Hudson Valley Restaurant Week began today, March 14, for its fifth year; participating restaurants offer a three-course, prix-fixe dinner at $28 per person (plus beverage, tax and gratuity) and about three-quarters of them are also serving a three-course, prix-fixe lunch at $20 per person.
The name Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is mathematically misleading as the dining-deal program runs two weeks, beginning today, Monday, March 14 and ending on Sunday, March 27, 2011. Some restaurants do not offer the prix-fixe menus on Saturday and Sunday; many are closed on Mondays. At all restaurants, diners can opt to order from the regular menu instead of the prix-fixe menu.
In theory, restaurants join a restaurant-week program to attract new customers but in actuality most strive hard to generate a profit. Patrons shouldn’t expect a restaurant’s signature dish to be listed on the prix-fixe menu.
Seven New York State counties are represented in the coming 2011 program: Columbia, Dutchess, Orange, Putham, Rockland, Ulster, and Westchester. Last year, a late surge in registrants brought the total number of restaurants enrolled to 141 – a 60 percent increase over the previous year. Nearly sixty of these restaurants were located in Westchester County.
Restaurants pay an $800 fee to join the program and are encouraged to include at least three appetizers, three main courses and a choice of three desserts on their menus.
Upscale establishments that have signed up for the 2011 holding of RW include Crabtree's Kittle House in Chappaqua, Equus at the Castle on the Hudson in Tarrytown, Harvest on Hudson at Hastings-on-Hudson, Iron Horse Grill in Pleasantville, Lexington Square Cafe in Mount Kisco, Red Hat on the River in Irvington, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Tarrytown, The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry, Valley Restaurant at The Garrison, and X2O in Yonkers. These eateries tend to sell out fast for RW week.
The restaurants currently enrolled can be seen at www.hudsonvalleyrestaurantweek.com.
The program is conducted by The Valley Table, a food and culinary magazine published quarterly and headquartered in Newburgh, NY. Pros and cons associated with restaurant-week dining and tips for your visit follow:
Advantages for diners
- There has not been an increase in meal cost from last year. The prices for lunch and dinner are exactly the same as in 2010: $20 and $28 respectively.
- Prestigious participants. Many of the regions finest and most expensive dining establishments are represented.
- Wide restaurant participation. One hundred forty-one restaurants joined the program last year; the largest contingent was from Westchester County (approximately 60 eateries).
- Good value. The RW prices represent an inexpensive way to eat at many elite places at a fraction of the normal menu cost and to try previously unvisited restaurants.
- Menus posted in advance by many restaurants. More restaurants appear to be revealing their RW menus ahead of time than in earlier years.
Disadvantages for diners
- Less attentive wait staffs. Since RW patrons pay less for their meals, some waiters and waitresses may provide poor service assuming that tips received from these guests will be lower than received from other customers.
- No side-dish substitutions may be allowed. To alleviate the kitchen overload, some restaurants have adhered firmly to a no substitutions rule for side dishes even if the request is made for allergy reasons.
- Smaller portions. Restaurants may skimp in the portion sizes of their dishes to offset the reduced prices they must charge.
- Limited selection choice. Although RW’s organizers recommend that participating restaurants offer at least three entree choices, a few places have offered as little as two in the past. The customer is more likely to see items that cost the restaurant less in the marketplace than its most outstanding food.
- Seating time restrictions. A few restaurants have previously offered patrons the RW menu only during specific non-prime-time dining periods.
- Exempted days. Some restaurants exclude participation on Saturday or both Friday and Saturday. Not all restaurants offer the luncheon prix-fixe menu. Many are closed on Monday.
- Extra charges. Charges for incidentals normally provided free such as parking may automatically appear on the bill. A few restaurants add a $1.95 surcharge per person to the bill.
- Reserve quickly. Popular upscale restaurants will fill up fast.
- Be flexible. When you make your reservation, be prepared to ask what dates are still open should the one you prefer not be available.
- Arrive ahead of your reservation time. The most popular places will be packed to capacity. You may be asked to wait awhile.
- When seated, ask for the RW menu if not given one. Many hosts or waiters provide it only if it is requested.
Westchester County Participants by Location
Armonk: Marc Charles Steakhouse, Opus 465, Restaurant North
Chappaqua: Crabteee's Kittle House
Cortlandt Manor: Augie's Prime Cut, Cortlandt Colonial, The Woods at Hollow Brook
Dobbs Ferry: The Cookery, Orissa, Scaramella's
Hastings-on-Hudson: Harvest on Hudson
Irvington; Chutney Masala, Day Boat Cafe, Il Sorriso, Mima, Red Hat on the River, River City Grille
Katonah: La Fontane
Mamaroneck: Enzo's, Le Provencal Bistro, Turkish Meze, Zitoune
Mount Kisco: Cafe of Love, Lexington Square Cafe, Via Vantil
New Rochelle: Don Coqui, Posto 22
North Salem: 121 Restaurant
Peekskill: Birdsall House, Division Street Grill, Peekskill Brewery
Pleasantville: Iron Horse Grill
Port Chester: Sonora
Pound Ridge: DiNardo's
Rye: Morgan's Fish House, Ruby's Oyster Bar, Rye Grill & Bar
Scarsdale: Fig & Olive
Tarrytown: Bistro Z, Caravela, Equus, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Sweet Grass Grill, Tarry Tavern
Tuckahoe: The Tap House
White Plains: 42, 80 West, Hudson Grill, Legal Sea Foods, Melting Pot, Nikos
Yonkers: La Lanterna, Luciano's, Tombolino, X2O, Zuppa
Yorktown Heights: Thyme
Rockland County Participants by Location
Congers: Restaurant X and The Bully Boy, Rick's Club American
Haverstraw: Union Restaurant
Nyack: Hudson House of Nyack, Two Spear Street, Velo
Orangeburg: Il Fresco
Pomona: Mount Ivy Cafe
Suffern: Marcello's of Suffern, Ravi Continental
Tappan: Duke Ocean Grill, Il Portico
Putham County Participants by Location
Cold Spring: Cathryn's Tuscan Grill, Hudson House River Inn, Le Bouchon, Riverview
Garrison: Tavern, Valley Restaurant at the Garrison
Mahopac: Terrace Club