The Love that Dare Not Speak its Gnome

6th February 2011

I’m in New York because Travelocity sent me here to check out Restaurant Week with their Roaming Gnome. As it turns out, Restaurant Week is delicious.

So. I am now officially booking all of my trips around Restaurant Weeks in various cities. This is what I had for dinner at Asia de Cuba:

Beef Dumplings Two Ways, the fried ones with plum sauce, the steamed ones with coconut rice and mango ponzu,

Thai Spiced Salad, with crispy coconut,

Honey-Rhum Glazed Pot Roast of Pork, with bok choy, plantains, and Enoki mushrooms,

And Coconut Invasion layer cake, which led to all sorts of off color joking at the table.

All of it was $35.

But the cocktails, my friends, those are worth a splurge. The cocktails will leave you educated.

I’m irritated by drinks that out-price gold by the ounce, but arrive with sugared rims that pucker your mouth compared to the syrupy sludge in the glass. If I wanted Kool-Aid, I wouldn’t pay $14 for the pleasure of having you chill it in a shaker, barkeep. At Asia de Cuba, we had pleasantly bitter Caipirinhas, mint-forward Mojitos, and a Mango-Passionfruit Margarita that still felt like a reasonable way to treat good tequila. That’s not easy to do.

In short, I’ve gained 15 pounds in the last three days. But you know who doesn’t care?

The Gnome loves me just the way I am. At least I assume so. He has that “I adore you, despite your ill-fitting jeans” look in his eye, you know?

I find that very attractive in a gnome.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. We’re just good friends.

But that was a fine meal.

Does your city have a version of Restaurant Week? Any recs for restaurants that do it right? Also, can I crash on your couch after dinner?

34 thoughts on “The Love that Dare Not Speak its Gnome

  1. erniebufflo

    Charleston, SC, where I lived for 3 years, has an amazing restaurant week. McCradys and Husk are definite must visits so you can experience the wonder that is James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock. FIG, with another award-winner, Mike Lata, is also amazing, and shrimp’n’grits at 82 Queen are also a must-try. On your last morning there, have brunch at Virginia’s on King with a bottomless mimosa, or check out the Big Nasty biscuit at the Hominy Grill.

  2. Alissa

    In Madison, we actually have two restaurant weeks, one in the winter, one in the summer. If you’re going to visit for it, I highly suggest the summer one, as it’s easier to travel here when it’s not snow season.

  3. Laura

    Dallas does Restaurant Week in mid-August and the proceeds go to the North Texas Food Bank.

    York Street is always a winner. Small, local, seasonal, and amazing. Or Abacus. It’s usually $100/person, so RW is sooo the way to go. I’ve never been able to get a reservation at The Mansion at Turtle Creek, but that probably speaks to its awesomeness.

  4. Laura

    We have it here in Vancouver too! It’s called Dine Out Vancouver and was started several years ago (I think at least 7 or 8 years ago) to boost restaurant seatings during their slow season right after Christmas. It is now so successful that different neighbourhoods have started doing their own separate ones during a separate week (i.e. Taste of Yaletown in the fall) AND participating in Dine Out Vancouver! It’s so much fun to peruse the different restaurants’ prix fixe menus ahead of time and decide where you want to go based on that. Reservations a very, very good idea though, they usually all book up. The only ones I don’t recommend are the chain restaurants that are trying to get on the bandwagon by just grouping several of their regular menu items together into three courses for a fixed price that generally doesn’t even represent much of a discount, if any.

    You JUST missed Dine Out Vancouver, today is the last day this year! But it will be on again next February.

  5. Beth

    Another vote for Madison, Wi… we just had ours…some resturants include lunch for $15 vs. the dinner $ 25 price tag, but either way great food at a great price.

  6. Christy

    Philadelphia does it twice a year– 3 courses for $35. I try to go to at least one restaurant per Restaurant Week. Lots of great restaurants in Philly but I love Amada and Tinto- both Jose Garces (of Iron Chef fame) restaurants. The choices are plentiful and you get a great selection of food for your money during Restaurant Week.

    Enjoy NYC!

  7. Lynda

    HAHA! You and the gnome are hilarious!
    Yes, my city, Vancouver, Canada DOES have a deal on restaurant meals once a year called Dine out Vancouver. You are welcome to crash on my couch anytime……AND, I can one up this – WE OWN A RESTAURANT HERE! :D

  8. ElJay

    Minneapolis’s is 2/27 – 3/4, so you could hop on over here after Chicago!'llbe/180719.asp I live downtown, so about half of the participating restaurants are within stumbling distance of my couch.

    There are a couple of definite hits on the list, including Red Stag, Bradstreet Crafthouse, Saffron, and Meritage.

  9. Karen

    We have a few in Worcester, MA. One in Winter, one in summer, and one usually pops up again during the year. The restaurants that participate agree to a set price for a three course meal. The set price depends on what year it is. So, this year, the price is $22.11. And that’s right, last year it was $22.10. Up a penny a year. The best restaurants on our list are 111 Chop House and Via.

  10. Harriet May

    You just missed Restaurant Week here in Charlotte, NC. But it’s ok, because it feels like it’s always Restaurant Week to me, so it’ll come around again soon. I recommend Vivace and Sonoma, my faves. I think that the Travelocity Knome should take you out here!

  11. Kim

    Winterlicious and Summerlicious in Toronto. I’ve had many wonderful meals at discounted prices, but I know that employees of restaurants tend to hate it. Servers here refer to it at Waterlicious because the patrons that come out tend to ask for “just tap water” instead of booze, so they’re not making any money off of them. One of the restaurants in Toronto has a “Serverlicious” afterwards where servers regal each other with stories of horrible customers and the worst story wins a dinner. My favourite story is the one that ends with ‘Dude, he just didn’t like your face’:

  12. Sarah

    DC has two Restaurant Weeks (January and August), plus we get the benefits of other Restaurant Weeks in the suburbs (Bethesda, Arlington, and Alexandria).
    In DC, Bibiana, DC Coast, and Acadiana are great choices. Lots of choices with only a few upcharges.

  13. Joelle

    Washington DC does a halfway decent Restaurant week that I can never scrape up enough money to do. But! This year, due to bad weather and popularity, a few restaurants are extending, and we’re heading to Chima tomorrow!

    After going to see Fred and Ginger at AFI tonight.

  14. steph

    We do! Birmingham, AL has a restaurant week. Now, I will not lie to you, we have a long way to go before we are an amazing destination (investments are being made, we are working on it!), but our food will be one of the things that takes us there. For a city the size of Birmingham, we have an amazing collection of restaurants. I am so spoiled! Whenever I go out of town I am disappointed that other cities don’t care about food like we do. We have fairly inexpensive really good food and we treat our chefs like rock stars (See Frank Stitt, Chris Hastings, and George Sarris). The Birmingham Restaurant Week site has not been updated for 2011 yet, but just add it to your list: Seriously – anything from local/organic/gourmet to folks cooking catfish and BBQ on the side of the road… Great town for foods!

  15. Fabs

    We don’t have restaurant week where I live, but it sounds like a good reason to get out of town! So, how does it work? Is it really packed at all of the restaurants? Do you have to make reservations way in advance?

  16. amy

    Denver’s restaurant week is coming up Feb. 26th. A dinner for 2 is $52.80. Get it? Because we’re the mile high city? Anyway, it’s a great deal.

  17. Kayjayoh

    I’ll third the suggestion of Madison, WI..especially the summer restaurant week. (And hey, there are enough of us that we could do a Restaurant Week meet-up.)

    I’m excited to note that the summer restaurant week also takes place during Concerts on the Square season. Thank god it will be biking weather, or I’d start to resemble a weeble-wobble.

  18. Jessica

    There is a restaurant week in Charlotte, NC (aka “The Queen’s Feast”). I know it’s wildly popular and successful, but I’ve yet to partake because of the lack of vegetarian menus. However, my meat-eating friends have only the greatest things to say about it.

  19. Maren

    Dine Out Roseville (a large suburb of Sacramento) actually lasts all of October, I think, which nicely covers my birthday and our dating anniversary. Last year we got wonderful French food for $25 a person at La Provence bistro. It’s the time to hit Crush 29, Paul Martin, and the other over-priced fancy restaurants in town as well, where the food is good but never quite worth what they charge.

  20. Roshni

    San Francisco does one called “Dine About Town” and a three course meal is $35. It happens twice a year, you just missed the January one. I love Chaya ( and love that their bread pudding is a part of it!

  21. cousin Colleen

    Restaurant Week? You make me laugh!

    White, SD has one greasy spoon, open for breakfast and lunch, in the ground floor of the long-defunct Palace Hotel. It has it’s own charm, though. When I first visited shortly after moving here, the regulars already knew who I was. Small-town charm at its best!

  22. Tom @ hello kitty costumes

    Looks yummy!! nice place and the food looks so
    yummy. feel craving while reading your article.

  23. Anne Phillips

    Denver’s restaurant week this year is coming right up Feb 21-27 and it’s time to make reservations. Restaurants all over town offer (usually) 3-course dinners for $52.80 for two. (get it? mile high city…) You can bunk with me. Bring Hank if he’s willing to play with mine (2.5 and 5 months).

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