I'm not entirely clear what restaurants mean when they say that they feature "continental cuisine." How about you? I'm pretty sure that it has something to do with a menu that features a variety of dishes inspired by a number of Western European countries. Searching by category on the handy-dandy Restaurant Week Boston page for "continental cuisine" yields two participating restaurants: Kitchen and UpStairs on the Square. Perusing their Restaurant Week Boston menus indeed confirms French, Italian, and Greek influences, among others. Sounds delicious, eh? And it sounds like restaurants worth exploring.

Sure, you could enter "seafood" or "American" and find loads of wonderful choices. But with the incentive of its discounted prix-fixe meals, Restaurant Week offers opportunities to be adventurous while saving dining dollars. So be adventurous!

Have you ever had Persian food? Me neither. But we could by visiting Lala Rokh on Beacon Hill. Whaddya say we make a date and try Khoresht-e Ghormeh Sabzi, which is boneless leg of lamb and dried lime in a bouquet of aromatic greens and exotic greens? Or, we could head to Tangierino Restaurant & Lounge and savor its Moroccan Eggplant, which includes cheese, figs, apricots, oyster mushrooms, and charmoula sauce made from cumin, cilantro, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Yum.

Another way to enjoy a delicious meal, featuring continental cuisine or otherwise, is to participate in the Restaurant Week Boston auction. Bid on gift certificates to participating restaurants, and you may score a great deal. All proceeds will benefit Community Work Services, a Boston-based non-profit organization dedicated to fighting poverty and homelessness. The auction opens Monday, August 19.

Whether you choose to stick with more conventional eateries or seek epicurean enlightenment, be sure to make reservations well in advance -- as in right now. Restaurant Week Boston (which actually spans two weeks) is scheduled for August 18 to 23 and 25 to 30 and will be here before you know it.

Photo: Lala Rokh on Beacon Hill