Tag: Recession RestaurantsView All Tags
Now that fewer people are eating out, some New York City restaurants seem to be adopting the fee-happy policies of your least favorite airlines. The New York Post reports that a few upscale joints have been sneaking formerly included items like bread and butter onto the bill to squeeze their remaining patrons of a few more dollars, like a 10 percent delivery charge at Nobu in Tribeca and a $2.50 supplement for cocktails made with ice at Morton's steakhouse.
We've been having fun watching fancy restaurants do everything they can to convince diners to keep eating out through the recession, and as much as we like $20 prix fixes and permanent Restaurant Week deals, this is what we've really been waiting for: prices measured in cents, not dollars.
Yep, Boston's Masa is the first high-end eatery we've seen offer a recession-friendly menu that drops the dollar sign. The chic South End restaurant, where chef Philip Aviles serves an inventive array of Southwestern tapas, constantly shows up on Boston "best-of" lists, and boasts a pricey menu to match. But stop by Masa on a weekday evening and if you're willing to sit in the bar area, you can down any of their tapas—like beer battered achiote shrimp, smoked jalapeno arepas and ahi tuna tartare—for 50 cents a pop. 50 cents! You can't even get a pack of gum that cheap anymore.
If you're feeling a little fancier, Masa is also offering their restaurant week menu for the entire month of March. At $33.09 for three full courses, it's a pretty fair deal as well, but we'll still be the ones counting quarters by the bar.
When you want a recession-friendly meal, you probably don't head directly to a museum. No, museum food just makes us think of $13 nicoise salads and the like.
But the Hollis Hip-Hop Museum is neither your typical museum or your average eatery. OK, museum is a bit of a stretch, seeing as how it is located entirely inside the Hollis Famous Burgers restaurant in Queens. While it might not supplant MoMA or the Met as New York's cultural epicenter anytime soon, it does have hundreds of items of hip-hop memorabilia, with a special emphasis on native sons of Queens, including a tribute to RUN-DMC's Jam Master Jay, who lived five blocks from the museum before he was shot and killed in 2002.
The museum has enough street cred that Darryl McDaniel (the DMC of RUN-DMC) turned out for its grand opening last week. And we like the pricing: $1 burgers and free admission. Beat that, MoMA!
· Putting Together a Hamburger, a Neighborhood and Hip-Hop [NYTimes]
· Museums Travel Coverage 
· Recession Restaurants coverage [Jaunted]
As a rule, gourmet food is among the only things that are never, ever free, but that maxim could be changing. New York's 81 is the first high-end restaurant we've seen try to lure in recession-addled customers by giving away the good stuff for free.
Finally, the US exports a food trend that doesn't suck.
As the financial crisis spreads far and wide, we're now seeing the idea of high-end recession menus show up further and further around the globe. Exhibit One is Auberge Micael, one of South Africa's only five-star restaurants. Set in Johannesburg's tony Sandtown neighborhood, this swank French resto is one of the country's best-reviewed eateries and a must-stop for any dedicated foodie passing through Jo'burg.
Philadelphia foodies may have been sad to see high-end bistro Matyson absent from the town's recent Restaurant Week list, but fear not, even classy standbys like this aren't above stooping to recession menus to reel customers in.
Actually, Matyson is offering one of the funniest recession-themed menus we've seen yet. At first glance you'd think they'd fallen to boring, cheap-ingredient soup kitchen meals, but look closer and you'll see the "spaghetti and meatballs" is spaghetti squash with beef and mushroom meatballs served in a parmesan froth, and the "tuna salad" is confit tuna topped with crispy olives and blood orange vinaigrette. They just can't help being fancy!
At $35, the four-course feast is a deal at this normally $25-an-entrée eatery, plus it's a BYOB, so you can even afford a (cheap) bottle of wine.
Photo: [Matt O'Hara]
Even before the market tanked, Depression-era watering holes were en vogue in a big way, with speakeasies, burlesque shows and classic cocktails abundant on both coasts. While the trend seemed a little kitschy at first, now that we're officially hurtling towards a depression, it's starting to feel a little more like home.
One of LA's most authentic early-Twentieth Century spots is downtown's unsuspecting Edison Lounge. Set in a former power plant, Edison is a huge, open, brick-walled loft with lots of sneaky little hideaway spots to lounge in gigantic antique leather sofas while sipping a "Hemingway" absinthe-and-Champagne cocktail along with simple-but-delicious depression eats like deviled eggs and Dungeness crab salad.
The problem is that places with Great Depression themes like this tend to have decidedly 2009 pricing schemes. But now that the Depression meme is becoming less of a joke, Edison has a '30s imitation we can bet behind. Every Friday from 5pm to 7pm, the lounge is offering free depression eats (grilled cheese melts and tomato soup) along with 35-cent martinis and other special depression cocktails, like the 401(k), a gin cocktail served in a half-empty glass. Kitschy idea, yes; but there's nothing kitschy about 35-cent drinks.
Photo: [Edison Lounge]
It's a depressing time for foodies. No one has the money to keep eating those Kobe steaks and white truffles we’re all so used to, and even though plenty of restaurants are rolling out recession specials, the perpetually horrible weather throughout much of the country is making leaving the house a bone-shivering ordeal, so it had better be a damn good deal.
So our favorite special we've seen yet is one that combines our wallet and weather woes—the Snow Emergency Deal at Boston's favorite high-end pasta house, Prezza. One of about a hundred Italian places packed into Boston's North End neighborhood, Prezza is a critic's darling—and a $40-an-entrée consumer's nightmare. But now, any time it snows in Boston (which, is, um, way too often) diners at Prezza are treated to a free order of housemade potato gnocchi Bolognase.
Seriously, free. OK, there is one catch--you gotta buy a glass of wine--but still, that's a pretty hefty savings!
Suddenly, it seems every high-end restaurant in the country is coming out with discount menus in a desperate attempt to keep their tables full. The problem with all these Restaurant Week menus and recession deals is that they always offer a good value for three courses, but that's assuming you would order three courses anyway.
The truth is, you end up spending $40 a person on three courses, but if you had ordered off the regular menu, you would have spent $25 on one great course and been just as happy. Which is fine for normal times, but with everyone's wallets squeezed, we're looking for some serious deals.
The disastrous economy has made New York's latest Restaurant Week even more popular than usual—and the powers-that-be are even considering extending it through February at all 250 participating restaurants. But for many of the struggling high-end restos, even that's not enough.
Fortunately for cheapskate foodies, many owners are taking it into their own hands, and L'Absinthe is the latest eatery to debut a full-time RW-style menu.
L'Absinthe, a high-end French brasserie on the Upper East Side, is serving up a three-course prix fixe dinner menu (available Monday-Friday) for $30.09. And it's not one of those extremely limited RW menus, either. There are four-to-five choices in each course, and with offerings like salmon tartare, pike quenelles in lobster broth, and fresh profiterolles with vanilla ice cream, you really are getting a meal that would normally run $50 or more.
So, not exactly one for the penny-pinching crowd, but if you're in town and looking for the full Paris-via-New York dining experience, this is one place where you can taste the high life and still afford a ticket home.
[Photo: Great Restaurants Mag]
Recession Restos aren't just for the US. This financial crisis thing-y is global, and everyone everywhere still has to eat (lavishly).
Heading across the pond, we're looking at Electric Brasserie, a see-and-be-seen hot spot in London's trendy Notting Hill 'hood. Electric is actually kind of a complex, with a sleek bar-and-restaurant next to the Electric Cinema, where you can grab some Champagne and chill on a sofa for two while watching a first-run movie.
But even dinner theaters are having trouble reeling them in nowadays, and Electric is offering a pretty sweet mid-week deal. On Mondays to Wednesdays, you can get a three-course meal and a movie for £28.50 ($42). If you're familiar with London (over)pricing, you know that's a pretty good deal for a menu of steak tartare, pork belly and sticky toffee pudding, followed by a feature film ("The Wrestler," "Waltz with Bashir" and "Rachael Getting Married" are playing this week).
[Photo: Electric Brasserie]
If you're headed to LA and are at all interested in sweet treats, carve out some time for Diddy Riese, the ice cream sandwich shop based in Westwood Village near UCLA.
For those of you picturing a Chipwhich, think again. These creamy creations are warm, freshly-baked giant cookies overstuffed with gobs of Dreyer's ice cream. And even though celebs have been known to stop by on occasion and we're considering flying cross country just to get one, Diddy still sells the things for the unbelievably recession-friendly price of $1.50!
The only problem of course, is how to choose the perfect cookie-ice cream combo. (We think we've perfected it: Chocolate chip top, cookie dough ice cream middle, white chocolate chip bottom.) But for those of you still working on your own ideal flavor trio, check out Diddy's new online sandwich builder, which lets you experiment with different cookie-and-cream combos to your heart's content. Just a warning that it can lead to drooling and staring at cookies for the rest of the day.
[Photo: Diddy Riese]