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Restaurant Menus Without Prices


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I remember a time when certain restaurants would offer menus without prices.  These were given to the women dining with a companion.  I know of no restaurants today that provide such menus.

 

The idea was, I suppose, that a woman could order without consideration of price; perhaps it was a way for a man to say that ordering anything on the menu would be OK - that money wasn't to be a consideration that evening. 

 

I was wondering if this practice still exists.  Has anyone had a somewhat recent experience where a menu without prices was available?  What do you think of this practice?  Might it still be a good idea in some circumstances?  Would you, as someone's dinner companion, be offended, or in anyway upset, were you to receive such a menu? 

 ... Shel


 

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I remember in 2001 we went to a restaurant in London, "Just Around the Corner." Finchley Road. It has since closed. There were four of us, the two ladies each got a long stemmed rose. We each had an appetizer, entree, dessert. glass of wine. We each paid 10 pounds and the owner was happy. Nice place.

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5 minutes ago, vloglady said:

I remember in 2001 we went to a restaurant in London, "Just Around the Corner." Finchley Road. It has since closed. There were four of us, the two ladies each got a long stemmed rose. We each had an appetizer, entree, dessert. glass of wine. We each paid 10 pounds and the owner was happy. Nice place.

 But what has this to do with menus without prices?

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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1 hour ago, NWKate said:

I've never seen menus without prices.

 

Same here —and I'm too damn poor to take a chance! O.o

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Courtesy of Google-Apparently the restaurant didn't have any prices, you paid what you thought the meal was worth.  I wouldn't mind eating in a restaurant where you paid what you thought the meal was worth, although if I really hated the meal would they give me money?  As for menus without prices, I'd be too fretful about what the bill might be and too busy surreptitiously checking my wallet to really enjoy the meal.

Edited by Arey (log)
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"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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10 minutes ago, Arey said:

Courtesy of Google-Apparently the restaurant didn't have any prices, you paid what you thought the meal was worth.  I wouldn't mind eating in a restaurant where you paid what you thought the meal was worth, although if I really hated the meal would they give me money?  As for menus without prices, I'd be too fretful about what the bill might be and too busy surreptitiously checking my wallet to really enjoy the meal.

 

Hmmm.  I think we are discussing two very different concepts.  Ones where there are no set prices and those who choose to show their pricing only to certain members of the dining group. 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I have never been handed a menu at a restaurant that had no prices. I do know what Shel is talking about, a time when high end restaurants assumed that the man paid the check. Insulting then, and it would be insulting now. Granted I live in one of the most progressive cities in the country (as do you, Shel) and I don't eat out that frequently or that expensively. A so blatantly sexist practice it is hard to believe any place would do that now.

 

What I do see, and what irritates me no end, are the high-end restaurants that put their menus up on their websites without prices. Give me a break. What are they trying to tell me? That if I have to ask I can't afford it? That I'm not their target diner? They shouldn't worry, because they are getting what they wanted. They might see the sharp end of my fork, but they won't see my money.

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20 minutes ago, Katie Meadow said:

I have never been handed a menu at a restaurant that had no prices. I do know what Shel is talking about, a time when high end restaurants assumed that the man paid the check. Insulting then, and it would be insulting now. Granted I live in one of the most progressive cities in the country (as do you, Shel) and I don't eat out that frequently or that expensively. A so blatantly sexist practice it is hard to believe any place would do that now.

 

What I do see, and what irritates me no end, are the high-end restaurants that put their menus up on their websites without prices. Give me a break. What are they trying to tell me? That if I have to ask I can't afford it? That I'm not their target diner? They shouldn't worry, because they are getting what they wanted. They might see the sharp end of my fork, but they won't see my money.

 I am not sure it is any longer particularly sexist. If I remember correctly, and I may not, at the faculty club of my alma mater members received menus with prices but guests of those members received menus that had no prices beside the dishes. I always saw it as a way of allowing you to entertain away from home without putting any stress on your guests. Maybe I'm being being a pollyanna and it is even possible that this is a false memory.  

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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1 hour ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

 

Same here —and I'm too damn poor to take a chance! O.o

 

You wouldn't be "taking a chance."  You would have the prices on your menu, and your dining companion would not.

 ... Shel


 

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What was done if two or more men or two or more women were dining together?  Everyone gets a menu with a price?

 

I do think I would feel a little swept off of my feet if I were taken to a restaurant like that....or maybe not.  I think I would still scan the menu and try not to pick something too expensive (if this was when I was dating....now, if my husband took me?  all bets are off, I'm going for the works lol).

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Club membership and the club's guest rules are really a different issue, although I wouldn't know much about that either, since I've never belonged to a private dining club, nor has anyone ever invited me to one. But I think the original post was really about giving women in specific a menu minus prices.

 

Shelby, it's a good question what happened when two or more men only were dining. If it was a business meal or one person was paying, I imagine the host might have requested the priced menu up front if the restaurant offered such an option. So very glad these will never be my problems. And if I was on a date with someone I didn't know very well and he took me to a restaurant and handed me the priceless menu, you better believe I would order the lobster. And I don't even like lobster that much. 

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When I've seen this it was always in a private club. Sometimes there are no prices for anyone's menu. Sometimes only the host.

 

No prices for anyone is the more common example of this rare phenomenon in my limited experience.

 

It has never seemed to be related to gender.

 

Edited by gfweb (log)
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FWIW I had the opportunity to dine at Club 33 in Disneyland a few years ago as a guest. All members of the party were given menus with prices. I would have had a bit of heartburn had there been no prices.

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I remember reading a piece by Calvin Trillin in which he talked about being taken to a restaurant where only the host's menu had prices-  this would have been in New York in the seventies. He wrote that it was the custom of the person who hosted him to announce the price of any menu item the guests mentioned, saying that it was only fair to give the guests an idea of how warmly they should thank him.

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7 hours ago, dcarch said:

Some items have no price. Mostly seafood. market price.

 

dcarch

 

 

 

 

Market price is different than no price.  I see market price on many menus, as you said, mainly referring to seafood.  However, I have never seen a menu with no listed prices period.

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These menus were common in the UK pre 1970s and were nearly always presented to women. More enlightened times saw an end to most of them.

Also, in UK law, with few exceptions, restaurant menus (with prices) must be displayed outside or at the entrance the premises, allowing the customer to decide if it was in their price range or not before entering. Fast food places have slightly diffrent regulations. More details here.

 

Anyway, it rendered those "priceless" menus potentially illegal, as well as sexist.

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Lots of places have market price for lobster or catch of the day. That is very different than being handed a menu with no pricing at all. Apparently I've not been privy to the exclusive clubs that still practice this.

 

I have never in my life been handed a menu in a restaurant with no pricing at all, and I'm 57 and female. It would make me most uncomfortable, and had I known beforehand, I'd have avoided the experience.

 

My mom taught me before she passed when I was only eight years old that, "A lady always orders from the middle-priced items of the menu." It must have been a priority with her, since I wasn't exactly on the dating circuit then. Or maybe she was trying to curb my early curiosity about the culinary world on our rare ventures into restaurants? 

 

One of my pet peeves is no pricing on online menus or being asked to create an account with e-mail address, and other personal info in order to get more info, and at that point, one has no idea what that further info might even be. 

 

Even some fast food and delivery places are now asking for this. >:( McDonald's does not even offer pricing except for their specials like McPick 2 for $5, which is currently running. Local chain pizza places are asking for your life story now, before even offering up a menu, much less pricing. I always go for Primo Pizza, a mom and pop place with the best pizza and tiramisu in town, if they have the dessert. They have a great antipasto salad as well. They don't even store your address or phone number, but I'd rather give it again when ordering than be bombarded with spam. Their prices are posted online for everyone to see.

 

This no-pricing thing seems to be a minority, but considering the huge influence of giants like McD's it is scary to me. Anyone who asks for personal info before displaying their menu gets clicked off!

 

Don't even get me started on the hoity-toity restaurants, that granted, I probably can't afford to eat at anyway, but don't offer pricing online even if you are seriously interested, and were willing to offer up your first born.

 

 

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I'm thinking you're not likely to find many restaurants giving women a menu with no prices when dining with a man (who gets a menu with prices). That makes the assumption that he's paying the bill. A lot of women aren't overly enthusiastic about those types of assumptions these days.

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I've seen a few menus without prices in Japan in some of the fancier French places, but it's not gender specific - it's more that the person making the booking gets the priced menu, and the guests don't. So sometimes I've got the priced menu and sometimes my husband has depending on which of us made the booking.

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