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Menu prices: No dollar signs (or worse, words)

Am I the only one who finds this trend incredibly annoying?

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  1. I guess I don't feel it's annoying. To me it seems more refined. Kind of the opposite of having prices at X.99 which definately is "down market" and would be a turn-off (to me) in a fine restaurant.

    1. I'm absolutely fine with no dollar signs. Word, on the other hand, not so much.

      1. doesn't bug me. i like simple elegance and i think it actually looks better w/out the signs

        1 Reply
        1. re: thew

          I hadn't thought of that but I agree with you. I like the look of it on a menu.

        2. What exactly are you annoyed at? Are you one of those that spent the higher 8%? :0)

          As the others have commented, I like the the numbers rounded off without dollar signs. No problems here and regardless of prices listed on any menus.....I always order what I want and am not influenced by price.....if I were, I would not step into any said restaurant to begin with.

          The prices are printed.....so where's the problem.

          1. These days - in NYC - it's pretty common now..most places do it.
            It does seem more elegant - I quite like it

            1. I like the clean look of the simple way to give the price. I am one who likes detailed descriptions of dishes though.

              1. No dollar sign, no decimal point....you are going to paay to plaay. A tassle dangling from the menu? Another 20%. A ladies' menu with no prices at all? Another 20%.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Veggo

                  A ladies' menu with no prices at all? Another 20%
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  When I was manager of a Country Club in Northern New Jersey, anytime a member had any guests for dinner, they would usually request a special menu be made available without prices. I always thought they were known as "PIA member's request menus".......

                  .......unfortunately for me, I've never known any lady to shy away from ordering anything on a menu due to the listed price...... ;0)

                  1. re: fourunder

                    host and guest menus are fantastic ways to host a party. jfood wants people to order and enjoy what they want.

                    1. re: fourunder

                      I had a friend who was a member of a country club. She took her boyfriend there for his birthday, and was rather irked when they gave *her* the ladies' menu and him the one with the prices.

                      1. re: smrits

                        While this was borderline inexcusable on part of the hostess or server, I can see how it would happen quite easily and I can only surmise the reasons why. My gut tells me it was simply the staff did not know who the member was. It could be something as simple as she was not recognized or known to be the member....a result of not being around the club much....or new staff not familiar with any members.

                        What I can tell you is this. There are tipping clubs and non-tipping clubs.....regardless of the policy, if you want better service and you want to be known when you enter the room.....tip accordingly with the key players in the room.

                    2. re: Veggo

                      A tassel? Can't remember the last time I saw one of those, to me a tassel signifies a restaurant vitrifed in its glory days of the 1950s.

                    3. It usually doesn't bother me, except that in a nice "casual" french resto in LV, they had the prices on the specials board as just a number without a dollar sign or cents and I totally missed them. I asked the waiter how much one of the specials was and he gave me a little surprised look and then told me. When I looked back at the specials board I was a bit embarassed, but no biggie.

                      1. Dollar (or any currency) signs or lack therof on a menu don't bother me. Most take away menus don't have them either, particularly if there are a lot of items.

                        I prefer adequate descriptions, however, as it helps when I may be concerned with allergic reactions.

                        1. I also prefer to see prices with no dollar signs. Even in my little hick town one out of our two better restaurants just recently redesigned their menu; one of the changes was to not include dollar signs or cents. I think the menus look a bit classier.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: snix

                            At the restaurant I was involved with we listed prices without dollar signs but 8 or 9 or 10. We were an upscale diner but realized we had to cater to the working class so a simple dinner under 10.00 was great or Friday fish frys. Not frozen anything, not processed but good fresh homemade food with an upscale twist But price yes, dollar signs no, but prices were a must.

                          2. I wouldn't say it bothers me other than the first time I saw it I didn't get it for a while. Uh, I'll have #20...

                            1. Jfood does not find it annoying at all. He also does not get annoyed by the font or the color.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: jfood

                                the only thing I do not like to see on a menu is schmutz (sticky food bits left behind).

                                1. re: smartie

                                  Schmutz is such a great word. When jfood is in your part of the country and asks for a different menu since it has some schmutz on it, everyone understands. In CT, not so much.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    They don't understand schmutz in CT? That's a surprise!

                                    As to the OP, it doesn't bother me. With dollar signs, with cents, without either - don't care. Just give me a well written description of the dish, and the price.

                              2. I do like a menu that at least gives a nice description of the food. Many people can't eat certain items so I think a menu that offers accurate descriptions is important. Not every ingredient obviously. But a short description that does let the customer know what they will ordering. Obviously some dishes will need no explanation, but many do.

                                And please if it is 20.00 don't put twenty on the menu. That bugs me.

                                  1. Either is better to me than "market price". Whose market? I'd like to pay you $5 for it, do we start haggling with the waiter or the chef or the owner?

                                    But it's not good if it's being used to give a fake sense of culinary stature/elegance to a mediocre restaurant. Fortunately that kind of Emperor's New Clothes mentality gets picked up on fairly quick these days by certain Web sites devoted to food. :)

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: Pincus

                                      I think you can (and should) certainly ask what the price is when it says market price. I don't think it's meant to be a secret, but rather a way for the restaurant to easily adjust to the cost of some products (i.e. lobster, fresh fish, etc) that may vary with individual shipment.

                                      1. re: pollymerase

                                        At the restaurant I was involved with on a board when you walked in, the specials were listed usually 2 per night. Also the menu didn't say market price, it said. Availability dependent. Then that price was also given on the board along with the specials. Also the waiter or waitress always mentioned it. Being smaller we didn't have many dishes like that but we did have lobster, and some fresh seafood which was usually what was not always available or only certain times of the year.

                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                          But a lot of times when specials are recited they DON'T mention price!

                                          1. re: Scargod

                                            True and I always made sure that our servers gave the price. My pet peeve. If lobster bisque is a special I want to know how much. Good point. That is where management comes into play and it isn't always easy with many restaurants using temp staff and not always trained as they should be.

                                            Hard call isn't it. No easy answer

                                            1. re: kchurchill5

                                              Sounds like an easy call and an easy answer. Just do it.

                                          2. re: kchurchill5

                                            But there's a difference between daily specials and market price items. A daily special should certainly have a price attached, since it's being offered today and you've presumably already bought the ingredients and know what you spent (despite the comments frequently from heard from impatient diners to the effect of "Why is this taking so long, have they sent someone out to buy the ingredients?")

                                            Market price, on the other hand, typically is used for dishes that are on the regular menu (hence not specials) but whose price volatility is such that it can vary widely on a daily basis - usually (though not always) fresh-caught fish and other seafood.

                                            1. re: BobB

                                              No on the board if I didn't make it clear the specials would have a price and the market price for those listed on the menu were also on that board so people were aware of it. Also a small card was also on each table in a small clip that listed menu market prices and specials for that night.

                                              Apologies If I didn't state that clear enough. Market prices were usually rack of lamb depending on availability and mostly fresh seafood which would change depending on the time of year.

                                      2. If I'm looking at a menu I expect to see a price on it. It really doesn't bother me if they have the dollar sign there or not. $9, $9.00, and 9.00 all work just fine. But don't write it out in words! That's just plain silly and makes it difficult to compare different items.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Kajikit

                                          I agree and two $$ would mean the dish was damn expensive and nobody would touch it!
                                          What if they used <20. Would that sway anyone? Games!

                                        2. I wonder if the placement of the price influences a persons selection as much as the format. If the prices are in a column next to the dish descriptions it's easier to scan and pass over what is "too expensive" and not even look at those dishes. If the prices are at the bottom of the description it makes the diner read the description before seeing the price. I've found it harder to say no to a dish that looks good than it is to say no to a dish because of price.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: viperlush

                                            Good point. Whether it's food or a new pair of shoes, I like to know the price before I fall in love :)

                                            1. re: viperlush

                                              Agreed, From a marketing standpoint having the price of the bottom of the description draw their attention to price. However when I go to a restaurant I do have a price in mind. or at least and idea of what I want. Never put from most expensive to least. Alaphabetical should be the key and usually or sometimes divided by pork, seafood, poultry, beef, pasta etc. Sometimes, sometimes not. But yes viper I think having the prices under the description does make the person read the description rather than just Yes or No due to the price. But I think in smaller restaurants that are family oriented, sometimes the price up front is a key, but that is just finding out what worked best for us. Obviously, city vs small town, vs on the road diners, to a 4 star restaurant is certainly going to be different.

                                            2. tubman,

                                              so far by my count here a few days later the score is:

                                              annoyed........1

                                              not annoyed.......21

                                              To answer your original question......yes

                                              9 Replies
                                                1. re: NellyNel

                                                  NellyNel,

                                                  If you alter the question from incredibly annoyed to just slightly annoyed....

                                                  I believe the score would stay the same, but I'll let others make the call if (annoyed) increases it's count total to (2) from Scargod's post:

                                                  I wouldn't say it bothers me other than the first time I saw it I didn't get it for a while. Uh, I'll have #20...

                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                    Make the 22. It's a total non-issue.

                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                      I'm changing my vote to annoyed. Don't want to be in with the majority; might ruin my curmudgeon persona.
                                                      What you want to bet they round up prices (from previous menu) when they do this?

                                                      1. re: Scargod

                                                        Does this mean I have to change my answer to (tubman)'s question, from yes to no, and edit the count?

                                                        ;-)

                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                          Yes, change my yes to no to the original question and yes, change your yes to no.
                                                          Are you sure there was no one else annoyed or just nobody else incredibly annoyed?

                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                            At the time of the post, there were no comments that I read that said they were annoyed at all. You indicated you were bothered the first time....but from the whole comment, I gathered you were no longer bothered...or annoyed.

                                                            1. re: fourunder

                                                              You kids are making my head hurt :)

                                                    2. I have a slightly different take. As an editor, I'm against the use of excess characters: the more characters there are, the more possibilities for making a typographical error. If you don't need a dollar sign (or a decimal point), don't use one. I think in the United States it's safe to assume that the prices are being quoted in dollars.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        And an excellent take it is, RL. I think we can not only assume in the US that it's not Euros but also not cents.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          Strunk & White would agree with you, I'm sure. But sometimes aesthetics trump brevity - spelling a price out in text may achieve the graphic look the menu designer seeks. Or it may just be pretentious. Without seeing a specific example we can't really know, there is no generalizable principle here.

                                                        2. I have no problem seeing a simple 20 following the name and description of a dish, unless said dish is an appetizer or small salad. Then I will conceal my annoyance by leaving before anyone notices...

                                                          I do in fact tot up the meal costs in my head semi-automatically, since I'm often close enough to poverty to be careful how much I'm blowing here. A plain unadorned number I think actually makes that easier, and having the number spelled out makes little difference.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                            Gotta save the ;money for more pork shoulder roasts, right?

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              Bless your heart.

                                                              Pork shoulder roasts loom large in my life because they're cheap. That's not necessarily why I keep getting them, but it's how I got to know them in the first place. Shoulder roasts and shoulder steaks is what I was raised on back in our rude hovel, and it amuses me no end when someone announces that he's just discovered this "new" cut of pork that, miraculously enough, is NOT tragically lean!

                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                Oh yeah -- pork shoulder steaks are one of my favorite cuts of meat. It annoys me that my chichi butcher doesn't carry them. In fact, all these premium meats (organic/natural/heritage etc.) only seem to be available in premium cuts. What do they do with the rest of the beast?

                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                  Inneresting... if any butcher high-hatted me about my preferred cuts I'd be SO out of there. As it is, the best REALLY CHEAP cuts I ever got was at Bristol Farms, when I was looking for lamb shanks to make my cassoulet and none were to be had. So I aked the guy if perhaps he had some neck...? And he said he thought so, and came back out with three, which he sliced longitudinally for me. I think it came to about twelve bucks, and that was the best cassoulet I ever made.

                                                                  Also, one of the kinda upscale meat markets in the old LA Farmer's Market has giant inch-thick pork steaks for about $3/lb. I got a thermoelectric cooler for our car mostly just so I could buy those things on a hot day and not worry about getting stuck in traffic!

                                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                                    I have a great recipe for lamb neck stew. With my butcher, it's just that he has very limited space, and so he only stocks cuts that are in high demand and/or that he makes money off of. I suspect that a lot of the less expensive cuts get broken down and used for ground meat, housemade sausage, etc.

                                                                2. re: Will Owen

                                                                  Yes, I'd buy them at any price. I suggested to alanbarnes the possibility of cooking a baby goat like your/my/LAt Times pork shoudler.