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Apr 8, 2005 04:04 PM

Why justify about the cost of a very expensive lunch/dinner?

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In an earlier post some 'hounds are asking how one can spend $650.00 for lunch for two at the French Laundry. Granted this is big bucks for one lunch but this is no ordinary lunch. Overall, in my opinion, I really don't see why we need to justify or explain ourselves as to why or how we spent this money for lunch or dinner. We just did for our enjoyment-period.

Some people think nothing of having $5 coffees every day at Starbucks which adds up to over $1,000 buckaroos in a year. Others like their weekly manicure/pedicures. Whatever. That person is paying for it. Why do we suddenly get a bit moralistic about food being expensive when we think nothing about paying big bucks for cars, houses, jewelry, weddings, etc. Is it that food is more disposable? What about the memory and experience of being in a legendary restaurant like The French Laundry? If I had the choice between one wonderful lunch at the French Laundry for $650.00 or six so-so lunches/dinners at $100.00 each, guess which one I'd go with?

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  1. I agree, my DH and I celebrated an anniversary at Le Gavroche in London last year. It was worth every penny of the over $200.00 we spent for lunch, the food, the room, the service, the whole experience was fantastic. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat. Of course if the dollar gets better in the near future it won't be quite as dear.

    1. While I agree with you that no one needs to justify how much they spend on whatever, $650 for lunch for two is pretty much off the scale, even for the best restaurant in the US. So I can also understand why many would be incredulous. And people do question someone who gets a Starbuck everyday of the week. In fact a lot of financial advisors do advise not getting that coffee.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Peter

        Among other things, at the restaurant in question the lunch menu is the same as the dinner menu. A nine (or sixteen) course tasting menu is the same price whether it's served at noon or at 8 pm (rather, started at those times, since the serving of the meal takes at least four hours). In truth, I think it's better (and healthier) to eat such a meal earlier in the day.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I think lunch should be cheaper than dinner at French Laundry, just like it is everywhere else. Say maybe $625 ;-)

        2. re: Peter

          Well, I would advise not getting Starbucks every day because their coffee is just not that good, but where I live, a daily latte or mocha is not at all something anyone looks askance at. In fact, there's usually a huge line of the same people at my coffee shop every morning when I stop in for mine (and my rosemary scone)!

        3. From my perspective, it's merely incredulity...I personally was not seeking justification from anyone (except perhaps Thomas Keller, but he is what he is, so I'm not all that interested), just expressing amazement.

          Perhaps some day I will be in a place where that kind of thing is part of my lifestyle...sigh.

          1. Let me start with 'wow'.

            Let me move on to - incredulity? justification?
            The first post to bring up the shock factor was someone making a joke (to the tune of 'they should not only get the bread there on time, they should feed it to you'). I didn't see anyone put down the original post-er or get moralistic about it. In fact, everyone agreed that indeed, waiting 20 minutes for bread was out of line ESPECIALLY at that price.

            The original post-er mentioned the price. OK. Some of us were shocked at that price. OK. I, in all earnesty, asked if there really is a difference between food you pay $300 for and food you pay $600 for? And as I mentioned - at that point is the food REALLY higher quality or is it just name you're paying for?

            I say this, keeping in mind that another poster pointed out that she had all of the same experience one gets at French Laundry for half the price. That leaves me to believe the food must somehow be better. The question still remains. I was 'challenged' to look up the preparation that goes into it. I will. After which I'm sure I'll have more questions.

            I know that I was not asking for justification or moralizing about anything someone else was doing. I was commenting on information that was already put out there (namely the price and another post making light of their shock about the price).

            Shock, for me, does not mean judgement. Shock means shock. Shock means I haven't experienced that (the most I've spent on dinner for two is $300 and I don't regret a second of it). Shock means, wow, that's a lot of damn money. Shock means, "To cause surprise". Nothing up my sleeve.

            Hope that makes it more clear.

            4 Replies
            1. re: krissywats

              I do believe in addition to your 'shock' about the price, you were also justifying a bit about what $650 could buy you. That in turn would cause people to justify why they spend their money on expensive lunch/dinners.

              I've listed below your post on that French Laundry thread.


              1. re: Flynn

                Yes, that 'list' was a joke - made after a lighthearted comment by a couple of other post-ers. It was also started with a comment about 'orgasm' being involved in eating at the French Laundry. I meant the entire post in the same lighthearted vein.

                As far as posting several times throughout the thread, as I mentioned, there became an earnest desire for me to understand the difference. This was not putting anyone down, as I said, but honestly trying to understand. That was answered by several people - specifically the one listed below by Caviar (and another by RR). They both gave me a more tangible understanding, until then (and I don't mean this offensively at ALL) the answers had been impalpable and about the 'experience' and since it had been established that someone else had, in fact, had a similar 'experience' for half the money - if the food could actually be that much better.

                I kept repeating myself (as I've done here) because that specific question hadn't been answered.

                I'm sorry if I came off offensive and I hope that HeidiPie didn't think I was asking for justification on how she chooses to spend her money.


                1. re: krissywats

                  FWIW, KrissyWats, I perceived your tone to be more curious than moralistic in the other thread, but ultimately, only you will be able to answer your questions.

                  The "worth" of a dining experience is such a personal thing, and the French Laundry's extreme prices and catering to a certain social strata always make that type of discussion highly charged.

                  I posed some questions on the SF board recently about the FL, and have linked that thread below. Responses certainly varied and may give you more insight into whether this is an experience worth investing in for you.

                  I personally came to the conclusion that my husband would probably not enjoy the FL that much given the reservation process, prices, and "preciousness" of the whole thing. I, OTOH, believe it's something I need to do at least once before I die...sooner rather than later.


              2. re: krissywats

                I absolutely agree that you have every right to be incredulous, surprised, shocked, whatever. What I think brought on the defensiveness was the fact that you didn't just express that once but several times over the course of the thread.

                I smiled and felt that I shared some of your feelings after reading your first post. But when you kept on about it I found myself wondering why, and thinking "hey, folks can spend their money however they want, and even if I wouldn't spend it that way, this board isn't the place for questioning that." I read your persistence on the topic as judgement, even if it wasn't intended that way.

                One of the ongoing struggles of human communication is separating out intent from interpretation. What you meant and what some others heard seem clearly to have been two different things.

              3. An individual shouldn't have to justify what they choose to spend their money on.

                I economize on workaday breakfasts and lunches (I brown bag), I walk 6 miles roundtrip to and from work each day (for health but it also saves $$) but I go to Europe at least once a year.

                I've had people comment on my trips to Europe as if they are such an extravagence and indulgence - meanwhile what I save on lunches, transportation and lots of home-cooking throughout the year more than pays for my travels.

                We all make choices...what's important to me may not be important to others. That's life and what makes the world go 'round.