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What do you think of this "forkage fee"? [Moved from Manhattan]


From the New York Times Diners Journal, March 11, 2010:

On her blog, Rose Levy Beranbaum writes about a not-very-sweet experience at the Breslin.

She and some pastry chef friends arrived there at lunch after she had videotaped a cooking piece. She brought out “a little box containing two small slices of chocolate cake leftover from the taping.” They asked their server if they could have plates and forks and explained that they wanted to try the cake that had been prepared for the shooting.

I gave him my card and asked if he would like to offer one of the pieces of cake to the pastry chef. He revealed that she wasn’t there, so I offered him a taste of the cake. “I don’t do that kind of thing,” was his haughty reply…

The wait person brought back four forks, pushing them onto the table, but no plates. We started to taste the cake, still set on its plastic wrap “plate,” when he returned with the information that he had reported us to the chef who said we’d have to pay a fee for the forks. I asked him if it was a “forkage fee” and he smiled and said “yes.” I suggested that he might have mentioned that before he brought out the forks.

The bill came, and that fee for the use of four forks was a shocking $25.


  1. I read that and while it's a high fee, I don't see why the group couldn't have eaten it at home or elsewhere. It's one thing to have a specialty birthcake made and bringing it to a celebration (and still paying a "forkage fee" for the pleasure of eating it) but it's another thing entirely to bring a slice or two of cake to avoid buying dessert. The $25 fee is what they would have paid if they all ordered dessert at the restaurant, so I can understand.

    16 Replies
    1. re: stephaniec25

      I don't find a "forkage fee" particularly different from a sharing fee or a corkage fee. In this case, I do find the blogger's behavior rather tacky and if the response was an expensive comeuppance, I'm OK with that.

      1. re: Jane A.

        I don't find her behavior tacky at all. She asked first, she offered a taste to the pastry chef...I think she behaved exactly right. If they wanted to charge a small fee to account for the plates (if there had been any) and forks being used, fine, and they should have told her up front. In my opinion corkage on wine is to pay for the use of the restaurant's glasswear and servers, NOT to make up for what a bottle might have netted the restaurant.

        But to be rude and snarky and unhelpful (no plates, remember?) ...to have "reported" me to the chef? Good Lord, I'm not sure I could have controlled myself. And I would have tipped zero and would have called/written to the owner the next day. WOW! Normally, the "poor me" stories I read about treatment in restaurants strike me as boring and overblown by people with entitled attitudes. But for some reason , this one makes me fume!

        1. re: danna

          It seemed to me that they didn't really ask ....they just told the waiter what they were going to do. quote"After several reproachful comments from the 20 something year old, along the lines of: "this is a restaurant..." " Sounds to me like they would not take no for an answer.

          1. re: danna

            Hear, hear. The tip line on my credit card receipt would read a total of "FORK YOU".

            $25 for the use of four forks is thievery, and the attitude of the waiter is unacceptable.

            1. re: vorpal

              the restaurant and waitperson would probably have thought it was a good deal to get stiffed on the tip as long as it also meant that Beranbaum would never set foot in the place again.

              some customers are just that bad. . . .

          2. re: Jane A.

            Agreed. I find it v. tacky and also a sense of self-entitlement.

            1. re: gloriousfood

              Please elaborate. What part do you find tacky? Asking to eat their own cake in the first place? If so, do you find bringing in a special bottle of wine also tacky? Or was it the offering of a taste? Or was it suggesting to the waiter that he should have mentioned the corkage in advance?

              I'm not trying to be confrontational, I just can't figure out what you guys object to.

              1. re: danna

                Don't bring food to the restaurant.

                If you insist on bringing your own dessert, you should expect to pay a fee. its as simple as that. just as you would if you brought a bottle of wine with you.

                Could it have been handled better by the restaurant, sure but that doesn't make this tacky snob right.

                1. re: danna

                  "do you find bringing in a special bottle of wine also tacky? Or was it the offering of a taste? "

                  Well, when I bring in a bottle of wine, I expect to pay the corkage fee, and yes, I will offer a taste to the sommelier /waitperson. And will use their stemware and am pleased to pay for this.

                  She did exactly the same thing. But with cake. Not on the restaurant's menu, offered a slice to pastry chef and server, and then was charged a fee. Why the need for the ugly blog post? Why is outside wine different than outside cake?

                  1. re: chow_gal

                    Yeah, I understand the fee (although it is WAY too much and should have been mentioned in the beginning.) It's the attitude and nasty comments from the server than amaze me.

                    She had a $145 bill. Even if she was already on the servers nerves (which I realize could be possible based on her tone in the Cake Bible), I just can't understand why the restaurant couldn't wash 4 forks gratis, or at least charge for them w/ a gracious demeanor.

                    1. re: danna

                      why should they? they are giving up more than just forks - they are giving up time, table space, forks, plates, waiters, busboys, etc. And the sell dessert - so this is cutting out the bottom line, and also cutting into the tippable amount on the bill.

                      But the worst part is the idea that because she wrote a book about cake she has the right to better treatment than you or i would get in the same situation. That somehow she was special enough that she could condescend to the staff.


                      1. re: thew

                        But you're assuming they would have ordered dessert if they hadn't brough some. I don't see this as an issue where they just wanted to eat some cake...they were examining a work product, sorta like if I took up table space to go over a spreadsheet w/ my work buddies after we ate.

                        I don't get why people think she was after special treatment. I know I would have expected to ask nicely if I could have some utensils for my cake. I probably would have been overly verbose (no duh) about exactly WHY I wanted to try this particular peice of cake now, and I would have expected the server to be friendly and forthcoming with me in return.

                        Maybe that's why this story hits such a nerve with me. I find that if I'm sincere, frinedly and ask politely, people will let me have whatever I ask for...or at LEAST look regretful when they tell me no. maybe this is a regional thing...

                        1. re: danna

                          it is NOTHING like you taking up space with a spreadsheet. it is more like you went into your competitor's office and asked if you could use his computers printers and staff

                        2. re: thew

                          Actually, if you read through all of the discussion, they WERE planning on buying dessert but were denied the opportunity by the server (they inquired about available ice cream flavors and were presented with the check).

                      2. re: chow_gal

                        completely concur with chow_girl on all points.

              2. Presumably they justified it as being the equivalent of the desserts that were not ordered because the ladies brought their own. Charging "cakeage" is fairly common, as a cake for a special occasion (i.e. birthday cake) is one food that people are likely to bring to restaurants. However, the amount in this case seems excessive; it should have been disclosed when the forks were requested; and for $25 I'd expect plates and a knife!

                1. If you read the original post (on Beranbaum's site), she notes that they did ask their server if it was okay to bring out their cake. If it wasn't, or if they were going to charge a fee, they should have been told before forks were delivered (and how passive aggressive - bringing forks but no plates!)

                  However, she also starts her post by saying that back in the "good ol' days" she used to be able to sample her cakes whereever she wanted... which makes it sound like she's a bit put off mainly because the people at the Breslin didn't know who she was and that she was entitled to taste her cakes when she wanted, etc, after she handed over her card.

                  I think it's a little rude to expect to be able to eat your own food at a restaurant, but I also think the Breslin should have expressed their "forkage fee" earlier if they were going to do so.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: leanneabe

                    I think the issue, and the handing over the card thing, is that for Beranbaum, a piece of cake is not dessert, it's her work, and this cake was the product of a work session. It's not as if she was bringing cake to the restaurant just for the sake of eating cake!

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      And I think you nailed it, the only person to do so on this site or Beranbaum's.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        She is eating outside food at a restaurant. She needs to get over herself.

                        1. re: ESNY

                          Agreed. If she's a professional, surely she has more suitable venues for sampling her results. Going out should be seen as an opportunity to sample her fellow professionals' work. Respect goes both ways.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          how astonishingly self-centered to think that since cake is 'your' work, the restaurant is supposed to treat you and the cake any differently than they treat any other customer and any other cake.

                          when my sommelier friend brings wine to a restaurant, he completely expects to be charged corkage, AND completely expects to provide tastes, at the very least, to the waitstaff and to the restaurant's sommelier. it should be noted that he expects to be charged corkage EVEN THOUGH he always orders an additional bottle from the restaurant's wine list.

                          the haughtiness/hubris being demonstrated by the blogger has me speechless.
                          the cost of the forkage, like the cost of corkage, should have been about what would have been charged if they all had ordered dessert at the restaurant.

                      2. It's not completely clear from this excerpt quoted in the original post, but they did spend over $100 on lunch before asking if it would be okay to eat their own cake.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: khoffdenver

                          $109 before the forkage fee, pre tax. 4 people, maybe three her article just states one person suggested it and then she called two other food friends, so I will assume 4 people total, not all that much money.

                          Bottom line is the waiter should have informed them before bringing the forks.

                          1. re: khoffdenver

                            what is your point here?
                            truly, the cost of the lunch should have had nothing to do with it.
                            (my take is that they had an inexpensive lunch and then were so tacky that wanted to bring their own dessert without being charged.)

                            1. re: khoffdenver

                              <<they did spend over $100 on lunch >>
                              my local burger joint charges about $15 for a burger or a salad.
                              spending $100 for four people in an upscale manhattan eatery is NOTHING.
                              bolsters the argument that they were UNdeserving of any special treatment.

                            2. There's a lot of wrong to go around, here. The server could certainly have handled the situation a lot more graciously. But I read the entire blog post, and good lord, Beranbaum does not inspire much sympathy. She drops enough names to fill a bathtub, for starters. And her sense of entitlement nearly leapt off the screen and smacked me in the eyes.

                              18 Replies
                              1. re: small h

                                I must have missed something here. Like the part where Ms. Beranbaum actually ordered something from the menu. That she intended to pay for. In a restaurant. I'm in the industry too, but if this actually happened the way it's portrayed.......wait a minute. She actually walked into one of the hottest restaurants in town, sat down with her friends, and proceeded to eat the food she brought with her? And ordered nothing......but forks and plates? And there's someone here who has some sympathy for this spectacularly self-absorbed display of crassness? I'd love to hear a correction, explaining that she actually ordered lunch and then wanted to know if she could also have her cake. If not, then the it seems the douchoisie really are trying to take over. Off with their heads.

                                1. re: BLAST

                                  According to RLB's account, they DID have lunch.

                                  "We enjoyed the food and each other's company but it all fell apart when we brought out a little box containing two small slices of chocolate cake leftover from the taping of the day before."

                                  1. re: BLAST

                                    No, BLAST, they had $109 worth of lunch pre-cake. Here's the entire post:


                                    And a photo of the bill:


                                    1. re: BLAST

                                      Yes. You did miss something.

                                    2. re: small h

                                      But I read the entire blog post, and good lord, Beranbaum does not inspire much sympathy.

                                      Indeed, it inspires a great deal of sympathy in me -- entirely for the restaurant! Overblown prose aside, nothing about her post suggests anything of concern for mere mortals with normal manners eating at the restaurant. It just reads like a venting of frustrated semi-celebrity spleen rather than any sort of useful review of the restaurant.

                                      1. re: MikeG

                                        And did you read the replys she made to people who didn't agree with her? WOW!

                                        1. re: LaLa

                                          BTW, this thread is linked to by one of the commenters on her blog (and my, she certainly is full of herself in those comments, isn't she?)

                                          ETA--the comments in the NYTimes are running in the resto's favor. Not surprised here.

                                          1. re: LaLa

                                            No, I draw the line at slogging my way through her whole initial post.

                                            As far as I was concerned, she lost all sympathy by not making her request before the meal and then persisting in the face of initial reluctance when she awkwardly pulled out the cake at the end of the meal. Of course the restaurant could have gone above and beyond to graciously accomodate a difficult customer, but I don't think it's much of a criticism to say that they did not. Needless to say, it's no criticism at all that they didn't recognize her or weren't impressed enough to give her special treatment.

                                            1. re: LaLa

                                              This was my favorite response she gave:

                                              "thanks zach! i'm not sure if any of you realize how, with the touch of a button, i can delete any comment on this blog. but i've left them all here for all of you to see who you are and what is in your heart and mind. no response or defense is really necessary. what you write says it all."

                                              Before reading that I was squarely on the fence of both parties handled the situation poorly and both overreacted. However, after reading that response I have absolutely no sympathy for her as it seems she is indeed quite full of herself and high on her horse. She comes off quite hypocritical -- shame on those who exert power and/or opinion, yet that is exactly what she did both at the restaurant and in her blog.

                                              1. re: pollymerase

                                                This reminds me of the scene from the Golden Child where the evil demon tells Eddie Murphy that he could kill him, just like that ;)

                                                1. re: pollymerase

                                                  I, like you, was on the fence. It seems both sides could have handled things differently. I would never do what she did, but i also thought the restaurant could have been a little more customer friendly. But after reading more from this lady, i am really not surprised that someone like her would get less than friendly and welcoming service. She comes across as quite entitled. I do not feel sorry for her at all!

                                                  1. re: iluvtennis

                                                    Agreed. After seeing her blog, I had to chuckle reading her description of the waiter as "haughty". Talk about entitlement. Wow. She should have called in advance and asked if it was permitted, and if so, what are the fees if any. And playing the "Do you know who I am" card? Sheesh. Pompous, overbearing, insulting, and pretentious behavior. She needs to get over herself. But they should have given her plates, especially at $25.

                                                    1. re: Leonardo

                                                      I agree that the $25 is insanely high.

                                                      I think both sides just got their backs up and the situation escalated as they each upped the ante.

                                                      I hear that in real life RLB isn't quite so awful.

                                            2. re: small h

                                              Agreed with the sense of entitlement. And giving the waiter her card? Perhaps she was just annoyed that she wasn't recognized (neither her face nor her name). Another point is that we have only RLB's account here--you can always spin everything in your own favor on your own blog. It would be interesting to hear the waitstaff's version of this.

                                              1. re: nofunlatte

                                                And when I read this - "So, what do we writers do when so deeply offended? We write." - I suddenly had a vision of her jumping onto a chair and shouting "I'm going home to post this on Yelp!"

                                                1. re: nofunlatte

                                                  Kinda reminds me of the pro athlete or movie star who is pulled over by the police while blowing a 1. whatever breath test and going to the "do who know who I am card?" Pure entitlement.

                                                  1. re: James Cristinian

                                                    Good analogy! And if the waiter was a 20-something, he'd not know who she was. She's more well known to an older demographic.

                                                    1. re: nofunlatte

                                                      I'm 27 and my immediate response to this post was that I, if I'd been the server, would have taken up the offer to taste a Rose Levy Beranbaum cake and been quite happy at the chance.

                                                      I really feel this is more like someone else bringing paperwork to a restaurant than like someone else bringing their own food.

                                              2. How are you going to go to a restaurant - bring OUTSIDE food and expect NOT to be charged?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. She should have done what any civilized and courteous person who isn't completely full of themselves and self entitled would do: call ahead to make sure to know what the restaurant's policy is, instead of just assuming it's ok, then trying to play the "I'm in the industry, I'm a chef, I'm famous" card and trying to belittle a waiter who is just doing his job.

                                                  A few years ago, I had a Valentine's day rez at Sushi Yasuda. I had made a six layer German chocolate cake for my then girlfriend and wanted to surprise her with it. I CALLED AHEAD to ask if it would be ok. They said yes. I showed up a little early, they brought the cake back to the kitchen. When it was time, they brought the cake out for us, sliced it table side, and packed up the leftovers when we were done. For no extra fees. I'm am absolutely convinced that if I had just showed up with my cake unannounced, it would have been a much different, less pleasant experience.

                                                  1. Offering a piece of her cake to the pastry chef? What the heck is that all about? 'Hey, I'm a semi-famous pastry chef too. Here's my card. I don't want to order any of your desserts, by the way. And, oh, did I mention I'm famous?' Give me a break. If I were the pastry chef at the restaurant, I would have been pissed.

                                                    As if that wasn't enough, she made the same offer to the waiter too. How rude and condescending. I think she's mad because apparently she didn't get treated the way she is used to.

                                                    14 Replies
                                                    1. re: Jay2512

                                                      I also found her offering a piece of cake to the pastry chef a bit odd. It's almost like she thought like she was being so incredibly gracious by giving him the privilege of tasting her cake.

                                                      Her attitude is bizarre. Should it be ok with a restaurant if I bring my own appetizers then? Or my own steak and I just order the sides?

                                                      1. re: PadmeSkywalker

                                                        All the forkage fee silliness aside, the woman wrote a book called The Cake Bible. She is a top expert in the baking world - she is not a blogger, or a home baker, she's kind of a legend. I imagine any self-respecting pastry chef would have been pretty psyched for Rose Levy Berenbaum to walk in and offer a slice.

                                                        1. re: janejane

                                                          Believe it or not, there are people in the industry who wouldn't be entirely thrilled to be offered a slice of Ms. Berenbaum's cake (take that phrase as you will).

                                                          1. re: janejane

                                                            well she is legend in her own mind if nothing else

                                                            1. re: janejane

                                                              Naming your book The Cake Bible is kind of egotistical. Let the general public decide whether it's good enough to be called such.

                                                              1. re: Jay2512

                                                                I for one have the book and don't like it at all. I've made a few things from it and they have *not* turned out as well as some old-fashioned standby cake recipes I have. And I find her attitude in the book fussy and pretentious. Just my opinion; know plenty of others love her book.

                                                                1. re: Jay2512

                                                                  umm, the public does not get to name books after they're published! She (and her publisher) had every right to name her book whatever they wanted, and had the experience that very much warranted that title. I don't understand this snotty takedown of her - just because she has some haughtiness in a bad customer service situation and wrote a snotty blog post, you are all ready to decide she is an unexperienced hack? So weird.
                                                                  I'm not sticking up for her in this particular situation with the forks at the Breslin, just her role as a professional baker whose skills and experience are well-known in the industry.

                                                                  1. re: janejane

                                                                    I interpreted Jay's comment to mean let the public refer to your book as a Bible, as in, 'Jane, have you read Beranbaum's book? It's the Bible of cake making.'

                                                                    1. re: pollymerase

                                                                      Thanks pollymerase, that's exactly what I meant. You just said it more eloquently.

                                                                      1. re: pollymerase

                                                                        I'm with you, Polly. Self-characterization can be tacky.

                                                                        As someone once said "It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help."

                                                                        1. re: Sharuf

                                                                          "Someone" said it well indeed :) The blogger/customer has an attitude, for sure.

                                                                      2. re: janejane

                                                                        jay2512 did NOT suggest that the public should name an already-published book.

                                                                2. re: Jay2512

                                                                  I see it as no different than offering the sommelier a glass of wine.

                                                                  1. re: lisavf

                                                                    if you offer the sommelier a glass of wine, that does NOT exempt you from paying corkage.

                                                                3. restaurants are in the business of selling food.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                    Restaurants are also liable for the food that's served in their dining rooms. When someone brings in outside food, the restaurant had no control over how that food was made or whether it was handled properly between the time it was made and the time it's consumed.

                                                                    1. re: LabRat

                                                                      I don't really think that that's what this was about...

                                                                  2. As jfood posted on her blog.

                                                                    1 - Bringing a cake (I always call first so there are no surprises either way)and asking for them to cut and serve normally brings a nominal cutting fee and I have no issue if known and agreed to
                                                                    2 - Bringing a slice of cake and asking for a fork with a $120 tab already for lunch is almost an accomodation on the part of the restaurant. Should have been a no-brainer and with your offering the second slice to the staff is a good karma quid pro quo.
                                                                    3 - Their charging $25 for the fork is definitely snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
                                                                    4 - In fairness, you using your business card was not cool, though. Once they crossed over to bad service, placing the "do you know who I am" card in play was not professional. They should treat everyone with a minimum of decorum, not just those in the biz.

                                                                    But they should have called it the "What the Fork" Fee.

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                      I'd differ on one point at least. When you bring a bottle of your own (presumably good) wine to a restaurant that offers corkage for wines not on their list (common enough), it's considered gracious to offer a sip to the sommelier - after all, it might be a wine he or she would like to add to the restaurant's cellar.

                                                                      However, unless she's angling for a pastry chef's job at the Breslin, offerring a taste of the cake slice (and pulling out a slice IS tacky, IMO) to the pastry chef is borderline insulting, and offerring it to the waiter is pretentious and condescending.

                                                                      That said, the fee was way over-the-top, especially with the added insult of no plates. I call bad form all around - but she should have known better from the get-go.

                                                                      1. re: Striver

                                                                        If you are saying that the current pastry chef has now mastered every conceivable way of presenting every conceivable dessert than yes, jfood would agree. But chef's "borrow" ideas and recipes constantly from what jfood reads here. Everyone can learn soemthing from others. The MOD at Breslin sure can from the way he handled this. If that is a pervasive attitude at the restaurant as well then jfood would also agree with you.

                                                                        Other than that, jfood thinks it is a great gesture.

                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                          Whether it is insulting or not, i don't know, but you must at least concede it is a bit odd. Bringing in cake, offering it to the pastry chef, and then being appalled at a "forkage fee"...this cannot be a common practice.

                                                                          1. re: iluvtennis

                                                                            Nope. Jfood does not think it is odd at all. A reknowned pastry chef has a few slices of cake and wishes to share with another in her profession. Some may actually call that gracious. Jfood thinks the pastry chef, if on premises, should have come out to enjoy the cake and chat. Everyone should be appalled.

                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                              Ok, gracious, maybe. But common? You really see this happen enough to be called a COMMON occurrence? There is no doubt in my mind that this type of thing doesn't happen all that often in they way in which she described. And iremeber, she did not offer a slice right away. I don't think her intention was to be gracious to the pastry chef. But my opposition to your statements is that you believe this sort of thing is common?

                                                                              1. re: iluvtennis

                                                                                Perhaps if she were Pierre Herme, maybe... but I would never saunter into another person's restaurant and push upon them food I made at my place. It is strange and almost insulting.

                                                                    2. Taking outside food to a restaurant seems strange, but last night DH and I were dining at Red Lobster (hangs head in shame, but we've been dining there since we started dating many years ago). A table of 10 next to us produced a birthday cake and asked for plates. The server reacted promptly in a very friendly fashion. I was impressed. Good customer service always impresses.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                        Maybe that party did call ahead to alert the restaurant that they'd be bringing their own cake.

                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                          For some reason a whole special occasion cake seems quite different to me than slices. A lot of people are hung up on having a CAKE (not pie, not cupcakes, not plated desserts) for special occasions and most restaurants don't provide them, so it seems more reasonable to bring it in from outside. But I am also impressed that Red Lobster can go with the flow, especially because a lot of these chains have a high turnover and a cake course would probably add at least half an hour to dinner. But if it's a large group ordering a lot of alcohol, it's probably well worth their while. And I would not look askance as another customer, whereas I would be pretty horrified by a small table bringing in a few slices of dessert.

                                                                        2. I can see charging $25 if the restaurant did something special - cut the cake, plated and spent time presenting the cake to the table, but $25 for a waiter to bring forks!

                                                                          I would imagine a good restaurant would make an exception in the fork fee in a case like this.

                                                                          Would the restaurant charge for swapping out dirty silverware?

                                                                          1. It was just a few forks to the restaurant. Why piss off a whole table of folks. Go with the flow and make your customer happy, they might just come back. You also might get a much larger tip.

                                                                            You don't need to skin every customer for every dime, if it doesn't cost you anything why not build up a little goodwill.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. The thing is, the Breslin is located in the new Ace Hotel which has a beautiful lobby with tons of tables, desks, chairs, and lounging areas for the public to enjoy. I often have bought a coffee and a snack and enjoyed it in the lobby while walking around the area. She should have simply walked out the restaurant into the lobby and she could do as she pleased. Forks could have been available in the lobby or even in the coffee shop in the lobby. She made a silly decision to stay at the Breslin.

                                                                              1. Yes, the server could have handled this better. Overall though, I side in favor of the restaurant. This was not a special occasion cake. It was leftover from the day before. Some how the two slices, rather than full cake, make it seem even more tacky to me.

                                                                                She comes across so pretentious in the blog post, that I might have thought it was a spoof had I not been on her site.

                                                                                1. Beranbaum writes: "Welcome to the new rude reality where it's cool to be cruel: the world fashioned after Simon Cowell of American Idol, where mean insults and sarcasm rule."

                                                                                  After getting even with the restaurant and the server, welcome to the club, Rose!

                                                                                  1. She wants props for offering a "taste" of the cake to the pastry chef. By her own account, the offer was only made after the server gave her a hard time. It's not like she offered the taste first. Not gracious at all in my opinion.

                                                                                    1. I do think that the server should have disclosed the $25 fee, and I think he should have provided plates since the fee was charged. However, the original poster really does come off as chock full of a sense of entitlement. The party waited until the end of their meal to disclose that they wanted to eat the cake they had brought in, which is not really fair to the server or the restaurant, they should have asked at the beginning of the meal. It also sounds like the server tried to impress upon them that it was NOT OK, but the party insisted. And since we don't know exactly what words and tones were exchanged between the server and the party, who knows exactly what the party said to escalate things with the server. Judging from the haughty tone of the original post and the fact that she tried to play the "do you know who I am?" card (quite literally), makes me think that she and the rest of the party weren't exactly being that gracious towards the server. She makes no mention of the quality of service before the cake incident, so likely the server was doing his job well until then. Shame she decided to penalize him for the restaurant's policy.

                                                                                      1. Forkage fee? Given the conduct of both the server and Ms. Beranbaum, I'd call it a dorkage fee.

                                                                                        1. The classic comment from Espresso Junkie of the NYT's sums it up perfectly!

                                                                                          'The part I love most is that you're so utterly pompus that you can't help but damage your reputation by whining to the world about how badly you've been treated. All over a stupid piece of cake.

                                                                                          I am indulging in schadenfreude!

                                                                                          You bake treats for a living. Get over it.'

                                                                                          1. Seriously, even though the lady brought her own cake, they should have told her how much it would cost her to use their forks...just like most people don't like to be hit with extra charges at the end of their meal, no one wants to be hit with a "forkage" fee of $25.00 at the end of their meal either.

                                                                                            She may very well be snooty about what she does for a living but it would not have hurt the restaurant one bit to let her use their forks considering that she just spent money on lunch. And as far as all the talk about what it costs the restaurant, yes, they are in business to make money, however, as someone who has worked in restaurants for years, I can tell you they hike up the prices of everything to make their money...three times their cost to make money, so I don't buy the BS about how it costs .05 cents for soap to wash those forks and another $.10 cents if that for the dishwasher making $8.00 an hour or less to wash them.

                                                                                            Please, the restaurant acted out of pettiness; they deliberately didn't tell the lady about the charges until the bill came so they could "one up" her. Jealousy is an ugly thing..now, they've lost not only Ms. Beranbaum and her group as customers but when one person tells 10 and they tell another ten and they tell another ten and so on...so many potential lost customers. They might be in the business of making money but if no one is coming to your place of business you're not making any money so why cut your own throat? And the waiter? Yeh, he wouldn't have gotten a dime.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Cherylptw

                                                                                              i, for one, would be MORE likely to go to that restaurant after hearing about all this.
                                                                                              i'm not too interested in restaurants that specialize in kissing celebrity A --ses.

                                                                                            2. Does no one else think the last-minute $25 forkage fee was in fact a "And Don't Come Back" fee?

                                                                                              From the customer's own account, she appears a bit entitled, presumptuous, and argumentative. I see no reason to doubt that she was even more of a pill in versions of this story that she did not re-write. Adding an alarmingly high fee for a seldom applied rule might be a less litigious way to make sure a PITA customer stays gone than the more direct method... as we recently read: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/690660

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. The fee seems a high. However it is a bit presumptuous to simply assume it's okay the bring your own food into a restaurant. Even more presumptuous to assume be cause you are 'somebody' that you are even more entitled to do so.

                                                                                                As what happens many time sounds like both side could have handled the situation better.

                                                                                                1. I just wonder if that had been Jacques Pepin or Mario Batali, he would have been treated the same way.

                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: junescook

                                                                                                    Something tells me that Jacques or Mario would not have brought their own creations to someone else's restaurant.

                                                                                                    1. re: Justpaula

                                                                                                      We're talking about sharing a taste of something they had just made at a demo, not bringing their dinner.

                                                                                                      1. re: junescook

                                                                                                        A taste? It wasn't a fun-size snickers bar... She brought a friggin piece of cake or two. That is an entire course. And who cares where it came from. She brought outside food to a restaurant.

                                                                                                        1. re: junescook

                                                                                                          And it wasn't something they just made. It was from the day before:

                                                                                                          " a little box containing two small slices of chocolate cake leftover from the taping of the day before"

                                                                                                          Several of these comments read to me as if people think they did the taping, left the taping, and went immediately for some sort of post-taping debriefing. Not the case. It was the next day.

                                                                                                          1. re: debbiel

                                                                                                            I think that is also what is causing some of the confusion...and why some people think it is okay and why some think it is bad - that they don't realize the circumstances under which the cake ended up in the restaurant. I think bringing two slices of day-old, leftover cake wrapped in plastic to a restaurant is not okay. No matter who made it! I mean, she took the cake home, let it sit in her kitchen overnight and then said, "Oh, I am going to bring this to share for dessert at the restaurant we are going to today". That's just weird. If it was so important (and I can't imagine cake tasting being THAT important) or even if she meant it to be just a casual offering, she should have wrapped a piece up for each of her friends to take home with them, or invited them to her home or wherever appropriate to share her goods. This was not a working lunch with colleagues. According to her own blog posting this was an arranged "lunch date for two other favorite food friends"

                                                                                                            That said, I do believe that the waiter could have handled the situation much better, more politely, and certainly by disclosing the fee ahead of time. BUT, as she clearly had no respect for the "20-something server", I can't for the life of me figure out why she did not bring her issues to the attention of the manager, at the time, who may have provided a resolution on the spot. I do agree that it was handled badly all around, and while Ms. Levy should not have brought the cake in the first place...when she found herself upset she should have taken a higher road by at least giving the management a chance to appease her BEFORE going home and writing about the "bad taste" left in her mouth.

                                                                                                            1. re: Justpaula

                                                                                                              What was also mentioned in the blog was hat the last piece of cake was not eaten but was rewrapped and going to be taken to Union Square Cafe that evening. To me the makes the whole thing even odder.

                                                                                                              That must have been some cake to be paraded around from restaurant to restaurant over the course of several days!

                                                                                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                                                                                I've had brownies that good (many, many, many years ago!) but not cake :)

                                                                                                              2. re: Justpaula

                                                                                                                that's HILARIOUS.
                                                                                                                she was offering DAY OLD cake to a pastry chef and waitperson?

                                                                                                      2. it's interesting that this is about cake. What happened if this cook (who I have never heard of btw) brought in an appetizer or an entree or salad that had just been made for TV? Would that have been acceptable or not acceptable?

                                                                                                        So let's have a new scenario, Nigella Lawson (or any other celeb (sic) cook) has just finished a TV programme and had made a fancy, pretty, appetizing salad. She and her cronies or staff walk into any restaurant, order their lunch and then produce this salad. I chose salad because it doesn't need to be kept hot and probably transports fairly well from TV studio to close-by restaurant.

                                                                                                        She then explains that they 'just wanted to taste the salad' and to please bring forks and side plates for this oh and by the way here's my card and would the chef like a taste? You gotta be kidding right?

                                                                                                        So is cake ok but another course not ok? Just wondering.........

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: smartie


                                                                                                          although jfood agrees with your question, the bottom line is that it is not unusual for people to bring a cake for aa special occasion to a restaurant. But jfood always calls and asks for the 1-3 times he has done this in his life.

                                                                                                          Now for another question, why do people feel it justifiable to bring wine? Seems to be a fully accepted practice, and sharing a glass or a taste considered the utmost in civility.

                                                                                                          Just wondering...

                                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                                            Many restaurants allow you to bring wine, with the understanding that there will be a corkage fee. Some restaurants do not allow it, and in that case it would not be justifiable to bring in a bottle withouf first obtaining the restaurant's approval, as with a cake or anything else not normally permitted.

                                                                                                          2. re: smartie

                                                                                                            even better, the cake was day-old, so the salad, in your analogy, should also be day-old. . . .

                                                                                                          3. I stumbled upon this thread by pure accident...possibly the funniest thing I've read in a long time on chowhound...:) I've never heard of rose whatshername...and reading about the entire episode seems the breslin staff were equally oblivious.

                                                                                                            And I have to side with the Breslin on this - complete hubris from the "star cake maker" who felt humiliated by a "20 something server" who'd never heard of her and lost face in front of her friends in the process. Pride comes before a fall and all that...

                                                                                                            And the funniest line from the cake maker's blog?
                                                                                                            <So, what do we writers do when so deeply offended? We write.> Oh please...stop right there and come back down from planet mars..."we writers"...lmao...

                                                                                                            1. Should've just reused the forks from their lunch entrees.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                Well, you see that was the other thing that bothered me about how this story was retold from those that were there... in her defense, her lunch partners (and I think even RBL herself) posted several comments on her blog posting (or maybe on a site where it was re-posted), saying that they HAD fully intended on ordering dessert, as well. Which, I think is complete, after-the-fact, damage control BS. If you were going to order dessert, wouldn't you have done so and THEN used the dessert forks and plates you already had, to "sample" the cake that you brought in? OR, for that matter, requested the additional forks and plate WHILE your were ordering the desserts you intended to purchase??? That is just common sense!

                                                                                                                1. re: Justpaula

                                                                                                                  if you order a bottle of wine from a restaurant's wine list, that shouldn't exempt you at all from corkage fees for additional bottles of wine that you bring in.
                                                                                                                  so, to me, her supposed intention of ordering dessert is immaterial.

                                                                                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                  That's what I was thinking. Or there wasn't a stray fork/spoon on the table? Couldn't use their finger and break off a piece.

                                                                                                                  1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                    Or grab one from an empty table? :-)

                                                                                                                3. Sounds rather obnoxious on the part of both parties.

                                                                                                                  1. I would never think to bring cake to a restaurant or to ask for plates/fork, but I also would not charge anyone $25 to use a four forks.

                                                                                                                    I did eat at our local Asian restaurant once where they cook in small batches and are always super nice. It is a family running the restaurant, and they always look tired. They really work very hard but always smile and go the extra mile.

                                                                                                                    In any case, a woman came in with a Subway sandwich from next door. Her companians ate the food at the Asian restaurant. She ordered nothing at all and also went up and asked for a knife to cut a tomato she had brought - from her garden I would guess.

                                                                                                                    Sandwich/tomato woman made a mess cutting her big old tomato with the knife she borrowed and used the restaurant napkins and so on. She also took her sweet time - holding up the table in a very small place.

                                                                                                                    The family who own the restaurant and do everything from the cooking to the cleaning never blinked. They were very nice as they always are.

                                                                                                                    I left a big tip and hoped that made up for the extreme rudeness of the other diner.

                                                                                                                    1. It seems to me that people are getting too caught up in the issue of clean forks, much as the issue with corkage is not just a matter of clean wine glasses. As someone pointed out, she did bring an entire course into the restaurant.
                                                                                                                      The $25 fee seems high, but was likely implemented for groups who bring a whole cake to the restaurant, and that would be less than a round of desserts, just as corkage is lower than the cost of a bottle of wine. I am sorry she had to pay that high cost for her 2 slices of cake, but her haughty sense of entitlement is so gross that I just can't have any sympathy.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: chompchomp

                                                                                                                        why would you conclude that it was high?
                                                                                                                        she brought dessert for 4 people.
                                                                                                                        the cost of the desserts at that restaurant would have exceeded $25.

                                                                                                                      2. No sympathy for Beranbaum whatsoever. First of all, I doubt highly her version is a fair account of her own demeanor, or how the server reacted.

                                                                                                                        But most of all, I see almost no parallel with wine corkage. You don't eat your own food in a full-service restaurant -- end of story. I don't bring my own, almost-always-superior coffee in a thermos for after my meal, either.

                                                                                                                        I'd have told her flatly, "No outside food or drink, lady." Think of the precedent this could begin, especially since it wasn't a special birthday cake she'd arranged to have presented ahead of time, but was instead a couple of ragtag slices out of plastic. What gall.

                                                                                                                        36 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                          I'm not trying to stir up anything.

                                                                                                                          But I would be curious as to your thoughts (or policy) re: heating up milk to feed a baby? Do you (a) say no (b) charge a "milkage" or (c) gladly do it gratis?

                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                            I'm not a parent, so I have no clue if that's common. I'd certainly never even think of asking a restaurant to heat a bottle for me.

                                                                                                                            And I'm not trying to stir anything up here either -- but babies don't belong in restaurants such as the Breslin.

                                                                                                                            1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                              Totally agree with you on the no baby policy.

                                                                                                                              But coming from a family that used to run a restauarnt (certainly not something like the Breslin), we would get this request every once in a while. We never felt right no matter what we did. [shrug]

                                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                It's such a slippery slope. I work in customer service too -- and darn it, as much as you'd like it to be so, the customer simply can't always be right, especially when it starts to impinge on the service you're able to offer to others.

                                                                                                                              2. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                i am a parent. i see no reason not to let a baby in a place, as long as no one is disturbed by said baby. but then i feel disturbing adults shouldn;t be there either.

                                                                                                                                if a place isn't too busy they could heat the milk, but in a busy kitchen like the breslin it probably is a huge interruption of the work flow. so no.

                                                                                                                              3. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                i eat practically every meal in restaurants.
                                                                                                                                i also raised my child as a single mom.
                                                                                                                                somehow or other, when my daughter came with me to a restaurant, i found a way NOT to ask the restaurant to heat her bottle. even in restaurants on my regular rotation, i would not do this.

                                                                                                                                the only place that i'd ask for bottle heating was on airplanes.

                                                                                                                                (that said, i hope you are not implying that bringing a day-old piece of cake to a high end restaurant is in some way equivalent to bottle heating. if you are, i would say that you're trying to set up a false equivalency)

                                                                                                                              4. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                Why do you see no parallel with wine corkage.

                                                                                                                                Just curious because it seems to be an exact parallel. Please, jfood is just trying to understand, since he does not drink.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                  for one thing, wine is sealed, so the resto is not responsible for any contamination.

                                                                                                                                  Some restos don't serve wine and yet have a license to sell BYO - you are not taking a sale away from them. However you would still either know in advance because you have been before or would call to find out if you can bring your own wine. If not you would then choose to order wine or not drink wine or go somewhere else.

                                                                                                                                  Cakes and pastries are either made on the premise or bought in from a reputable bakery (hopefully). The restaurant is responsible for making sure it's edible and fresh and safe to eat.
                                                                                                                                  What if Berenbaum and her entourage got sick after this meal - do they blame the restaurant or the cake?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                    Thanks S...of course BYO's are a different bucket.

                                                                                                                                    But the rest just sounds lame. If a group brings in a cake, and they are the only ones that get ill, then jfood would say the cake was the culprit. If everyone who ordered the jfood parmesan got sick then you probably have the culprit as well. And then there is the old reasonable doubt argument if they brought their own cake that some lawyer will jump all over.

                                                                                                                                    Given jfood's nut allergy it is harder and harder to find a dessert he can eat. Heck he stared at a Flakowitz chocolate babka with tears in his eyes this morning since they use almond paste in the babka.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                    If it's OK to bring your own dessert, what's then to stop people from bringing in their own pâté to eat with the bread on the table as a first course? Or to order some water and a lemon twist for you to mix with the booze you brought in your own flask?

                                                                                                                                    The restaurant sells individual desserts, just as they have appetizers and a bar. "No outside food or drink" is one of the most reasonable demands I can think of. Admittedly, my perceptions may be colored by a friend who owns a coffee shop that sells sandwiches and snacks. He's constantly having to ask people to leave for setting up shop for an hour with a laptop and a brown-bag lunch while they nurse their $1.40 black coffee with free refills (doctored up with four sugars, a quarter-cup of milk and a bunch of chocolate powder into an ersatz mocha).

                                                                                                                                    Arranging ahead of time to have a special cake brought in for a celebration at a nice restaurant -- that I could kind of see, though I don't see an establishment like this one really being the place for that. If it's that important to have the cake, go back home after your meal.

                                                                                                                                    But a couple of slices of cake wrapped in plastic that you schlepped along in your bag? No way. Bad form to ask, and even worse form to have a hissy fit on your blog about it without allowing the restaurant to give its side of the story.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                      Come on, there is context and circumstance. Just because you allow a well-known professional pastry chef to share a sample from a TV-shoot with her fellow pastry-chef friends does not mean that you are under any obligation to allow everyone to do this. A lot of the posts here are speaking as if there is some sort of slippery-slope here. I do not think there is any such risk.

                                                                                                                                      I guess I just don't get it. I didn't find her blog post snooty, I didn't find her request unreasonable and I found the fork-fee (and not telling them about it until after they'd eaten some of the cake) unforgivable.


                                                                                                                                      I am 27, I live in a major metropolitan area, I have definitely heard of Rose Levy Bernbaum, I do not own any of her works. I do not work in the culinary field (photographer and grad student).

                                                                                                                                      Also, I have seen similar events in Toronto restaurants over the years and thought not much of them either.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                        She wasn't handing out a Hershey Kiss. She took out two slices of cake and asked for silverware to serve it. It is way beyond a taste. And who cares who she is, her condescending attitude and her handing of the business card.

                                                                                                                                        Who cares where it came from or who she or her friends are. It is a fact that she was at a restaurant and took outside food out and placed it on the table and asked for utensils to serve it.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                          She is not a pastry chef. Please don't call her one

                                                                                                                                        2. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                          Jfood's question was why there is no parallel on the wine.

                                                                                                                                          It appeared in your first post you thought it perfectly OK to BYOB but seem in this one to say that wine and cake are now exactly the same, i.e. forbidden. Jfood is justtrying to understand wheteher you think it OK for someone to bring a bottle of wine but not a cake. Jfood mainly agrees with what you wrote here BTW.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                            wine is an exception simply because of tradition. traditions don't need to make sense.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                              yeah, as stupid as it sounds, that is probably the best answer that can be given. Just seems so silly that people feel entitled to bringing a wine, there seem to be some "rules" to adhere to if it is not a byob, and averyone is cool with it. But a slice of cake caused such a wrath.

                                                                                                                                              Maybe Rose can team up with Monica Covington and write on her blog an article titled "An Idiot's Guide to Dealing with Restaurants."

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                Or at least get a recommendation for a good food lawyer...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                  I don't buy your conflation of wine and dessert practices, Jfood. Here's a few reasons why:

                                                                                                                                                  (A) It's not an entitlement. Plenty of restaurants do not have a corkage policy, and patrons may not bring outside wine to dinner.

                                                                                                                                                  (B) Even those that do allow the practice often have restrictions, including not allowing wines that are on the house wine list.

                                                                                                                                                  (C) Wines are not prepared in house by a dedicated winemaker - unlike the rest of the food, including dessert - and at those restaurants which are attached to wineries, bringing an outside wine would be insulting and arrogant (just like bringing a slice of cake for dessert). There is a difference between a bottle of wine and a course.

                                                                                                                                                  (D) If I'm going to a restaurant where I'm not clear on their corkage policy, it behooves me to contact them in advance to determine if it's allowed, what restrictions - if any -are in place, and what the fee will be. I would think that something as out of the ordinary as bringing dessert along would require no less due diligence on the part of the patron.

                                                                                                                                                  I've noted before that there was bad acting on both sides of this incident, but it was initiated and propelled by the customer's arrogant assumptions.

                                                                                                                                                  I'd look for The Breslin's new book, "A Restaurant's Guide to Dealing With Idiots".

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Striver

                                                                                                                                                    Let's take each of these separately...

                                                                                                                                                    (A) It's not an entitlement. Plenty of restaurants do not have a corkage policy, and patrons may not bring outside wine to dinner. A - And many do. But it seems to be totally acceptable for a restaurant to have these differing policies.

                                                                                                                                                    (B) Even those that do allow the practice often have restrictions, including not allowing wines that are on the house wine list.
                                                                                                                                                    A - So they allow it, but with restrictions, okeedokee

                                                                                                                                                    (C) Wines are not prepared in house by a dedicated winemaker - unlike the rest of the food, including dessert - and at those restaurants which are attached to wineries, bringing an outside wine would be insulting and arrogant (just like bringing a slice of cake for dessert). There is a difference between a bottle of wine and a course.
                                                                                                                                                    A - This is EXACTLY jfood's point. There is NO difference between a bottle of wine and a "course" except by those who wish to rationalize the difference. Both are products sold by the restaurant. Likewise whether the dessert is made in house or purchased from S&S Cheesecake, there is NO difference there as well. Look at the aura that wines bring. OOOh, Aaaahh, you have a 1996 chateau de special. Then the diatribes about mark ups, the service, the pouring, the decanting, gives jfood a headache. It's like a religious experience. But if it is not on the list you can bring it? Average wine on the list is $75 and someone brings in Yellowtail. That's cool, but a piece of delicious cake is not. There are many threads that people state they will not go to a particular restaurant because of the wine list, probably none because of the dessert, more right wing wine-activism. :-)) Sorry this is fallacy personified.

                                                                                                                                                    (D) If I'm going to a restaurant where I'm not clear on their corkage policy, it behooves me to contact them in advance to determine if it's allowed, what restrictions - if any -are in place, and what the fee will be. I would think that something as out of the ordinary as bringing dessert along would require no less due diligence on the part of the patron.
                                                                                                                                                    A - Absolutely agree that people should do as well with desserts and has been posted by jfood on numerous occasions. You bring in a core product and you ask if it is OK, no wiggle room there. Plus jfood would add that he is FULLY supportive of corkage and dessert fees if outside food is brought in.

                                                                                                                                                    I'd look for The Breslin's new book, "A Restaurant's Guide to Dealing With Idiots" - Maybe it can be one of those 2-1 deals like the NY Times Magazine or Men's Health where they are glued back to back.

                                                                                                                                                    And your correct, both parties got into the sandbox and started throwing sand, both have come out looking like jerks. But it does make for good reading.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                      Always a pleasure, jfood. :)

                                                                                                                                                      I suppose the essence of my point - ill-phrased as you found it - is that there is a widely known practice where many restaurants allow patrons to bring in wine (and many don't); it's interesting to speculate on the whys and the history, but my guess is that enough people request it enough times that the restaurants figured out how to allow it - making customers happy, and more likely to dine there - and at least not lose money on the proposition.

                                                                                                                                                      OTOH, to the best of my knowledge there is no equivalent policy - or demand - for people bringing their own pate as an app (even if they prepared it themselves), or their own chops for dinner - or their own slices of cake for dessert (the special occasion cake - which this was not - is a particular exception, I'd suggest - and again, one would always inquire first). For whatever reasons - historic and otherwise - wine IS different, and I find it a bit disingenuous to argue that it is not.

                                                                                                                                                      I do like the 2-for-1 book deal, though. :)

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Striver

                                                                                                                                                        Nicely put S.

                                                                                                                                                        Not trying to be disingenuous, fully agree that it is now a common practice to allow for this viva la difference.

                                                                                                                                                        But wouldn't be great if you could wheel in your igloo to Per Se, open up and place all your home cooked food on their china, have their servers perform their magic for 2+ hours and go home to no dishes? :-))

                                                                                                                                                        That, jfood would pay a nice fee for, plus a tip.

                                                                                                                                                        Gotta love out of the box thinking.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                For what it's worth, I wouldn't bring my own wine anywhere either, unless I were somewhere such as Montréal where that's just how you do it. As much as I enjoy wine, I don't believe it's magical. I'd be fine with drinking what the restaurant offers.

                                                                                                                                                I'm a strong believer that if you don't want what that restaurant sells, please don't go there. Pretty simple.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                  By and large, I agree - a good wine cellar definitely contributes to the quality of a restaurant, and should be enjoyed, especially with the help of a good sommelier or well-trained staff.

                                                                                                                                                  That said, apart from patronizing BYO's which have no liquor license (surprisingly common among very good restaurants in NJ, for example), many wine fanciers often have a "special occasion" bottle that they have put aside for some exceptional event. It's these folks who normally request the corkage option - and it's considered a courtesy to give a taste to the sommelier (assuming there is one), and order additional wine from the house list if you do.

                                                                                                                                                  Frankly, I don't know anyone who regularly goes the corkage route at a restaurant with a decent wine selection. That's anecdotal, to be sure, but I haven't got any stats on the subject.

                                                                                                                                                  If someone loves the food at a particular restaurant, and has a special bottle of wine for a particular occasion - AND the restaurant has an established corkage policy, I don't see why that person should not opt to go there for that occasion, bottle in hand.

                                                                                                                                                  The restaurant alway has the option of not supporting corkage (and many don't).

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Striver

                                                                                                                                                    Yup, agree on all that.

                                                                                                                                                    NJ has a weird liquor license law from what jfood remembers. They have a certain number allocated per town, so if they are all taken, you have to wait for someone to die or have a BYO.

                                                                                                                                                    Just read some thread on why people go the corkage route, usually the term "outrageous markup" can be found in the thread.

                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the discussion, now jfood has to buy a cake for dessert tonight.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                      Many restaurants hate outside wine. However, it's hard for them to implement a no outside wine policy because of the longstanding tradition. Tradition drives customer expectations of what is acceptable and competitor policies. Cake doesn't carry the same tradition, so we don't see the same customer expectations and competitor policies.

                                                                                                                                                      In short, restaurants disallow or discourage outside desserts because they can. Many would also disallow wine if they could, but they can't. It doesn't have to be rational.

                                                                                                                                                      Great article on why restaurants hate corkage:



                                                                                                                                                      "In an average night, I'll do 150 covers (dinners), which means I'm opening about 70 bottles of wine," says Reddington. "Thirty to 35 of those are corkage. Sometimes we'll open 20 bottles with corkage before 6:30 p.m."

                                                                                                                                                      "When you write a budget, you think wine is going to represent a big chunk of your revenue. When it doesn't, the numbers don't make sense."

                                                                                                                                                      He adds that if he made money only on food sales, he'd have to do more than 200 covers a night to stay profitable.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                                                                        I'd never in a million years hold it against any restaurant that declines to offer this service. It's also heavily regional. Where I am in the Midwest, it's pretty rare. A good friend works at one of the highest-end steak houses in town (average bill $100 or so per person), and she tells me they almost never have a request for it there.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                                                                          Interesting article. Thanks Mort.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                            Very interesting. I've dined at several of the restaurants in the article, and must say that bringing wine to restaurants in northern CA is far far more common than it is in NYC, for example. Sounds pretty much out of control.

                                                                                                                                                            And - as I've noted before - some of the best restaurants I've eaten at in NJ (Panache in Ramsey, Fascino in Montclair, Union Park in Cape May, Lorena's in Maplewood, for example) are strictly BYO due to licensing restrictions. They may charge a bit more for food, but somehow, without any wine sales at all, they manage to not only stay in business but to thrive - my point being that alcohol sales are obviously not necessary for a high quality restaurant to be successful and profitable.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                    Adding to the pointless length of the thread, allow me to point out that there is such a thing as a plating fee for cake. This is a common practice and indeed a subject of enough chowhound threads that this claim to the contrary is confusing me. What is the source of this wilful amnesia? (I would direct this to chowhounds and to the blogger in question.)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                      not sure why this is directed at jfood since he is fully aware and supportive of both. What he is not supportive of is "gotchas." In this case Rose did a bad job on surprising the restaurant and the restaurant did a bad job of handling the situation.

                                                                                                                                                      Heck jfood would be supportive of a corkage fee of 2-times the cost of the wine as defined on a particular web site. That's the lost profit, and likewise jfood has no problem with a similar profit analysis on a cake-plate fee.

                                                                                                                                                  3. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                                                    So charge her $10 and call it a day. If the "forkage" fee weren't so outrageous, I'd be totally on the resto's side in this.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coney with everything

                                                                                                                                                      what does this particular restaurant charge for desserts btw?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                          She should have just ordered a dessert and asked for forks to share. She would have gotten the plate, dessert and forks for $9. See, people w/ money just aren't frugal enough ;-)

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                            Which goes to show that, despite what she's been telling us, there was no intention of ordering desserts from the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                            What IS a Pimm's creme soda, anyway? I know what a Pimm's cup is, but the Google doesn't provide any guidance on the creme soda.

                                                                                                                                                2. When I first heard of this, I thought RLB and co. had just finished making the cake for the taping, got hungry and decided to go out and bring the cake w/ them to try. But, I'm trying to figure out what transpired that made them decide to bring the cake, made the day before, to the restaurant. They had plenty of time to try it by then, the decision to go to lunch and bring the cake wasn't impromptu. I don't understand why they decided it was the thing to do. This wasn't special occasion cake, freshly made cake, just leftover cake.

                                                                                                                                                  That said, the $25 fee seems outrageous but I don't live in NYC and maybe that's standard. I do think they should have been told about the fee in advanced but it almost seems like an off the cuff add on from the chef. The business card thing still floors me. I know it often matters to some people but it shouldn't. But, that she thought it gained her special privileges and didn't turns me off.

                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                    $25 is less than the cost of 3 desserts......

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                      Well, devil's advocate, I would say that there were only 2 slices of pie. Ergo, only 2 desserts would've been ordered.

                                                                                                                                                      $18 is less than the $25 "forkage fee".

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                        But the three desserts would have come with plates... If I ordered an entree to be shared, I don't mind paying extra but if they charged me the cost of two entrees to do it when they didn't tell me at the time I ordered, I wouldn't be happy, especially if they only brought an extra fork.

                                                                                                                                                        Anyway, as I said above, buried in the hundred some posts, had she been smart, she could have ordered one dessert and asked for forks to share. and that would have only been $9.

                                                                                                                                                    2. I have another question.

                                                                                                                                                      If you consider the forkage fee so outrageous, do you still tip based on forkage fee included as part of your total bill?

                                                                                                                                                      If a tip includes a corkage, should it not also include a forkage?

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                        And if you do tip on the forkage fee, do you tip pre or post tax? Or in this case was RLB's $0.00 based on 0% of the pre tax or post tax amount? Or did the waiter just mistakenly place forkage fee instead of gratuity of 22%? So many questions, so little cake. :-)

                                                                                                                                                      2. Perhaps I'm old fashioned. If I go out to dinner with friends or coworkers and someone has a delicious dessert, we leave the restaurant after dinner, go to the house with the yummy snack, and eat it there. Coffee or drinks are served and a good time is had by all.

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: babermoon

                                                                                                                                                          Exactly! If someone is so hellbent on having cake for their birthday dessert (for example), be courteous and enjoy it in a private home. Once I made it pastthe ripe old age of, say, ten, I totally lost the allure of a boring old birthday cake, and would've happily ordered something off the restaurant's menu.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: babermoon

                                                                                                                                                            i wouldn't call that <<old fashioned>>>
                                                                                                                                                            i'd call it knowing how to conduct oneself with class and grace, and understanding how to act appropriately in restaurants.
                                                                                                                                                            for someone who is connected to the food business to act like she didn't know how completely inappropriate it is to bring your own food to a restaurant, is more than mind-boggling--it's disingenuous.

                                                                                                                                                          2. What's the corkage fee at this restaurant? Is it less than $25?

                                                                                                                                                            It seems pretty rude to me to bring your own food to a restaurant and expect to eat it there (as opposed to asking them if it's ok to serve). Just like with a wine corkage policy -aren't you supposed to ask the resto about their policy as well as the partiuclar bottle of wine? If a resto said "we don't allow outside food/drink, but we will be happy to order that particular bottle from our supplier sell it to you (with our markup) to have with your meal" wouldn't that be acceptable?

                                                                                                                                                            I don't see a problem with a wine corkage fee, so I guess I don't see a problem with a forkage fee. $25 doesn't seem super outrageous to me for either a corkage or forkage...isn't the fee supposed to (1) discourage you from bringing outside food/drink unless it's really special, (2) make up for lost profits on the food/bev the resto would/might have otherwise sold you, and (3) pay for the "service," glasses, etc.?

                                                                                                                                                            I guess the main differences I see between bringing your own bottle of wine and bringing your own cake are:
                                                                                                                                                            - the resto can't be expected to have every type of special occaision wine, so corkage policies allow the diner to bring enjoy a special bottle on occaision. My understanding is that it is not cool to bring yellowtail, $2 chuck, etc. to a resto under the corkage...
                                                                                                                                                            - all restos serve food, while not all restos serve wine
                                                                                                                                                            - the reason people go to a resto is generally the food, so bringing your own defeats the resto's entire reason for being (heh). I probably wouldn't bring my own whiskey to a bar and expect them to privde my table with glasses so we could drink it...

                                                                                                                                                            1. Unless the restaurant has a clearly stated BYO and/or corkage policy, I wouldn't just assume I could bring a bottle. I was at a nice/high-end type restaurant where a group of 4 diner next to me brought their own bottle of wine and asked the waiter to open it saying they would pay the corkage. The waiter politely explained that they did not allow outside wine but he could send the sommelier who would be happy to offer some suggestions from the wine list to complement their food choices. The diners looked slightly nonplussed for a moment but then said ok and put the bottle of wine away. There was a few comments (after the waiter left) of "WELL, I didn't know you couldn't do that " etc. but at least both parties were polite to each other.

                                                                                                                                                              Same goes for food - be it a birthday cake or Aunt Betty's special chicken enchilada that she only makes once every 10 years. You don't just show up with outside food and expect the restaurant to accommodate. Broken down to the most basic terms, eating at a restaurant is a food preparing business will make food a certain way and serve it in their dining area for which a person will fork over (pun intended) a specified amount of money. Just because you ate lunch at the Breslin doesn't mean you can now treat the dining room as your own house!

                                                                                                                                                              What had me cracking up was the line that Rose wrote of "Nancy Weber packed up the leftover cake to take for a special dinner at Union Square that night" Yeah, so special that you're bringing leftovers?!

                                                                                                                                                              1. It was very, very rude of an industry person to bring a plastic-wrapped bag of cake slices into a restaurant. That kind of behavior is frowned upon even at The Cheesecake Factory, for heaven's sake. But the restaurant, especally a hotel restaurant as professional and well-reviewed as the Breslin, dropped the ball. One never knows who these rude louts are that bring food into a restaurant -- but sadly, these louts now have internet access and blogger cred, or worse, are actually published writers.

                                                                                                                                                                Shame on her for playing the "do you know who I am" game. That trumps the rudeness of the restaurant (The Breslin having displayed greed for trying to capitalize on someone else's enormous lapse of etiquette).

                                                                                                                                                                This whole thing could've been avoided if everyone would just get the right P/R advice. Had Baranbaum called The Breslin ahead (and don't tell me she didn't have time, she had time to slice, wrap and secrete the cake in her purse) perhaps their pastry chef would've been there. Perhaps everyone could have had a lovely time doing a little photo-op with a *whole* cake instead of just a few slices. Perhaps their efforts could've been symbiotic. But no, Baranbaum acted like a buffoon, and the restaurant acted greedily.

                                                                                                                                                                Doesn't this woman realize what an idiot the whole thing makes her look like? And who's the waiter at the Breslin who decided to play "gatekeeper" so that even an errant piece of cake cannot be smuggled in and tasted? The Breslin should've left it alone...

                                                                                                                                                                1. I just now finished reading Beranbaum's blog comments. Boy, there are some very, very tough people out there.

                                                                                                                                                                  Waitstaff chimed in demanding to know why the server was stiffed in response to "the restaurant's policy." Do you really think you can go "tattle-tale" on a customer who causes you a minor inconvenience (getting the forks) and then have that same customer, who's conscious of what you did, give you money? Are you absolutely out of your mind?

                                                                                                                                                                  This'll be a two-edged sword for the Breslin. I'd hazard a guess that the negative commenters will be beating a path to their door... that is, if the negative commenters have enough disposable income to eat there.

                                                                                                                                                                  But for Beranbaum, this is just awful. She's a grande dame of haut cuisine... why then should she engage in what's tantamount to a pissing contest with a waiter at a restaurant that may very well be just a flash in the pan? Couldn't she just leave it alone and rise above it? Over a measly $25?

                                                                                                                                                                  You wanna hear about a mistake on the part of a restaurant? When Johnny Carson passed away, David Letterman aired a chat between he and Carson. It was about Carson walking into an expensive Malibu restaurant where Letterman was giving some sort of party, probably after the Emmy awards, for his entire staff. About a dozen tables were seated at this party. Carson indicated to a manager that he'd like to pay for Letterman's table. The restaurant, mistakenly, thought that Carson was offering to pay the *entire* bill for the party. When faced with the bill, Carson not only paid it ($10,000 then but much more in today's dollars) but never said anything to anyone about it until Letterman mentioned it on the air. Carson parted with the money rather than embarass himself and the restaurant by having them back out of the charge and then write up another check for only Letterman's table.

                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: shaogo

                                                                                                                                                                    >>Waitstaff chimed in demanding to know why the server was stiffed in response to "the restaurant's policy." Do you really think you can go "tattle-tale" on a customer who causes you a minor inconvenience (getting the forks) and then have that same customer, who's conscious of what you did, give you money? Are you absolutely out of your mind?>>

                                                                                                                                                                    That's not fair. It's not like the waiter's being a gratuitous tattle-tale. They could probably get screwed for letting people eat outside food at their station if a manager saw. She put them in an impossible position.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bibi rose

                                                                                                                                                                      My owners/management would have our waiters' heads if they weren't alerted to a guest bringing in outside food, so they could politely tell them we don't allow it.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you for giving that perspective.

                                                                                                                                                                        I'd also point out that the server's "attitude" is only represented by the, IMO, blogger from hell. I've never heard of her before and, based on this experience, am glad of that.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Folks, it really seems like everything that can be said has been said and this thread is now going around in circles, so we're going to lock it.