Personally, I have no idea whether or not the economy is improving. I see articles all over the place that say housing prices are back up, but people are still losing jobs, Walmart stock is rising, but Starbucks keeps trying to bring in business, and then I’m bombarded by articles on why I need to save more money. Or something. So, I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve been making a conscious effort not to buy more food from Costco because our freezer is exceptionally full. I’ve also been pulling things out of said freezer and turning them into tasty meals. Unfortunately, these meals tend to be enough to serve two people, which means there aren’t a lot of leftover for weekday lunches. I’ve also been making an effort to use up things in my (pull-out and effortless) pantry, and I feel like I’ve been doing a good job there, too. I notice our snack shelf is bursting, though, so maybe that also means we’ve been better about mindless chip-eating.
I have been trying to cook at home more so that we’re not always going out to restaurants (and because it’s easier to keep track of what we’re eating if I’ve made it). But, there are a lot of restaurants I really enjoy going to, plus there are a lot of new-to-us places that I really want to try. I’ve also noticed that quite a few 3-course menus have popped up that sound worth trying. Which would also be a good place to tell you about San Diego Restaurant Week. It’s held twice a year and each year it seems like something’s a little different. Various restaurants around San Diego put together a 3-course menu for $20, $30, or $40 with the “higher-end” restaurants on the $40 end, of course. It used to all be $20 menus, which made it a fabulous deal and a great opportunity to experience a restaurant you might not have otherwise been able to afford (I probably do this wishful remembering every time I talk about Restaurant Week). Most of the $30 menus are still a really good deal. Looking over the $20 menus, I’m still up in the air as to the financial benefit, since 1) I’m not likely to go to some of those places anyway, 2) you may be hard pressed to spend $20 ordering off their regular menu, and 3) it’s unlikely I’d eat an appetizer, entrée, AND dessert there in the first place. Some of the $40 menus are probably pressing their luck, so I view it as a reason to go try a new place anyway. And, if their entrees are $25-30 regularly, then Restaurant Week isn’t such a bad deal. Restaurant Week is January 17 through the 22, 2010 and reservations are usually a good idea (and a lot of the restaurants are on OpenTable, too).
But, there are a few restaurants have set menus on certain days year-round. I don’t think we’ve taken advantage of any of them, but maybe this will be the year. I don’t know how long they’ll keep it up, but I’d like to try them while they’re still part of the menu. And, since writing things down makes them easier to remember, maybe posting about them will make it easier to try them!
La Bastide Bistro: 3-course menu on Mondays for $30 – I can’t find any current information online, but we had a coupon at home with the prix fixe menu information on it. I don’t feel like digging up the coupon to see if it expired or had dates on it, so I’d probably call before going over if your heart is set on a prix fixe menu.
Starlite: 3-course menu every Tuesday for $20 from 5PM to 8PM – We love Starlite (my mom said it was one of the best burgers she’s ever had) and I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by a dish there, so I’d love to see what they put together for $20. It’s also an easy drive from work… we just haven’t found a Tuesday that hasn’t been in the middle of an already-packed week.
Cavaillon: 3-course menu Monday through Thursdays for $32 from 5PM to 9:30PM – We haven’t been to Cavaillon for dinner yet, but we did finally go for brunch and it was delicious. I tend to have low expectations for breakfasts because it all seems to be the same kind of egg dishes and pancakes (both of which I do a good job at cooking at home, plus I can stay in my pj’s). I had a smoked salmon, cream cheese, and scallion scramble there that was so buttery and creamy and delicious I didn’t want it to end. And then I was full. So, based on that and the fact that they have a familial connection to our beloved Luc’s Bistro, I think their dinner menu would be equally satisfying.
The Pearl: 3-course menu on Bistro Mondays for $25 – Our friends Cami and Jeff turned us onto The Pearl and, while we don’t get down there as often as we’d like (this is sadly the case for many of our favorite restaurants), we always enjoy it when we do. The first time we went, we had candied bacon as an appetizer; the last time it was bacon confit with a fried quail egg over a hash brown. Bacon may be totally 2009, but it still tastes really good! They also have a lot of fun events planned, like Dive-In Movies and Family-Style menus.
The Marine Room: 3-course Lobster Night on Mondays for $40 – You don’t get their lobster bisque as a first course, but your choice of entrée is a lobster tail prepared one of three ways. We’ve gone to The Marine Room during Restaurant Week, for a Mother’s Day brunch, and for their High Tide Brunch (for my birthday) and each time the food was amazing. I would definitely be willing to go back for a brunch. Depending on how large the lobster tail is for dinner, $40 sounds like a reasonable deal.
Like I said, we haven’t had the chance to personally try any of these deals yet, but we have dined at each restaurant at least once, and it does make us want to go back and eat more food. If you know of any other on-going deals, I’d love to know about them! And, if you go out and try and of these 3-course menus, let me know what you thought!