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Mar 16, 2009 07:42 PM

Potager (Arlington)

I'm surprised that, as far as I can tell, this hasn't been mentioned yet.
Potager is on Mesquite St in downtown (yeah, we have a downtown) Arlington. It's owned by a spectacular lady named Cynthia who really deserves a thriving business.
This restaurant is incredible-- there is no menu and no price. She cooks food from scratch every day from really high quality, natural (I believe even some home-grown?) ingredients. You then eat what you want, however much you want, and pay what you think it is worth. Please pay her a visit! I want the place to thrive so that I can continue to eat there :).

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  1. Captainshen,

    Love the idea of this place but can you give us some kind of clue what you have had while dining there, what you paid, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

      Oh yeah, sure. Today I had lemon-herb tilapia, some IN-CRED-IBLE jambalaya, mixed green salad with vinaigrette, and a small slice of their sourdough bread. They had a pear tart with caramel sauce and dark chocolate (Dagoba, I believe) crumbled on top, but I didn't have any-- I eat relatively healthy. Because I had quite small portions of all of it (she encourages small portions and then coming back if you're still hungry, so there is no wasting), I decided on paying $6. I've paid more in the past, though, and this could have easily been a $12 or $13 meal (in quality) at a more pretentious restaurant. (Edit: Or higher. Keep in mind I'm a poor college student and haven't stepped foot into a place with higher prices than that!)

      In the past, I've had a spinach feta quiche, vegetarian lasagna (WOW), and um... I think a casserole of some kind? Check my picture of the vegetarian lasagna here:

      This is a cash only restaurant. There are envelopes on the counter (they're cute! she folded them from magazine pages, I think) and you slide your money in and drop it into the watering can nearby. She has all sorts of coffee and tea, too-- and then a little counter with small things for sale, like good chocolates.

      Also: there are pitchers of water everywhere, so go knowing that you're welcomed to refill your own glass.

      And here:
      315 S Mesquite St
      Arlington, TX 76010
      (817) 861-2292

      They're open 11-3 M-Sat. They're trying to start staying open at night, though, I think.

    2. Captainshen-Thanks for posting this. I work at UTA and drive past Potager a lot. I've heard good things about the restaurant, there's a little bit of buzz happening. I will definitely check it out-- I want to support this kind of operation! Maybe there's hope for downtown Arlington?

      1. I've heard recentlyly that in several states around the country, these "pay what you think it's worth" places are opening up/changing traditional menu pricing. Wish I could remember where I heard it or remember the term they dubbed that concept. Nice to know there's one local - one that serves great, high quality eats.

        Edit - googled "pay what you want restaurant" - here is one link:

        1. Potager (french for "kitchen garden") was just featured on the 6:00 Channel 5 news. The food served here is organically grown, purchased from local farmers. While there was no comment as to whether the owners are turning a profit, a friend said there was also an article in the Morning News stating that most diners pay around $8 and that is the minimum it cost the restaurant to plate the meal. The menu changes daily.

          6 Replies
          1. re: CocoaNut

            unfortunately, the article said that people are paying $7, and the costs are $8


            1. re: gavlist

              What a dumb idea! No business is run like that, unless you count high school car washes. Whats the French word for SUCKER?

              1. re: OCNC

                Perhaps the better phrase would be "pay what you SHOULD", then hope it happens....

                I would suspect that most folks in the d/fw area have not embraced the finer qualities of organically grown products, much less their cost; and would further suspect that to many, "buying local" means trotting to your local Albertson's. Perhaps the average college age student is more "aware", but conversely, that person is generally on a much tighter budget. Because of that, there is also a long standing “notion” that there is cheap food around college campuses. Couple all of that with those who are simply looking for “something for nothing” and be it as it may, I just don’t see the chosen location being the best location for gratuitous profit. But that’s just my opinion. I hope I’m wrong.

                I’ll definitely be checking it out – and the sooner, the better.

                1. re: OCNC

                  shame on you for such a completely pessimistic & judgmental attitude towards innovation. it's a risky idea, yes. however, that doesn't make it a stupid one. potager isn't the only instance i've heard of companies trying a more untraditional way of conducting business. some museums, for instance, have long been allowing people to donate instead of charging tickets (while posting a "suggested" price).

                  some of wal-mart's green markets (or whatever they're called) have a coffee/ready-made section that is pay on your honor system. and who is more mogul-corporate than wal-mart??? if they're willing to entertain an idea, there must be some legitimate business motivation behind it.

                  other industries, like the failing music biz, have started using a "pay what you should" system too. the most famous instance of this would probably be radiohead, who allowed fans to download the album for whatever price they wanted. since then, other bands have followed suit.

                  it's a novel concept, and like i said, pretty risky. but who are you to say if it's stupid or not? i for one, think that while some people would pay too little, some people will definitely pay more for delicious food.

                  maybe it's time to be more open-minded and just give it a chance!

                2. re: gavlist

                  I assume they're using averages like mad, because I know for a fact that the small amount of food that I usually eat isn't worth $8 of groceries! I hope people pay in proportion to what they eat.

                  1. re: captainshen

                    of course, at a restaurant you also have to pay salaries, rent and the (hopefully minimal) cost of wasted or spoiled food. Plus, I imagine, a bunch of other things (taxes, insurance, ...).

              2. This place is awesome. Had lunch there today. Best new restaurant in the Metroplex. Everything I had was fantastic. cauliflower soup, mixed greens with blue cheese, nuts, onions and vinagrette, quiche with smoked salmon, bacon wrapped meatloaf, fingerling potatoes, tomato mushroom saute. Wow!

                There was a sign up that people have been screwing them over with their donations and that they would not remain open long if it continued. Sadly, I don't see how this payment system can work. Especially when the restaurant is located blocks away from a college campus.

                2 Replies
                1. re: snatex

                  I also ate there today. I was pleasantly filled on the amount of food I had. I thought the quiche was well executed as was the pear tart. All of the mains blended together nicely and nothing was overly seasoned meaning the potatoes were potatoes roasted with oil, salt, and rosemary, no truffle oil, no glam. The meatloaf was good but made better with the mushroom and tomato satuee' on top as a customer suggested.

                  I am not sure why everyone is concerned with the economic viability of this restaurant just go and try it out. I would say give credit to a risky individual who took the leap to put the concept out there for us. We have never had anything like this in the Metroplex and it could start a trend or it might fail. In this economy it seems everyone is so down and negative when we really should be supporting a cause like this. It could very well lead to a concept that one day could help ease hunger in the metroplex, but that is just my two cents.

                  1. re: snatex

                    Dumb dumb dumb. They put up a sign to guilt people with a consience into paying MORE than they really think the food is worth because people without a consience are stiffing them? Why not just put a price on the food that gives them a fair profit? A business with a death wish is gonna die.

                    Thanks for the word on the food. We may go over there before they close. Do they have veg options?