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Jun 12, 2009 10:05 PM

Is an amuse-bouche usually free?

I normally expect to pay for whatevery I get at a restaurant, but whenever I've gone to a very expensive place and got offered something little before the meal starts it's always been free. To be fair, I've only ever had this maybe 4 times ever so "always" may not be meaningful.

I just had a very nice meal in a top-rated place (in the city where I live and hadn't been to in a while) where we were offered (and accepted) an amuse-bouche (although it was an Italian place and they used a different word). We ordered apps, pasta course and entrees, so it wasn't like we needed the extra food. It was a couple of tiny meatballs with a sauce and quite delicious. I thought it was offered as a bonus, although we were asked if we wanted it and we said sure, I'm pretty sure that previous times the amuse-bouche just came out without asking if we wanted it.

When the bill came we were charged $7 each for them. Everything was just great and the $14 wasn't worth talking about (given the size of the bill) so I didn't bring it up. I'm not upset at all, just curious whether it's common nowadays to charge for an amuse-bouche in high-end restaurants.

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  1. They have always been free for me.
    I've never heard of being charged.
    Sounds like a ripoff.
    But I wasn't there to witness the exchange, so can't be sure...

    1. The few times one has been offered it has been free. Charging for it sounds bit cheap and tacky to me.

      1. Ugh, this does sound tacky. I have never, ever been charged for an amuse bouches. And they are frequently given in NYC restaurants.

        1. An amuse-bouche should never be charged to the diner.

          Unless the customer orders the item, if the restaurant provides it sua sponte, it should be on the house.

          1. I wouldn't be horribly opposed to docking the tip in this case. Good service means no gotchas.

            2 Replies
            1. re: xanadude

              Charging for the amuse buche would not have been the decision of the server, although, since it is usually an extra charge, it would have been very smart for him/her to make it clear to you up front that there was a cost to it. I wouldn't have taken it out on the server, but I would have hesitated to go back to that restaurant.

              1. re: chicgail

                That's one vew. Another view is that the server might have worded it in such a way as to imply no charge and thus was contributing to mislead.