[NYC] unbundling burger and fries

i worked in big tech and at some point, when my company ran out of product ideas, they started unbundling products and charging more for each unbundled product.

recently moved to the ues and noticed restaurants here are unbundling burgers and fries. maybe it’s in response to inflation but $26 for burger and fries at a pub seems to be comfortably outpacing inflation.

anyone else notice dish unbundling? will be interesting to see how it works with steak frites :slight_smile:

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My friend treated me last week, and the cashier at an upscale bakery café asked if we wanted fries or salad with the patty melt. We automatically said fries. The bill seemed high. Turns out the fries were $5 extra.

I think it’s happening at some places. This was $16 for the patty melt, $5 for the fries- which we couldn’t finish.

I have been ordering burger only at takeout focused places for ages. Most pubs/restaurants with table service in Ontario still include fries with their burgers.

I think the share plates/ tapas-in-North America trend was a type of unbundling. Less food for more money on more plates.

Because of the labour shortage in Ontario where I live, my local pub, part of a small chain, has taken away its Basket Bites, which were a mix and March special of various pub snacks: mini sliders, poppers, in small servings, at around $5 each or $3 for $12. Too much effort at the deep fryer when they’re short-staffed . The menu is about half as big as it was before the Pandemic. They’re still including fries with their burgers and sandwiches. The appetizer section is very small now.

I’ll try to be mindful, on my next visit to a Chinese restaurant, if asked whether I want Western utensils or chopsticks with the noodles.

I’m not complaining.

In retrospect, it made sense, once our food was dropped off at our table, that the portion of fries was large, since the fries were extra.

I was surprised when we ordered, at a counter, without menus in front of us apart from a lunch menu taped on the front door, that the Café was including fries and salad with their sandwiches, and now I know that they don’t.

I don’t often think to ask if they’re included, if a server asks me if I’d like the sandwich with fries or salad.

The question came across as : “Do you prefer fries or salad?”, not “Would you also like to order some fries and/or salad?”or “Do you want fries with that?”

I know, from visits elsewhere when I don’t want fries, that there’s no reduction in price at most pubs if you ask for Fish and Chips, hold the chips. Whereas at a takeout fish and chips shop/chippy, one can sometimes order Fish Only. I’m okay with that.

It may have made sense, but given that fries are/have often been included, they should have told you they were extra.

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I agree.
Also a reminder to me to ask, if I’m concerned about the cost or amount of food. I mostly felt bad because my friend who was treating me is on more of a budget than I am, and I couldn’t finish the fries, and neither could he. They were good fries, too.

Hey, I’m still reeling about the unbundling of bread/butter from my dinner order.


Although now it feels like a nice perk when a restaurant includes good bread and butter with the meal.

amazing how often we are on the same page @SteveR, I was going to mention bread service in my OP but thought to limit my complaining. I’ve been making artisinal sourdough bread for many years, cost is about $1 a loaf, we were up in the finger lakes this past weekend and a place that used to serve bread at the table is charging $8 for four slices of (very good) bread and butter…


Must be a trend - we went to FLX Table in Geneva last summer and the first course of the prix fixe WAS bread (and crudités, but still!). Wasn’t even made in house!

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I’ve not yet noticed unbundling of burger and fries from places that previously bundled. Just had a great burger this past weekend where the burger came with salad or fries. Sadly went with salad as I had been consuming too much food in general over the holiday weekend.

The unbundling of bread and butter I don’t mind so much as its eliminated the mindless eating of the mostly so so bread that preceded the meal where the bread and butter provided now is actually worth eating. The bread and cultured butter with the little dish of radishes for $5 at Frenchette is a great example of something better worth paying a little extra for.

I am more annoyed by the constant up sell of water in NYC where we have some of the best tap water in the world.


ha! our d attended university in ithaca and it gave us ample opportunity to explore the finger lakes. loved the communal table, interesting people, the bread course was delicious, great wine list but left cold by the rest of the menu.

what did u think?