The Blue Collar Foodie Helps You Decide! Restaurant Week 2013 Edition

Restaurant Week 2013

Restaurant Week 2013

It is that time of year again folks! New York City Restaurant Week is about to commence and this year 317 restaurants will be serving up some of the finest food New York City has to offer, from January 14th until February 8th.  Each and every year more restaurants jump on the proverbial chuck wagon and attempt to compete for your business during the most hectic two weeks in the New York City restaurant business and the hardest part is choosing which restaurant to visit.  If you are as bad at making a decision as Notre Dame was at playing football this week, The Blue Collar Foodie has got you covered!  I have reviewed, inspected, and studied the New York City eateries participating in restaurant week this year and handpicked a few of my favorites to make your decision making process go a wee bit easier.

Before I get to the restaurants that made this exclusive list I first want to explain how these establishments were selected.  I evaluated each restaurant using the following criteria; the restaurant’s history, the building the restaurant is housed in, the menu offered, and of course the food they serve.  I then used a complex algorithm, not really but this sounded way too awesome not to write, and selected restaurants that not only serve remarkable food but also provide an amazing eating experience for the customer.

Considering I only get to visit these prestigious restaurants twice a year during restaurant week, due to budget restraints, my restaurant selection has to be more than just about food.  I want to visit famous buildings, have the chance to rub elbows with celebrities, dine where history actually happened, and do it all for 38 bucks plus tax and gratuity.  If you are looking for the best food this immense list has to offer this is not the review for you, but if you are looking for a once in a lifetime New York City experience keep reading!

It should be noted that I have not visited all of the restaurants that are on my list, so most of my research was done using the interwebs.  So if the restaurant that you choose is not as amazing as I say it is, please forward all your hate mail to dealwithit@Doyourowndamnresearch.com

To make your life even easier, I have broken down my selections to match the “by cuisine,” categories that are used on the NYC GO website, which lists all the restaurants that are participating.  I have also decided to follow Twitter’s lead and only use 140 characters to capture the essence of each eatery, I call them TweeViews.  If you like what you see in the Tweeview please visit the restaurant’s website to see more about the venue, by clicking the establishment’s name.  Furthermore, these selections are in Alphabetic order by cuisine type then restaurant name.  If you use this list to pick a restaurant out, I would love to hear about your experience in the comment section below, so please post.  Remember an outing into the City is really what you make of it, so as Barney from How I Met Your Mother would say, “Suit Up, and have a Legend, wait for it, Dary evening!”

 

Food Map

Gastronomic Map

American New

Butter:  A unique interior design inspired by nature paired with an eclectic menu featuring uncommon dishes make Butter a force to be reckoned with.

Hospoda:  Czech inspired fare paired with fresh pilsner instead of the normal wine creates a fresh take on fine dining at this upscale eatery.

The Lambs Club:  A famous chef and a building on the National Register of Historic Places that was home to one of America’s oldest theatrical organizations.

Leyla:  Boasting one of the finest menus on the restaurant week circuit, what it lacks in history it more than makes up for in culinary creativity.

Kutshers:  A modern Jewish American bistro, with roots in the Catskills, which offers Grandma’s favorites with a contemporary twist.

Park Avenue Winter:  A rustic American restaurant offering seasonal fare and a corresponding design that is only open until the end of winter begets spring.

Perilla:  With only 18, it is hard to score a table at this neighborhood restaurant, turned foodie mecca that focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Sprig:  Located in the Lipstick Building this posh eatery offers artistically prepared seasonal fare inspired by Northern California cuisine.

 

American Traditional

‘21’ Club:  A former New York City speak easy, still frequented by many celebrities, expertly serving awarding winning food with high class flare.

The Darby:  This former legendary Jazz and Blues Club turned chic eatery serves up creative cuisine with a side of swag in the form of live music.            

 

Asian Fusion        

Ajna Bar:  Beautiful interior design, renowned DJ’s, and a collision between French and Asian cuisine make Ajna Bar an appealing spot for 2013.

 

Barbecue

Hill Country BBQ:  New York’s own piece of Texas, serving up huge portions of fresh Barbecue for all of us with a city addresses but country souls.     

 

Chinese

Hakkasan:  This ain’t your local Chinese takeout joint; this is refined Chinese fare which is combined with a sophisticated and stylish dining area.

 

Continental

The Russian Tea Room:   A New York City Icon that was founded by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet and is frequented by the worlds’ most fastidious foodies.

 

French

L’ecole:  The ground floor of Fine Dining, located in the Int. Culinary Center; students from everywhere collaborate to create awe inspiring dishes.

 

Greek

Kellari:  A warm and inviting atmosphere that sets the tone for a Grecian inspired meal that the Chef lovingly prepares to celebrate his homeland.       

 

Indian

Junoon:  An extensive selection of interesting and delicious Indian dishes that offers the restaurant week veteran a wonderful escape from monotony.

Tamarind:  This trendy eatery is one of the most popular Indian restaurants in NYC, and one look at the décor coupled with the menu should explain why.

 

Italian

Asellina:  Sleek, posh, and chic describe this hip establishment where authentic Italian food collides with the modern day reality starlet scene.   

Barbetta:  Known as one of the most romantic restaurants in New York City, this is a great place for a couple to fall in love all over again.

Cipriani Dolci:  Located inside the majestic landmark that is Grand Central Terminal, Cipriani offers something to the architecture lover that others cannot.  

Pó:  An intimate space and fresh ingredients delivered daily by foot or bike by the surrounding markets, serving Italian food as it should be.     

The Leopard at des Artistes:  First time diners come for the buildings historical significance and the impressive art collection, but they come back for the food.

 

Japanese

Megu:  This establishment transports you to the Far East like no other restaurant I have ever been to, from design to dish, Megu is a phenomenal.

 

Korean

Bann:  A fantastic place to experience a variety of tantalizing Korean food while being surrounded by stunning authentic Korean décor.

 

Mediterranean

Ilili:  Ilili combines Lebanese cuisine with a Mediterranean flare, an epicurean delight perfect for the foodie looking to expand their palate.

 

Mexican

Maya:  Traditional Mexican cuisine meets modern culinary expertise at this contemporary eatery that promises warm Latin hospitality.

 

Pan/Latin

Raymi:  Billed as the best Peruvian restaurant in New York City with a menu and dining area that appears to back up that claim.

Rayuela:  A truly innovative and beautiful restaurant that created its own culinary genre known as estilo libre Latino or freestyle Latino.

 

Seafood

FishTag:  Mediterranean inspired seafood dishes expertly paired with wine from the imaginative culinary mind of world renowned chef Michael Psilakis.   

 

Southwestern

Mesa Grill:  Bobby Flay combines his passion for Southwestern cuisine and his love for grilling which leads to a marriage made in foodie heaven.

 

Spanish

Andanada 141:  A restaurant week menu truly built for adventurous foodies combined with a bull fighting theme makes this a great spot for thrill seekers.

 

Steakhouse

The Capital Grille Chrysler Center:  Located inside the Chrysler Center’s Trylon Towers, this highly rated chain steakhouse is an architecture aficionado’s dream.

 

Thai

Kittichai:  An exquisite design that lends itself to a romantic dinner for two with a menu that offers an inventive take on traditional Thai dishes.

 

Vietnamese

Le Colonial:  This one of a kind eatery transports you to a forgotten world known as French Indochina and serves French inspired Vietnamese cuisine.

The Blue Collar Foodie’s Tips for New York City Restaurant Week!

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.