Omnivore - Cashing in on Midtown Restaurant Week

I confess I'm a bit cynical about events like Midtown Restaurant Week. The advertised special is three courses for $25 at some very good restaurants. My fantasy, though, is that once I'm seated, the restaurant will find a way to redirect me to spend more money.

That's not what happened when Wayne and I went to Beleza Wednesday night with our friends Brad and Eric. We were offered three choices for each course and ended up tasting everything. Exotic Brazilian-style cocktails and wine for my companions added to the cost, of course, but there was no pressure to do things differently.

That was not, however, the experience Brad and Eric had the night before when they went to Trois. Things got off to a bad start when an annoying but bearable 15-minute wait stretched out to a famishing 40 minutes.

Then, as soon as they were seated (behind a pillar), the server informed them that while the special $25 menu was available, they might want to know that if they ordered from the regular menu, they would receive complimentary wine.

Rapid arithmetic told the couple they'd save money and eat better ordering from the regular menu. So, when the server came back, they ordered food and selected a bottle of wine.

You know the rest of the story: When the bill arrived, they'd been fully charged for the $45 bottle of wine. They protested and the server said, "Oh, that was for a free glass of wine, not a bottle." Of course, they would have spent significantly less had they ordered the special menu and a bottle of wine.

Arguably, they should have asked for more details about the wine special. But the details should have been spelled out more clearly to begin with. And when they abandoned the $25 menu and ordered the bottle after hearing about the wine special, the server should have clarified things. Brad writes:

The wine was $45. There was a special wine list that they provided (similar to the small handout menu that is part of the Midtown Restaurant Week) that had all the wines available as part of the promotion. At the top there was a three sentence blurb about how they understood how pinched we all are as a result of the economy and this was their way to help through election day. There was no mention as far as I know of only providing one a glass of wine with one's entree.

Brad, not the reticent type, got angry and, to Trois' credit, the cost of the wine was deducted from their meal.

Back to Beleza....

Among the dishes at Beleza I especially liked was a "ceviche blanco" featuring coconut milk, habaneros and cucumber, as well as fish. Roasted beets with oranges, basil and tofu in an orange vinaigrette was also a hit. But my favorite dish here remains the shrimp moqueca, featuring white shrimp in coconut milk with extra-virgin red palm oil, cilantro, cashews and basmati rice.

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