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Nov 30, 2011 07:45 AM

Masa, corkage, and etiquette for a date?

Hello, hello wonderful chowhounders~
I have a bottle of Armand de Brignac Brut Gold that I have been saving for the right occasion . . . tonight I am being taken on a date to Masa (!!) and wondered if it would be poor form to bring the champagne. I know my date will insist on this being his treat but I would really like to add to the evening in some way . . .

a. is this tacky? can i arrive early and leave the bottle with the maitre'd?
b. is this even allowed?
c. is there something else i could do to show my appreciation for the grandness of the evening?

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  1. The appropriate thing to do is call ahead of your reserved time, inquire about their policy of bringing in a 'special" wine that you saved up for the occasion. As I read somewhere, the corkage fee at Masa is about $90 per bottle, but that may have changed.

    Btw, that's a very nice special occasion bottle there.

    3 Replies
    1. re: RCC


      thank you for the suggestions~ I don't why in this day of electronic communication I always forget that something so simple and placing a phone call can clarify a ton of things. . .

      aside from being allowed or not, with regards to the social aspect - do you think it can be viewed as gauche? or poor form? by either my date or other patrons or the restaurant?

      1. re: abec

        I don't think it's poor form to bring your own bottle, assuming they allow it and charge a corkage fee.

        I must say, however, that when I went there last year there were two people who seemed to be on a date, and were more interested in talking to each other than the food. Chef Masa behind the counter had to tell them to eat. Sushi is one of those things where it is intended that you eat it as soon as it is prepared, and would be disrespectful to the chef otherwise.

        You might be able to go at a more leisurely pace at one of the tables as opposed to the counter.

        1. re: abec

          If allowed by the restaurant, bringing your bottle will never be tacky nor gauche. In some occasions, I have brought good bottles that the sommelier/restaurant staff felt were highly complementary of the restaurant food and setting and the corkage fee were deliberately excluded from my bill (might not happen with Masa, though). Your Armand de Brignac is, imho, a very good special bottle to bring to a special occassion. You can't go wrong with the "Ace of Spades" champagne with terrific sushi.

          Your date, should be excited and proud to have that bottle on your table.

          Btw, restaurant might include policy that you bring bottle(s) that's NOTon their list and, unfortunately, I just checked online and they have your bottle ... for a chump change of $1000! I hope your plan works out, though.

      2. If your date gets hit with a $90 corkage fee he wasnt expecting then yeah, that is poor form. If you are brining the bottle then you shold cover the fee as well.

        1. hi abec,

          i don't think it's tacky at all -- i think it's a splendid idea...a lovely and generous gesture on your part...(and even though your date will be paying the corkage, he'll get to enjoy the amazing wine and his Masa tab will be a good bit less than if you ordered drinks there)...

          my only suggestions would be to: a) call ahead and check the corkage policy as suggested above, and, b) i assume you know that your date appreciates both wine and the combo of wine/sushi: it'd be a bummer if turned out he only likes beer/sake w/ his sushi...

          I have not been to Masa here, but i went to it when it was in Beverly Hills and was called Ginza-Sushiko, but i'd assume that your special occassion bottle will be welcomed there...

          As a sidenote, i am a big fan of white/red wine pairings w/ sushi...i recently took a date to 15 East and the sommellier paired glasses, half-glasses, and tasting portions of about 7+ wines w/ about 20 varieties of fish/shellfish, and it was a great meal/ that's someplace to keep in mind for future occassions if sushi/wine pairing becomes a tradition :)

          3 Replies
          1. re: Simon

            How can you say a $90 corkage fee will be "a good bit less" than ordering drinks. Maybe he barely drinks and would only order a glass. Maybe he is a martini guy and would have a martini or two. Maybe he like beer and or sake with his sushi. $90 is a pretty substantial bar tab in all cases unless you are ordering a bottle of wine.

            1. re: princeofpork

              Fair enough, any of those could be true. My thoughts are maybe colored by having just been at 15 East, where my date and i drank close to 200 dollars of wine.

              1. re: Simon

                On the other hand, looking at Bar Masa cocktail menu just now, cocktails go from 22 to 28 dollars (the latter for a champagne cocktail). I'd assume that the Masa cocktails are at least as pricey. And i'd also think it's likely that this special date will include more than a token amount of toasting. So were abec and her date to start w/ a champqgne cocktail, they'd be at 56 before they'd barely finished amuses bouche. Add even a modest second drink or some modest sake and they'd past 90 on either a rather sober night :)

          2. It's not poor form at all. We've taken bottles to Per Se ($90 corkage fee, as well) and EMP (EMP even decanted our bottle for us earlier in the day) and no one on staff gives a sideways glance.

            However, I would call and perhaps see if you can pay the corkage fee beforehand so that your date isn't surprised.

            1. Much of this depends on your date's demeanor. Is he the type of person who will take this in stride and accept it? Or is he the type of guy who wants to be in control and might be offended? Only you know. If he is easy going about this kind of thing, then go for it. But...if you have even the tiniest feeling that he may be offended, better to save the bottle for an at-home date.