A city makes a culinary statement when it hosts a Restaurant Week. Major cities such as New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, San Diego, New Orleans â€” and yes, Salt Lake City â€” host a week of dining deals in participating restaurants.
Ogden is launching its own Restaurant Week, beginning Friday and running through April 21 â€” and the winners are the customers.
More than a dozen locally owned restaurants are offering a two-course lunch for $8. Most are also offering a three-course dinner priced at $15. A few of the restaurants, such as Bistro 258 and The Hilton Garden Inn, are offering a special three-course dinner for $30.
As of press time, participating restaurants include Sonora Grill, Tona Sushi Bar and Grill, Roosters Brewing Company, MacCoolâ€™s Public House, Union Grill, Bistro 258, Rovaliâ€™s Ristorante Italiano, Slackwater Pizzeria and Pub, The Garden Grill and Lounge, Restaurant 1107, Jasoh!, Prairie Schooner, El Matador, Bangkok Garden and Santa Monica Pizza and Pasta.
You can check the website www.ogdenrestaurantweek.com to see if any other eateries have decided to jump on the Restaurant Week bandwagon.
Restaurant Week offers a chance to get out of your usual â€śfavorite restaurantâ€ť rut and explore some new places without breaking your budget. Often, by the time people invest in the cost of a meal (and possibly a baby sitter), it seems â€śsaferâ€ť to pick the familiar place, and even the same entrĂ©e.
But when youâ€™re getting a bit of a dining bargain, well, why not try something new?
The concept is similar to that of the fast-food combo meal. The fixed-price dinner usually includes a salad, entree and dessert. If you ordered these three courses separately, you would pay a lot more than the $15 or $30 Restaurant Week price.
Keep in mind that not ALL of the restaurantâ€™s entrees are going to be on special. Patrons should ask for the Restaurant Week menu. According to organizers, each restaurant will have a few entrĂ©e choices on their special menu, and those choices will remain consistent throughout Restaurant Week.
Here is a sampling:
â€˘ The Hilton Garden Innâ€™s $30 three-course menu is an appetizer course of a Crab & Avocado Tower, a Reconstructed Caesar Salad or Tuna Tartare; an entrĂ©e choice of Boursin-Stuffed Chicken, Crab Cappellini or Dynamite Salmon; and choice of CrĂ¨me Brulee or Caramel Apple Vulette for dessert.
â€˘ At Rovaliâ€™s, the $8 lunch is a choice of soup or salad with a choice of a 6-inch Italian sandwich, lasagna or fettucine Alfredo. The three-course $15 dinner is soup or salad; an entrĂ©e choice of Spicy Sausage Penne, lasagna or spaghetti; and a dessert choice of a cream puff or cupcake.
â€˘ At Roosterâ€™s, the $8 lunch is an appetizer choice of Deep-Fried Beehive Cheese Curds, Hot Shrimp Kiss Skewers, bacon-wrapped shrimp, Asian Lettuce Wraps, or the house soup or salad with an entree choice of Pesto Chicken Pizza, Blackened Salmon Sandwich, Chicken Vera Cruz, Lemony Shrimp Capellini or a Naughty Burger.
The three-course dinner includes a choice of the appetizers listed above; an entrĂ©e choice of Turkey and Green Chili Enchiladas, Southwestern Pork Loin Chops, Crispy Coconut Shrimp, or Seafood and Sausage Jambalaya; and dessert choice of Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake, Caramel Bread Pudding or Cookies and Cream Cheesecake.
On the website, www.ogdenrestaurantweek.com, thereâ€™s a prize drawing where one lucky winner gets a $25 gift certificate to each of the participating restaurants. That could keep someone in date-night dinners for quite a while.
As of my column deadline, 209 entries were submitted, so the chances of winning are pretty good.
From my experiences with the Salt Lake city event, here are a few tips for what to expect with Ogdenâ€™s Restaurant Week:
1. Drinks, tips and tax arenâ€™t included in the price.
2. The price is only good for the Restaurant Week menu, not the restaurantâ€™s complete menu.
3. If youâ€™ve got a picky palate, call the restaurant ahead of time and ask what the Restaurant Week specials are. Otherwise, you may get to the restaurant, find out you donâ€™t like the choices and end up ordering from the regular menu at the usual price. No loss â€” but no big savings, either.
4. You may want to make reservations, especially if youâ€™re going with a large group. Some restaurants donâ€™t take reservations, but they may also fill up quickly during Restaurant Week. You might want go a little earlier or later to avoid the usual lunch or dinner rush.
Valerie Phillips blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com.