It appears that some San Diego restaurateurs think of Restaurant Week as an easy way to fill seats without having to give good service or present a menu that showcases the regular menu.  And many customers are grumbling about the added 20 percent “service charge” or tip, especially at the $40 dinners.  Diners beware that a $40 dinner does not include tax and tip or beverages, so, at the bare minimum, your tab will be roughly $50 before you’ve sipped even a soda. With that tab, you might want to consider dining off the regular menu, if that is available.

Restaurants that put that 20 percent tip on the bill with service that doesn’t match, do themselves a huge disservice to diners. Why?  Because many people use this week as a time to try a new place, but if they feel they’ve been ripped off because of so-so service or an unispired menu, they won’t return, ever.

Let’s hear from you about your experiences during this week and what do you think of the three-tiered pricing?  New York, (where this idea began in the 1990’s) now has more than 250 restaurants at a fixed $35 dinner, plus tax and tip.  Would this be a better idea for San Diego’s Restaurant Week?

9 thoughts on “Restaurant Week

  1. The Marine Room did this to me three years ago and I have not, and will not go back there ever again. I also give poor recommendations to anyone that considers it, unless they want a good view.

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  2. So far my wife and I have been to Market (Del Mar) and had an outstanding experience! It was our first time and the menu was inspiring, service exceptional and wine pairings great as well. But I do agree that if the establishment has not carefully planned the experience, it could be to their own detriment. Off to Nine-Ten tonight!!!

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  3. I ate at Cafe Chloe last night & it was wonderful! Service staff was great & the food was outstanding. It was a $30 RW menu or you could include a wine pairing with each course for $45 which we immediately jumped on. Had a great time! Favorites : Bistro Salad & Steak & Frites.

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  4. I agree with David and Sabrina. Market is probably the most exquisite restaurant in the county. I went decidedly more casual this week and went to Red Pearl Kitchen. After selecting an item from each one of the four courses the waiter came back from the kitchen and said they made a change. They decided to serve us EVERY single item from the menu for the $30 price which was about 12 dishes. After about six appetizers the two of us were stuffed…so what did they do? They boxed up every one of the entrees so we could enjoy them at home. We did manage to get down one dessert. What a special treat and an amazing impression they left.

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  5. Well, stating the obvious first… I wasn’t planning on going to any of the $40 pp options as it’s just not our cup of tea to drop $100+ on dinner for 2. That said, while restaurant week is a lot of fun, the one place we went to we just didn’t like what they had on the fixed menu. We ended up spending less money and getting what we wanted.

    With that said, I love the concept. If it gets more people out, great.

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  6. In my experience it’s a tough situation for both diners and restaurants. Not only are the places a bit crowded, the menu is limited to accommodate the traffic and rarely represents what the kitchen is capable of producing.

    So in the end, a “nice” time is usually had by all, but rarely is anyone ecstatic about it.

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  7. Now that it’s over I wonder how much of an impact it made during a down economy. I wonder how it compared to last years in terms of people hitting spots.

    The wife and I were going to try some new places, but the menu’s we saw didn’t do much.

    Back to the Farmhouse for us!

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  8. We always use restaurant week as a means of trying places we have wanted to try and just didn’t get to. This year we tried several and were fairly pleased except at Red Tractons. We had reservations but were kept standing in the doorway while the hostess and manager discussed where to put us. The hostess kept going into the dining room and coming back and discussing more with the manager while we stood there and neither one of them said a word to us. I don’t see why it was so hard to find us a table. We were finally put out on the patio while everyone else who came in was seated in the dining room. It was obvious that all these people were locals since they spoke to the hostess and she referred to them by name. We were the only people on the patio for our entire meal until another restaurant week couple was seated there while we finished our dessert. We were never offered the regular menu, just the restaurant week menu which was totally uninspired. The service was mediocre as our server had to keep coming out to the patio from the main dining room and since we were the only ones out there that was few and far between. The food was alright, nothing to rave about but the whole experience left us with the attitude that the restuarant didn’t really care if we ever came back since they had their local clientele. We won’t ever go back

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  9. This year my husband and I went for some place we had never thought of trying, Pamplemousse Grille. We had a late dinner on a Sunday night but they were plenty busy. The food was excellent with a good selection from there normal menu, however they even had a few substitutions you were able to choose as upgrades (for $10-$15).
    And the service was fantastic. Even with the late hour and the two of us being Restaurant Week customers the Manager made it to our table to ask how the food and service was and to ask if we had any questions about the regular menu. Created a very friendly and inviting experience for us.

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