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Fox Cities Restaurant Week returns for seconds

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Courtesy of Kim Thiel Photography

Fox Cities, eat your heart out. A second helping of Fox Cities Restaurant Week gets served up September 8–15.

The eight-day event features upwards of 30 local restaurants offering three-course prix-fixe menus. Lunch menus are $12 and dinner menus are offered at two price points, either $25 or $35, giving diners a low-risk opportunity to try all the restaurants they’ve always wanted.

Meals are inventive and lean toward upscale – think sweet pea risotto with crispy pancetta, parmesan and red wine gastrique or slow roasted pork with citrus apple slaw on a brioche bun, served with lavender honey pears. Both of these were served at Restaurant Week 2015.

Fox Cities Restaurant Week was initially brought to life through the grassroots efforts of a 14-person volunteer committee. The passionate response from restaurant owners and diners is what’s bringing it back for year two.

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Courtesy of Kim Thiel Photography

Sherri Beausoleil of Appleton visited six restaurants during the inaugural Fox Cities Restaurant Week, sharing her experience through social media along the way.

“My husband and I ordered almost entirely different courses so that we could taste each other’s choices,” Beausoleil says. “It’s safe to say that together we tasted more than 35 new dishes in one week.”

Beausoleil tried Il Angolo for the first time during Restaurant Week and loved the beautifully prepared ingredients. The service at Basil Café was expert and the “eye-candy” presentation at GingeRootz made for Instagram-worthy pictures, Beausoleil says.

“We appreciated the thought that local chefs put into creating their menus and loved trying new dishes,” she says. “It gives local restaurants a chance to remind us why we love their food, to show us how much more they can create, and to bring us in to try new places, too.”

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Courtesy of Kim Thiel Photography

Beausoleil’s Restaurant Week adventure is exactly what organizers were hoping diners would experience.

“Restaurant Week shows the community how robust and diverse our dining options really are here,” says Fox Cities Restaurant Week event lead Samantha Dennis.

In year two, Dennis says attendees should keep their eyes peeled for more special events throughout the week. (Rumor has it there may be a pop-up restaurant or two.)

Larry Chomsisengphet, general manager of Basil Café in Appleton, is excited to be involved in Fox Cities Restaurant Week for a second year, having attended similar events while living in Minneapolis and Washington D.C.

“I think it highlights our dining scene and food culture here in the Fox Cities, especially since our food scene has grown tremendously in the past five years,” Chomsisengphet says.

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Courtesy of Kim Thiel Photography

Besides bringing in new customers, Chomsisengphet says Restaurant Week provides him the opportunity to network with other restaurateurs (a rarity in the industry) and lets the restaurant flex its creative muscle.

“It’ll allow my sister Sou, the owner and head chef of Basil Café, to try out some new things, menu-wise, that we may want to feature later on or just want to add to our menu outright,” Chomsisengphet says.

It’s events like Restaurant Week that make the Fox Cities a desirable place to live, Chomsisengphet says, and might even bring outsiders a new perspective on the area.

“Restaurant Week creates Appleton, and the Fox Cities, as a destination place. A place to come visit and enjoy some great food and culture,” he says, “and if you love it enough, maybe you’ll want to settle down here.”

—FC

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