Here in Los Angeles there is a semi-annual event that happens for 10 days or so in the Winter and Summer. No not the Victoria Secret’s Semi-Annual Bra sale, but something much more exciting, sexy, seductive, and with much less lace. It’s called DineLA. During the DineLA event dozens of restaurants across the city have specially selected pre-fix menus for a much discounted price than their food would normally cost.
Even though I am very involved in the restaurant world (I work part time in a fancy steak house and I love eating out) somehow DineLA always sneaks up on me. Like the Holiday Season or my birthday, DineLA is always suddenly upon me and I have done nothing to prepare. DineLA is like Brigadoon to me. It’s a thing a myth and magic and impossible to plan. This is in no way true, however. I have a friend that knows the restaurants featuring DineLA menus cold. Her 10 day dining experience is planned. She and her wife are out almost every night enjoying amazing 3 and 4 course dinners for under $50, and she instagrams her food to make me feel inspired and jealous. She is an expert. She should be studied and copied. Honestly, I should just invite myself along on all their dates (note to self) because they are excellent diners. This year, that friend helped me find an app for my smart phone that listed all of the participating restaurants and the menus they were offering. With this technological wonder, my bofriend and I managed one evening out. We chose a hip Hollywood venue called The Lexington Social House which turns into a night club after 10:00 pm but serves delcious chilled english pea soup with crab and bacon and bone marrow encrusted filet mignon before the dancing begins.
We walked to the restaurant (an LA rarity that helped us pick this venue) and found we were slightly underdressed but no one gave us any trouble. In LA, I feel like I am somehow always under or overdressed, but never quite right. Hmmm. My meal (described above) was amazing. I instagramed pictures of my soup and steak and my boyfriend’s seared ahi tuna (as one does these days) to help drum up a little DineLA business for the Lex Social House (they’re welcome) polished off some flowerless chocolate cake with salted carmel ice cream for dessert and waddled home. Probably never to return. Not because the food wasn’t delicious, or the service wasn’t polite and prompt, but because the regular prices are higher than we normally spend and we are creatures of habit. Two nights in the last week or so we found ourselves at the same hole in the wall mexican place and I ordered the same thing. Our two entrees cost under $20. It wasn’t salted carmel ice cream and bone marrow but it was damned good.
The idea of DineLA (other cities call it Restaurant Week, I believe) is to get new faces in the door and new butts in the seats, impress them with your culinary delights so much that they will come back, when the menu has returned to full price and become regular customers. It’s a great plan but I’m not sure how well it works. The fact is that I’m lazy and haven’t taken any poles or done any real journalistic research. I can only speak from my own experinece that the faces that I see in my own restaurant who put their regular (very pricey) menus aside and ask for the much discounted DineLA menu enjoy their meal emmencially, but don’t return until DineLA rears it’s delicious head again six months later. And I know how I oppertate as well. I don’t want to imply that we are cheap diners, and I’ll have you know that we are excellent tippers, but I think it is more of a matter of comfort, conveince and craving. All though my chilled pea soup was deliocus, I’m not sure I’ll crave it enough to go back and pay a full inflated price for a bowl of it. But I do find myself craving (often, I might add) the Eggs Blackstone from Hugo’s Restaurant and so I go there, DineLA be damned and enjoy them. It requires no apps, it requires little discussion or deliberation. We eat what we like and where we like and don’t let a semi-annual event dictate our dining life for the entire year. After re-reading that sentence I realized we sound a little boring. Oh well. At least I follow my friend’s instragram account and I can live vicariously through her.