For a change of pace, let's look at the current money malaise from the glass-half-full side of an upscale bar. OK, yeah, sure, your investment portfolio resembles something even the dog couldn't choke down, but how about we make can do out of doo doo?

For a change of pace, let's look at the current money malaise from the glass-half-full side of an upscale bar. OK, yeah, sure, your investment portfolio resembles something even the dog couldn't choke down, but how about we make can do out of doo doo?

I know some ways to translate our current cash-flow woes into great opportunities to eat at the best restaurants in town for a fraction of their usual cost. See, as this starving economy continues to bottom out, some enticing dining deals are starting to pop up. Check these out.

The week is strong

With each new year, it seems like our beloved town gets ever more grown up and sophisticated. As an example, we're now joining the ranks of all those swanky cities (and places like, uh, Dayton) that annually show off their top chefs to the more dollar-strapped section of the public with scads of low-cost meals. Yes, Columbus will finally have its very own Restaurant Week.

In case you're not familiar with the concept, for one delicious week out of every year (although the times, they are a-changin' - and this is often extended), most of those best-of eateries in, say, NYC, offer fixed-price repasts at such reduced costs that even the non-glitterati can temporarily eat like the other half.

Brought to us locally by Dine Originals Columbus, a fighting-the-good-fight consortium of over 40 high-achieving, independently owned and operated restaurants, Restaurant Week will take place here from March 9-15. During that anticipated time, the whole mighty lineup of Dine Originals (which includes great places like Alana's, Betty's, Handke's, Rigsby's and the Refectory) will be offering multi-course meals for $15 and $30 (prior to tax and tip).

A cruise through the website shows the kind of delicious deals that are in store for you. For instance, $15 at the Burgundy Room scores the following: ham and white bean soup; a lamb chop with pheasant sausage, rutabaga hash and beet marmalade; plus homemade chocolate mousse. See you there.

What: Columbus Restaurant Week

When: March 9-15

Where: Dine Originals eateries around Columbus

Web: dineoriginalscolumbus.com

Rosy outlook

This just in -I've recently learned about yet another sour-economy-driven sweet dining deal from our city's premier culinary vanguard,the esteemed Rosendales. This is great news for gourmands who might've been eyeing this excellent place but were worried about the expense.

For his just-begun Comfort Series (offered Monday through Thursday), the highly celebrated chef is channeling warm memories of childhood comfort food and then finessing them with his trademark modern spin.

The Comfort Series menu will change daily but expect hearty, high-quality dishes like sweet potato soup with marshmallow meringue, buttermilk-fried chicken, oxtail meatloaf and carrot cakes to crop up. As an additional bonus, Rosendales is offering $10 carafes of wine to go with the meals.

OK, here comes the punchline - you can take advantage of the refined Rosendales experience at two very affordable prices: a full three-course meal for only $30 or the four-course biggie for $40. I'll see you there as well.

What: Comfort Series

When: Mondays-Thursdays

Where: Rosendales, Short North

Web: rosendales.com