Many cities have a restaurant week, where lots of restaurants will offer a three course meal for a fixed price. In NYC, we have $38 dinners and $25 lunches. In my experience, the prix fixe lunch menus around town are often great deals, even throughout the year at places like Junoon or Georgio's. One of my favorites is the City Harvest lunch at the lounge at Le Bernedin. Le Bernadin is arguably the best restaurant in the United States. The challenge however, is to find restaurants that don't have a horrible rendition of their regular menu just offered up for the less likely to return customers of restaurant week. These are often the most expensive restaurants on the list, or the ones that can survive on their existing reputation and don't have much incentive to try to appeal to a new group of diners.Restaurant week actually lasts three weeks, and I tried three restaurants on the prix fixe scheme over this time.
One nice thing about NYC restaurant week is the google map and restaurant filter available at nycgo.com. Also, you could get a $5 statement credit each time you go out to a participating restaurant by linking an Amex at nycgo.com also.
The first restaurant I chose was a steakhouse around the corner, Frankie and Johnnies. I went with a few colleagues for lunch. This is a very old timers, fancy looking place. I got the barley soup, medallions of filet mignon with mashed potatoes, and key lime pie. The meal was rather slow paced and the food was executed well, but generally a little bland. The mashed potatoes were way over processed tasting to me and had not nearly enough butter; the gravy was bland to me as well. This is a great place if you like very traditional options and are not an adventurous eater. I, however, will be unlikely to return for restaurant week but I might come back for perhaps the burger or the veal chop, which both sounded great. They do a 3 course $40 dinner every Sunday if this is what you are looking for.
Next stop on the list was Perilla for dinner with Christine. Perilla is very well known, as the first winner of Top Chef, Howard, is the proprietor. This was a pretty good experience. It is located in the West Village near the PATH station. This was the menu.
They had a red and a white wine on restaurant week discount as well. We started with their famous duck meatballs, a deep fried mussel salad, and some gumbo. I didn't really get the meatballs, they were interesting but not worth $15 to me. The mussel salad was amazing. For dinner I had a roasted hake of potatoes and brisket. My dish was very very light on the sauce and this was a bit of an issue for me. It is possible the sauce wasn't actually put on the plate. Each bite with the brisket in it kind of overwhelmed the other flavors in the dish, but the brisket was mostly just a garnish. A good dish, but could have been executed better. The orange clove desert I had was wonderful as well, and Christine loved her sorbet selection.
Last place we went was Resto at 29th and Park. For me, this was the highlight of the three. I didn't actually order off the restarant week menu, as their regular menu was similarly priced. As a first course, I had an amazing veal breast dish that was fatty and deliscious and reminded me of pork belly. For my entree I had monkfish with chanterelles. Monkfish is my favorite fish cooked. I shared a pear desert from the restaurant week menu with Christine. We were also able to take advantage of grabbing a couple happy hour cocktails before our table was ready, but this place is well known for a good beer selection. I highly recommend this place throughout the year, and I would definitely do one of their large format feasts, a new trend around here that is also at a couple of other popular restaurants such as the Breslin and Momofuku. I also still need to try their sister restaurant, Cannibal.