Eateries team up on special menus

After a popular turnout last winter, Dorchester-Milton Restaurant Week is back for its second year, with the same eight restaurants participating. For $30.11, patrons can dine on a three-course meal offered on a special restaurant week menu. The discounts will be offered from January 17-31 on Sunday through Thursday evenings.

The participating restaurants, located within a five-mile radius, include The Ledge, 224 Boston St., Blarney Stone , Tavolo, Ashmont Grill and dbar in Dorchester, and Abby Park and 88 Wharf in Milton.
“The recession has … affected people’s frequency with which they dine out,” said organizer Chris Lyons. “They’re looking for deals like this, where they know before they even walk through the door that they’re only going to spend $30.”

For restaurant week, the goal is for locals to enjoy an upscale meal at a moderate price – one that is lower than an average bill at the eatery. Intentionally scheduled for January, the time of year right after the holidays when business is often the slowest, the event helps bring in an influx of new customers.
“It gives everybody a chance to really try several courses without spending a lot of money, said Vance Welch, owner of Abby Park.

As a wave of new restaurants has come to Dorchester in the past few years, the neighborhood is becoming more of a “destination spot for restaurants,” said Kevin Tyo, owner of the participating 224 Boston Street. He added that the caliber of chefs now working in local kitchens, who are usually employed downtown, have “created a new restaurant community within the city.”

Although all but one restaurant are American-fare - Tavolo is Italian - the offerings at each restaurant’s menu are completely different. At Blarney Stone, the first course options are Maine lobster bisque, a fried goat cheese and wild berry salad or black mussels. Ledge Kitchen & Drinks’ entrees include pan-seared prosciutto-wrapped monkfish, and 88 Wharf has a duck confit risotto. Each menu also offers desserts, ranging from cheesecake and tiramisu to a passion fruit crème brulee.

“This time around we’re doing some of our more popular menu items, so that people are actually getting a taste and feel of the restaurant and what they would come back to, instead of creating new things,” Tyo said.

Following the popularity of Boston’s restaurant week, other cities have begun to turn out their own events, with locales like Salem offering discounts in the fall and Northampton having theirs in the summer.

All of the restaurants offer free parking and reservations are recommended.