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Cost of a restaurant meal
Old 01-11-2015, 05:54 PM   #1
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Cost of a restaurant meal

DW and I just finished a really good laugh... remembering an incident from our middle working years... maybe the mid 70's.
BIL and SIL asked us to join them and some friends for dinner at a restaurant in Albany... (can't remember the name... Maybe Lighthouse or like that). Very nice decor etc, and nice view from the dining room.
Now ya gotta understand that we're plain folk, and an expensive meal is at places like the Outback. This place was a bit different. Before we got started, two waitresses brought an hor d'oerves cart, with some different (for us) foods..., including caviar, and some items we had never heard of.
Being curious, I tried a bit of everything...
The main menu had things like buffalo steak, ostrich, giraffe etc... I chose Whale meat, but they were out of that. We had a few bottles of wine and an after dinner cocktail... A nice evening...

Until the bill... all on one check. For six of us about $450 as I recall. To DW..
"You got any money?"... Like she had about $10 and all I had was $50. (no credit cards then)...

BIL bailed us out... Bless his heart! An OMG night burned into memory, and a "never again".

Our favorite place today is our great local Chinese Restaurant... Total bill before tip for two seniors is $11.56, and it includes AYCE Salmon, Shrimp, Crab, and 80 other selections, plus 30 desserts.

So, the question: What's the most you've ever paid for a restaurant meal?
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:00 PM   #2
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I am not into real fancy restaurants, so my max is about $150 for wife and me, nice dinner with some wine, dessert, and tip. Even that was pretty excessive, but it was an anniversary dinner at a 4 or 5-star place that has many awards. Food was good, but I just have a hard time with that amount of money for one meal.

My wife jokes that now I only go somewhere if I have a 2-for-1 coupon
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:02 PM   #3
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In the early 1990s a friend who liked to "live well" suggested that we dine at a gourmet restaurant. We had a lovely meal with wine and the ambience was wonderful. My share of the bill was ~$100. That friendship didn't last. I wonder why?
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:02 PM   #4
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My most expensive meals were the ones where the bill didn't come until 9 months later, still payin for those
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:03 PM   #5
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I once spent $100 on booze at the rotating restaurant (at the top of some hotel) in downtown Atlanta. By myself. Good thing we took a cab back to the hotel, though honestly it was the prices more than the number that put my tab that high.

I can't think of any time I've been to a super expensive restaurant that someone else wasn't paying for it.

Like you, I'm a fan of the local, cheap place. Ours is a Mexican joint that we go to once a week.

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Old 01-11-2015, 06:25 PM   #6
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After 37 years I can not recall DW and I breaking into three digits on a meal for two. As a corporate traveler I've been drug into more than a few high priced wine and dine affairs. However at this stage of the game I mostly just decline these invitations. I don't enjoy them and really resent the actions of some participants.
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:36 PM   #7
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About $250 for two in a Las Vegas hotel restaurant. We ordered a steak dinner for two plus a drink or two. These days, our dinner for two ranges from $30 - $70 using coupon where available.
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:39 PM   #8
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We've been undershooting our budget!

So we're trying to spend bit more when we eat out, as we enjoy eating out. This includes tipping more for good service.

But we still never seem to cross $100 even though we ate out at a pretty fancy grill the other night. We don't order drinks other than a glass or two of wine occasionally.
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:40 PM   #9
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Many moons ago, my husband and I were "told" that we would join the rest of his family at this upscale restaurant in upstate NY.
The Horned Dorset Restaurant in Leonardsville, New York
We had just bought our house (1984) and were kinda short on cash.

We ordered reasonably priced meals. His sister and her then BF considered themselves wine "connoisseurs" and proceeded to order several bottles of wine, top of the line. Then appetizers up the wazoo for everyone "to share". A lot of it went uneaten. I wouldn't go near the escargot.

We did not have any wine. We ordered beers and then water to go with the meal.

When the check came, everyone but us decided the bill would be split equally. I cannot remember the exact amount we were assessed ($75 or so ?) but I do remember that it made my eyes roll.

I cannot imagine what the same group check would come to today.
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:10 PM   #10
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Boy this rings a chord with me. DW and I are both small eaters (we almost always take doggie bags home from restaurants), AND we both prefer simply cooked foods. But nearly all of our friends are still working, and they enjoy going to a fancy restaurant on Saturday night.
We space out our "double-dating" and I just chalk up these high cost dinners to cost of socializing. Years ago we went to some French restaurant with 4 other couples and I can't remember the exact cost, but wow it was high, and typical of the cliche the portions were miniscule. From that experience, we do temper our friends' restaurant selections to somewhat reasonable prices.
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:18 PM   #11
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If we don't carry our own trays from the counter to the table...we don't go there.
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:25 PM   #12
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I've spent $200 or so in the city for two, bottle of wine, desserts and so forth. Here's my favorite story though. This is from a former client of mine and occurred about 25 years ago . . . you can adjust the prices.

He and his wife went to a REALLY expensive restaurant in NYC for some big celebration. They started by ordering a $300+ bottle of wine. The waiter comes out with the bottle goes over to my friend (the male) and starts to do his thing. Before he could get into it, my friend shakes his head and directs the waiter over to his wife. So the waiter looks at his wife and starts the process. My friends wife does her schtick and after tasting the wine shakes her head and tells the waiter it's just a bit off and that he should take it back. The waiter does so.

A $300+ bottle of wine (and it's just a bit off) and she tells him to take it back? So the waiter comes back out with another bottle. Repeat the scene. After tasting the 2nd bottle she shakes her head and tells the waiter it's still not right. So the waiter takes the bottle back. Meanwhile my friend is getting nervous. He doesn't know squat about wine and his wife just sent back 2 $300+ bottles of wine. These are not well-to-do people. They were just out for a once in a lifetime celebration.

So now the waiter comes back again with the 3rd bottle. This time the maître d is with the waiter. Same process as before. My friends wife smells it, takes a sip and shakes her head no. My friend is sweating bullets. The maître d smells it and takes a sip . . . he concurs with my friends wife. It's just a little off.

It turned out the whole case was bad. My wife's friend had experience as sommelier and could tell. The restaurant was quite grateful and comped the whole meal!
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:25 PM   #13
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Ten bucks, but I supersized .
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:26 PM   #14
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I think $100 per person is the most we've paid for a meal out. I could count on 1 hand the number of times we've done that in our 20 years of marriage. If it's just us, we're much more likely to choose Chili's or a local Mexican place than somewhere "fancy".

Even with our relatively simple tastes, restaurant meals with our 2 youngish kids typically run $55-$60, including tax and tip.

I wish I enjoyed cooking at home more. We'd save a ton of money if we ate out less, but with both DW and I working full-time, we're often not in the mood to cook at the end of the day.
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:30 PM   #15
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I work in the food service industry in Las Vegas so I have seen some very large checks. I've had people order a bottle of wine for $1000 and they offered me the last glass. 1 of 3 times the wine was incredible. I think the most I spent was for my former girlfriend's bday. $350 for two tasting menus with two sake flights and that was off the strip at a high end Japanese restaurant. It was very good but my best food experience was two weeks in Thailand where the average meal for two was $6.
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:39 PM   #16
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My favorite story goes back at least 15 years. I had a very well-to-do friend with whom I would occasionally go to lunch. She would usually grab the check and even though I knew she could use it as a business expense it made me uncomfortable. So the next time we went to lunch at a nice, upscale (but not outrageous) restaurant I waited until my friend excused herself from the table and flagged down the waiter. I told him to be sure to bring the check directly to me.

Well, my friend would drink and eat pretty heavily even at lunch. Like at least 3 glasses of wine (I lost count), appetizer, soup, etc. along with an entree. I eat simply and not that much, and don't drink at lunch. So, when the check came to me and was $125 (before tip) I almost fell off my chair! Fortunately, I was still working and could afford it, but boy did that shock the daylights out of me. I did manage to keep my composure and quietly placed that check on my credit card.

To this day I maintain that my SO and I have never spent that much at a restaurant, even at dinner.
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:47 PM   #17
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We were into "fancy restaurants" on an exception basis. Our record is $650 for two. We've spent over $600 several times, but at truly world renowned restaurants. Obviously we knew what we in for, and don't regret those experiences one bit. We didn't make a habit of it by any means, but you only live once, and we all have our priorities/weaknesses. But we've outgrown the need to experience really cutting edge restaurants now, been there - done that.

While working I had several meals that were far, far more expensive per person, but ordering and paying were not my call on those occasions. Customer expectations/negotiations can be pretty ridiculous...
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:54 PM   #18
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This year we paid for our son's wedding, so the bill just for the meal and open bar was around $18K. It was for about 125 people...never again.

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Old 01-11-2015, 08:06 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
The main menu had things like buffalo steak, ostrich, giraffe etc... I chose Whale meat, but they were out of that. We had a few bottles of wine and an after dinner cocktail... A nice evening...

Until the bill... all on one check. For six of us about $450 as I recall.
I assume they didn't have prices on the menu I know enough about restaurants that "if you have to ask, you probably don't want to pay the price"

Apart from a few corporate outings where someone else was picking up the tab (which easily went to the $100/person range with drinks, appetizers, etc.), the most I ever paid for on an 'average' date was about $180 for 2 for dinner, with wine/drinks, etc., at fancy schmancy places in New Orleans area. Of course, the bad thing was that it wasn't a celebration - just an "ordinary" Friday night out. Repeat on Saturday. And repeat the next few times I was down there. Needless to say, I started to realize we weren't quite on the same page financially. When I heard her make a comment about how her father would let her use his credit card in college to go out to eat with her brother (since they went to the same school far away from home), she would intentionally pick out an expensive restaurant and order filet, etc.....I kind of saw the type of person she was.

There may have been another time, like a New Year's Eve event a number of years ago, where a multi-course dinner included a band and open bar for maybe $100-$120/person, which would have been the most for my record.

If I had complete control over restaurant selection, I'd go where the food is excellent - decor and ambiance be damned! Of course, there are some high falutin' places that have excellent food, and I do splurge a few times a year on those...but I'd rather have 10 meals out at a lower price (but great tasting) restaurant than have the same money pay for just 2 meals at a place with food that might taste marginally better (but could also easily taste less appealing). And for 1 or 2 romantic nights out, I suppose I could fuss through a certain setting with higher prices just to mix it up a little bit.
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Old 01-11-2015, 09:05 PM   #20
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I am in awe of these numbers. I don't think i've ever spent more than $40 at a meal and that was for two people. A couple times a year i'll pay for my share of a meal out with family for a cost of $10-20. That's a splurge for me. Usually if I eat out it's McDonald's dollar menu- $3 max.
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