We went to the Michelin 3* Fat Duck for my 60th birthday. That was back in the day when it was rated 3rd best restaurant in the world. I cannot recall how much it cost - other than it was a lot. And worth every penny - not least as nearly 10 years on I can still tell you I’ve been to the 3rd best restaurant in the world. I’m not sure I’d be that interested in ever going back, partially because the cost is now £325. Which I suppose does answer the question in the OP.
Rereading this entire thread has sparked a funny memory. My young family and I, my parents too, were visiting my 2 brothers and their families in Anchorage, Alaska. Because of the long geographical distances we had to travel, respectively, meant not too many family get togethers. We planned a special meal out at Elevation 92, one of Anchorage’s best restaurants. (Alaska is hardly a Mecca of fine dining) H and I had eaten there before when we lived and worked in various parts of Alaska, and the food was sublime. But the funny part is that my parents, (both children of the depression) were always shocked by nice resto prices and would make a big deal out of it, so no one could really enjoy their dinners. Soooo, we called the resto to see if they had any menus without the prices listed and they did not. So, we got them to agree to block the prices out from 2 of the menus so my parents would just relax and enjoy. Wound up having a really fun and memorable evening, even though they weren’t on top of their food game at the resto that night. Younger bro said it was the best evening of his life!
We heard or read that in the way back days of the last Century many a “fancy” place followed the practice of presenting menus without prices to the apparent guest (usually a lady, we’d expect, in a party of two). The host, of course, received the full disclosure version.
In many high end places in France, this practice still exists today. In these places, I have heard if a woman is reserving the place, a menu with price will be available for her.
Very interesting. I’ve partaken of a few meals in my life where the whole is truly more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes it is the most beautiful fresh ingredients, sometimes the sheer quality of the cook, sometimes the ingenuity of putting ingredients together, or using methods, that I couldn’t have thought of or accomplished myself. It is then truly an experience and not just a meal. Those are the times I’m willing to pay for it. My willingness is just currently tamped down to some degree by the understanding that I am about to pay 8 yrs worth of college tuition. We may just have to take a hiatus from the nicer things for a while.
As it should be.
We’re now reminded of a friend who regularly hosted business meals.
It might not have been the menu prices , but rather a testament to those celebrating the closing of the largest business deal they were likely to make in their lives – selling their business. He told he booked the premier steakhouse in town where such deals are celebrated and that to a man, the group selling their business for a very handsome price ordered the “petit” filet mignon, not the porterhouse steak, tomahawk steak, NY/KC strip, etc., but the least expensive item.
Was it the price? His guests’ desire not to “take advantage” of their host? He doubted it. His take was that his guests had simply displayed their long-practiced habit of thrift, no matter the occasion, that made their business a desirable acquisition target.
Never thought of the ‘80s as “the way back days” but… yes they did.
We’ve only once seen a unpriced menu in recent years. And my wife had booked the table, so she got the priced one. It’s still very old fashioned as a concept.
Exactly. We too, have only seen once, in a chateau restaurant in Bordeaux. But that one, it was me doing the reservation and husband getting the priced menu.
Maybe restauranteurs should be aware of this case in Lima, Peru:
This is still the case at my club. The member, regardless of gender, is the host and guests do not need to see the costs. Staff will provide member menus to everyone on request.
Talking about menu without price, we had once attended a tasting menu in a private apartment in Paris. They were doing a wine pairing as well. It wasn’t legal (as a restaurant). After the reservation, they (both US) sent us by email an address and asked us to be discrete when arriving not to disturb the neighbours. We had a great meal in an immense bourgeois home (such place existed?!), we shared a long table with 10 or 12 other diners from everywhere, US, Spain… and we had a very good time sharing fine dining tips and joking. I remember even going to the kitchen to look at how the chef cooked (he cooked alone). After the meal, the chefs told us to pay as we felt like, although he gave us a guided price, something like 60 or 80 euros with the wine, it was some 10 years ago when tasting menu was still a relative new concept. I remember everybody paid the suggested price.
I suspected that partially it is an old practice but also without seeing the price, one tends to order without guilt and order more than a priced menu.
At private clubs the club is an extension of one’s home. You wouldn’t put a price list in front of guests at home. I can’t speak to restaurants that have menus without prices.
We once went to a not quite legal “supper club” in their home. I am unsure exactly which laws they breach but I assume tax and health authority inspections will be two. They made a point of telling us that they did not charge people for dinner. But they did invite us to make a donation, “by way of thank you”, at a minimum of £20 each. Lovely evening and what i assume was very genuine Punjabi home cooking.
Perhaps the grist for another thread, but I have had more meals ruined by obnoxious fellow diners than by bad food or exhorbitant prices. Intrusive voices and rapid-fire outbursts of raucous laughter, fine in a bar or club, get in my way of enjoying a well crafted meal.
For those who are curious what happened to the above mentioned private supper club, those Americans are still sticking around in Paris now and have opened Verjus a few years after.
For sure. Not just at fancy places, either.
It may be over too soon! …But probably not!
The French Laundry starts at $325 pp as a reference.
And that’s no including the finagling to get a reservation! …Is it still hard?