HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Should waiters tell you how much a special costs?

LOCKED DISCUSSION

[This thread was moved from the Manhattan board. --The Chowhound Team]

How many times have you ordered the special entree or app lovingly described by the waiter in every way except price, only to find out it was 50% more than the average menu listed item? Sure, you can always ask, but that can be awkward. I like the idea of specials being listed, with price, on a card attached tot he menu or on a clearly visible blackboard. I just ate at Chimichurri Grill (609 9th Ave), where the average entree (including steaks) are about $28. Two of us had the rib eye special and were surprised when we got the bill -- $44 each. Is this an opportunity for some consumer friendly regulation or is it my own damn fault? Curious to see what the community thinks....

-----
Chimichurri Grill
606 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

  1. If I'm interested I'll ask how much it is.
    I learned the hard way like you.

    1. What the community thought a few years ago (and likely still thinks):

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/405050
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/437616

      1. A restaurant that does not price the specials does lead to a trap. If you ask you look cheap, but if the price is out of line and you don't ask, you're a sucker. An ethical waiter (there certainly are plenty out there) will warn you of step-up pricing, but may be under orders not to scare away the customers.

        I recognize two ways out of the trap. Instead of a blunt asking "What does it cost?" try asking "Is there a supplement for that?" We are used to supplements for everything from foie gras to soufles, and you are not actually asking the cost.

        Similarly, if a waiter wants to warn you of a price without implying that you are a price-sensitive cheapo, the waiter could just say "We have a fantastic special at a supplement," and leave it up to you to say something if you wish. Both methods accomplish the result without sounding crass.

        2 Replies
        1. re: therealdoctorlew

          "supplement"?
          Where are you from?
          I've never heard the term used except maybe on a cruise ship if you want don't want to eat in the alternative restaurants.

          1. re: monku

            Supplement is more commonly used to describe a charge being added to a prix fixe meal. It doesn't make as much sense on an a la carte menu.

            Restaurants should absolutely tell you the price of all specials. I know there are laws requiring grocery stores to put a price on every products, and I wouldnt be surprised if restaurants were supposed to do so as well. But even if so, no one's going to strictly enforce that unless there's a major scam going on.

            No one should feel cheap asking how much a dish costs. The restaurant should be embarrassed for not providing such basic info in the first place. Asking doesnt make the customer cheap, only smart.

            BTW, it's not unusual for a steak for two to be very expensive, even on a per person basis.

        2. Regulation, no. But restaurants should announce the price and if not, its up to you to ask. otherwise you can't complain about the price.

          1. A server should definitely say the price, whether it's a step-up or not. I think there's a way to tastefully present specials without scaring away customers.