We have all heard about the famous Restaurant Week in New York City—the week that foodies wait for and that many restaurants pull out all kinds of stops for. It is a food celebration that amplifies reservation volume and comes around twice a year, made for the appreciation of food and all that surrounds it.
Hudson County (New Jersey), just across the Hudson River from the famed food world of Manhattan, has their very own bi-annual food festival—HudsonCounty Restaurant Week. It was jump started by Get Out Hudson Magazine in 2005, by the magazine’s creator Tamara Remedios. According to the website, the restaurant week was the result of many conversations with local restaurateurs, creating not only a tourist attraction, but something the whole community could enjoy. The Restaurant Weeks are set during slower times of the year, January and July, as an effort to rekindle business and expand. Both the magazine and the event are to promote activity and participation in the area; by those who live there but also those open to exploring.
The Hudson County Restaurant Week is a bi-annual celebration of food and the experiences surrounding it, catering to the foodies and the hungry alike. Many diverse restaurants across the county get involved, creating special prix fixe menus or hosting various events. This puts Hudson County on the map as being more and more of a food destination, not just a cheaper place to stay to enjoy the dining in the City. Hudson County, is the smallest of the counties of New Jersey, comprised of 12 cities, but it its proximity to the Big Apple has given the county appeal and popularity. The restaurant week and its surrounding events are meant to help take advantage of location, as well as the growing populations and desirability of the area.
Not only does the event bring more people to the area, but it is also great exposure for restaurants, new and old—those with a following as well as those just starting out. It is a way to show its neighbors what it can produce and the ways that the restaurant is unique. The prix fixe that many of the participating restaurants offer, is the perfect vehicle to showcase what they want to be known for and give a great sampling of the vision of the restaurant. Smaller portions and specials can give patrons a look into the restaurant without the full investment, and if impressed, they will return to make the full investment. Not that it makes a fierce competitive atmosphere, but it is a way to assert presence, and perhaps friendly culinary competition.
This was an excellent way for me to discover and uncover other restaurants in my area that I never would have thought of trying. The website for the event made it easy to look by city for restaurants. This kind of index is very helpful for the under exposed and is also more narrow than just googling “Where to eat in Hoboken, NJ.” With the website, the viewer is also able to look at the menus and prices that the restaurants were offering. Being able to see all of these things makes for a fun comparative exercise, and all the info is right on the table. Everything was at my fingertips. The open accessibility makes the event even more special and can also be seen as a community builder, opening up food options and experiences to a wider net of people, through the prices and the website. I would only say that there could be more advertising, through other outlets perhaps, spreading the word even further.
I am really looking forward to January’s Restaurant Week. This time around was my first real experience with it, and it was lots of fun. I went to places I would not have gone to, either due to expense or familiarity. This time I only ventured to a few restaurants, mostly in Hoboken and Jersey City, but in January…it is on! I am looking forward to casting the net wider as well as finding a joint that will come into regular rotation on my dining list.
*Note: The top two photo's are of the Hamilton Inn in Jersey City, and the other two are from the Brass Rail in Hoboken. Both were restaurants participating in Hudson County Restaurant Week.