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Am I a Cheapskate or just under-funded


Porthos
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I want to figure out what I'm missing.

When I was growing up in southern California (the 60s) my dad used to sub for the regular keyboard player in the lounge of an old, historic restaurant (originally a stage-stop in the mid-1800s). Thus I have an emotional tie-in to this place.

This was a favorite choice for an anniversary or other important meal and the food and service were excellent (they probably still are). A few years ago I was going to book a reservation for our anniversary and saw that they had changed from inclusive meals to strictly a la carte. I priced out some things on the on-line menu and found that to have the same kind of meal we used to get was going to cost around 40% more than previous visits. That was a budget buster and we haven't been back since.

Here's my question: Am I just a cheapskate in gourmet's clothing or is the cost of production and serving a la carte more expensive, are the portion sizies supposed to be more generous, or is there some other driver that I haven't a clue about? My other experiences dining a la carte have left me feeling that I didn't get value for my money. Value for me is not about portion size, it is the quality of the food and the experience.

Those who can help, please clue me in.

Porthos Potwatcher

The Unrelenting Carnivore

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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I want to figure out what I'm missing.

When I was growing up in southern California (the 60s) my dad used to sub for the regular keyboard player in the lounge of an old, historic restaurant (originally a stage-stop in the mid-1800s). Thus I have an emotional tie-in to this place.

This was a favorite choice for an anniversary or other important meal and the food and service were excellent (they probably still are).  A few years ago I was going to book a reservation for our anniversary and saw that they had changed from inclusive meals to strictly a la carte.  I priced out some things on the on-line menu and found that to have the same kind of meal we used to get was going to cost around 40% more than previous visits.  That was a budget buster and we haven't been back since.

Here's my question:  Am I just a cheapskate in gourmet's clothing or is the cost of production and serving a la carte more expensive, are the portion sizies supposed to be more generous, or is there some other driver that I haven't a clue about?  My other experiences dining a la carte have left me feeling that I didn't get value for my money.  Value for me is not about portion size, it is the quality of the food and the experience.

Those who can help, please clue me in.

Porthos Potwatcher

The Unrelenting Carnivore

You're a cheapskate. :laugh:

But do bear in mind that it doesn't have to have anything whatsoever with the concept of a "complete dinner" vs. a la carte. Prices go up with time, and a restaurant is allowed to revise its pricing whenever it needs to or wants to. And simply stated, restaurants don't offer "complete dinners" any more; higher end ones do offer a "menu", which is a set meal for a fixed price, but this place just may not do that.

Well, maybe you're not a cheapskate; if the prices now seem high to you, you may just be under-funded.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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california minimum wage is higher than other parts of the country (just went up again)...san francisco being the topper at around $9. this includes tipped positions. a lot of restaurants in san francisco ended up getting rid of certain positions (bus boys, etc) when the rate went up the first time because they just couldn't afford it.

it is possible the restaurant you mention has had to raise prices because of labor. also, depending on what their menu is like, now that it is a la carte, they might have changed it to include more premium items. thus the food cost increasing as well as the labor.

restaurants usually hope to make most of their money on alcohol as the markup is the greatest on wine and cocktails (and water these days). but to make ends meet they might have had to boost food prices.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Set menus give you greater consistency with inventory, labour and timing which leads to less waste all around and lower prices for everyone at the cost of less flexibility.

Yes. This is exactly why people in America are just now starting to think about cooking seasonally.

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