Last night, I received an email from one of my readers telling me she had posted the Triangle Restaurant Week menus on her blog and thought that I might be interested. I responded as follows: “‘m not going to write about Restaurant Week this year, primarily because I don’t have the time, but also because I see places like _______ that are selling items that would be $25 on their regular menu for $30. This should be a week of bargains where the discounts entice people to try. Many places follow that credo, but many do not.”
This morning, I posted the following on Twitter: “It’s hard to support Triangle Restaurant Week when many places’ offerings are more expensive this week than at other times.”
I then got in a debate with Charlie Deal, the owner and chef of Jujube and Dos Perros about the purpose of Restaurant Week. This debate carried over to the comments section of one of my blog posts from 2009, where I was arguing about the purpose of Restaurant Week altogether. In my comments, I said that there were a number of restaurants that did the following: They created a menu for Restaurant Week containing an appetizer, entree and dessert for $30, and if you ordered those 3 items off their regular menu, the total would be less than $30. I essentially called the practice fraudulent and chastised the organizers of Restaurant Week for allowing such a practice.
There’s only one problem with this argument. I haven’t found a single restaurant that is actually doing this.
Now I found a number of restaurants that included some items from their regular menu on their RW menu, but the appetizers might be different. For example, one restaurant (and I’m not naming names this year) has a soup on its RW menu that is not on the regular menu, but it’s very similar to what is typically offered. There is an entree and a dessert that are on both the regular and RW menus. So, if you ordered a soup off the regular menu, and the entree and dessert that are on both menus, you’d end up paying about $25. The RW menu costs you $30 for two identical items and one that is very comparable.
That’s not appropriate, in my opinion, and there is a relatively small handful of restaurants doing exactly this.
However, most of the restaurants participating in Restaurant Week are trying to participate in good faith by following one of two paths: (1) their RW menu contains items that are quite different from their regular offerings (and usually represent a good deal); or (2) they’re offering things typically found on their regular menu, but at a discount.
Consequently, I was somewhat ill-informed, due to my own failure to carefully review the menus. No one called me on this. I discovered it myself and am letting folks know. I hate to lose an argument, but I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong.