The 2nd annual Clayton Restaurant Week makes upscale affordable

| Managing Editor

Although it’s only been a week or two since most of us were partaking in delightful home-cooked meals, it’s never too soon to take advantage of a fine dinner—especially when offered a great deal.

Starting tonight, Washington University students can take the three-minute Metro ride to nearby Clayton and indulge in the offerings of the second annual Clayton Restaurant Week. The options are broad—everything from sushi to steak, French to Italian—but all 19 participating restaurants will be serving three-course dinners at a fixed price of just $25.

“Basically, at all these restaurants, you can never get a three-course dinner for $25,” explained Jennifer Milward, project coordinator for SYNERGY Productions LLC, the company that puts on the event. “All the restaurants are pretty upscale, so this is a pretty big treat for people to go in, try some restaurants that they haven’t tried before and realize what kind of restaurants are in Clayton. And then hopefully, they’ll be able to maintain some of that business and just make people want to come to the City of Clayton more often.”

SYNERGY also coordinates the St. Louis Downtown Restaurant Week, which experienced its sixth season this past August. After witnessing the success of the restaurants downtown, the City of Clayton came to SYNERGY wanting its own version of the same concept.

Milward feels that Clayton’s atmosphere is different from the rest of St. Louis, with tightly-packed streets and trees that twinkle with lights throughout the neighborhood. “It just feels like you’re in an upscale environment,” she said.

And upscale it is. Patrons can expect dishes like coq au vin with baby fennel, pearl onions, hon shimeji and shiitake mushrooms, duroc lardons and saffron tagliatelle from Mosaic Bistro Market and grilled Canadian salmon with a soy and honey glaze, striped with ginger scallion aioli from Remy’s Kitchen & Wine Bar.

The restaurants have essentially no guidelines when it comes to designing their menus, but those that offer more options tend to have more success during the promotion.

“We let them be as creative as they want, and we tell them to put forth what they think will best represent them,” Milward said. “And we want it to be a deal—not for people to go into restaurants and get what they would normally get for $25. We want people to be impressed.”

James Nielson, a manager at Oceano, explained that the executive chef, owner and management staff come together with ideas on what to offer. Oceano has improved upon its menu from last year’s Clayton Restaurant Week, adding an additional entrée and appetizer. His personal favorite item is the herb-crusted sea bass over wild mushroom and butternut squash risotto.

For an additional $7, patrons can add a glass of Lapostolle wine or one of two signature cocktails to their meals. They are also given the option of donating in $5 increments to KidSmart, a charity selected by the City of Clayton that gives school supplies and educational resources to St. Louis students.

Clayton Restaurant Week runs through Sunday, Jan. 30, but according to Milward, tables are filling up rapidly. The menus can be found at http://claytonrestaurantweek.net/ and reservations can be made online through OpenTable.

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