Philly food is so much more than cheesesteaks. Let us show you.
The autumn incarnation of the Center City District Restaurant Week has been scheduled for two weeks in September, as the Monday through Friday of September 11-16 and 18-23. For those not aware, participating restaurants will offer guests a three-course dinner for $35 (and some a three-course lunch for $20) before tax and tip and not including drinks. In addition, the restaurants will also offer rushed service, flustered waitstaff, and crowds of people who would never otherwise go to these places, despite the whole idea of the program being to get patrons to try a restaurant for cheaper than usual and come back later for the full experience.
While the list of participants is impressive, the experience is almost guaranteed not to be. Restaurants are being slammed by customers looking for a deal, their menu is limited, and they’re potentially losing money with the RW guidelines of serving a $55-65 meal for $35 (not to mention the fee to participate). And we all know what a business will do when it starts losing money: trying to make up for it by dropping some quality, or portion size, or any number of things. Of course, some restaurants will be quality no matter what the price point. Zahav is on the list, and I can’t imagine them ever being less than stellar.
Marc Vetri, Philly food’s grumpy grandpa, also made the point a few years ago that the math doesn’t work out, either. If I go out with my wife for $35 a head ($70 total) and we each get two drinks at $10 each, we’re now at $110 for the meal, plus tax and tip. The two of us can get out of almost any restaurant in the city for $110, and get to pick our own food as well. The only time it really works out is at the steakhouses, for which the week is basically a discount on what you already get anyway.
Anyway, if Restaurant Week is your thing, be sure to check out the participants list on the Center City District website and book your tables well in advance, because there is sure to be a bevy of other people getting fleeced in the name of a “deal.”