Dean Cutler, New York businessman, is a man of many tastes. As an art aficionado, vintage car collector, and experienced seaman, Cutler enjoys the finer things in life. This is especially true for dining, and discovering new dishes, hidden in the midst of New York City. For seasoned foodies and beginner diners alike, New York City Restaurant Week is one of the best places to start the search for a new favorite dish.
Twice a year, in June/July and January/February, tourists and residents have a special opportunity to taste some of the city’s finest cuisine at a fraction of the normal price. In all corners of the city, restaurants participate in the event. They offer a three-course lunch, usually for about $25, and some offer a dinner for just under $40.
On average, more than 300 restaurants participate and offer more than 20 types of cuisine. Cutler has visited other special dining events and has enjoyed them all. However, he asserts there is something unique about New York’s. Dressing to the nines and walking through the doors of a restaurant that most people otherwise could not afford is a fantastic feeling that only comes twice a year.
In these eateries, customers have access to a special menu at a fixed price. In general, diners can typically expect at least three options for an appetizer and entrée, and one choice for desert.
The extensive restaurant selection might seem daunting, especially for out-of-towners or novice foodies. However, Cutler says that with a little preparation, Restaurant Week can go from an overwhelming event to a spectacular, high-end dining rendezvous.
Choosing a Restaurant
This might seem like the most difficult part of the event. However, Cutler believes it is actually the best. It might take avid diners days to research and sort through menus, like the expansive offerings at The Palm. No matter what they are searching for, foodies are sure to find it at this event. Some choose establishments because their offerings are so ostentatious they may never have the chance to try it again. Others may choose a place that was featured in a film or television show they love.
Cutler recommends using sites like Chow Hound or Yelp to get peer reviews before making reservations. Restaurants will fill up quickly, so it is important to choose a good one. Otherwise, diners may be left out in the cold, with nowhere to eat, as other restaurants may no longer take reservations at the last minute. Cutler also adds that even establishments with great reputations might cut corners during the week just to accommodate the influx of customers. However, others may go above and beyond to impress.
Making a Reservation
When making a reservation, do not wait. Act early, as these venues fill up quickly. In addition to calling, diners may even be able to book online or through Opentable.com. In general, lunch and dinners are more accessible early on in the week, while reservations on Thursday and Friday are much more difficult to book.
Conducting Wine Research
On the day of the reservation, Cutler suggests checking the establishment’s website to see if they have a wine list online. If they do, conduct some research to find a great wine selection. This event is all about the finest dining, so make sure to choose a wine that complements the extravagant meal. Compare the restaurant’s wines online, and always have a backup choice, in case the establishment runs out of the first.
Cutler says to never select the cheapest bottle. Not only is it ill-fitting for the special meal, but it is also usually marked up the most. Rather, choose the second or third cheapest wine to get the most for the money.
It might seem like the event is the best deal around. While there are fantastic opportunities to discover new dishes and eateries, there are a few things beginners should watch out for.
Since so many people turn out for the event, wait times can be excruciating, and service may be slower than normal, when accommodating the intense volume of diners. In some cases food quality might decline a bit, as well. More inexpensive options, like chicken breast, might appear on the week’s menu, but not on a restaurant’s regular one.
In addition, portions may be smaller than normal. However, Cutler reminds diners that they are paying a fraction of the normal price, so this is to be expected. Considering a $50 bill is now reduced to $25, Cutler says this is till a fantastic deal. However, drinks, tax, or tip are not included in the fixed price, and diners should take this into consideration when budgeting for the event.
While customers might have to overlook a few drawbacks, restaurants may have to as well. The summer and winter, when these events are held, are often the slowest times for establishments. The event combats the lull and brings new people into restaurants around the city.
However, while this boosts diner volume for eateries, it may annoy some of their most frequent and loyal customers. It may also hurt tips for servers, as some diners are unaware that their tips are not included in the bill, and forgo leaving extra cash on the table for waiters and waitresses.
When searching for an extravagant and memorable dining experience, Cutler urges travelers and residents to keep the NYC Restaurant Week in mind. While there are a few challenges, Dean Cutler, New York foodie, says they are absolutely outweighed by the excitement and opportunity that the event offers diners.
Cutler has a plethora of experience and a diverse base of interests. He has created an astonishing range of successful businesses. He has led an auto parts dealership, a Laundromat, two real estate firms, and a recycling center. While these keep him busy, Dean Cutler, New York food enthusiast, pays close attention to his other hobbies, including dining, and collecting art and classic cars.