During Philly's restaurant week we went to Mercato - a little Italian BYO on Spruce. I'd been dying to try it and rest week was the perfect excuse. We sat in a cozy corner in the back by the open air kitchen and cheers'd to another work week behind us. The food was surprising in a good way. I'm a tough crowd when it comes to Italian thanks to my mother and grandparents. But if a restaurant can get its marinara sauce right, its pretty likely most other dishes will follow suit. The marinara sauce was right. And the sicilian olive oil, too.
But I've never realized that there is a controversy that surrounds restaurant week. Every major city has one so you would think they're widely accepted. While in Philly a large majority of establishments participate, some of the best chefs in the city refuse to.
The naysayers have two problems. 1) There is no deal to be had with the fixed price menu - they say at most places the menu is actually equal to or more expensive than a regular night. 2) Being forced to order off of that "special" menu where you have to get one app, entree and dessert - so 1990s. People get heated. I actually got in a semi, not-newsworthy-at-all Twitter argument with a reputable chef about it all during the polar vortex.
And ok, if the Smith's from the suburbs want to go on date night in the city during restaurant week, good for them. They're experiencing what Philadelphians get right outside their door every day. If people feel they get duped, that's sad. I don't go for the "deal," and never thought I've gotten one. its not about that. And sometimes its fun to sample a few different courses. So simply, I partake because I love food, being around people (debatable) and want to support the city.
Independent of the argument, we picked a reputable place, basked in the warmth of a cozy and intimate atmosphere, enjoyed the food and didn't have a care in the world. Let's encourage people to have an excuse to go out and feel that same sense of enjoyment for whatever reason they want it to be, deal or no deal.