SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

November 7, 2012

Restaurants welcome locals back downtown

SALEM — The Chamber of Commerce has organized a delicious way to lure Halloween-weary locals back to the downtown.

Fall Restaurant Week features 26 of the city’s eateries offering weeknight, fixed-price menus of three courses for $25. Several also offer a two-course menu for $15.

The event, which started Sunday, concludes its first week tomorrow, then continues Sunday through Thursday, Nov. 11 to 15.

There’s something for every taste, from tortilla soup and carne asada at Red Lulu on Lafayette Street to sweet potato risotto and roasted salmon at Finz on Pickering Wharf.

Such events have become popular on the North Shore, where Beverly and Peabody have also begun offering them at different times. In Salem, where residents often avoid downtown during the onslaught of Haunted Happenings tourists, Restaurant Week is billed as a welcome-back event for locals.

For businesses, it also has benefits.

We chatted about Restaurant Week with Doug Papows, executive chef at 43 Church.

Papows said his restaurant, located in Salem’s historic Lyceum Hall, expects to be as busy on weeknights as it usually is on a weekend evening.

His menu gives diners two choices for each course, from seared sea scallops with house-made parsnip gnocchi to caramel apple tart.

What was your approach to planning your Restaurant Week menu?

We wanted to do stuff that you couldn’t do at home — things that take hours and hours of slow cooking. ... The labor and prep is intensive, but it can go out (to tables) quickly. We want to show people who might not have been here before what we can do.

What’s your style?

It’s comfort food and new American/French bistro. ... We’re trying to bring big-city food to Salem. You don’t have to drive into Boston, you can get it here.

Why participate in Restaurant Week?

Word-of-mouth works great, and this gets new people in the door. Our staff is very excited about the menu. Morale is up. We just want to feed a bunch of people good food.

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Visit www.salem-chamber.org and click on the “Restaurant Week” logo to find participating restaurants, menus and other details.

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