Philadelphia's first ever Center City Restaurant Week is just around the corner, and the biggest names in town are gearing up for what looks to be a delectable event. From Sunday, Sept. 14 to Friday, Sept. 19, over 40 of the city's top restaurants will offer three-course dinners for only $30 (drinks, tax and tip not included).

While Megan Gardner, General Manager of Bleu, and Paul Dunn, Manager of Devon, agree that participation brings a sense of community to the Rittenhouse area, Jean Fran‡ois, Assistant Manager of Brasserie Perrier, looks at the special week as obligatory. "We are part of the community. We have to do it," he explained.

Since a dinner at B.P. normally costs each guest upwards of $50 without drinks, the $30 price tag is a steal, and the Philadelphia community knows it. B.P. is booked with a growing wait list. "Restaurant week definitely helps. It brings in clientele that might not usually come," admitted Fran‡ois. Those lucky enough to have scored a reservation will delight in a Shrimp Spring Roll appetizer and Steak Frites, followed by sorbet to cleanse the palate.

The prix-fixe menu Devon offers seasonally dictates the courses they will offer for restaurant week. Guests will indulge in either soup (Maine Lobster Bisque or New England Clam Chowder) or salad (Caesar or Devon House Salad), followed by a choice of four surf or turf entr‚es, concluding with either a luxurious berry dessert or Chocolate Velvet Cake. Although Devon takes reservations, calling ahead isn't as necessary as it is for some of the smaller eateries in the area. Regular patrons know they can usually get a table without prior arrangements.

Bleu, arguably the best bistro of Rittenhouse, tailors their daily menu to whatever fresh ingredients are available, and invites patrons to choose one appetizer, one main dish and one dessert from their regular menu. They are almost completely booked, and remaining reservations are going fast.

A word to the wise -- choose your restaurant carefully. Some participating eateries offer great meals on a normal basis for less than $30. Take this opportunity to eat like a rock star and hit up the pricier posh spots that you'll only otherwise visit if you sacrifice your future child's college tuition.

Street tells you where to get the most for your (parents') cash during restaurant week:

Shell out the moolah for:

Brasserie Perrier 1619 Walnut St. (215) 568-3000

Bribery is probably the only way to get into Le Bec Fin's litte brother, which is not only booked for the week, but their waiting list grows exponentially longer by the minute.

Twenty21 2005 Market St. (215) 851-6262

No one ever leaves Twenty21 unsatisfied or unhappy. It's a good ol' apple pie safe bet for good food and good service.

Alma de Cuba 1623 Walnut St. (215) 988-1799

Mojitos and ceviche will blow your mind at Douglas Rodriguez's Cuban triumph.

Opus 251 251 S. 18th St. (215) 735-6787

Atmosphere is everything at Opus -- romantic and elegant. Try for seating in their little secret garden.

Skip 'em -- $30 will cover your meal any day:

Genji Cibuc…n Jolly's Joseph Poon Asian Fusion Restaurant Twenty Manning


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