By VICTOR E. SASSON
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- My idea of dessert is fresh fruit or a great piece of cheese, so for more than 20 years the bargain 3-course lunches during Restaurant Week always posed a problem.
The dessert course at fine-dining restaurants in Manhattan almost always include high-calorie, sugar- or cream-filled desserts, and getting sorbet as a substitute isn't always possible.
Fresh fruit? Fuhgeddaboudit.
Now, probably for economic reasons, hundreds of restaurants in the 5 boroughs are offering 2-course lunches for $26 -- $3 less than the 3-course meals with dessert served during NYC Restaurant Week a year ago.
That's perfect for someone like me who is watching his weight and cholesterol.
On Monday, I took the bus into the city from Hackensack, and enjoyed a belly busting lunch of soup, seafood, pasta, bread, olives and extra-virgin olive oil at Esca, a southern Italian trattoria that's always the first restaurant I go to during the semi-annual promotion.
I didn't miss a dessert course; in fact, I couldn't possibly eat more, and at home, skipped dinner in favor of tea, fruit and nuts.
The Restaurant Week promotion -- 2-course lunches for $26 and 3-course dinners for $42 -- runs through Feb. 8.
|PRESERVED MACKEREL: A gift from the chef was toasted bread topped with small white beans and preserved mackerel.|
|TOO MANY TO FINISH: House-cured Gaeta olives were complimentary.|
|BREAD SERVICE: One benefit of being seated at noon, when lunch service starts, is getting the large end or heel of the crusty loaf of bread served at Esca, and being able to enjoy it with extra-virgin olive oil, below.|
|THE LURE: Esca (the Italian word for "bait") is at 402 W. 43rd St., less than three blocks from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.|
|A BARGAIN: With a 20% tip, my total was $33.51 for a great lunch.|