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Stealth Charges in Restaurants


dmwine
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Wednesday's NYT Dining section had an essay by Frank Bruni on restaurants slyly luring customers to spend more - and not just on bottled water. Things like supplemental charges to selections on a prix fixe menu, astronomical wine-by-the-glass prices, or menus broken into additional "courses" to suggest one should order more than appetizer-entree-dessert. Anyone see this happening in DC?

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IF you want some red wine with dinner at the opulent new restaurant Gilt in Midtown Manhattan, your options typically rise from a minimum of $20 to a maximum of $1,000, with a median of $55 and an average of $246. That range is about what you would expect, but for this: It's not for red wine by the bottle.  It's for red wine by the glass.

And while Gilt's pour may exceed the usual, this munificence is a matter of only a few droplets, judging from a $24 glass of 2004 Cakebread sauvignon blanc I had recently. I could have chosen a lesser sauvignon blanc for the veritable pittance of $18, the cheapest alternative among nine whites and the only alternative under $20. But I also could have spent up to $225.

I always thought Guilt was spelled with a "u."

Not sure "stealth" is the proper adjective for these charges, which remind me of the time a B-2 bomber flew inside my intestine.

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I always thought Guilt was spelled with a "u."

Not sure "stealth" is the proper adjective for these charges, which remind me of the time a B-2 bomber flew inside my intestine.

What the market will bear, Rocksie.

What the market will bear.

good morning everyone!!!

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This almost happened to me in December at Al Tiramisu. A group of 6 of us went their for dinner for my wife's birthday and we thought it would be perfect because it was supposed to be a nice restaurant but the menu on its website wasn't too expensive and some of the folks were on a budget. Well it turned out that the menu was the same as the website with very reasonable prices. However, they also had a long list of specials which were all recited without prices. When I asked the server the price of the specials, he very quickly said "Oh around 25 or so dollars each." (which was significantly more that the average $15 entree price on the menu) Later after we all perused the menu and were making up our minds, I asked the waiter a question about a pasta special that had sounded intriguing. This time when he recited the ingredients, my ears perked up when I heard truffles. So I double checked "that dish is $25?" and recieved this astonishing surprise, "oh no, that dish is $50". I couldn't believe it!!

While we all had a wonderful meal and with otherwise great service, this bit of stealth or even trickery was a surprise. However it didn't ruin my evening because thanks to boards and online reviews I knew that Al Tiramisu had this reputation for significant higher priced specials.

Note: as I'm writing this, I just checked their website and their menu no longer has prices. Interesting.

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The first (and only time) we dined at Sette Bello we ordered a bottle of wine with dinner, but didn't finish it. Since we're in freewheeling Virginny, the law says we can take that wine home with us. I told the waiter our wish, upon which time he informed us that "there is a $20 corkING fee" to take any bottle of wine that YOU'VE ALREADY BOUGHT home. Thanks, but no thanks f*ckers.

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The first (and only time) we dined at Sette Bello we ordered a bottle of wine with dinner, but didn't finish it.  Since we're in freewheeling Virginny, the law says we can take that wine home with us.  I told the waiter our wish, upon which time he informed us that "there is a $20 corkING fee" to take any bottle of wine that YOU'VE ALREADY BOUGHT home.  Thanks, but no thanks f*ckers.

My guess would be that that is illegal in Virginia.

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Which, corking fees, or taking wine home?

There is no such thing as a corking fee. It is both stupid and insulting to even attempt such an absurdity.

Virginia law allows you to take off premises the remainder of a bottle of wine that has been purchased at an on premises retailer provided that: 1) the bottle wine has been opened and served on premises; 2) the cork has been replaced 2/3 of the way--presumably so that a corkscrew would be necessary to remove the cork; and 3) the wine is placed in a bag.

I would imagine that Virginia ABC law would make it illegal to extort a fee to enjoy what you already own, and to enjoy a right to which you are legally entitled. In any case, would that fee be taxed? At what rate, sales? or sales and meals tax? Would that fee be collected and not reported? Since there is no provision for a corkage fee in the law it does not seem to reason that a corking fee would be allowed even if it wasn't so stupid.

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The first (and only time) we dined at Sette Bello we ordered a bottle of wine with dinner, but didn't finish it.  Since we're in freewheeling Virginny, the law says we can take that wine home with us.  I told the waiter our wish, upon which time he informed us that "there is a $20 corkING fee" to take any bottle of wine that YOU'VE ALREADY BOUGHT home.  Thanks, but no thanks f*ckers.

That's seriously foul. I hope that's exactly what you said to them when you left, too.

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The first (and only time) we dined at Sette Bello we ordered a bottle of wine with dinner, but didn't finish it.  Since we're in freewheeling Virginny, the law says we can take that wine home with us.  I told the waiter our wish, upon which time he informed us that "there is a $20 corkING fee" to take any bottle of wine that YOU'VE ALREADY BOUGHT home.  Thanks, but no thanks f*ckers.

Living here for six years, I should already know the answer to this but, can one bring home an unfinished bottle (provided it's re-sealed and bagged) if dining in DC or MD?

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I encountered my favorite in New York this weekend: "Would you like sparkling or still water?" Of course most know that telling the waiter "sparkling" will result in a bottle of San Pellegrino or whatever being opened for the table. Most don't realize that asking for still water doesn't get you tap water, it also gets you a $7 (or more) bottle of mineral water. I saw several tables get surprised by that on Saturday night.

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I encountered my favorite in New York this weekend: "Would you like sparkling or still water?"  Of course most know that telling the waiter "sparkling" will result in a bottle of San Pellegrino or whatever being opened for the table.  Most don't realize that asking for still water doesn't get you tap water, it also gets you a $7 (or more) bottle of mineral water.  I saw several tables get surprised by that on Saturday night.

Um, what I think is hysterical is that I always order tap in New York. Sometimes the server gives a little 'tude and I say "You do know that New York City has some of the best drinking water in the country, don't you?" Total rip off in New York to order bottled water.
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This happened to me at Rasika recently. :)

I encountered my favorite in New York this weekend: "Would you like sparkling or still water?"  Of course most know that telling the waiter "sparkling" will result in a bottle of San Pellegrino or whatever being opened for the table.  Most don't realize that asking for still water doesn't get you tap water, it also gets you a $7 (or more) bottle of mineral water.  I saw several tables get surprised by that on Saturday night.

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