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By Samantha Chapnick

Still feeling the pain from that holiday spending spree?

For a few days in January, you can spend your New York vacation doing the city’s most luxurious restaurants on a lean budget.

During NYC Restaurant Week (January 21-25 and January 28-February 1) my friends and I become "ladies who lunch" by indulging in prix fixe meals ($24.07 lunch, $35 dinner) at places normally beyond our price point any other time of year.

Although there are over 200 participants, we go for the chic boutiques normally reserved for the, as Robin Leach would say, "champagne wishes and caviar dreams" crowd. 

Come end of January, this is where I’ll be (in alphabetical order):

  • Aureole: If Charlie Palmer’s career wasn’t exactly launched by this Upper East Side brownstone restaurant, it at least catapulted him to stardom. Expect hearty savory dishes and slightly haughty service in haute surroundings.
  • Brasserie 8 1/2: For powerbrokers who can do without the pretension.
  • Cafe Boulud: Despite its best attempts at humility and legacy, this ain’t Daniel Boulud’s great-grandfather’s family farm cafe. This is a full-scale society spot for very sophisticated French cuisine, with a focus on "La Tradition, La Saison and Le Potager" (the season, the garden and traditional French cuisine).
  • davidburke & donatella: Beauty and style married haute cuisine when these two superstars (the
    award-winning David Burke and the queen of fashion Donatella Versace)
    opened this sought-after spot. The highly lacquered white, accented by
    bold orange upholstery, mimics the cuisine: Basic ingredients like wild
    salmon and asparagus are born again through innovative pairings and
    dramatic presentation. Honshimeji mushrooms anyone?
  • Gramercy Tavern: Restaurant Week reservations here go the very first day they’re available, so you won’t be able to get into this hot ticket. However, it’s first-come first-served at Tavern, their side cafe, which shares the same perfect winter atmosphere: rustic with soft copper lighting, red, brown and gold flora, and mahogany-colored wood-beam ceiling.

Can’t make it during Restaurant Week? There are several restaurants that offer reasonable prix fixe menus all year round. My favorite is Nougatine (at Jean Georges).

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Samantha Chapnick is a New York writer who scours international destinations looking for what hasn’t been found.

Tagged: New York

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MaryJo Lipman

MaryJo Lipman

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