There's a research study famous now in the travel industry that came to an interesting conclusion:  Much of the happiness boost given by travel comes in the anticipation. First discussed in the journal, “Applied Research in Quality of Life,” found that planning a trip can, in some cases, even make you happier than taking it.

By Kim Schneider | Foodie 

Most survey takers did find happiness in the trip. But all experienced a significant boost during the planning stages—when looking forward to the good times ahead.

I don't think there's been a study specifically tied to culinary travel—or just eating out—but I know this from personal experience. Reading menus (or even recipes) and anticipating that future dining experience can make one almost giddy if not just pleasantly hungry. Much like researchers found with travel, some of the fun is in imagining the fun and taste pleasure ahead.

The Glen Lake Restaurant Week doesn't start until April 26 (running through May 4), but menus are being posted, allowing for the happiness to start at any point. Doubt the effect, just read some lines on Nonna's Restaurant Week menu, one of the first to be posted. Try not to salivate while picturing the first course of “burrata cremosa with chilled pepperonata and crisp basil; a second of homemade rigatoni with pancette, onions, pecorino and sardo; and a third of polenta with roasted foraged mushrooms, remolata and Parmesan fundata. (And those are just one of three options in each of three categories for a bargain at $35 mix-and-match meal).

As is clear from this menu—and will be even more so when you read the offerings from La Becasse, Blu, Little Traverse Inn and others—this particular region's restaurant week offers some culinary travel in a pretty real way with their European-inspired offerings or techniques. La Becasse can be counted on for classical French country cuisine, Little Traverse for Irish classics, Blu for European-inspired techniques, even if a dish's country of original isn't as obvious. But there's American too, as is clear from the week's motto: “from French fries to French cuisine.”

Nine restaurants are participating this year with offerings of fixed price menus, including newcomers Brookstack Kitchen and Taphouse in Maple City (located in a remodeled school house that's also now home to the Leelanau Curling Club) and Cherry Public House at Cherry Republic. Most offer three courses for $35, but some will offer $25 meals and Restaurant Week lunch.

So, check in as menus are added to the site, and sink into the happiness as you make a plan to:

-       Try a restaurant you've never visited, letting your rvisceral excitement about the fixed menu be your draw.

-       Create your own Restaurant Week “tradition.” We have a standing Restaurant Week date with friends we rarely see the rest of the year. The annual date is sacred, and we find conversation that starts with what we've all done over the past year and how our children are doing morphing into memories of favorite date meals past.

-       Hold your own dine-around for that much more to look forward to. Save up for the splurge and book for three...four....more?