It was back in 1992 that Tim Zagat (of Survey fame) and Joe Baum (of famous restaurant fame) cooked up the idea for New York City Restaurant Week. Fifteen-thousand reporters were swarming into town to cover the Democratic National Convention, and Zagat and Baum figured if eateries offered bargain prix-fixe meals they would create some happy buzz for themselves among a group that might otherwise hit the nearest Burger King. It would probably be a money loser, but it would pay off in long-term benefits for the city’s restaurant business. As everyone knows, the idea proved to be such a huge success with residents and visitors alike, it’s been repeated annually ever since (twice a year of late), and has spread to other cities across the country.
A few years ago, Janet Crawshaw, publisher of the Valley Table, organized a Restaurant Week for the Hudson Valley, the first (and maybe only) regional effort — the promo tagline is “114 miles of Food.” Local foodies rejoiced, and we’ve had our own RW ever since. The chefs who took part last year estimated that they prepared more than 150,000 meals during the Week — a staggering amount. This year will be the fifth Restaurant Week for us, with even more eateries taking part: 70-plus in the Hudson Valley, and another 80 or so in Westchester, if you’re up for a drive. The “week” runs from March 14 to 27 — 14 days and 28 meals, if you work it right. Prices are the same terrific bargains as last year: three courses for $20 at lunch, $28 at dinner. Drinks, tax and tips are extra, of course.
Diners are served at the swanky Escoffier at the CIA, on the HV Restaurant Week roster for the first time
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This is a wonderful chance to sample restaurants you may not ordinarily be able to afford, or that you might not usually try — and we all deserve a treat after this long, horrible winter. Reserve as soon as you can — the spots go fast, particularly at the posher places. Many restaurants don’t offer the special deal on Saturday nights, and a few don’t include Friday nights either.
One important note: Tip generously. You’ll be getting a deal, but those who serve you shouldn’t have to suffer a dip in income.
The places where I ate during last year’s Week were packed, and the mood was merry — everyone chatting about which other restaurants we’d tried. You can find the complete list of participating restaurants here.
I’d love to hear about your experiences, particularly if you’re heading to one of the newer spots, or one in a far-flung part of the Valley that I don’t often get to. I’ve eaten at most mid-Hudson spots, but I’m curious about The Greens in Copake; Bistro Lilly in Goshen; and Rick’s Club American, Two Spear Street, and Confetti down in Rockland County, which seems to pack a lot of good restaurants into a tiny bit of real estate.
Have fun! Bon appetit!