Friday, October 18, 2013

Wait... What Happened to Restaurant Week?

Pretty much what you're going to eat
It's Seattle Restaurant Week. So why haven't you seen tweets, photos and Facebook updates about Nick and I gorging ourselves on fancy bits and pieces? Why hadn't you received a giant Excel spreadsheet with spots and dates to sign up for a new restaurant you've been dying to try? WHYYYY?

Nick and I have been going to SRW and writing about it twice a year ever since we started dating (except when we ate our way through Vietnam). Each time, we had gone to at least four or five different spots, sometimes more. But we mutually decided to skip it this time around and instead explore some new restaurants the old-fashioned way - by paying the regular price. So why have we decided to eschew the popular event this time around?
  1. Nothing new to see here. There weren't a lot of new restaurants to try on the list. Nick and I use SRW as an opportunity to try new places or revisit a spot we haven't been to in a while. Many of the new restaurants listed were from familiar chefs like Maria Hine's Italian spot, Agrodolce. We've already frequented Tilth and Golden Beetle. We've already reveled in the sake slushy from Tanakasan.
  2. You're not even trying. With the exception of a few notable places like Poppy or Art of the Table, many of the restaurants sort of phone it in. A lot of the SRW menus are almost the same across the board and restaurants often feel forced to participate in this two-week event. So they offer a bisque, an apple fennel salad or a beet salad with pumpkin seeds or a roulade of some sort as a first course, usually a roast chicken or lamb, a seasonal pasta or risotto along with a seared cod or trout as course number two and pretty uninspired crème brulee, a chocolate cake, or a seasonal crisp and house-made gelato as the dessert. Remember our complaint about the spaghetti o's sauce from Cicchetti? It's banquet food for the most part. It may be executed well, but it's nothing to write home about. Guess what you're having to eat at our wedding? It's not like we can knock your socks off at that either.
  3. Service sucks sometimes. Once you mention you are there for restaurant week, many times you get lackluster service because servers think you are not "real diners". Again, this isn't true across the board and we've enjoyed lovely service at some of the best places but many places are overbooked and understaffed so guess who's going to be a tad cranky or absent?
  4. I could have bought two GTA V's with that money. It's not really that inexpensive. Plus, you are packing in the calories. Every time we go to restaurant week, we feel the need to eat like kings. We share bottles of wine or delicious cocktails with our friends and clean our plates. Multiply that by 4-7 times over two weeks and you realized you overindulged way too many times. When Nick and I go out for a nice dinner, we'll typically share an appetizer (if at all) and each have an entrée. We both tend not to drink during the week. That means (sans tax and tip), we'll have spent $8 + $16 + $18 = $42. If we happened to each have a glass of wine say me a glass of bubbles and Nick a house cab, then it's now $8 + 16 + $18 + $6 + $9 = $57. However, make it restaurant week and we go hog wild. Let's say I'm driving home so I'll have a fabulous cocktail. Nick will have two. We aren't having a rum and coke or an IPA because their seasonal cocktails are probably amazing, like Art of the Table's Winter is Coming which was Nick's favorite SRW cocktail of all time. This is now $28 +28 + $10 + $12 + $12 = $90. Let's talk tax and tip now. For a normal date night, we have 10% tax and a 20% tip which means $57 is now $74.1. For SRW, $90 becomes $117. That's nearly a $43 difference and is about a third more expensive than a typical night out when we both drink. It's twice as expensive as the nights out when we don't drink. Plus, I'm not a dieter or anything but it's a huge difference when you split an appetizer or a dessert with friends or another person than when you're eating all of the food by yourself.
  5. We are lazy busy. It's a lot of work to do research, make a ton of reservations and wrangle a gaggle of pals. We have a wedding to plan and things to do this time around.
If you are going to Seattle Restaurant Week this autumn, let me suggest trying to get a table at some of our favorites who never let us down for SRW:
Or take an opportunity to go against the grain and try a new restaurant that isn't doing SRW. More on that later...

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