"There are definitely restaurants out there who aren't involved in Restaurant Week," Phillip Foss says. "Why should they sit hunched in a corner waiting for it to be over?" That's why Foss and Shin Thompson of Bonsoiree plan to collaborate on what Foss hopes will be the first inaugural anti-Restaurant Week dinner, at Bonsoiree on February 21st. While they don't mean it to actually oppose or protest Restaurant Week— "Obviously it does work for a lot of businesses and there are a lot of chefs involved who I respect," Thompson says— they do see it as an opportunity for restaurants that don't fit into the promotion's bargain-hunting mentality to "stand tall" doing what they do without compromise.
"Restaurant Week is based on your ability to add volume, and for a small restaurant like Phillip's or mine, there's no way to make $33 or $44 work for us doing the kind of menu we do," Thompson says. Foss adds, "You're getting people into your restaurant but they're not getting a true taste of who you are. I always hated it at Lockwood— the hotel was obviously concerned about food costs, so you'd have a roast chicken, a pasta, some inexpensive red meat. I stood behind the food but it was never indicative of what we were really about. I don't think many restaurants would say this is the meal we'd want Michelin or some critic to judge us on, so why should we want the public to judge us on it?"
The two will present what Foss calls "the best of each of our menus," free of any compromise to meet a certain bargain price point, but worked on collaboratively to achieve a cohesive menu "so flavors match up progressively," Thompson says. Their hope is that it will spark more such collaborations among restaurants not participating in the promotion and delivering the best they have to offer during the week— "I hope we'll gets lots of different collaborators next year, it'd be great to have it bounce around each others' places," says Foss.
The price, menu and details about how to get reservations are still being worked out; to get information as soon as it's released, sign up for Bonsoiree's and EL Ideas' mailing lists. Go here for Bonsoiree and click on "Underground," or go here for EL Ideas.