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That place is pricey?

What do CHers think is pricey. Here's the thing. I have friends that say they are going somewhere "pricey" and I laugh. If you don't drink, pretty much only the top notch places are pricey. I'm not a dessert freak, so if I wanted to I could go to anywhere that is considered expensive and if I chose to only drink water, I could have an app and an entree for under $50....is that pricey? I don't think so. I spend that on my bar tab usually when I go out.

I go to a nice steakhouse with a large group (8-12) every year, we usually have a martini before dinner, and then split a couple of bottles of wine and have a few beers with dinner. We order a few apps and sides with out steaks and we all usually get after dinner drinks and split a few desserts. It comes out to around $130-150 a person. Now I can't afford to do this once a week, but I don't view it as expensive. The last time we went out, I had sauteed shrimp, fried calamari, mussels fra diavolo, and clams oreganato for an appetizer, had two martinis and about 4 glasses of wine, had a salad, and a center cut filet mignon with bleu cheese and frizzled onions, for sides we split creamed spinach, sweet potato fries, and asparagus. Had a glass of port to end the meal and tasted someone's and tasted someone's pecan pie. The bill came to $125 per person w/ tip. To me that is not an expensive night out for what you are getting.

But I do think spending $25-30 for a pasta dish is ridiculous, especially when it's not loaded with 5 varieties of shellfish. To me that is expensive.

My question is do people take into account what they are eating when they say something is pricey? I think if you pay anything for something you could easily replicate at home, you are paying too much. Any thoughts?

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  1. I agree with you, jhopp. There are many reasons to dine out, but ours usually have something to do with a celebration, in which case price is not a primary concern. We don't like to eat out at a spot where we feel that the food in very similar to things we make at home. When we lived in Manhattan, we would spend a lot on a meal and then look at each other and say, "We could have made that." I feel that those are the meals that are too expensive. We want delicious food when we eat out, but we are passionate cooks and we also want to be inspired. I remember a dinner years ago at Lespinasse (Gray Kunz's old restaurant in the St. Regis) where my husband and I kept on looking at each other saying, "What's in that? How'd they do that?" The meal was ferociously expensive, but clearly worth every penny from the point of view of experiencing something unique. When you go to a steak house and have the meal that you described with friends, you are not only paying for the meal, you are paying for entertainment, so that is the value added to the meal, and in my opinion, makes it worth paying more.

    1. The issue of value was brought up by me in a post a few days ago:


      Whatever word or phrase one wants to use to describe this individual perspective, it can truly become a hot button with those that are more "value conscious."

      I have no problem in saving money on eating or dining, but I also have no problem on spending money on it either. As roxlet has already mentioned, if I can make it just as good, then I have to look at what's in front of me, what is around me, look at the dollar signs and make an informal but relatively accurate decision whether what I'mhaving is a good value, pricey, or worth it... whatever - you get it...

      You brought up the example of pasta, which was my most recent experience with some having a gripe with paying good money for pasta:


      If you read through this thread, it's obvious that arguments for both sides are adamant in their opinions, but in my eyes, it exemplifies that everyone has their own perspective on what constitutes, "pricey." I think if you grew up in a family, neighborhood, or situation where pasta came by easily, you're bound to make the assessment that, "it's only pasta." Furthermore, if one hasn't had great pasta and all the sauces, garnishes, the proper plating and serving, a wonderful setting and a first rate atmosphere, then yeah, it's just pasta.

      If one knows what goes into a great dish of pasta, where the restaurant has its own specialist and area to make the pasta itself, diligently sources the ingredients for what goes into the sauces and garnishes, plates and serves it properly in a wonderful setting, then it is another first-rate dining experience that, regardless of what some people may view as peasant fare, should be left to the individual diner as to assess what its value is. Personally, my views are expressed in that thread and I obviously side with those who feel this particular dining experience was not pricey.

      I live in LA where I'm about a 40-minute drive away from some of the best Chinese food that one will find outside of China (and many Chinese have proclaimed it to be as good or even better). In the San Gabriel Valley, I can dine like a king in a very nice setting, service will be quite good, the ingredients and preparation would be impossible for me to duplicate, and the final tab could run on the high side of $50 when ordering live seafood like lobster or crab, on top of an already huge list of other dishes ordered for a group of say, six. For someone who knows the various Chinese cuisines but lives in say, Fargo, South Dakota, he or she might be more than willing to pay twice, three times, maybe even more, for the same experience, as Fargo is probably as far removed from Chinese cuisine as LA is from snow in the winter. Now if I'm visiting Fargo and offered this chance at great Chinese cuisine at a price that far exceeds what I am accustomed to paying in the San Gabriel Valley, I'd snicker comments similar to what had been expressed on the above thread that I sourced.

      Price, value, or whatever one calls it, is very subjective. Sometimes one can easily justify it objectively, but all in all, it's a very individual proposition.

      2 Replies
      1. re: bulavinaka

        as a minor quibble, Fargo is in North Dakota.

        1. re: smarsh

          Thanks for the correction... I still forget whether Charlotte is in North or South Carolina as well... just checked Wikipedia - it's North... and I will forget this and Fargo by tomorrow... :)

      2. I know this doesn't apply to everyone, but by my budget, anything that costs more than $15 for an entrée is pricey. Keep in mind that I don't eat meat (or seafood), which are usually the expensive bits.

        2 Replies
        1. re: piccola

          Yeah - over $15 for an entree is kind of pricey for me too. This is directly related to my income at the moment - my partner went back to university about 4 years ago (one more year to go!) and since then, eating out has been a lot more rare than when we were both working full time. I can't say that this has hampered our eating style, though. We tend to eat at a lot of small mom and pop ethnic joints that have great inexpensive food ($9 at the MOST expensive for entrees...) and when we want to splurge on lobster, we buy it from the store and steam it ourselves! If we want steak, I'd rather source out some good meat and grill it over charcoal at home than pay a premium for a fancy steakhouse to do it for me. We go out for those $100-150 dinners maybe once a year these days, and I usually try to pick a place where I'll never be able to duplicate the food!

          I still love reading about the nicer restaurants though, and often get ideas for sourcing my own food from restaurant reviews.

          1. re: piccola

            I do eat meat, and that's still "pricey" for me, too. Because I'm not very well off - I make what would be considered a good salary anywhere but in a few really expensive cities, like Boston, the one I happen to live in. My boyfriend makes much less. We get by fine, but we can't afford even $20 entrees more than a couple times a year. Honestly, since I enjoy the process of cooking so much, I would generally rather splurge on ingredients, which allows my money to go a lot further. I've only been to a few very high-end restaurants in my life; I would say about half of those were worth the rare indulgence, while the other half were simply overpriced.

          2. It's such a complicated question!

            To some people, a meal is *never* worth more than $XX. It's just the way they think about food: if you can fill your belly for less, then more than that is "pricey" (a word I despise -- sounds like babytalk to me). And you're right -- some of those people would think nothing of dropping $50 on cocktails, and then complain that the food is too expensive.

            To most people, whether something is "pricey" is a complex set of variables having to do with the quality of the food, the value of the food (the "I could make that" factor people mentioned), the overall quality of the experience, and most of all, what you're accustomed to spending. Someone from NY is going to have a very different idea of what's "pricey" from someone from a place where restaurant costs aren't as high. Conversely, in the Bay Area the quality of the "mid-range" restaurants is very high, and when I travel I find myself paying the same amount of money for much more pedestrian food, which makes them relatively a poorer value.

            1. "My question is do people take into account what they are eating when they say something is pricey? I think if you pay anything for something you could easily replicate at home, you are paying too much. Any thoughts?"

              I'm somewhat spoiled because I love to cook. Therefore, when I eat out, I get kinda p.o.'d when I have to pay a lot for some ordinary run of the mill stuff. If I can easily replicate it at home, it doesn't bug me too much, if the price is reasonable. I have worked in a few restaurants in my day, and I know what is reasonable. For that reason, I kinda tend to stay away from the high end restaurants (100+ per person not including booze or tip.) They are rarely worth it. I usually lean towards ethnic dives that churn out unbelievable food that a lot of people would steer clear of. I'm more about paying for incredible food than nice tablecloths and good food. I have no issue with paying 100+ per person, but it is a rarity that I have found that it's worth it. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, because I do like a few places in my town that charge that much, but they are few and far between.

              1. I belong to the crowd where my willingness to spend when eating out is directly related to what I can (and can't) make at home (in addition to what I can afford). I was raised a vegetarian until age 6, and then was a vegetarian again from ages 13-20, and from the ages of 6-12 my parents never made much meat. This means that my skill and comfort in cooking meat is far less than my skill and comfort in cooking non-meat based dishes. So when I go out to eat, I'm very comfortable spending far more on meat based dishes than vegetarian dishes. So while I'm loath to spend more than $10 for anything vegetarian - I'm willing to go pretty high with meat dishes.

                Same principal also relates to type of cuisine. I can create Mexican, Italian, and Middle Eastern food that makes me pretty happy - so I'm not as interested in spending as much going out to eat those cuisines. However, something like sushi or Korean food - I really like, but don't really make that well on my own - so I'm willing to spend more on that.

                1. "Pricey" would seem to be completely relative to the disposable funds and priorities of the individual.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Midlife

                    And location, location, location. I've had pizza, a carafe of wine, and dessert for 3 in NYC for $125 for three of us. Seemed scary at the time. It's hard to spend that for dinner for 2 (with 1 glass of wine) at the nicest, free range waiters /local meats/organic produce/expense account in my nutty-crunchy midwestern college town.

                    1. re: kshankar

                      Since we're both in the same area, jhopp, I'd have to agree that $50. a person is no longer 'expensive'. Of course, I can remember having a meal with a drink for $25. a person, and it wasn't 20 years ago.

                      But hey, whatever the market will bear, right? Some people will pay a lot of money to dine in the 'new' downtown WP and pay for parking too. I won't.

                      Agree, $30. is too much for a plate of pasta. The new wonderful place in New Rochelle doesn't charge that, and their pasta is perfect. I make macaroni (not pasta) at home, so I'm loathe to overpay for it.

                      But $150. a person for a complete dinner at a steak house? Given that every last thing is a la carte, I guess that's understandable. But to me that's highway robbery.

                      What is pricey to me? I guess it depends on many things. Location, amount of food, the type of restaurant, and my mood.

                      It used to be that $125. a person (again, not 'expensive' anymore, sadly, in this area) bought a LOT of groceries. Not so much anymore.

                      Bottom line, as long as I am able, I will still frequent the pricey restaurants, but they had better meet all my expectations. If they do and I leave happy, then all is good.

                      1. re: dolores

                        Dolores, I like that you added the point about groceries. I once had an issue with someone ordering macadamia encrusted tilapia with green beans for $19. I explained that the tilapia filet itself cost about $2. The greenbeans cost about $1. I have no idea what macadamia nuts cost. but that's all there was to the dish. I tried some of their meal, and it was good, not great. I made a similar dish later in the week at home and the had twice the amount for roughly $9....with leftover nuts. To me that $19 was pricey, but to someone who doesn't cook at home ever, I guess it's justified.

                        A perfect example of pricey to me is our residents in Tuckahoe, The Tap House. At first glance the prices are very fair. I know someone who had a beer at the bar $7 for some odd brew. Then at the table had a caeser salad $9 and the herb roasted chicken - $19.50. A glass of wine or two and they said it came out to a $60 night. They said the worst part and here's where I now believe it's pricey. They went to Crestwood and got a slice after dinner. Now I wouldn't pay $30 for roasted chicken and a caeser salad, but that's just me. I could make it at home for about 1/4 of the price and eat the whole chicken.

                        When it's something you can make (and I am a novice at cooking) easily, why pay for it.

                        My example of an inexpensive meal is the little whole in the wall I love so dearly, Burrito Poblano. A burrito, some chips and salsa, and a side of rice and beans. I think the whole shabang comes to about $15, if that. With tax and tip, a whopping $20. Now is it fine dining, no. Can I make it at home. Sure, but to sit down and have your food basically transported to your plate in seconds, it is a nice place to go on the run.

                        I also think when people read my $125 amount they didn't take into account that about half of it was drinks, tax and tip. So the meal itself was about $60-65.

                        1. re: jhopp217

                          Good points, jhopp. Since I can make Italian (red sauce only type) and hubby can grill a steak and I like my own gorgonzola stuffed burgers a lot, I still choose to eat out for the dining experience of it all. And, not to cook 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

                          When I'm as delighted as I am at my new favorite Italian for $50. or less, sans drink, I'm happy. I don't make good Mexican or Chinese, so I still enjoy these places in this area, sans paying for chips.

                          But to need a slice after having paid for a dinner out???? No, thanks, that wouldn't be a place to which I'd return.

                          1. re: jhopp217

                            Jhopp, I love The Tap House and think for the most part their portions and prices (the crudo app. being one exception) are more than fair. No offense meant to your friend, but if they were still hungry after a salad and entree, I think they may have a much larger appetite than the average person. Last time were there my husband and I both took 1/2 our entrees home with us and my husband rarely has leftovers.

                            1. re: jhopp217

                              I think people confuse the price of dinners cooked out and assume that they are a total of the items purchased by the restaurant and fail to factor in the price for other expenses, such as staff and other operating costs. Yes, the one dollar beans are one dollar for you to prepare at home, but seven or eight dollars in a restaurant. I assume at home, you are using olive oil, yes? Remember, the price tag on olive oil is high. Macademia nuts too, very pricey, my friend. The Kona brand found in Pathmark are the cheap ones. The ones that are "encrusted" are not the cheap version. They are most likely raw and not out of a jar. This too, adds to the price.
                              If we all cooked meals at home, who would need to go to a restaurant? The beauty of going to a restaurant is that you do not have to do the cooking, and for that luxury, you pay the additional price. Plain and simple. If the price is the same, who needs to go out for dinner?
                              Out of curiousity, you can encrust chicken, fish and steak so beautifully. Are you preparing these fine meals on a Viking? If so, you are probably better off staying home and having all of us CHers over for a fine gourmet meal some time.

                              1. re: LetLug

                                Depending on the restaurant, they aren't cooking on a Viking either, nor are they using the most expensive varieties of macadamia nuts. I agree that when you order the entree you are paying for more than the food. You're paying for the linens, the rent, the utilities, the manager, the busboy and the chef. You're paying for the garbage to be toted away. But restaurants typically write fancier menus before they upscale their sourcing.

                      2. Once again jfood comes down with a good strong "it depends."

                        There is a new hamburger place in town that charges $10 for a hamburger and a old-time favorite that's a few dollars less. Jfood thinks the old time place is the right price and considers the $10 pricey.

                        Likewise a new resto opened a few miles away and has $30'ish entrees. The ambience does not justify a price point at this level. Then jfood can head to Greenwich and there is a resto there that many adore and the prices are $30's and the atmosphere is over the top snooty. If they charged $10 for a pasta jfood would have a hard time eating there because the atmosphere is too pricey (guess an anology for too snooty).

                        A resto in town charges $7-10 for tea. The jfoods won;t order this as it's just a silly price point for tea, and they place the individual wrapped teas in a bowl and leave them on the table. (Interesting if that means jfood can take the non-used teabags home in a doggy bag like leftover steak :-)) ).

                        Once you cross over a certain line for a dish it can become too pricey. Roasted chicken for $18-24 in a nice place, OK, same chicken for $34, no thank you. Same $18-24 chicken in a diner setting, no thank you. At a certain price point, you expect certain ambience and certain server competence. Does jfood want Flo from Mel's Diner describing foie gras and truffles? not really. Does he want the MOD of Chateau de Snoot taking a hunk of pie from under the plastic cover while jfood sits on the stool? Nope. But reverse the situation and jfood likes both.

                        So the price point should dictate the overall setting. Once it creeps upwards the other non-gastronomic entries come into play. Without all three (food, ambience, staff) the resti has too be careful to price itself out of the customers' desires.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: jfood

                          Jfood. I'd pay $10 for a great burger anytime. But it's gotta be great!

                          $7 for tea - I'm picturing John Travolta in Pulp Fiction right now "ok tea, that's tea leaves and water? $7? They don't put bourbon in it or anything? I gotta try that!

                            1. re: jfood

                              Do I dare as ask where the $10 not great burger was?

                            2. re: jhopp217

                              Just as a tongue-in-cheek response.... I would happily pay $7 for an aged Pu-Erh tea that is around 50 or more years old. Hold the bourbon (and i LOVE bourbon too)

                            3. re: jfood

                              As usual I totally agree Jfood, it really "depends" on the circumstances.
                              It's actually sort of funny you bring this subject up. We were traveling recently and stopped at a Wendy's for lunch. Our order was just a grilled chicken sandwich for me, a burger and soda for my husband a kid's meal of chicken nuggets for my daughter. The order was something like $17. My initial reactions, was to think that was "pricey" for what we were ordering. Do I actually think that the amount was expensive for lunch for 3 people? Not at all. But, for what we ordered and the quality of the meal, plus it had been a while since we'd been to a fast food place, it seemed high. Yet I have no problem going to some places and spending the same amount or more on lunch for 1 person!

                              Jhopp, Your statement "I think if you pay anything for something you could easily replicate at home, you are paying too much." pretty much sums up the way I tend to feel when dining out. It's one of the reasons I tend to think Steakhouses are completely overpriced...I can throw a steak on the grill, steam some asparagus and quarter a head of iceberg lettuce in a matter of minutes for a small faction on the cost!
                              However, fresh pasta or good seafood with interesting spices are things I don't mind spending money on because they either take time to make, or I don't have the recipe to do what the chef does, etc.

                              1. re: SweetPea914

                                Re: replicating steak houses

                                I don't mind paying for a steak at a steak house that is top quality dry-aged beef. Although I can cook a steak on the grill with reasonable success, it just isn't the same quality because I can't source as good quality meat. But I totally agree about the sides and the salads and everything else!

                                1. re: moh

                                  I would think in Montreal you would have access to decent quality steak, no? Here I can get 28 day dry aged steak at a couple of places for around $20/lb or so. When you compare that to the 8 oz Filet Mignon I had at Mortons recently and that everything comes on the side making dinner about $150/pp that to me is just crazy! I'm also not much of a red meat/steak person but I know some people that are happy to pay those prices. To each his own I guess! That's what makes this question so difficult to answer, it's more subject to personal taste than anything.

                                2. re: SweetPea914

                                  I see it differently as that I can not repliacte a steakhouse's steak. I have bought steak from a butcher and cooked it as perfectly as I possibly could and while it was delicious, it wasn't Luger's. Someone else mention that they can get dry aged beef for $20 a lb and make it at home also. But honestly, a 3 lb steak is $60 and the average person doesn't have an oven that gets to 700 degrees. I'd rather go once a year and have that done for me perfectly.

                              2. Seems you're really asking if you feel you're getting your money's worth rather than is it pricey. I agree that for $125 you had a great meal and considering what you ate, it was a good deal. But for me, a $125 dinner is still pricey. Something can be pricey but still be a good value. I also agree that $30 for pasta starts to get crazy and I'd view the $30 plate of pasta a lesser value than your $125 steakhouse dinner.

                                I live in Pittsburgh, and we can regularly dine out, without drinks, for less than $60/couple. At that price point we're not limited to small hole in the wall ethnic type places either, qutie a few mid range restaurants fall in that price range. Two $20 or so entrees, one app or one dessert and there you have it. In reality we usually spend $40 or less as we tend to favor the hole in the wall ethnic places.

                                1. .I'm with jfood. It depends. I've had $400 per person dinners that I thought were bargains because of the quality of service, the surroundings, the quality of ingredients, etc. I've also had $5.00 meals that I though were bad value because of the same. So IMO, it really depends.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: chazzerking


                                    $400 per person? Remind me not to accept any dinner invitations from you.

                                    Unless I'm drinking a $1000 bottle of wine or a 25 course meal, I better not ever see a $1600 tab for four.

                                    1. re: jhopp217

                                      jhopp, I think there are places in Manhattan where people pay that for a dinner.

                                      Remind me to stock up on lots of ice cream and peanut butter if that becomes the norm in Westchester.

                                      1. re: jhopp217

                                        I'm talking about dinner at L'Amboisie , Alain Ducasse, Taillevent, or Pierre Gagnaire in Paris or at the French Laundry, for 14 courses with 4-5 different wines. Most times the wine was $125 or less per btl, but the food was the main focus and you just won't get those kinds of dishes or service anywhere else in the world. We don't do this weekly or anything, but it is something that is worth it to me from time to time. As dolores says, there are also places in NY that charge like that, but it's been a while since I wa at any high end places in NY, so I can't speak from personal experience there. We go to Paris about 1ce a year, and a big part of it is for the food. I don't have a problem with anyone who doesn't want to pay that for a meal, but OTOH, I don't think they should have a problem because I do.

                                    2. It's a pretty loaded question. There are so many variables to this question and it really depends on the person. When I was a college student, any place that had entrees over $10 was pricey in my eyes and considered a special occasion place. I remember going out to an anniversary dinner with my boyfriend at the age of 18 where we went to a place with $20-something entrees. Now, 15+ years later, my definition of pricey is a bit different but is definitely situational and varies all the time. It's not a straight up price thing but I'm more concerned with value.

                                      I was looking at something on a menu recently where two eggs and hashed browns were like $14. To me, that is not a good value and I wouldn't spend money on that unless those hased browns were studded with truffles or something. I remember being a bit put off recently when we ordered an order of Chinese broccoli in Chinatown. It's a dish that usually costs six to seven dollars at most places. But we were charged $13. And it wasn't in some fancy digs with a nice view where I would have understood the price increase. But I would gladly spend whatever it costs now at Per Se for the meal and experience. I'm sure there are a lot of people who would disagree with me. But to me it is worth it.

                                      And there is a point where I feel uncomfortable crossing, no matter how wonderful the food and experience is. Perhaps if I was extremely wealthy, I wouldn't care as much. But the reality is that meals like Per Se are something I can't make a regular habit of doing. DH and I had lunch at a 3 Star Michelin in Paris last year where the cost was in the four digits (with limited alcohol). While it was a fabulous experience, I had some difficulty dealing with the price. And I was given the menu without the prices so I had no idea what the cost was until the bill came.

                                      And while income has a lot to do with what people are willing to spend on food, I don't think it's always the case. It's about how much that food is worth to the person. I know very wealthy people who don't really care about food, and wouldn't spend over $100 on a meal because it is not worth it to them. And I also know people who don't have as much money but will have no problem with spending that $100 (or whatever the price point is). They may have to save for a while and scrimp in other areas, but it is worth it to them. That's what I did in grad school.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                        I have no money, but $100 for a great meal is not a big deal to me, so in that sense I agree. Would I want to spend four digits for a group of 4....probably not.

                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                          EEK! 4 digits for lunch for two people and not much alcohol? Wow. I consider myself someone who is willling to pay for good food, but I must admit, that sound steep even for me. Please tell me that there were truffles and caviar and fois in every course...

                                          That being said, a once in a lifetime meal like that would be fun. After all, 3 star-Michelin in Paris? Very romantic.

                                          1. re: moh

                                            I wish I could tell you that there were truffles and caviar and foie in every course. But this restaurant specialized in -- believe it or not -- vegetables! And no truffles, caviar or foie in any of the courses. In that multi-course meal, there were three seafood dishes (mussels, lobster, seabass) and one poultry dish (duck). The rest were vegetable courses. The restaurant did indeed have a less expensive lunch prix-fixe, but DH wanted to get the tasting menu as he put it, "How often do we go to Paris?" There was a bit of sticker shock at the end. This was literally a once in a lifetime meal because I'm pretty sure I won't be doing this again in my lifetime. It was definitely a wonderful meal, but I'm afraid to say that I've had better (and much cheaper as well).

                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                              Ouch - I agree with moh - I never scrimp when I'm travelling but 4 digits for lunch for 2 seems a little over the top (unless it was in francs not $). I think about $600 for 2 is my limit, but I haven't been to Paris since 1981.

                                              1. re: hsk

                                                Don't plan on going there anytime soon and eating at a 3 or even a 2 star. What with the wonderful exchange rate and the menu inflation, $600 is about the minimum to expect, especially with any decent wine.

                                                1. re: chazzerking

                                                  Yeah, the exchange rate isn't so hot right now. When we were there, I believe it was 1.4 dollars to 1 Euro. It's a bit worse now.

                                        2. If you have to ask, "Is it too pricey?" ... then it's too pricey.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            $90 for a prterhouse for two is seen as pricey for some. I think it's a bargain at Peter Luger, but at "Joe's" steakhouse, it's pricey. I don't think it's as simple as if you have to ask.

                                          2. If I'm planning a group dinner, where people of varying budgets will be attending, I will deem anything I think is going to come out as $50 per person or more (based on a moderate order, i.e. 1 app or dessert, an entree, one drink and tax/tip) "pricey."

                                            They had a question on Family Feud recently, as to what 100 people thought was an expensive dinner for two, and the number one answer was $100 (i.e. $50 per person). The second most popular answer was $200 (i.e. $100 per person).

                                            1. If I can't afford it, it's too pricey. It doesn't matter if I can recreate it at home, or if it's good value for the money, or anything else. If I can't afford it, none of that matters.

                                              And, the vast, vast majority of people simply can't afford $50 for a meal. I know I certainly can't. I wish I could afford something like that, but I have to pay the rent, too.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: merkay

                                                Bottom line, merkay, you're 100% correct.

                                                If there is a market for a $400. a person meal, it will continue. If not, it won't.

                                                Supply and demand, of course.

                                              2. It is sometimes more about the Who What Where than the money as long as the food is spectacular. Like the commercial says " Priceless ''
                                                My wife and I have had dinners for four in Mexico for $20.00 that were incedible.
                                                also have spent $600.00 for four that was unbelievable in vegas
                                                Niether was "spendy"

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: jodymaryk

                                                  A meal for four that costs $150 per person is "spendy" regardless of the city you are in. Unless the city is Vegas and they gave you a free pass on the meal. If they didn't, $600 for four is spendy. Period. Even if it was worth every penny, it was still an expensive meal.

                                                  1. re: DanaB

                                                    True. I think the top of my tolerance right now is $100. a person*, with liquor, although sans tip.

                                                    Anything above that for a complete dinner and a drink is highway robbery.

                                                    *and for that it had better be good and I had better not be rushed.

                                                    1. re: DanaB

                                                      I somewhat disagree with the assessment that $150 is automatically expensive. I'm going to use a popular chain as an example. Let's say we have 3 drinks each at an average of $6 each. That's $36. Two appetizers at $9 each, we're up to $54. We each get a steak w/ a side salad, and on average let's say they are $26 each. Now we're up to $106. We decided to have dessert and coffee and that comes to $15 total. We're at $121, with tax and a 20% tip it comes to $155. The prices I used were for Outback. Is it ridiculous to spend $155 for two at Outback....without question it is. But if Those 6 drinks are two martinis and a bottle of wine at any nice steakhouse that drink bill just went from $36 to $80. Those appetizers which will obviously be much better quality will be $15 a piece, and the steak will be doubled. Then you're looking at a $225 bill. With the same rax and tip percentage it's now $290.

                                                      My point being is that when you walk into a "pricey place" you have already come to terms with the fact that your tax and tip are going to be what you would normally spend on a regular night out.

                                                      To me what makes Outback pricey is that I can crumble blue cheese in my salad and add pecans, I can buy premade some of their appetizers that are just as good. I can find the same quality meat at a butcher and make a comparible, if not better steak. I can't duplicate Morton's, Luger's, or some of the other high end places.

                                                      Just an example

                                                  2. There are price ranges for cars, some of which are not for me...there are price ranges for homes, some of which are not for me...and to make a long comparison short, there are different price ranges in restaurants, some of which are not for me...however, during a recent trip thru Virginia's lovely Blue Ridge Mountains I had made reservations at the Inn at Little Washington, a destination restaurant that had been on my 'to do' list for many years, and we did it...it was a terrific experience and, of course, quite pricey...the tab came to almost $500. with wine...but it met our expectations and we were pleased. Can I do this every week? No...occasionally, yes!

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: gutreactions

                                                      GR, I have read about Inn at Little Washington and it does sound like a 'dining experience'. I imagine being in Paris would qualify as a time to overspend as well, if one has the means.

                                                      I was thinking per this post of my special occasion/occasionally place, Harrald's in Stormville NY. This was awhile ago, but the fixe price for a complete dinner without wine/drinks was $65. It was perfect, beginning to end.

                                                      I'm sad to say I'm paying more to be in a restaurant these days, but I've not yet found another equal to Harrald and his wonderfully talented wife, who was the chef.

                                                      1. re: dolores

                                                        I remember them well, delores...it was quite a place in its day...I was also a big fan of chef Maxime Ribera in those days too...miss him also.

                                                      2. I read through most of these and like some I can cook well almost any cuisine (not great, but passable), but going out is a treat and if someone has something different I will go for it and not think that $50 is to much for something that is special for myself, but I think $100 would be over my limit for myself. (This does not include drinks). 10 - 15 for a good appetizer 25 - 30 for a nice main and 10 for a dessert sounds right for the right atmosphere.

                                                        1. I think this is really an interesting thread and I agree with a lot of above posts. I live in DC where prices, except perhaps compared to NYC are quite high. I find that I don't mind spending a lot for dinner if it is something exceptional.

                                                          I agree if I can make it at home, I find that I get ticked off if it is expensive, but I don't make very good burgers or steak no matter how hard I try so sometimes I find those good values. On a recent thread I got told this was chowhound and not dealhound when I was talking about how a Bistro in our area Central which for me is excellent for the price point, and not mentioning its more pricey counterpart Citronelle. And I find that yes I like high end restaurants and find a lot of food there superb, but it needs to equal the price tag in terms of creativity, ingredients and service, just as much as a less expensive place does. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but at $200-300 pp it really needs to wow me, I just don't make enough that I can justify eating a meal for that much and not being wowed, and Citronelle has wowed me but it should for the price I paid for it. I really want it to be worth it, while the bistro I feel I get a deal for $50/ pp because I feel the food is worth more than that, and in DC it is hard to find moderate to upscale restaurants where I feel I am getting a deal in terms of food quality to price. A lot of that is just personal taste, but I will spend $10 on a really good burger, but will be ticked off if I spend $10 on lunch and it isn't good.

                                                          Here it is hard for fiance and I to go out to a nice meal without it being over $100 with food and wine, and we love when we find small inexpensive places with high quality food. We like the deals, I mean we don't mind paying and always end up picking up tabs and over paying at group dinners because we are lucky enough we can, but when we go out and feel the food was worth it or better yet exceeded our expectations that is what really makes us happy. Then we can go out more or travel more.

                                                          I guess I just consider it to other things I would do with the money, $200 on my meal- $400-500 on our meal or half the airfare or full airfare somewhere, or my whole Visa bill for the month, you know? Maybe when I pass the bar and make big bucks, I will think differently. And I do think some high end restaurants in our area are definitely worth it, but not all and not necessarily everyday, I mean if I ate that all the time where would I go for a special occassion? I think value is very personal, but also not in some aspects we all love the good deal, I think for some of us the difference is exactly what constitutes the deal relevant to our skill level in the kitchen or food preference. If I could make awesome roasted chicken, the peruvian chicken place might not be a steal, but to me it is :) So I might be a dealhound, but that just means I can do what I want, eat what I want, and go where I want to go. It is nice to see many people agree with the need for value.

                                                          In regard to group dinners, I never mind paying a little more than I would for a regular dinner because we are celebrating, I tend to get to eat more of a variety of food than I would otherwise, tend to drink a little more so I take that into consideration, I think getting to eat a lot of different things and celebrate my friendships deserve it. To me good friends are the best value and quality time with them for me is a great deal because I don't get a lot of free time.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: ktmoomau

                                                            Nice post, ktmoomau. Dealhound, I like that. I guess I am that too.

                                                            I tend to let my deal breakers slide on vacation and with friends, first because I don't want to the Ugly Diner and secondly because, as you said, it's more about the company than the food. Except for the time the group had a ton of drinks, and happily ordered bread basket after bread basket and only found out at the end that the place charged for bread, and nobody wanted dessert and I had planned my meal for dessert, and I became the Ugly Diner -- but I digress.

                                                            I wonder where this will all end or if it will. The sky is the limit, is it not? If they charge it, there will some who will come, I imagine. As you said in your first sentence, I need the higher priced meals to be exceptional. I guess as long as they are, I will be going.

                                                            1. re: ktmoomau

                                                              ktmoomau, I too recently had the pleasure of eating at Central on Pennsylvania Ave., D.C. and found it delightful in every way...Agree on your price point appraisal.

                                                              1. re: ktmoomau

                                                                I agree with your point about a group wholeheartedly. I will much more easily spend $150 per person on a meal with eight people, than $150 per person for two people for exactly the reasons you stated.

                                                              2. Well, here in Wichita, with a couple notable exceptions, it would be difficult to find an entree much over $30, so you could easily eat for under $50 without wine. And those places that charge over $30 for an entree I'm not going to be dining at. I don't make enough money where I can afford to suspend frugality.
                                                                The other day we were dining at our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant, and my wife noted the prices had gone up again (we eat there often enough that it seems like the menu prices change every couple of months). And she says "how expensive are beans and rice and tortillas that they have to keep raising the price?" And I said "Well, there's also wages and gas and electricity and rent, and none of those are going down. Just eat it and enjoy it". I could have made the same meal, just as tasty and authentic, to feed our family of 4 for what one entree was, but the whole point of dining out is I don't HAVE to make the dinner or clean up afterwards.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: podunkboy

                                                                  >>The other day we were dining at our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant, and my wife noted the prices had gone up again (we eat there often enough that it seems like the menu prices change every couple of months). And she says "how expensive are beans and rice and tortillas that they have to keep raising the price?" And I said "Well, there's also wages and gas and electricity and rent, and none of those are going down. Just eat it and enjoy it".<<

                                                                  Next time you have this conversation with your wife, tell her that the price of rice, beans and tortillas (i.e. corn), are through the roof as well. So in addition to increased energy costs, restaurants are dealing with increased cost on what for years have been steadily-priced staples. I'd expect all the low-end joints relying on rice/beans/corn to be increasing their prices soon, and shortly after the hamburger joints who previously relied on beef made cheap by a no-longer-existant abundance of corn. Welcome to the 21st century (I just paid $4.21 per gallon for a gallon of 87 octane gas in Los Angeles today)!

                                                                  The price of rice:


                                                                  The price of corn (tortillas):


                                                                  And corn generally:


                                                                  And beans. Farmers aren't planting beans because they have more attractive choices in corn, thus driving bean prices up even more:


                                                                2. i have always called it "the christopher point", named after my younger brother ( the smartest person i personally know) its a graphable point where x= amount spent and y=enjoyment procured, the point where they cross is this point, optimal pleasure but maximum payment. to the right of the point you spend the entire meal saying "i can do this at home" or "30 dollars for a pizza?" To the left as you approach the point is excellent food for less money, or value. The graph is personal, but adaptable. i have one for cigars that is very steep, my day to day cigar costs 35 dollars for 25 cigars, i have smoked a lot and have found if your smoking 10 dollars cigars, you deserve everything you get. its unnecessary. hence, my christopher point is quite low on this count, short money, maximum pleasure, spend a lot more and get no futher enjoyment, why cross that point?

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: hyde

                                                                    if you want some fun reading on an offshoot of this, look up giffen goods.

                                                                    1. re: hyde

                                                                      hyde- your application of economic graphing in this situation is awesome, I highly appreciate that. I forget the exact name of this concept, but remember studying it, this made me smile.

                                                                      1. re: ktmoomau

                                                                        i believe the term is "marginal utility". That is the extra expense one is willing to pay for a higher quality product. Graping quantifies that visually and is always fun to apply to squishy concepts like enjoyment.

                                                                    2. It's a matter of what your expectations are. As far as I can recall, the most that I have ever spent on a single meal was around $40 (with no alcohol, because I don't drink.) This is something that happens once every blue moon or so, and I can't think of a lot of situations where I would ever pay much more than that for a meal. On the other hand, depending on what you're getting, even less than that can seem expensive (I came to a realization recently after a late night trip to IHOP that I had basically just spent 12 bucks on a waffle with some fruit and a bit of whipped cream on it, and for that price I could practically buy a waffle iron and all the stuff I'd need to make the same thing at home (although space constraints keep me from doing so.)

                                                                      On the flip side, I've posted on the local board asking for good dinner suggestions around here for under $20 a head, and I've been told that I was being a cheapskate for even suggesting that a good meal could be had in that price range, so YMMV, obviously.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Vexorg

                                                                        Vex, In the past year I made up my mind that coffee is too pricey. I love coffee. I was spending about $2.50 a day on coffee at the local deli for breakfast and lunch, and sometimes a third cup at another deli or Dunkin Donuts. It dawned on me that it costs about $2.50 to buy a lb of decent coffee. I like Bustelo (rich and strong if made right). One pot was giving me the same amount, and I was saving roughly $15-25 a week.

                                                                        Coffee is probably the most overpriced item in stores. Next to water!!!!!

                                                                        1. re: jhopp217

                                                                          That is one of the things I LOVE about working in the South Bronx...no Starbucks around for miles and I pay.50 cents for a cup of Bustelo with warmed milk...there we call it a cafe con leche, starbucks calls it a grande or whatever and charges about 7 times as much!~

                                                                          1. re: SweetPea914

                                                                            Did I tell you about the perfectly good large coffee and ginormous (I hate that word) cruller I got for a buck from a pushcart near the Stock Exchange when I worked in the area a decade ago?

                                                                            I bet I did. I bet they don't have bargains like that anymore.

                                                                            1. re: dolores

                                                                              At the deli where I worked in the early 90s, we had an egg sandwich with 2 eggs, cheese and choice of meats (and if you wanted roast beef or bologna instead of bacon or sausage, no problem), that came with coffee, oj and a choice of donut, danish, black and white, crueller etc (the place was also a bakery so these were from the day before but perfectly good) all for 99 cents. Even though it was so long ago, it still kills me to pay whatever they charge now. What a deal, no wonder we were always so crowded!

                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                Wowwww, coll.

                                                                                And I bet they still made a profit at the end of the day.

                                                                                Then again, this was before 'greed is good' set in.

                                                                                99 cents. Wow.

                                                                                1. re: dolores

                                                                                  I know, I'll never get over it myself!

                                                                                2. re: coll

                                                                                  dear heavens. that sounds so awesome!

                                                                              2. re: SweetPea914

                                                                                Growing up in Brooklyn in the late 70's/early 80's you had Bustelo, Savarin, and Sanka. Do they even make the other two any more?

                                                                          2. For me, $125 a person for drinks and steak in a swanky downtown steak joint is not overly spendy, but 7 bucks for a drive-thru meal is. My budget doesn't allow for unlimited nights on the town, but if I am going to spend, I generally spend a lot and worry about the consequences to my wallet (and waistline) later. On the other hand, I absolutely cringe at the idea of paying someone to make hummus for me when I can make it much better and cheaper at home.

                                                                            1. Interesting thread. For me, I think there are different flavors of "pricey":
                                                                              "Everyday pricey" is when it's more than I'd usually spend on my nightly take-out on the way home or my lunch out. This can vary with the particular item, but probably a main course over $10-20.
                                                                              "Special occaision pricey" where I might be willing to spend a couple hundred dollars on a nice meal out with my SO for a birthday or special celebration, but the price-point (and time involved) is only a once in a while treat and I expect that the food, service, atmosphere, etc. are going to be excellent. For me, this is the kind of meal that I'd plan, make reservations for, and look forward to for a while.
                                                                              And then there is "Specialty pricey" where I am willing to spend more than usual on X because there's something special about the particular dish, place, etc. You know it's more than you'd normally spend, but it's not at the "very special occaision" level and it's worth it because you're feeding a craving or having a particular experience. Like when people come to Seattle and spend $$$ on a blah dinner on top of the Spaceneedle, or you go to that one really fancy sushi restaurant because the fish is unparalleled and you are in the mood for the best fish and not kaiten sushi, or you pay $30 for scrambled eggs from roomservice just for the novelty/luxury of eating in bed.

                                                                              I think that in general I might describe a place with main courses at $10-20 and up as "everyday pricey" (meaning, they are a little out of the range that I'd spend everyday on a meal) but they may or may not be worth it. At under $10 it doesn't really matter - obviously I hope the food and experience are good, but it's a sort of "everyday" pricepoint, so it doesn't have to be spectacular. With main courses over $50, I'd say that's pricey and the food should be great and/or the place should be very special. In between $20-50 is a sort of gray area where it's probably in the "specialty pricey" range - I am willing to pay more because I am dying for a whole Dungeness crab or some particular dish or I want to eat at a particular place with a view or something like that. I don't eat meals in that price range as often as I eat meals in the under $20 range, but it's not such a special occaision that everything has to be perfect (unlike spending $400 on dinner for two - it had better be perfect!).