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01.12.11

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Phaedra
Photograph by David Briggs
OUT WEST: Manager and bartender Chad Qualls at the Farm House Restaurant in Olema, a participant in Marin Restaurant Week.

Dinner Takes All

Restaurant Week hits Marin and Napa counties

By Suzanne Daly


One last noteworthy thing that Arnold Schwarzenegger did for the state of California was to declare January "Restaurant Month," which translates to delicious discounts for diners. Although many counties have had their own established "Restaurant Week" for years, Schwarzenegger requested that 10 more regions participate to promote an economic boost for California's ailing economy.

In the aftermath of the holidays, January is understandably a slow month for many businesses, restaurants included. Sponsored by the California Travel and Tourism Commission, Restaurant Week/Month offers a win-win situation for businesses and clients alike by offering dining deals too good to turn down. Establishments taking part in Restaurant Week—January 15–21—present prix fixe meals or dining specials at exceptional prices, encouraging patrons to try somewhere new or to revisit their favorites.

This year, Marin County is bringing Restaurant Week to the table for the first time, hoping to entice customers from their usual dining comfort zones in other counties to sample Marin's restaurants. The county was invited to participate less than three months ago, so with very little advance notice and virtually no advertising budget, the Marin Visitors Bureau approached restaurants and local corporate media planners to join the event.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for Marin County," says Christine Bohlke of the Marin Visitors Bureau. "We are using Facebook and social media to reach out to the public and local corporations to take part in Restaurant Week this year so they can get a feel for it and help increase participation for next year as well." No tickets or passes are required, but reservations at participating restaurants are strongly suggested. Marin offers some fabulous sites along with the meals, including the historic Mountain Home Inn atop Mt. Tamalpais, or the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge and Farmhouse Restaurant in Olema. Restaurants in San Rafael and Novato are also joining in the fun. Visitors are encouraged to make a day of exploring the county's treasures, capped by a unique dining experience.

Napa Valley has extended the week into Restaurant Month, with almost 30 restaurants participating for the entire month of January. From well-established spots like Yountville's Mustard's Grill or Tra Vigne Restaurant in St. Helena, to new-kid-on-the-block Fish Story in downtown Napa, diners have the opportunity to sample great food at affordable prices at some of Napa's most renowned eateries. Menus may include seasonal delicacies such as fresh Dungeness crab, wild mushrooms and highly prized black truffles. Restaurants in Calistoga, St. Helena, Rutherford, Yountville and the town of Napa are offering two- or three-course prix fixe menus starting at $20.11, plus other dining deals. (Although some include wine pairings with dinner, most prices quoted do not include beverages, tax or gratuities.)

Those looking to take advantage of these great gastronomic opportunities should make sure to check on-line for specific information pertaining to the restaurant of their choice. Diners can pace themselves and experience new spots in both counties, and, while they're at it, raise a glass to the new governor.

For more information, check the links at www.visitmarin.org or www.legendarynapavalley.com.


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