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

tubman Jun 10, 2009 08:30 AM

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


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  1. d
    DGresh RE: tubman Jun 10, 2009 08:44 AM

    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. p
      pollymerase RE: tubman Jun 10, 2009 08:51 AM

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

      1. thew RE: tubman Jun 10, 2009 09:10 AM

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

        1 Reply
        1. re: thew
          c oliver RE: thew Jun 10, 2009 08:13 PM

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

        2. f
          fourunder RE: tubman Jun 10, 2009 09:17 AM

          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. NellyNel RE: tubman Jun 10, 2009 09:39 AM

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

            1. j
              Janet from Richmond RE: tubman Jun 10, 2009 10:15 AM

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

              1. Veggo RE: tubman Jun 10, 2009 10:44 AM

                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
                  fourunder RE: Veggo Jun 10, 2009 10:53 AM

                  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
                    jfood RE: fourunder Jun 10, 2009 07:33 PM

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

                    1. re: fourunder
                      smrits RE: fourunder Jun 11, 2009 10:03 AM

                      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
                        fourunder RE: smrits Jun 11, 2009 10:18 AM

                        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
                      BobB RE: Veggo Jun 12, 2009 01:27 PM

                      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. a
                      akq RE: tubman Jun 10, 2009 11:21 AM

                      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. Caralien RE: tubman Jun 10, 2009 02:25 PM

                        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. snix RE: tubman Jun 10, 2009 02:41 PM

                          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
                            kchurchill5 RE: snix Jun 10, 2009 08:08 PM

                            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. Scargod RE: tubman Jun 10, 2009 04:47 PM

                            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 RE: tubman Jun 11, 2009 04:12 AM

                              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
                                smartie RE: jfood Jun 11, 2009 05:26 AM

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

                                1. re: smartie
                                  jfood RE: smartie Jun 11, 2009 07:13 AM

                                  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
                                    LindaWhit RE: jfood Jun 12, 2009 10:35 AM

                                    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. kchurchill5 RE: tubman Jun 11, 2009 10:04 AM

                                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. c
                                  chow_gal RE: tubman Jun 11, 2009 10:05 AM

                                  This is why:

                                  1. p
                                    Pincus RE: tubman Jun 11, 2009 11:52 AM

                                    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
                                      pollymerase RE: Pincus Jun 11, 2009 02:41 PM

                                      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
                                        kchurchill5 RE: pollymerase Jun 11, 2009 03:00 PM

                                        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
                                          Scargod RE: kchurchill5 Jun 11, 2009 03:41 PM

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

                                          1. re: Scargod
                                            kchurchill5 RE: Scargod Jun 11, 2009 03:45 PM

                                            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
                                              c oliver RE: kchurchill5 Jun 11, 2009 03:58 PM

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

                                          2. re: kchurchill5
                                            BobB RE: kchurchill5 Jun 12, 2009 01:37 PM

                                            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
                                              kchurchill5 RE: BobB Jun 12, 2009 02:06 PM

                                              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. Kajikit RE: tubman Jun 11, 2009 12:55 PM

                                        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
                                          Scargod RE: Kajikit Jun 11, 2009 02:30 PM

                                          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. viperlush RE: tubman Jun 12, 2009 07:03 AM

                                          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
                                            c oliver RE: viperlush Jun 12, 2009 07:04 AM

                                            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
                                              kchurchill5 RE: viperlush Jun 12, 2009 08:23 AM

                                              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. f
                                              fourunder RE: tubman Jun 12, 2009 10:45 AM


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


                                              not annoyed.......21

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

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: fourunder
                                                NellyNel RE: fourunder Jun 12, 2009 10:50 AM

                                                fourunder - LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                1. re: NellyNel
                                                  fourunder RE: NellyNel Jun 12, 2009 10:58 AM


                                                  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...

                                                2. re: fourunder
                                                  LindaWhit RE: fourunder Jun 12, 2009 10:53 AM

                                                  ::::high five::::: LOL!

                                                  1. re: fourunder
                                                    BobB RE: fourunder Jun 12, 2009 01:39 PM

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

                                                    1. re: fourunder
                                                      Scargod RE: fourunder Jun 13, 2009 06:57 AM

                                                      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
                                                        fourunder RE: Scargod Jun 13, 2009 07:41 AM

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


                                                        1. re: fourunder
                                                          Scargod RE: fourunder Jun 13, 2009 08:02 AM

                                                          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
                                                            fourunder RE: Scargod Jun 13, 2009 08:11 AM

                                                            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
                                                              c oliver RE: fourunder Jun 13, 2009 10:18 PM

                                                              You kids are making my head hurt :)

                                                    2. Ruth Lafler RE: tubman Jun 12, 2009 06:44 PM

                                                      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
                                                        c oliver RE: Ruth Lafler Jun 12, 2009 07:01 PM

                                                        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
                                                          BobB RE: Ruth Lafler Jun 13, 2009 06:10 AM

                                                          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. Will Owen RE: tubman Jun 12, 2009 06:56 PM

                                                          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
                                                            c oliver RE: Will Owen Jun 12, 2009 07:02 PM

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

                                                            1. re: c oliver
                                                              Will Owen RE: c oliver Jun 13, 2009 09:53 PM

                                                              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
                                                                Ruth Lafler RE: Will Owen Jun 13, 2009 10:00 PM

                                                                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
                                                                  Will Owen RE: Ruth Lafler Jun 13, 2009 10:41 PM

                                                                  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
                                                                    Ruth Lafler RE: Will Owen Jun 13, 2009 11:09 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                  c oliver RE: Will Owen Jun 13, 2009 10:21 PM

                                                                  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.

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