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Barbara Lynch Group- divergence in price on same items at different restaurants

laborchicky Aug 16, 2010 02:42 PM

I've been to all of Barbara Lynch's restaurants save Menton, and I have generally enjoyed them, though some more than others (Number 9>Sportello>Butcher Shop>B&G).

I am gearing up for my first meal at Menton. But, reviewing the offerings, I noticed that not only is there overlap, but there is divergence on price depending on the location. For instance, a bottle of Gruner Veltliner at B&G is priced a good $10 lower than the same bottle at Menton. And a dessert offering at Sportello is slightly reconfigured as dessert and Menton at 4x the price.

Of course restaurants can do what they want and there will be certain adjustments given the different feel of each place, but the prospect of shelling out at least $250 per person is tempered if I *know* something equivalent could be had in the same restaurant group for less.

Is this typical?

-----
Sportello
348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

Menton
354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

  1. L2k Aug 16, 2010 03:11 PM

    Pricing is a combination of direct costs (food, labor), indirect costs (rent, insurance, etc), and a whole mess of "Market". The market expects to pay more at Menton than at B&G, so Lynch can charge thusly. You'll find the same with most (every?) other Celeb Chef.

    Hell, Stop & Shop does it, Staples does it, why not restaurants?

    -----
    Menton
    354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

    1. hotoynoodle Aug 16, 2010 03:11 PM

      it's not surprising, for sure.

      1. StriperGuy Aug 16, 2010 05:45 PM

        Though a good (not great) chef, Barbara Lynch's primary skill is separating diners from their $$.

        As she further dilutes herself it just becomes all the more transparent.

        If you want to spend $250 on dinner, go to Troquet and have them do a wine and food dinner. The food is certainly Lynch quality, and the wine list blows Menton out of the water.

        12 Replies
        1. re: StriperGuy
          rlove Aug 16, 2010 05:59 PM

          Man, Troquet's wine list blows just about everywhere out of the water, Menton included. I don't understand how Troquet can assemble such an amazing list, at such value, when everywhere else has such piddle.

          I love Troquet.

          That said, I had a great meal at Menton, on my lone visit. And the highlight--surprisingly--was the wine pairing. I so rarely do the wine pairing, so I was pleasantly surprised on how superbly it was rendered--not just excellent (albeit obscure) wines, but perfect matches to the courses.

          -----
          Troquet
          140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

          Menton
          354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

          1. re: StriperGuy
            lipoff Aug 16, 2010 07:36 PM

            I'm sure the wine markup at Menton is higher, but that's to be expected as wine markup generally matches the price-point of the restaurant.

            But I would be cautious about assuming that a dessert at Sportello is only slightly reconfigured as a dessert at Menton. Other than the amazing macaroons, I've been unimpressed with the plated desserts at Sportello. However, the desserts at Menton were mind-blowing --- in both taste and complexity. They didn't remind me of anything served at Sportello. The miniature macroons after the meal at Menton were even better than the macro-macroons at Sportello.

            I don't disagree that Barbara Lynch's restaurants are pricey, but I don't think the comment about her diluting herself is fair. Have you visited Menton yet? I think Troquet is excellent, and I don't know enough to make any comments about their wine lists, but Menton was really something special. Maybe there's some dilution elsewhere, but if so there's been a whole lot of concentration of goodness at Menton recently.

            -----
            Troquet
            140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

            Sportello
            348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

            Menton
            354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

            1. re: lipoff
              StriperGuy Aug 17, 2010 12:11 AM

              Hmmmm, cool. Good to hear that she is really executing at Menton. I stand corrected.

              The reason the list is so good at Troquet is that the owners are wine dealers.

              I did a multi-course, multiple wines with each course, dinner at Troquet once with 7 friends that was truly stunning. It was essentially at the Menton price point with WAY better wines, only doable if the restaurant was in the wine trade, which (at Troquet) they are.

              Anyone who wants such a dinner, just give Troquet a call and I am sure they will be happy to arrange.

              1. re: StriperGuy
                t
                trueblu Aug 17, 2010 12:34 PM

                I've never been to Troquet, since whenever it's mentioned, it's in the same sentence as "wine amazing". As a teetotaller, is the food as good as the much-hyped wine?

                tb

                1. re: trueblu
                  StriperGuy Aug 17, 2010 12:50 PM

                  The food is excellent as well.

                  1. re: StriperGuy
                    t
                    trueblu Aug 17, 2010 03:02 PM

                    Thanks, good to know...will have to check it out one day soon.

                    tb

                    1. re: trueblu
                      lipoff Aug 17, 2010 03:11 PM

                      Yes, I'm a teetotaller too, and I like Troquet for the food!

                      -----
                      Troquet
                      140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

                2. re: StriperGuy
                  hotoynoodle Aug 17, 2010 09:09 PM

                  chris is not a "wine dealer", but was a passionate connoisseur long before opening his restaurant. much of the original list came directly from his collection.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                    StriperGuy Aug 18, 2010 06:37 AM

                    My understanding (perhaps incorrect) is that for years he bought AND sold wine at auction and to other dealers.

                    1. re: StriperGuy
                      rlove Aug 22, 2010 08:57 AM

                      His wine list certainly reflects that, StriperGuy.

                      It not only has a great selection, but surprising vintage depth. You can't find many of his bottles without going to the auctions and dealing.

                      But I don't know anything about his practice, except that I love his wine list.

                      1. re: rlove
                        hotoynoodle Aug 23, 2010 09:50 AM

                        there are certain wholesalers, like classic wines, who have surprising vintage depth in their portfolios, and i know chris buys a LOT of product from them. many buyers/wine directors simply can't be bothered.

                        his restaurant is truly the only place in boston i know of where the wine comes first and the menu is designed to complement it. not the other way around.

                  2. re: StriperGuy
                    aadesmd Aug 18, 2010 05:53 AM

                    already stated, but Chris is NOT a wine dealer, but someone who knows his stuff about wine and manages to get it at low prices, and keeps his markup extremely reasonable. The food is equal to the wine, and matched so that no aspect of any dish will ruin the experience of the wine. Chris' knowledge blows away any "sommelier" in Boston. This makes Troquet absolutely unique among Boston restaurants, and it remains a gem getting better.

                    -----
                    Troquet
                    140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

              2. MC Slim JB Aug 22, 2010 09:48 AM

                I think most of the difference is attributable to marketing: it's what the market will bear, and Lynch's fans don't seem to mind her egregious markups on wine. (Remember this old chestnut? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/425221 I bet a lot of those numbers still hold up).

                Menton has some uniquely cool, fancy stemware; I think that's worth a certain premium, though I wouldn't want to quantify it.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                2 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB
                  c
                  csammy Aug 22, 2010 10:30 AM

                  "Menton has some uniquely cool, fancy stemware; I think that's worth a certain premium, though I wouldn't want to quantify it."

                  The last time I dined at Troquet, the Red Burgundy I ordered was served was in Riedel Sommeliers stems (they retail for $125 each).

                  -----
                  Troquet
                  140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

                  1. re: csammy
                    c
                    cambridgedoctpr Aug 22, 2010 11:24 AM

                    perhaps this is crazy; but i think that they should mark up the bottles by a standard number rather then percentage. or at least a sliding scale.

                    and yes, troquet uses the best stemware though i understand that you have to pay for the food via the wine.

                2. d
                  dfan Aug 22, 2010 02:03 PM

                  Well, a lot of what you are paying for when you go to a place like Menton are things like the ambiance, the service, etc., but the only thing they can actually charge you for is the food (hmm, it does make me wonder if a restaurant could get away with instituting a $20 "cover charge" or something), so all of those above costs get folded into food+wine markups. I can understand the annoyance though.

                  (By the way, the wine pairing I had with the Chef's Tasting at Menton was amazing.)

                  -----
                  Menton
                  354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                  1. d
                    dtremit Aug 23, 2010 07:33 AM

                    I'm not entirely surprised by the difference in markup on the wine. And I would suggest that, though the wine is the same, the wine *service* is not, necessarily. I suspect Menton has a much larger staff devoted to wine than does B&G, and a higher-paid sommelier. That could easily account for a $10 increase in the base prices of their wines. Whether it is worth it is, of course, up to you to decide.

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