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Having the Best Restaurant Week Experience

Huntington Restaurant Week will soon be upon us, but it’s not too early to develop a strategy to make the best of this promotion, or to make reservations.

Huntington Restaurant Week approaches. 

This fall, the promotion runs Oct. 9-16 and, so far, includes 55 restaurants throughout the town — and some outside its borders.

The concept is simple. Restaurants design special menus and offer guests a three-course meal for $24.95, excluding tax and gratuity.

Organized by the Long Islander newspaper and the Huntington Chamber of Commerce, the promotion provides an opportunity to try new, often luxe, restaurants or return to old favorites. The deal is good every evening, all evening, except Saturday, when you’ve got to dine by 7 p.m.

Restaurant week can can be a win-win for diners and restaurants.

It’s an opportunity for folks who routinely can’t afford to dine at at some high-end restaurant every night to give one or more of them a try.  It’s also a chance to try out an eatery you’re unsure you’ll like.
 
Restaurant owners win, too. There’s extra business and the hope that you’ll come back and dine another day at full price. And they’ll be making money on the drinks you order, too.

How can you have the best restaurant week experience?  Develop a strategy, do your homework and keep your expectations realistic.

Scan the list of restaurants on the Dine Huntington site and identify where you want to dine.

Look at the menus available through links on the site — about a half are posted — for a peek at what a chef is serving and then decide if it sounds appetizing, or is something you can pass on. 
 
Though the special menus are limited, they can offer a good cross-section of an eatery’s signature dishes. Compare the descriptions of the dishes with descriptions on the restaurant’s regular menu. If they’re not similar, you may feel that you won’t be experiencing the real restaurant.

Are there interesting dishes on that special menu or is it loaded with the least expensive, most boring items the eatery offers? I’ve seen lots of fried calamari on some menus.  Of course, you can’t expect only the most expensive dishes — or at least, not always in full portions. Determining value is a personal thing. And, pay attention. You may have to pay a supplement for certain dishes on that special menu. Half the entrees at Jonathan’s have supplements. Want a steak at Mac’s Steakhouse? You’ll pay more, too. Besito, however, has it’s full menu available.

If you’ve got dietary restrictions, don't wait until you arrive to request a gluten-free or a vegetarian dinner. Call the restaurant in advance to determine if it can meet your needs.

I’d give extra consideration to visiting some of the high-end restaurants, since these tend to be the most interesting and sought-after restaurants and often require reservations made well in advance.

Remember, you’ll be paying full-price for wine or other beverages, so your total tab for two is likely be above $50. And don’t forget to tip your server.
 
Most importantly, make your reservations in advance.

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