Ever since Curtis and Luke Stone opened Gwen in July of last year, the brothers have been tinkering with the format. At first you had to buy tickets ahead of time, but that fairly quickly gave way to regular reservations, albeit guaranteed with a credit card. For a while the only way to deviate from the nightly, multicourse prix fixe menu was to supplement with pricy steak options. Then guests were given a choice of protein. And now the format is changing slightly again. Beginning this week, Gwen will offer three different prix fixe menu options to guests: one less expensive, three-course meal for $55; an $85 five-course option that's fairly close to the original format; and a third, 10-course meal that costs $185 and will include some of the high-end beef options that have been absent from the regular menu. Guests will still be able to order à la carte at the bar.
This solves some of the issues guests have had with Gwen in the past. In my October review of the restaurant, I wrote:
As much fun as it is to put yourself in someone else’s hands, to indulge in the feast that Gwen provides, as a customer I want this restaurant to be à la carte. I want to be able to order some charcuterie and a fancy steak and one or two vegetable sides or extras (rather than the dozens you get). I found myself eating desserts I didn’t particularly want (even if they were delicious), yearning for meat I couldn’t afford, and feeling at the end that I’d been deprived of something despite spending the money and being stuffed full of food. [...]
My guess is that eventually, Gwen will have to offer its à la carte options (currently available at the bar and on the patio) to a larger percentage of its customers. That the prix fixe will maybe become more expensive and exclusive and deliver more thoroughly on its meaty promise. That despite all the ambition (and money) the Stone brothers have poured into this place, it might have to become a little more populist to survive.
The less expensive three-course option is a turn toward that populism. As much as I'd love to take credit for putting the idea into Stone's head, he told me, "We started talking about that very thing around two weeks before the review came out." He also said, "I do want to be able to serve a larger portion of the population, a more economically diverse set of customers."
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SHOW ME HOW
You can see an example of the three new menu choices, which have been rolled out this week, below.