Tyler Cowen's Restaurant Week Strategies

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

D.C. Restaurant Week runs through Sunday, and it's the biggest yet, with more than 170 restaurants participating. Lynne Breaux, president of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, says the prix-fixe menus ($20.07 at lunch and $30.07 at dinner) are a unique opportunity for diners and for "restaurants that understand the value of wooing new customers."

But Cowen is not a fan: "Restaurant Week is a horror. It's outreach to the uninformed, so it's obviously going to be dumbed down."

For those determined to take part, Cowen offered strategies along with his own top five selections.

- Choose an expensive restaurant. "They have a reputation to protect, and they don't want to disappoint people."

- Pick a restaurant with a formula. "At a Brazilian churrascaria, all they do is meat on skewers, and they're not going to change that for Restaurant Week. Steakhouses also fit the bill."

His picks:

- Bombay Club: "They have a new chef, and they're eager to shed their reputation as boring and passe. My dark-horse pick." 815 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-659-3727.

- Ceviche: "It's in the suburbs, and Restaurant Week is a chance for it to outshine the city competition." 921-J Ellsworth Dr., Silver Spring, 301-608-0081.

- DC Coast: "Against all odds, this place has stayed good for a long time. So chances are it will violate the Restaurant Week odds, too." 1401 K St. NW, 202-216-5988.

- Fogo de Chao: "A churrascaria. They can't reinvent their food in a crummy way for Restaurant Week." 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-347-4668.

- PS7's: "Why does no one talk about this place? It's still undervalued, so my bet is they will put on their best face to rise a notch in the public's eye." 777 I St. NW, 202-742-8550.

-- Jane Black

© 2007 The Washington Post Company