire a soul… I kid, I kid, there is no way for gingers to get a soul.
Smorgas Chef: Raise your hand if you knew a Scandinavian Restaurant resided in the Big Apple. Keep it up if you can tell me what the hell Scandinavians eat. Unless your name is Thor or Dag I doubt you are well versed in the viking way of life. Well one night out of this establishment and you can school all your friends about this obscure cuisine. I highly recommend The Classic Smorgasbord from the menu simply because I can’t pronounce half the items that are on it and that is how I roll! Furthermore, I am like 80% sure it will taste as good as most Scandinavian ladies look.
Yerba Buena: Yerba may be somewhat small compared to other restaurants in NYC, but their flavors are gigantic. Not to mention their menu had me drooling all over my keyboard. They are dishing out Duck Confit Empanadas and Suckling Pig Carnitas during this session of Restaurant Week and if that doesn’t make you wanna jump on the Subway right the fuck now, I feel like I don’t know you anymore.
That is my list ladies and gentleman! Remember, Restaurant Week is all about exploring the greatest city in the world and sampling the amazing culinary treats it has to offer. The summer session is running from July 21, 2015 until August 15, 2015 and I highly recommend not only stepping out of your comfort zone while dining at these establishments but leaving it so far behind you that you never think about stepping into it again.