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At what steak house might a party of two be comfortable without drinking alcohol?

A friend, admirably imho, is on the wagon for the month - just to prove he can do it - and we are due to go out for a steak in the absence from town during the same month of a mutual friend with whom we often share a great evening of steak and wine - maybe a cocktail or two as well!

So here's a question - where might the two of us have a good evening without being made to feel that we were either cheap, recovering alcoholics or in some way weird by not imbibing?

We aren't interested in the Keg, thank you!

One would feel out of it at Jacobs imho, ditto a bit strange at the Fifth or Harbour 60 or even Tom Jones. Don't know Bardi's at all. Perhaps Barbarians would be ok?

Any thoughts? thanks!

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  1. This is getting OT, but whose rules state that you must buy alcohol? Any restaurant that has such a requirement or makes you uncomfortable for not ordering it, doesn't deserve your business.

    Pick whatever place you like, enjoy your dinner, and don't order alcohol. Simple as that. People have their reasons not to drink (designated driver, religious reasons, they get sick, under 19, etc) and yet go out for dinner.

    This was discussed in another thread (the high markups on wine) and I stated that as a matter of principle I refuse to buy any alcohol while in Ontario. That means LCBO, beer store, or restaurants:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/803278

    You can easily do the same. If you get any attitude from the staff, go to the manager and complain about it. You're the customer, you're the boss. And of course report it here.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TexSquared

      I fully agree. I also think it is more common than you may think that people do not drink over dinner. It is not a big deal at all. If you are still concerned, consider this approach. When you are seated, and the waiter asks what you'll have to drink, simply reply "we won't be drinking tonight". That I promise you will be end of story. I eat at harbor 60 often. More times than not we do not drink as I am just not a drinker. I have never felt any attitude or pressure - even slightly. ENJOY!

      1. re: TexSquared

        What about the high mark up and taxes on gas, cigarettes, transit, housing and all the other things that pay for health care and the rest of the social safety net in Ontario?

        When making your reservation ask them not to have the waiter offer alcohol.

      2. Yeah I concur with other posters here. A client of mine used to take the whole group to H60 once in a while and depending on the mix sometimes we would not order drinks and never felt out of place.

        1. I have been to Jacob's and Barberian's.......and now when i think back,there have been so many diners that did not have alcohol on their table...Not sure why you are feeling weird about it....Its not like you are going to a Bar or Pub....i mean it would not feel weird even if you did not order steak,so no alcohol is no big deal....

          1. It is not that any of these places are going to sew a burgandy "AA" to your clothes and laugh at you. Who cares if you get a strange look or two, laugh it off and have fun.

            I drink Rye & Coke. I go into every fancy restaurant in the city and the people I am with order nice wines or martinis and I order my rye... When the waiter says: would you like a wine list, I say no give me a Rye & coke.. I have never received bad service because of it even though it is a cheap ghetto drink :-) and it is not like you are going in there and just sharing a salad between three people, if you are eating steak and sides and apps your bill will be big enough anyway.

            Do what YOU want it is the service industry they will serve you and if you by the smallest chance you get an idiot who gives you attitude, call over the manager and ask for another waiter.

            As for Tex.. his argument about alcohol markups is false it is called TAX and if he really felt that way he would also not buy gas because that is even more highly taxed. Wine is not marked up any more then anything else you buy in a restaurant and in some cases even less.That is how business make money buy low, sell high.

            1. Folks, please keep the discussion focused on where Bigtigger will feel comfortable not ordering alcohol. Discussions about taxes and markups is off topic for this board. Thanks.

              1. I never drink wine and almost never drink alcoholic drinks simply because I don`t like the taste. I eat out 2-3 times a week, including fine dining establishments and have never been made to feel wierd for not ordering a glass of wine. Really, I think this is a non-issue. Just go where you like and order what you want...including good old fashioned tap water if that is what you desire!!!

                1. I'm on a diet so I try to avoid alcohol and soda. However, I've also had the "you're a bad person if you don't order anything to drink, alcoholic or otherwise" drilled into my head from friends and acquaintances in the service industry. Presumably I could tip an extra $2-$5 on the bill and that would not only cover the cost of the drink, the total would go to the server, but I still feel bad about not ordering drinks. Not sure how much of that edict comes from management drilling it into their servers vs the servers themselves trying to increase their tips as much as possible. But I digress.

                  Now, I order sparkling water whenever I go out. No calories / sugar alcohols to affect my health and I don't feel like a cheap-ass for not ordering a drink. Yeah, it's overpriced, but what price can you put on your health and not getting Type II diabetes? That's priceless. Also, the more overpriced it is, the less guilty you feel about not ordering alcohol! That's a linear function of self-congratulation!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: trane

                    Just curious, Trane. Do you feel this same guilt regarding appetizers and desserts? Certainly, not all patrons are expected to order a drink and 3 courses every time they go out?!!

                    As a teenager, I used to always order soda because I felt the same as you, like I HAD to order a drink. Then I thought to myself, "Why am I ordering this? I don't even like pop?!" I admit it. I am boring. My favourite drink in this whole world is water! It's thirst quenching, refreshing and goes with everything! If that makes me an inconsiderate patron, then so be it! Mind you, I more than make up for it in the food department. :)

                    1. re: Chocolatemama

                      No guilt for ordering more food, the brainwashing started and stopped with drinks. Plus, with the margins being what they are, it's more valuable for a restaurant to focus on just that one point of suggestion.

                  2. i used to get wined/dined (for work) at all the fancy steakhouses (and other high end restaurants) in toronto. i am not a drinker. in fact, i don't even order pop or anything non-alcoholic. i always order water with my meal. i have NEVER been made to feel uncomfortable.

                    i concur with the others ... go wherever you want, order whatever you want!

                    1. you said you don't want to be made to feel cheap/weird, but do not say what events give you that feeling. in my experience there are two things that give me that feeling when i choose not to order alcohol at a restaurant:

                      (1) each time i decline the multiple attempts to sell. no pre-dinner cocktail when we are seated, then no soft drink, no bottled water, no wine with the main course, liqueur after dinner, and so on. when i feel this i get over it quickly. there are a lot of reasons for not having alcohol, opting for tap water, etc. and i'm comfortable with them. one of those reasons is that it can be pricey and that i might not even be in that restaurant if i was buying drinks every time i dine out.

                      (2) this one is more serious. some servers will be more attentive and provide better service to tables that order alcohol. maybe it is because of the potential for a higher tip, or simply because they are at those tables more often bringing drinks. however, i think it is a real, noticeable, and perhaps understandable pattern with some servers. anyone else ever experience this? i don't have a solution for this one. only once was the difference in service and attitude so great that i asked the manager if another server could take over my table.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ta0126

                        This was an excellent post.

                        I do not fault the servers for attempting to upsell the high-markup things like certain appetizers, alcoholic drinks (actually drinks in general - soft drinks are approaching $3 these days at full-service restaurants) and desserts. That's their job to try to maximize revenues for the business and they could get fired if they were caught not doing it.

                        But I do fault poor service in general. Here's my personal example of what you described, and it took place at Truffles, which is gone now but when it was around, was always rated high:

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5792...
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6858...

                      2. Order a bottle of sparkling water for the table if you feel guilty about not paying ridiculous mark-ups.

                        1. I never drink when I go out for any meal, with D&D laws the way they are I won't risk even one , and I have never felt out of place or uncomfortable with it. That being said I don't order chocolate milk either that's just asking for it, i'd make fun of you if I was at the table with someone that did.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Dave5440

                            lol - especially with your steak!