In theory, the prix fixe promotions on offer during Restaurant Week (January 18-29) serve as a low-pressure, high-yield audition for people to try restaurants whose price points or atypical offerings may otherwise daunt and discourage the casual eater. Detangling the genuine opportunities from the “deals in name only” can take a bit of investigation and number crunching. The math can be a little esoteric — how do you calculate the savings when a restaurant is offering food not on its normal menu?
Some of the supposed deals will end up costing you more than if you’d ordered a la carte before or after Restaurant Week. That’s why, in our annual tradition, we’ve narrowed down and highlighted the best and worst dining deals this next week to help keep both your belly and wallet full.
THE BEST DEALS
Roka Akor’s $65 four-course dinner includes an appetizer, five-piece chef’s selection of sashimi, entree, and dessert. The promotion include a half-portion of chef’s selection sashim, which typically fetches $41 on the regular menu; for Restaurant Week; the offer saves you an average of $27 dollars.
This cozy spot in the Outer Richmond offers a four-course tasting menu that for $40 includes pan-seared Chinook salmon and slow-braised beef cheeks. The deal requires the whole table to participate; if you do, you can save $28 per guest, which, serendipitously, is the cost of a per-guest beverage pairing.
A $40 four-course dinner that includes a ribeye steak taco and lobster roll as options for appetizer and entree, respectively, is on the menu at Mezcalito. Other selections include a cauliflower soup (second course) and prime petite filet (entree), which aren’t included in the regular menu. With that in mind, this deal saves you an average of $13.
Izzy’s Steaks and Chops
The Cow Hollow steakhouse has a three-course dinner for $40 that includes a fried oysters appetizer and blackened prime rib entree. The promotion includes a vegetarian-friendly lentil shepherd’s pie, which Izzy’s normally doesn’t offer, giving you the perfect opportunity to take your vegetarian friend or partner along with you to enjoy a steak and save an average of $8.50.
Like many restaurants offering Restaurant Week deals, Burritt Room offers a chance to eat dishes not normally served on the menu. This makes calculating savings a tricky enterprise, though half of the items available on the $65 three-course meal aren’t regular fare or have relative counterparts on the existing menu. However, a cocktail pairing with each course offers a great value.
Update, 1/20, 3:25 p.m.: Burritt Room was initially on the worst deals list, until the restaurant informed Eater that the menu posted on the Restaurant Week web site did not include the cocktail pairings that come with each course. With that in mind, Burritt Room catapults into the best deals list.
Serpentine offers a $40 three-course meal that includes potato dumplings, seared yellow fin, and braised short rib as entrees. Selecting the vegetarian combination of items leaves you at least breaking even, and that’s before factoring in the hush puppy amuse bouche. At best you’ll save $13.
Update, 1/24, 11:26 a.m.: Serpentine was initially on the worst deals list, until the restaurant informed Eater that the menu posted on the Restaurant Week web site did not include the amuse bouche. With that in mind, Serpentine has also moved to the best deals list.
THE WORST DEALS
Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack
Emmy’s Restaurant Week deal is a $40 three-course meal with a generous selection of options to choose from — six appetizers and five entrees. However, it tops the worst deals because any combination of appetizer, entree, and dessert is cheaper if you just ordered a la carte. Eating here, you risk losing anywhere between $12.50 and $2.50. Even if it included a drink (which the promotional menu doesn’t suggest), you’d be barely breaking even.
La Mar Cebicheria
One of the difficulties in compiling a list like this is the trend of restaurants offering promotional prices on dishes they don’t normally serve. If the squash soup or what-have-you was good and really reflective of the restaurant’s skills, wouldn’t it be offered normally instead of doling it out eleven days a year for the people looking for a deal? La Mar gets an honorable mention as a worst deal because only one dish on its $65 three-course dinner is available on the menu, making the monetary and epicurean value of the offer unascertainable to the budget-minded eater.