By Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — Reservations for this winter’s Restaurant Week have opened early, with prix-fixe deals at over 300 of the city’s poshest restaurants now up for grabs.
Newcomers including the French Culinary Institute’s L'Ecole, Tom Colicchio’s Riverpark and Faustina at the Cooper Square Hotel have joined this year's promotion, which features more restaurants than ever before. Big names like the '21' Club, Le Cirque and One if by Land, Two if by Sea are also returning to 2011's winter Restaurant Week, which runs from Jan. 24 through Feb. 6 (Saturdays excluded).
While reservations had been set to open Wednesday at midnight, numerous restaurants reported accepting them beginning as early as last month, and OpenTable.com was already open for bookings this week.
A Gramercy Park resident who goes by the name Tasty Trekker and who runs the popular food blog NYC Tastes said she highly recommended two of Restaurant Week's new additions: Riverpark on East 29th Street beside the FDR, and the Flatiron’s The Hurricane Club, both of which opened in recent months.
"It’s kind of exciting to see what they put out since they’ve never done it before," Trekker said, adding that newcomers often serve the most interesting fare.
The Hurricane Club's menu, which will be served for lunch and dinner Sundays, features appetizers including "coconut shrimp poppers," "croque monsieur spring rolls" and "hamachi with avocado and yuzu," entrees like "tri-tip skewers with ginger-horseradish and soy ponzu sauce" and "honey–glazed baby back ribs," as well as thai coffee or coconut caramel soft-serve ice cream for dessert.
Trekker's top past picks? Any Danny Meyer eatery, especially the Modern Bar Room at the Museum of Modern Art, which she said had been "fantastic" in previous years.
"Those ones are always not worth it. Small portion, just not very good service," she said.
Trekker also advised trying for cheaper lunches instead of dinners and checking out menus ahead of time.
"The worst is showing up somewhere and seeing only two options for the main course and you don’t like either one," she said.
The three-course prix-fixe menus are $24.07 for lunch and $35 for dinner. Beverages, taxes and tips are extra.
Menus for all of the options are set to be released at Midnight Tuesday, said a spokeswoman for NYC & Company, which organizes the event.