Lets put the packed bar at Allen & Delancey into context, shall we? Last night, we also stopped into Sorella a block away. Head count at the bar: four people, including our party of two. Weve dined here a couple of times and have seen folks poke their heads in, only to leave when told that they can only order la carte at the bar and must submit to what was originally to be a $30 to $45 prix fixe in order to set foot in the dining room. Actually, a Chowhounder recently found the prix fixe at $25 to $30, but was still dubious about the setup: Lets see how long that lasts, they snarked, and we have to wonder the same.
Its one thing to offer the additional option of a prix fixe (nearby, Shang offers a three-course, $35 Starving Artists Menu all night on Mondays and Tuesdays and from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays), but to force it on diners? Were pretty sure that wouldnt jibe with Robert Sietsema, who has just launched a recurring advice column telling restaurateurs what not to do, and were much more appreciative of places like Boqueria, which, in addition to its set menu, is keeping them coming (even early in the week) by offering an la carte market menu that changes nightly. Its all about options, people! Of course, having this sign outside, as Boqueria does today, also helps.