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Menus without food prices - Any restaurants that still do this?

  • t

Does anyone know of any restaurants (particularly in the Los Angeles area) that have a set of menus that does not have prices listed in them?

I've assumed this practice is long gone, but was curious if anyone knew of any that still had this option available to it's patrons (and if such places are 'hound worthy).

I like the idea of not having whomever you are treating to dinner know what the prices are...

Thanks in advance.

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  1. b
    babette feasts

    You may be able to request them to print you menus w/o prices. Most restaurants laser print their menus (daily if necessary) these days. Places I've worked have done that for parties where the host didn't want the guests to be concerned with $$. If it's just you and a date, they might think you're silly, but on the other hand if it's high-end they'd be used to indulging patrons' various whims, so might as well ask.

    1. Le Bristol in Paris (at least when I was there almost two years ago).

      A bit further than LA, but if you really don't want your date to worry about prices... :-)

      1. Still quite common in France at top end restaurants as noted below about Le Bristol. Another nice option is to call or go by in advance. Choose the food for you and your guest and your wines and pay/tip in advance. They when you are arrive you are seated, your food and wine comes and at the end of the evening you just get up and say goodnight and walk out without paying. Your date will think you are a regular. You can always leave some extra money for additional drinks just in case and pick up your change at a later date, or leave a business card and ask them to invoice you for any little extra your date might ask for. Any top end place should be able to accommodate you for this if you want a special evening and are looking to impress a little.

        If you trust them you can even leave your credit card with them in advance and come back the next day to sign the reciept or as noted just ask for an invoice. Use your imagination or discuss with the restaurants management.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mdibiaso

          I've not heard of restaurants invoicing their customers... Since the business is so cash-dependent, this extending credit -- even on special occasions -- seems like it would receive the least enthusiasm. Providing your credit card number prior is probably the best guarantee -- and it will cover any of those unexpected overages you mentioned.

          There are a couple restaurants in the SFBA that have priceless menus as an option. La Maison du Cafe in Campbell and Cafe Alexander in Birlingame are two where I've used this service. It was a bigger treat to watch my price-conscious guests (an uncle and aunt visiting from out-of-state, notorious for searching out the cheapest plate and then splitting it) flip their menus about in vane attempts at finding any prices. (I'd also made sure that my menu was priceless since I could then turn it over to them without care.) Both still split a single meal but neither could base it solely on price. (VEG)

          As others have pointed out, ask for the manager/owner. Explain that you'd like a priceless menu and why. Most will (happily) accommodate you -- since many high-end restaurants print daily menus out -- and this will also allow them to make sure that your evening is a true success.

          1. re: mdibiaso

            None of the women I've dated would take kindly to having their dinner chosen for them... perusal of the menu is part of the magic of a great restaurant experience; it causes rumination and nostalgia for great meals past and, often, salivation.

          2. Aujourd'hui at the Four Seasons in Boston will accomodate a request for a menu w/o prices or advance ordering. And as a previous poster suggested they will invoice you for additional drinks. I think I just left a credit card number and they sent me an invoice. Very nice to arrive, not to deal with menus and leave without siging a bill. Also, the BC club in Downtown Boston does the price-free menu thing for the guests of club members. No special request necessary, that's just how it is.

            1. b
              Big Bad Voodoo Lou

              I wouldn't eat at any restaurant that didn't have its prices listed somewhere, nor would I trust such a place. I'm having a hard time believing that a menu with no prices would be a selling point for anyone, as opposed to a detractor.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                I believe it's called a "blind menu", and were much more popular in days gone by. The idea behind them was that the guests in a dining party wouldn't have a need to know the prices, they only need to know what's available (they're not paying, their host will pay).

                1. re: ricepad

                  Thank you for the 'official' name! The term had escaped me. Now I'll know what to ask for, should the desire arise.

                  Thanks all!

                2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                  I think the OP was asking if the guests at the dinner could be given a menu without prices, so that they wouldn't worry about what the host is paying.

                  Many years ago some restaurants would give females in the party menus with no prices on them.

                3. b
                  BabyLitigator

                  Melisse in Santa Monica does a 'carte blanche' menu where they don't give you prices. Then again, they don't give you a menu either. Pretty good, as prix fixe in L.A. goes.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: BabyLitigator
                    b
                    babette feasts

                    And Melisse happens to be a fabulous restaurant, so GO!

                  2. The last time I went (a couple of years ago for a business dinner), L'Orangerie had blind menus for us. It was very comforting, because I hate the idea that everyone is going to order the $18 pasta and I'm going to have the $30 salmon.

                    You might get more responses about specific L.A. restaurants that offer blind menus if you posted on the L.A. board -- with a link back here for general discussion of blind menus.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      thank you :) ...thought I'd get regulated by the mighty hand of the webmaster, if I posted this non-food question on the LA board. ;)