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Dining Out, is it becoming more of a luxury?

Chowhounds, I'm curious...With prices on the wholesale level going north, and top restaurants in my area north of Manhattan pushing some entrees close to the $40. mark (cocktail prices notwithstanding), is dining out becoming more of a luxury, or is it still a convenience for your family in this economy...is anyone feeling the pinch...has anyone actually started cutting back a bit?

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  1. I guess it depends on what your definition of dining out is. I find that in NYC, it's cheaper to eat out sometimes than cook.

    1. Interesting question. I'm British and it's often thought restaurant costs are higher in Europe. Eating out is usually thought as more of "an event" and not really a "convenience".

      However, outside of high-end London restaurants, $40/£20 for a main course would be considered quite expensive, elsewhere in the country. By way of further example, we recently ate at our nearest Michelin starred place (1 star) - nibbles; amuse; starter; main; pre-dessert, dessert - total was under £50/$100 each ( tax is included in that and tips are at 10%).

      It certainly would seem as though, if US prices are increasing as you say, thos eof onn the UK board might have to reflect on when we advise what is "expensive". I'm curious to see how this thead deveops with your compatriots.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        Wow. A meal at a Michelin starred place for under $100 each! That would be pretty damn hard to come by in Berlin, where appetizers at such places can ring in between 25 and 35 € ..... sigh. And here I thought going out to eat in England with the strong pound (how do you make the pound sign on a mac?) would be much more ruinous...

        1. re: linguafood

          Hey lingua,

          Press option+3 at the same time. I find that accent marks, etc. are far easier on Macs. On PCs one must memorize four digit combinations for each combinations of accent mark and letter, plus different codes for capital letters, it's absurd.

      2. I am dining out less often and usually at a less expensive place. I find myself cooking at home more often too.

        1. I think it's about choices and one's family dynamics. We're empty nesters and rarely vacation and for us "dining out" is very important (and not just because of the food). We don't go to movies, we do spend a lot on food at home (especially wine, cheese and meat) but we spend less than the average family in other areas (lower percentage of housing costs, etc.)

          1. I am definitely feeling the pinch. For many reasons, I am trying to cut back a bit on eating out all the time. The food and wine dollars have to be more carefully managed than in the past. I can definitely eat much more cheaply by cooking at home and opening a nice bottle of wine from our fridge. We still spend a significant portion of our "spending money" on nice meals out, but we are trying to choose our restos more carefully, and we aren't going out just because we can't be bothered to cook. Dining out has become more of an event, a luxury as you say. The nice benefit of this is that we are eating a bit more healthy these days, and we are enjoying cooking and shopping together.