Restaurant Week Survival Guide

Mike Cook

It's Restaurant Week. Unless you reside under a large, sound-proof rock and haven't visited Baltimore Eats recently (shame on you), you already know this. But, do you know how to best enjoy this classic event? I'll be honest; I have mixed views on Restaurant Week. There are excellent deals to be had, but I also think that if one doesn't pick wisely, there are disappointments. Here are my thoughts on turning your $35.11 into a Restaurant Week triumph.


Know the regular menu. It's easiest to find a good deal if you have an idea of what a restaurant normally charges, and how well their special menu reflects their normal one. Certain spots open up their entire menus to Restaurant Week patrons, which is a definite win for those looking to get a feel for a place. A critical eye towards both menus and you'll be much surer of experiencing a great meal.


Before I go further I should address the most common complaint. People say Restaurant Week is a scam because restaurants serve lower quality food. In my experience this is not true at all. Sometimes, portions change. You get less of the famous prime rib at The Prime Rib during Restaurant Week, but that's because the normal cut is the size of a suitcase. At Restaurant Week it's the same melt-in-your mouth beef they always serve. Restaurants in Baltimore are too savvy to play these kinds of games.


Enjoy dessert. If you don't usually order dessert at a restaurant, Restaurant Week won't appeal quite as much. Not all Restaurant Week menus include dessert now, but most do, which means part of your $35.11 goes towards a course you won't care much about. Stretch out and try some of the desserts you'd normally ignore, or decide Restaurant Week isn't your thing.


Instead maybe you should look for "off-Broadway" deals. Restaurants that don't participate in Restaurant Week often offer great deals to compete. I noticed Vino Rosina had an interesting and flexible prix fix deal this week, and there are plenty of others. Restaurant Week has even inspired restaurants to offer year-round prix fixes, like at Cinghiale, or deals on wine pairings with dinner.


Lastly, maybe now is the time to try tapas. One of the problems with tapas is that it's so hard to keep track of the tab. A $5 plate here, a $7 plate there and you have no idea what you'll be paying or even how much food you'll get. A Restaurant Week tapas menu eliminates this problem. At the same time, you won't be stuck with an either/or entree choice, as you are at some restaurants during Restaurant Week. There's always lots of choices on tapas menus during Restaurant Week. I visited Adela last year and really enjoyed it.


There's still plenty of time to turn your $35.11 into three courses at any of a long list of great restaurants, so get moving!

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