I’ll confess: I love restaurant week. Every March and November I look forward to eating at lots of restaurants for not a lot of money and I plan for it like one of those discount-obsessed couponers on TLC. So, you can imagine how disappointing it is to find that a lot of restaurants substitute low-cost items for the dishes I’ve been dying to try. Sorry, I don’t want a bland chicken, another seared salmon with sautéed green vegetables, or linguine with cream and peas. This spring, to get ready for restaurant week (March 7-20), I read nearly 100 menus to find these seven restaurants where you can find actual items from the menu, get a good bang for your buck, and have an enjoyable (and affordable) night out.
Why: Chef Nick Di Bona just overhauled the menu at this Larchmont hot spot to feature mostly small plates. Go with a small group and you can sample nearly everything on the new menu without emptying your wallet.
The Perfect Meal: You can pick any three small plates from a list of more than 25 dishes. Choose wisely to get the best value. Try some of the less expensive dishes like truffle arancini with pecorino and provolone, eggplant meatballs, and patatas bravas, and pair them with dishes that boast a bigger price tag like “everything” crusted tuna, New Zealand lamb lollipops, and grilled hanger steak. Dessert is all about Di Bona’s small-batch Bona Bona ice cream (rainbow cookie, salted caramel, and backyard mint chip are some of our favorite flavors).
7 Madison Ave
Why: When Campagna opened in Bedford in 2014, Chef Michael White brought his critically acclaimed, handmade pastas to Westchester. Unfortunately, he also brought New York City pricing.
The Perfect Meal: Start with a simple salad or the white bean soup with soppressata and kale chips. The flat iron steak is probably a decent value, but I wouldn’t go to Campagna without sampling one of the pastas like garganelli with prosciutto, radicchio, and truffle butter. Round out the meal with the artistically presented caramel bar with cardamom gelato.
954 Old Post Rd
Cedar Street Grill
Why: Plain and simple, Cedar Street Grill does what all restaurants should be doing during restaurant week—they keep many of their classic dishes on the menu.
The Perfect Meal: Start with the crispy Brussels sprouts with bacon, almonds and Crown Maple syrup, or the creamy tomato soup with brioche croutons. Then try the buttermilk fried chicken with crisp herbs and sriracha-maple syrup or the shrimp and cheddar grits with Andouille sausage and Old Bay. If you can handle a little more comfort food, cap the night with warm bread pudding with bananas and nutella, topped with salted caramel ice cream.
23 Cedar St
Why: There aren’t many places where you get more bang for your buck than La Panetière: You won’t find a single entrée under $34 on their regular menu. Dinner at this institution is as much about the spectacular service as the food, and luckily that’s included for no extra charge.
The Perfect Meal: Start with the “satiny” cauliflower soup with pancetta, crispy shallots, and broccolini. Then choose from roasted pork tenderloin with potato mousseline and mushroom-Madeira sauce or duck leg confit with wheat berries and carrot vichyssoise. The meal ends with a trio of French desserts.
530 Milton Rd
Why: Fine-dining restaurants can offer big savings during restaurant week, but they’re not the only way to get your money’s worth. Less expensive restaurants find creative ways to make their menus appeal to you wallet too. At The Parlor, where most pizzas cost $15-$18, you’d likely break even for three courses, so they’re sweetening the deal by including wine, beer, or a slushie cocktail with your meal.
The Perfect Meal: Pick a beer or one of the adult slushie cocktails. Then start your meal with coffee-smoked pork ribs or keep it lighter with a fennel, butternut squash, bacon-caramel popcorn, and blue cheese salad. Follow it up with one of the pizzas—bone marrow and vin cotto, lemon and smoked scamorza, and the sausage pie with aged goat cheese are three of our favorites—then finish with a brookie.
14 Cedar St
Frankie & Johnnie’s
Why: Steakhouse dinners are notoriously expensive, with quality steaks starting at $40-$50.
The Perfect Meal: If you’re going to get carnivorous, go big or go home. Start with the applewood-smoked bacon and then follow with the 10-ounce New York strip steak. For dessert (not that you’ll have much room) choose from classics like crème brulee or rice pudding.
77 Purchase St
Peter Pratt’s Inn
Why: The Revolutionary War-era charm is there whether you’re paying full price or not. Luckily, the menu doesn’t disappoint either.
The Perfect Meal: Choose from salad, soup, or crab hushpuppies for your first course. Then stick with the smoked and braised short rib with creamy roasted poblano or the Moroccan lamb burger with minted yogurt sauce. For dessert, crème brulee is always a solid choice, but I’d tend toward the sticky date cake with warm toffee sauce.
673 Croton Heights Rd
See who else is participating (130 restaurants in Westchester), browse menus, and make reservations at www.valleytable.com/hvrw