''It's become...somewhat of a cult.'' Lynne Breaux is referring to next week's Restaurant Week promotion. ''There are some offices, for instance, that get together and plot where they're going to go each day.''
But even for a romantic or solitary meal, the promotion, starting Monday, Jan. 11, and running all week, is hard to beat. Nearly 200 restaurants across the region, including many of the city's finest, offer special three-course meals for $20.10 at lunch and $35.10 at dinner. Obviously, it's more of a bargain at some restaurants than others, depending on their usual price points. But even cafes and diners step up their affordable game.
''Our members get very creative,'' says Breaux of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, which co-produces the event with Destination DC. Some establishments will even throw in a glass of wine as part of the fixed-price dinner.
''We love it because the chefs really shine," Breaux continues. "They know that there's potential for so much new business."
A New Orleans native, Breaux came aboard as the restaurant association's president just before the first Restaurant Week in November 2001, a promotion spawned as a response to 9/11. ''We decided we needed to do something to get people back into restaurants.'' It was so successful the group now stages the week twice a year, in January and August.
Breaux tends to refrain from dining out during the promotion. ''I know the restaurants -- I get out a lot and I'm very fortunate. I don't want to take up the space of a new customer.''
Restaurant Week runs Monday, Jan. 11, through Sunday, Jan. 17, at restaurants around the area including 15 RIA, Acadiana, Beacon Bar and Grill, Café Berlin, DC Coast, Eatonville, Gordon Biersch Brewery, Logan Tavern, M Street Bar & Gril, Mio, Nage, Perry's, Policy, Sabores, Vinoteca, Zaytinya and Zentan at the Donovan House. For more information or to make reservations, visit www.restaurantweekdc.org.