When Dine Around Seattle's 30 for $30 first started, it was a cheaper 25 for $25, but it was also a crap shoot. Boring salads and far too much chicken abounded as not every participant took the promotion seriously, and neither did their staff. (I say this from first hand experience on both sides of the promo.) I never understood why a restaurant would sign up for this thing only to provide food that underwhelmed. The point of the promotion, much like any "taste of" event, is to showcase your place's food to new guests so that they'll put you on their
dance dining card.
A random trail of clicks through the Dine Around Seattle website for November shows that restaurants are taking it seriously, and how. The 30 for $30 promo--to refresh, has participating restaurants offering three courses for $30 at dinner, with a few doing $15 three course lunches as well. The price is good Sunday through Thursday, with a few exceptions. The list of participants is a mix between old standbys that deserve another visit and newer restaurants you've been wanting to try. Choosing the former, I rolled in to Andaluca in the Mayflower Hotel just after opening today.
"Last year, we had 77 people for lunch the first day of Dine Around," said my server. For a small joint like this, that's fantastic, proving the point of the promo. Nothing beats a Monday solo lunch downtown during the winter months, but it's hard to believe some of the participants that serve lunch aren't offering the $15 lunch version of the promotion.
Last year, Andaluca (Fourth Avenue & Stewart) switched to a tapas/pintxos heavy menu. I quickly cobbled together a tour through my favorite fall flavors starting with a green salad with copious amounts of marinated pear, Stilton and hazelnuts--a classic, but for good reason. Andaluca gives you two choices of small plates for your entrée option for lunch (three for dinner). From the two kinds of risotto, skewers and other options my eyes went straight to the pumpkin risotto, which had a great ying-yang of bitter greens and candied walnuts, and I chased it with cauliflower gratin. The just over a cup of risotto and a bowl of cheesy cauliflower was just the right size as to be filling without inhibiting any afternoon activity. For dessert, they offered chocolate and flan, of course, but I went with the philo wrapped apple and tart cherry strudel. Esta no Espangol, but I didn't care. The saffron caramel went like a champ with the last dregs of my Amontillado.
NOTE: Make sure to check the Dine Around website as individual restaurant hours and the days and meals when they offer the promotion DO vary.