January 20, 2021 at 4:15 am EST | by Evan Caplan
Restaurant Week returns with focus on dining at home
Restaurant Week, gay news, Washington Blade
Station 4 in Southwest D.C. offers mouth-watering burgers and other American cuisine. (Photo courtesy Station 4)

Diners, have no fear: Metropolitan Washington Winter Restaurant Week is on this year, focused less on in-person dining and much more on the now-familiar at-home experience. This biannual celebration of the Washington, D.C. area’s culinary strength, hosted by Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), is returning at the end of this month. The promotion, including dozens of restaurants participating across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, showcases the resilience of the area’s bars and restaurants through the pandemic.

Instead of running for just one week, RAMW has extended the promotion to a full two weeks, from Jan. 25 through Feb. 7. There are several new and pandemic-restriction-compliant deals tailored to all customers.

For dinner, restaurants across the region are set to offer multi-course menus for two price points. Each dinner runs either $35 or $55 per person, depending on the restaurant. Many will also offer to-go packages in a family style for two people ($60 or $100) or four people ($130 or $210). Multi-course lunch and brunch menus will also be available for $22 per person. Of course, various restaurants are offering options with cocktail or wine pairings. And while the emphasis is on to-go dining, eateries that have the capacity and are legally permitted to are hosting diners on patios and other winterized spaces.

According to RAMW, Restaurant Week was initially created to boost the local community after the 9/11 attacks. In 2021, it serves a similar purpose at an even more urgent time for the restaurant community devastated by the ongoing pandemic. 

RAMW chose this specific timeframe to support restaurants early in the year.

“We recognize how fragile the industry is at this time and that our restaurants continue to work hard to stay afloat and come out of this challenging period,” notes Kathy E. Hollinger, president and CEO of the RAMW. “We continue to support our restaurants through programming that is tailored to fit the unique and constantly changing needs during a time when the weather is colder and dining out can be enjoyed in various ways,” whether on heated patios or at home. 

To that end, the “Restaurant Week To Go” program is in full force, which began during summer restaurant week. To-go cocktail and wine pairings are also offered, an option that did not exist in previous years. 

Diners will note a few new names on the list of participating restaurants this year: Anju, Bammy’s, Chloe, and Mon Ami Gabi, among others. Popular and lauded area restaurants like Bresca, Cranes, and Rasika are participating, as are gay-owned Commissary D.C., and Perry’s, a restaurant known for its beloved drag brunch. 

Jerk chicken dish at Bammy’s. (Photo courtesy Bammy’s)

Eric Shin, a representative of the new and growing Korean restaurant Seoulspice notes that “this year is especially unique because it highlights the resilience that restaurants have demonstrated through the pandemic. Many restaurants are offering innovative experiences that present once-in-a-lifetime dining opportunities.”

And finally, Derek Smith, service manager at Shaw’s HalfSmoke who’s gay, says that “so many restaurants have already shuttered their doors due to COVID, and Restaurant Week is a time where people can take advantage of good deals, try new restaurants, and feel a little normalcy in their lives. Many restaurants now offer outdoor spaces, like HalfSmoke’s Winter Wonderland, and also offer Restaurant Week deals for takeout or delivery on food and beverages.”

Nobu is known for world-class sushi. (Photo courtesy Nobu)
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