5 Spots Actually Worth Visiting for Restaurant Week

Oh, NYC Restaurant Week! You come and go every year, leaving us keenly aware of what handful of fancy restaurants are like on an off night. Insipid salmon on every plate and waiters upselling us on pricey plonk only make us hate you more. But we’ve decided to be amenable this year, scouring the BlackBook New York Guide for participating restaurants that have the chops to transcend the mediocrity.

We’ve plucked some of our Top Picks (and a few lucky others) who can’t help but deliver a divine dinner, even if they’re forced to sell it for far less than they’d like. Here are a few of our picks for the most seductive prixe fixes for Restaurant Week 2011.

5Ninth, a delightful townhouse with garden seating, continues its porcine tendencies with a packed-with-pork fixed-price dinner. For appetizing, we’d pick the Lyonnaise salad with anchovy dressing, poached egg, and loads of bacon bits. The main course of house-made papardelle with pork ragu makes us ready to pig out.

10Downing never ceases to offer creative chow, even during Restaurant Week. The heirloom tomato and watermelon salad with mint, almonds, and radish sounds, well, mouth-watering. The curry & coconut pot pie as our main speaks for itself: a puff pastry filled with roasted chicken or veggies, if you must. Maybe not the heartiest of meals, but there’s poached rhubarb and strawberry consomme for thirds.

Bless the person who recommended sacrificing Kittichai’s baby back ribs for Restaurant Week hoppers. Soaked in Mekhong whiskey barbeque sauce, you’re a weirdo if you don’t love it. Skip the salmon and savor the pan-seared branzino and bay scallops, conveniently surrounded by a toothsome coconut turmeric broth.

One If By Land Two if By Sea is the perfect spot for a romantic rendezvous–what with all those flowers, an in-house pianist, and candle chandeliers. Therefore, an uninspired prix fixe would never do, not even this week. We’d request the marinated octopus with sugar snap peas and shiitake mushroom vinaigrette for the first round. For seconds, we’re thinking the sautéed Atlantic rock shrimp with spaghetti, hazelnut pesto, and Thai basil will suffice.

Restaurant Week gets sexy with Yerba Buena Perry on the list. The ceviche Chifa for first course pickings, composed of flounder, scallions, ginger, carrots, cilantro peanuts–the list goes on–makes us wonder if this was a menu glitch. The sea bass chorrillana with yucca puree, tamarind-aji panca glaza, and “pickled slaw,” seems worth the $35 price tag and then some.

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