August Restaurant Weeks: Where to Dine for Less

Blog August Restaurant Weeks Casa Lever copyAugust is almost upon us — bringing with it even more summer restaurant weeks. We’ve rounded up where to dine for less in the coming month!

* Baltimore Restaurant Week lets you dine out more in B’more with $15 lunches and $20 + $30 dinners through August 2. Book a table.

* Howard County Restaurant Week has local flavor at fabulous prix-fixe prices through August 3. Book a table.

* New York City Restaurant Week has $25 lunches + $38 dinners at more than 300 restaurants, including Casa Lever (which will be offering its red beet tortelli with ricotta, spring English peas, Pecorino fondue, and raspberry-pickled red pearl onion, pictured), through August 14. Book a table.

* Hudson Restaurant Week brings $13 and up lunches + $25 and up dinners through August 7. Book a table.

* Baltimore County Restaurant Week is cooking up $15.15, $25.15, $35.15 lunches + dinners, July 31-August 15. Book a table.

* COOLinary New Orleans has delicious two- or three-course lunches for $20 or less, three-course dinners for $39 or less, and all-new $39 or less prix-fixe brunches, August 1-31. Book a table.

* Houston Restaurant Weeks stretch for five delicious weeks of $20 lunches, $25 brunches, and $35 + $45 dinners, from August 1-September 7. Book a table.

* Miami Spice has sweet dining deals with $23 lunches + $39 dinners, August 1-September 30. Book a table.

* Center City District Restaurant Week in Philadelphia starts soon. Don’t miss $20 lunches + $35 dinners, August 2-14. Book a table.

* Downtown St. Louis Restaurant Week is your gateway to $25 dinners, August 3-9. Book a table.

* Pittsburgh Restaurant Week invites you to dine on three-course prix-fixe meals + $20.15 specialties, August 10-16. Book a table.Continue Reading

Hot Dog Day: A Dozen Delicious Must-Try Haute Dogs #nationalhotdogday

The hot dog is America’s unofficial summertime dish. Whether you’re grilling by the pool, out in the wilderness on a camping trip, or enjoying a baseball game, it’s almost certain some franks will be involved. But as we know, not all weenies are created equal. Chefs are now taking the humble hot dog to a whole new level by handcrafting every component – from the link and the bun to every type of condiment and topping imaginable. In honor of National Hot Dog Day, we present a dozen delicious must-try haute dogs from top restaurants.

The Arsenal at Bluejacket, Washington, D.C.
You might feel like you’re hanging out with your Polish relatives. Executive chef Kyle Bailey fires up kielbasa on his outdoor grill, then tops it with plenty of red peppers and onions. As your uncle Piotr is fond of saying, “To jest pyszne” (Translation: That’s delicious). [Photo by Marissa Bialecki]

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Bouchon, Beverly Hills, California
We love pretzel buns so much we’ve been known to compose haikus to them (Sample: Pretzel untwisted/Chewy, salt flecked brilliance/Tastes best with mustard). Here one of the brown rolls holds a prime chuck, apple wood-smoked hot dog crowned with cornichon relish and Dijonnaise sauce.

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Bourbon Steak, Washington, D.C.
This ain’t your average hot dog. Executive chef Joe Palma handcrafts this showboat from A5 Wagyu and pork, and then finishes it off with mustard, relish, and a side of duck fat fries. Simply glorious.

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DBGB, New York, New York
This hot dog has a French accent. A housemade beef frank is shoehorned into a brioche bun then topped with sautéed onion, julienne radish, frisée, and pickled veggies. We say, “Oui, oui!”

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Del Campo, Washington, D.C.
Chef-owner Victor Albisu puts his spin on the choripán, a South American street food classic. His version features a spicy chorizo link loaded up with pulled pork, red cabbage slaw, and sweet pickle salsa criolla. It’s best enjoyed with a glass of the smoked pineapple-laced pisco punch. [Photo by Greg Powers]

Charred food

Dirt Candy, New York City
There’s no mystery meat in these broccoli dogs. Two of the verdant stalks are smoked, grilled, and quickly sautéed before they’re tucked into toasted buns. Condiments include broccoli kraut, mustard-vinegar sauce, and micro broccoli. Eat both and you’ve just consumed 800% of your daily vitamin C requirement. Seriously.

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NYC French Restaurant Week: Five Favorites to Feast On

In honor of Bastille Day on July 14th, French Restaurant Week kicked off in New York City on Monday, July 13 and runs through July 19th. Commemorating the start of the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille, Bastille Day is a national celebration in France. As the French have contributed so much to America’s culinary culture, and, in particular, New York’s, restaurants around the city are celebrating with delicious dining deals and dishes. Here are five favorites to feast on during NYC French Restaurant Week. 

The super-stylish Brasserie 8 ½ features a sweeping staircase, a sleek bar, and a mod, airy dining room with original artwork by Léger, Matisse, and others favored by the Louvre! Très French! With three courses for $35.78, diners can kick things off with a staple, such as steak tartare, and a choice of entrée, including the classic confit de canard. Whatever you choose to begin with, consider ending your meal with the pêche, or peach, Melba. This once-ubiquitous sweet treat deserves its own renaissance. Conceived by chef Auguste Escoffier (and inspired by his admiration for the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba) in the late 1890s, the medley of peaches, raspberries, and vanilla ice cream is served at Brasserie 8 ½ with an almond financier and toasted almonds. As the height of peach season hits, this is not to be missed.

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Le Cirque has built its reputation on sophisticated spectacle. Named for the French word for circus, it is the creation of Sirio Maccioni, who perfected his version of personal hospitality as maitre d’hotel at Manhattan’s elite clubhouse-to-the-stars Colony, which shuttered in 1971. Le Cirque attracted a similar bold-faced name crowd, thriving over the course of three locations in more than 40 years, providing doting service and refined dining to famous guests as well as your average Joes and Joans. Despite Maccioni’s Italian heritage, Le Cirque is decidedly French in its cuisine. The luxe $178.90 NYC French Restaurant Week menu includes a bottle of bubbly Champagne (natch!) and lobster salad, but it’s the closer of crackly, creamy crème brûlée that’s our pick for the coolest course.

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Perennial favorite Orsay, a classic Manhattan bistro that opened in 2000 whose lineage extends from the team behind La Goulue, which closed its doors in 2009 after nearly 40 years of foie gras and frites, describes itself as a work of art – and we couldn’t agree more. The décor, the high-backed banquettes with frosted glass, and the flattering lighting will transport you to Paris’s Art Nouveau age. Go for the multi-course $35.78 lunch – and order the elegant and artful skatefish. Delicate and healthful with its parsley, capers, and deceptively simple brown butter sauce, the dish is a staunch reminder of why the French seem to have such enviable physiques despite their gourmet appetites.

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11 Très Magnifique French Restaurants Where You Can Celebrate Bastille Day

Time to get out your beret. July 14th is Bastille Day, marking the kickoff to the French Revolution in 1789. In the intervening years, the holiday has evolved into a larger celebration of French culture. It would be impossible to salute the country’s traditions without indulging in some classic cuisine from the land of éclairs and escargot. So you don’t have to buy a high season ticket to Paris, here are 11 très magnifique French restaurants where you can celebrate Bastille Day.

Brasserie 8 ½, New York, New York
The showstopping brasserie puts out pleasing plates that recall simpler times. All the regulars are present and accounted for –lardon topped frisée salad with a soft-poached egg cozied into its leafy center, duck breast with braised red cabbage and chestnut flan, and an all-killer, no-filler jumbo lump crab cake. Bon appétit! [Photo courtesy Philip Greenberg]

Brasserie L’Oustau de Provence, Manchester, Vermont
Vermont’s natural resources are transformed into Gallic gastronomical delights at this countryside brasserie. Expect plenty of French favorites – from steak tartare and moules frites to boeuf bourguignon and onion soup gratinée. The restaurant has some nice options for petite gourmands, such as a croque monsieur and a Gruyere-topped burger with pomme frites and haricots verts.

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DBGB, Washington, D.C.
Daniel Boulud planted the other red, white, and blue flag in the nation’s capital late last year. The brasserie menu boasts plenty of familiar faces – such as coq au vin, tarte flambée, and steak tartare – all executed with precision and care by executive chef Ed Scarpone. Of course, you probably shouldn’t leave without trying the Baked Alaska, which is set ablaze tableside to create a fiery finale to your meal.

DBGB, Washington, DC

The Goodstone Inn & Estate Restaurant, Middleburg, Virginia
Nestled in the heart of Virginia wine country, the 265-acre estate is home to a working farm that provides some of the ingredients you’ll dine on. Executive chef John Leonard crafts seasonally inflected French fare that’s worth the drive from D.C. Béarnaise-sauced filet mignon, artfully executed chateaubriand for two, and escargot practically floating in garlic herb butter are all tender tributes to the Hexagon’s heritage.

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laV Restaurant and Wine Bar, Austin, Texas
The Provence-inspired eatery is putting on a party to celebrate Bastille Day. Expect an Eighties cover band, photo booth, complimentary beer and wine, and French fare ($40 in advance/$50 at the door). If you don’t make it in for the holiday, hone in on the chicken liver pâté, basil escargot with tomato butter, and the foie gras torchon enlivened with figs, basil, and black pepper almond crumble.

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Le Diplomate, Washington, D.C.
From July 11th through the 14th, the patio of this Stephen Starr stunner is transformed into a pétanque court (think of it as France’s answer to bocce), while a mime walks through the restaurant, amusing guests and posing for selfies. Executive chef Michael Abt serves all his usual highlights – foie gras parfait, steak frites, and skate grenobloise – as well as a special of pike fish quenelles with a creamy Nantua sauce packed with crayfish.

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