If the very thought of homemade pasta, braised ribs, or blackened halibut makes your mouth water like butter on a hot skillet, then next week is for you.
On Monday, the Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau will serve up the second week of Epicure, the organization’s first annual “restaurant week,” featuring eating establishments throughout the Meadowlands region. Epicure’s first week was held from Sept. 14 through 18 and will resume Sept. 21.
More than 25 Meadowlands-based restaurants will showcase their best dishes in what their managers and chefs hope will be a five-day feeding frenzy from Hoboken to Rutherford. They will also offer special prices.
Several Hudson County restaurants have signed on to participate, including Café Four Fifty Five in Secaucus, Jersey City’s Komegashi Too, and Weehawken’s Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Hoboken is well represented with 3Forty Grill, Gaslight, Brass Rail, and Trinity.
“We’re using this as an opportunity to make everyone aware of what’s here, the local community as well as visitors.” – Jim Kirkos
In addition to their usual offerings, the restaurants will feature prix fixe menus throughout the event that highlight crowd pleasing favorite dishes. Prices for the multi-course prix fixe meals can range from $15 to $40, depending on the restaurant.
With the inauguration of Epicure, the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, which includes the Visitors Bureau, now offers two signature events that showcase dining establishments in the region. Each spring, the Chamber hosts Taste of the Meadowlands, held in conjunction with its annual Small Business Expo and awards dinner. But whereas Taste allows only a handful of restaurants to showcase two or three trademark dishes to the business community at one time, Epicure has a broader audience and purpose.
“We’re using this as an opportunity to make everyone aware of what’s here, the local community as well as visitors,” said Jim Kirkos, CEO of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce. “There are two markets that we want to make sure are aware of us. One is the obvious ‘external’ market. That would include the visitors who come to our region for business, concerts, sporting events, or who are visiting New York but staying in New Jersey. But more importantly, there are people who live in our home community who don’t know what’s in their own back yard. There are people in Lyndhurst and East Rutherford who have never ventured into Jersey City, Hoboken, and Weehawken. That’s what the power of restaurant week allows us to do.”
The Visitors Bureau and participating businesses hope Epicure will fill tables at a time when tourism and restaurant profits are flat due to the recession.
“We got involved with [Epicure] ’cause we’ve had good results from other ‘restaurant weeks’ that we’ve been involved with,” said Kerri-Ann Sweeten, managing partner at 3Forty Grill. “We’ve participated in the Hoboken Restaurant Week that’s done each year and we’ve seen that it has attracted new business. It’s attracted a lot of people that might not have come to us.”
For Epicure, 3Forty will feature a two-course lunch menu for $18 and a three-course dinner menu for $35. Crispy Santa Fe spring rolls, seven leaf salad, a hickory bacon, a vine ripened tomato grilled cheese sandwich, and seasonal vegetable risotto are among the delectable dishes offered by head chef Wally Weaver.
“We decided to participate because we try to stay as involved in the chamber as we can. Anything we can do to promote our restaurant, or offer a value to our guests, is something we’re always excited to do,” said John Van Miert, general manager of Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Head chef Raul Solano has put together a three-course prix fixe menu for $39.95 that offers Louisiana seafood gumbo, braised short ribs, and creamed spinach, among other options.
Although the 25-plus businesses participating in Epicure are only a sliver of the thousands of food options available in the Meadowlands, Kirkos believes they are a “perfect microcosm” of area restaurants, representing a broad range of culinary styles.
Restaurants paid a flat fee of “a few hundred dollars” to participate in Epicure, according to Kirkos. In return, he added, “they’re getting $10,000 to $20,000 worth of print and online marketing which they get to leverage [for their businesses]. Our purpose in doing this isn’t to make money, it’s to bring visibility and notoriety to our chamber members.”
In keeping with the times, Epicure’s “Tweet from your Seat” will encourage restaurant-goers to share their dining experiences with others via Twitter.
Epicure resumes Monday, Sept. 21 and ends Friday, Sept. 25. For more information, call (877) 652-8287 or visit www.meadowlandslibertycvb.com.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.