I feel like Restaurant Week is an unofficial holiday in New York City. This bi-annual event unlocks the door to restaurants otherwise reserved for bankers and ballers, and instead lets the average, aspiring foodie enjoy an affordable $25 lunch or $35 dinner. Restaurant Week(s) is actually a period of two weeks, organized by NYC & Co., and occurs once each winter and summer. Once NYC releases the participating restaurants for that season, it is a mad dash to OpenTable to snatch up the best reservations.
Since I moved to New York, I have had a standing Restaurant Week date with my friend Lauren. Within probably three to four minutes of receiving the Restaurant Week e-mail announcement, one of us will e-mail the other a list of five restaurant possibilities. From there, we each eliminate an option until we whittle down the results to one, highly anticipated, menu-meticulously-analyzed, dining destination. For this summer’s session, we decided on a South American eatery called Rayuela. (Does anyone know how to pronounce Rayuela anyway? We still don’t!)
Last night we arrived at Rayuela and were greeted with an overly enticing cocktail menu. We each ordered a SkinnyGirl Margarita-ish drink called the Piña Partida (fresh pineapple, English cucumber, lemon, agave nectar and Siebra Azul Tequila) as we mulled over the Restaurant Week Menu. Here is where I usually get into trouble. Restaurant Week menus typically offer three options for a first and second course, plus dessert, but I often find myself tempted by an entrée on the regular menu, thus negating any cost benefits of Restaurant Week. This was not the case at Rayuela—everything looked divine. I settled on a corvine carpaccio and calarmari ceviche, roasted lamb with chile-tamarind sauce and red velvet cake. Oh, and the complimentary gazpacho and Colombian roll with olive flavored butter were notable additions to the meal. A blissful food coma ensued shortly thereafter.
If you’re sitting there in a fit of bitter jealously (if not, you probably should be!), don’t worry, Restaurant Week is still rocking through Sunday. A little OpenTable holla will set you right!