As we slip into mid-January, the promotion and hype for another series of “Restaurant Week” in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County dining bargains are hitting from every direction. (FYI – “Restaurant Week” promotion promises a three course dinner with limited selections for approximately $30)
Based on past experience, I’m inclined to avoid eating out at participating restaurants during “Restaurant Week” because too often I’ve found that the alleged bargains don’t turn out to be the bargains that I would have hoped for.
Let’s be real! The middle of a Maryland winter is a time when many restaurants suffer from lack-luster patronage. The combination of winter cold, bad weather (or threat of bad weather), and early darkness at 5 pm tend to keep customers from eating out at restaurants. . The reality is that “restaurant weeks” are a gimmick to lure people out of their houses to eat out who other wise would be staying home and eating in! (The late summer “restaurant week” offers an analogous example where so many people are away on vacation that restaurant business similarly suffers)
My experience again and again is that even the best restaurants participating are not up to par during “Restaurant Week”. Even on week nights, they’re as crowded as they would be at “prime time” on a Saturday evening and the staffs in the kitchen or out servicing the customer are overwhelmed and quality of food and service suffers. I’ve seen time and time again where the experience at a restaurant like Fogo de Chao that I think highly of isn’t on top of their normal game and service and food is decidedly missing the levels of what I’ve experienced outside of “Restaurant Week”
I’m limited to a very few selections to pick from which often are not what I would have wanted to order from the regular menu. A bargain is paying less for something that you want and would have otherwise bought at full price. For most participating restaurants, the three course dinner for $30.14 isn’t a bargain.
The items featured on the limited choice “Restaurant Week” menu often don’t include the menu items that I would have ordered off of the regular menu.
Portion sizes during restaurant week are typically smaller (sometimes much smaller!) than outside of restaurant week. SO… you really can’t compare the “Restaurant Week” 3 course pricing with the prices off of the regular menu (i.e., you’re paying less but you’re getting less!)
If you’re taken in by the promos and hype about Restaurant Week and give it a try, I wish you luck! (And if you end up less than thrilled, remember – You were warned!!! <Wink>)