Food & Drink

Chew on this

Chew on this! Greg Cox

I'll leave it to the economists to figure out whether it's a recession or a depression we're in. I'll just stick with a subject I know and say that it's clear we're in for some lean times. The food analogy is an apt one, too, given that our dining budget is one of the first things most of us cut in uncertain financial times.

Fortunately, tightening our belts doesn't have to mean a steady diet of frozen pizza. While we wait for the effects of the Wall Street bailouts to trickle down, those of us on Main Street can take advantage of the financial rescue plans offered by area restaurants, in the form of food and beverage specials. In many cases, the discounted prices are around half the usual tab.

A growing number of restaurants offer information about special deals on their Web sites or in e-mail newsletters. I've been collecting these special offers and posting them on my blog (blogs.newsobserver.com/epicurean) under the heading "Bargain Bytes" since July. Here's a sampling of what I've turned up.

On Monday nights, all appetizers are half price and specialty cocktails are $5 at ãn in Cary. At Fosters American Grille in Cameron Village, all appetizers are $5 from 4 to 7 p.m. You can get a similar deal at Bentley's, where appetizers served at the bar are $5 until 7 p.m. That includes a starter course of three lamb chops with vegetable risotto; add a salad, and you've got a light dinner.

Say you're hungrier than that? Head over to Glenwood Grill, where you can score a three-course, prix fixe meal for $25. Or Margaux's, where the three-course deal, a reasonably priced $27.95 the rest of the week, is $19.95 on Monday nights. Or to Bistro 64 in Cary, where you can get a three- course, prix fixe meal, including a wine pairing for your entree selection, for $35 Sunday through Thursday nights.

Thirsty? On Tuesday nights, the price of a pint of draft beer or a glass of wine at Acme Food & Beverage in Carrboro is the same as the local price for a gallon of gas. Last week it was $3.49, and you don't need an economist to tell you that the price is trending downward. At Six Plates Wine Bar in Durham, all wines by the bottle (under $60) are half price with the purchase of one plate on Mondays. And on Glenwood South in Raleigh, wines by the bottle from Enoteca Vin's superb cellar are half price on Monday nights. Now that's what I call liquid assets.

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