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Sep 1, 2010 08:53 PM

Fine-dining college student...any others out there??

I'm a college student who loves great food...everything from cheap eats to fine dining.

The problem with the fine dining part is no other students want to go out to a nice restaurant and spend 60$ for a nice meal (instead they like to get taco bell 2-3 times a week, whereas I'd save up for splurges, not waste money on fast food).

So are there any other college students who love fine dining? Would you ever go to a "fancy" restaurant alone? Do you get people to come with you??

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  1. I'm not sure how many students are able to spend $60 on a single meal - many that I know are spending about that much for a whole week's groceries. So I'm going to suggest that if you want to connect with other young people over good food, you should organize regular dinner parties or what we used to call a "gourmet cooking club". I know it sounds superbly dorky but it really wasn't and it doesn't have to be. One person chose a menu - including recipes - and provided the dining room, the wine and the ambiance (and the clean up afterward). The rest of the diners each got one dish to make - using the recipe supplied. This keeps the cost for everyone very reasonable and you do get to hone your cooking skills on possibly challenging recipes. We rotated courses so that one time you bring the main dish, but the next time just a salad or whatever.

    Not only does this save money, but it can build you a really neat little group of like-minded friends who can bond over good food - often better than what you'd get at a restaurant, no matter what the cost. I know this isn't the question you asked, but as a parent who was paying the tuition and living costs, I personally would cringe to hear that my son was spending $60 on a single meal no matter how frugally he ate the rest of the week.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Nyleve

      I love the idea of a dinner club... great way to make friends outside of the typical people you would socialize with. If it's not possible.. ask about prix fix menus and restaurant week events. Maybe others will dine out with you for a weekend brunch or lunch rather than dinner.. less expensive but you're still going to a high quality place.

      But.. if you have the money and don't mind spending it on a nice dinner.. I would totally go alone. Make a reservation for one.. and let the hostess know if you'd like to be seated in a corner alone or in a people watching spot. Nothing wrong with dining alone!

    2. Well, depending on which university you attend, I'm sure you'll be able to find students able to spend $60 on a meal. I certainly have seen it at my University. What we staff can afford is another matter entirely.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Lizard

        Of course. I hadn't thought of that. Around here, most students are living like churchmice.

        1. re: Nyleve

          At many private school kids are willing to spend $60 on a single pair of jeans, a night out to a club, a trip to the beach or museum, a new comfy chair for their room, etc.

          Hell a case of beer costs a good $20. I think you'd be surprised how much college kids spend on alcohol.

          I was just wondering if there were any others like me...

          1. re: wreckers00

            I would suspect that you are in a small minority. Not only would these other students have to be 'hounds (which many people are not), they'd have to have the wherewithall to spend $60 for a meal. Unless Mommy and Daddy are footing the whole bill, a student needs to think of the ROI. For students putting themselves through school, a sixty-dollar meal is simply not an option. I know it certainly wasn't an option for me, when I was getting my undergraduate degree.

            Nyleve's suggestion about the dinner club is a good one. I did this when I was in grad school and had many wonderful, higher-end type of meals without the higher price (those stipends don't exactly allow for four-star restaurants!)

            If you can't find like-minded students, why not look into the greater community--not just others working at your university, but perhaps you could reach out to people who live in the area and get to know them. And they might be more amenable to going out for a fancy meal.

            FWIW, $60 for a pair of jeans is not that much money--that might get you something nice, but certainly not high end. And alcohol is, for many, part and parcel of college life for many--the buzz is probably worth more to them than the fancy meal. Not saying that's good (or bad). That you have student friends that would spend $60 on a trip to a museum does impress me, though!

            1. re: nofunlatte

              I am most definitely in a small minority! I'm gonna look into the dinner club/pot luck dinners!

      2. One of my sons, who also enjoys a great meal, survived his last two years of college by organizing "pot luck" dinners with various friends. This enabled the kids to bring dishes they could afford, with lots of ethnic variations. My son became a roast chicken expert & learned to shop sales for the best 2 for 1 deals. Not white linen "fine dining," but lots of fun & chances to learn about different cuisines and make new friends. He & his roasting pan became very popular.

        1. I'm a grad student who loves fine dining. Unfortunately I cannot afford it, and was in the same position in undergrad. Meals over $20/person are more or less reserved for when my parents take me out, or my bf and I save up to celebrate a birthday or anniversary (so 3 times a year).

          I've never been to a fancy restaurant alone, but I imagine if I had the money and no one to go with I'd have no problem doing it.

          When I do get friends to go with me, it's always to food festivals or when restaurants are offering specials/coupons. And we're more likely to go for lunch than dinner. However, we mostly have potluck parties when we want to sample different dishes (not as exciting as restaurant offerings...but we'll take what we can get until we have real jobs!).

          1. I can sympathize. I'm a college senior who wanted to be a chef for a long time, even working in the kitchen of a French restaurant in high school. No one I know (friends, acquaintances, co-workers, etc.) would be interested in going to a fine dining restaurant with me. I might be able to get them to go to a few really great cheap eats -- but I would want them to venture beyond my school's metro area. I second the dinner club option, but if you don't cook that could be a problem. I know for me, I also had a problem with the food some people prepared -- generally disgusting things. One other thing to consider is creating a formal student organization at your school around food and culture -- generally (depending on the school), there should be some school funds to help fund at least a few trips a year to restaurants and to learn about another culture through their food. I've seen this done pretty successfully at a few schools.

            I normally relied on my family when I wanted to go out to eat at a nice restaurant. I've never eaten alone at a nice restaurant but it's on my list of things to try.

            2 Replies
            1. re: emily0911

              great thanks for the help guys.

              I know, I'm not one to spend $60 per meal as a college student was more of a once-a-semester or year type deal as a "special" dinner.

              Emily, good idea on the student organization.

              Overall, just wanted to hear what people thought and just wanted to see if there were any other college hounds out there!

              1. re: wreckers00

                I'd like to point out that there is a difference between finding 'hounds and finding people willing/able to spend $60 for a dinner. At my uni (when I was a student) my friends and I ate out when we could, but these restaurants were simply not high end. They were, however, fabulous (good Thai, good Ethiopian, etc.) and we often tipped each other off about decent sandwiches, bao, etc.

                We did make dinners for each other as well, though... But that was also for saving money and enjoying each other's company.

                And as for high end dining, one need not be enrolled in a private uni. Bear in mind that in the UK, these are public institutions. Posh just ends up at a selection of them...