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Mar 22, 2012 06:25 PM

Saison weekend prices?

I just had a wonderful meal at Saison this past Friday. Everything was exceptional, rivaling the extended tasting menu I had at The French Laundry the following night.

However, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth after reading Bauer's article on the cost of fixed-price menus.

The article mentions Saison's tasting menu is $198, but $248 on weekends. I paid $248pp on Friday thinking that night's menu had more expensive ingredients on it, as their site suggests in their FAQ.

"The price of the menu is dependent on the price of ingredients."

Nowhere on their site does it mention a $50 premium on weekends.

I have no issue with paying more for quality ingredients, but looking at tonight's non-weekend $198 menu and the $248 menu I received on Friday, they're identical.

I think Saison is being disingenuous with their prices and I feel duped thinking I could have gotten the same wonderful meal for $50 less pp if I went on Thursday, which I could have easily done.

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  1. how can you be positive it's an identical menu? The menu listed online just has 1-2 word titles. Just because it's the same listing doesn't mean they don't add things in that aren't in the cheaper menu. Unless someone on here has had both the cheaper and more expensive menu within one week of each other, Im not sure this is something to get too frustrated over.

    2 Replies
    1. re: plaidbowtie

      They're identical menus in that the titles are the same, but you're right I'm not positive there weren't extras thrown into the more expensive menu.

      I'm fine, if they just happen to source more expensive ingredients for the weekend. But if they're charging a $50 premium just for dining on the weekends and serving the same menu they need to disclose that the customer.

      Has anybody had both the cheaper and more expensive menu?

      1. re: PorkyBelly

        The menu is the same because it is the format for their tasting menus. From what I was told, the dishes will be different but they will come out in that order and have to do with that theme.

    2. Doesn't look like they've updated the FAQ since they switched to the ticket system, which is $198 Tues.-Thurs. and $248 Fri.-Sat. for the "12+" course menu.

      Anyway, I don't think the FAQ meant to imply that they used a fixed multiplier to calculate the price from the ingredients, only that the price varied from day to day so they couldn't tell you in advance how much it would be.

      18 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        They haven't switched over to the ticket system yet (I made a reservation for my dinner) so the FAQ should still apply.

        Where do you see Fri-Sat being a "12+" course menu? We received the standard 10 course menu that I see being served on weekdays.

        1. re: PorkyBelly

          It was in the news about the ticket system. Actually it says "16+" which I presume counts amuses and so on.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            That's all fine and good for when they actually move to the ticket system beginning April 10th.

            But I still want to know if this $50 premium for weekends has always been in effect or did they just recently transition to it. Whatever the case may be I think they still need to disclose that.

            1. re: PorkyBelly

              To play the devils advocate, if they do indeed serve the exact same menu with a higher price, doesn't the fact that they advertise the price difference WITHOUT any perceived change in the menu satisfy that disclosure?

              To what extent are the obligated to disclose? Do they have to put it in 72 font on their website? Such a grey area this delves into, that will inherently dissatisfy a few people. Also, they can run their business however they like, if they want to charge $100 on Tuesdays for the exact same menu, they are more than welcome to.

              1. re: plaidbowtie

                That's my point, they DONT advertise the price difference anywhere on their website.

                Like I said, I'm fine with them charging more for different ingredients or for dining on the weekends. But shouldn't the customer know about that so they can decide if they want to dine on a Thursday instead of Friday? They shouldn't have to find out about their pricing after the fact on some blog.

                1. re: PorkyBelly

                  "... shouldn't have to find out about their pricing after the fact ..."

                  I think that's exactly what the FAQ is trying to say, that the pricing varies and they can't tell you in advance. But it seems like they've already adopted the ticket-system prices and have just not gotten around to updating the FAQ.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I think you're right about them adopting the ticket-system price early, and I happened to have gone on that weekend. What really frosts my cockes is the ticket-system prices is inclusive of tax and service, not so when I was there.

                2. re: plaidbowtie

                  It's pretty common that restaurants charge different prices for the same menu depending on the weekday and time slot using mechanisms like 1000 points on OpenTable or 30 percent off through Savored. If you book a table at 7:30, is the restaurant obligated to disclose that you could have gotten 30 percent off your bill if you had booked a 5:30 table through Savored? Not in my opinion.

                  1. re: nocharge

                    Those discounts are through third-parties, the menu prices are still the same. I've never been to a restaurant that serves the same menu but charges more for weekends, except for Next in Chicago and in that case they disclose how much each day/time slot is.

                3. re: PorkyBelly

                  I think it's pretty clear that Saison's pricing policy has nothing to do with the ingredients they source. They charge as much as they possibly think they can get from their diners, which is why they charge more on weekends.

                  1. re: calumin

                    I think you're right and they should get rid of the illusion of their menu prices being dependent on the ingredient nonsense.

                    1. re: PorkyBelly

                      I'm sorry that happened to you though. Did you have a good experience other than the unexpected premium?

                      1. re: bkbits

                        I had a great time. The servers were extremely friendly and knowledgeable and the food was outstanding. I'm still thinking about the uni and squab dishes. They're really trying to push for their third star by charging more and offering more courses.

                        However I would avoid the weekends if you can and go after they transition to a ticket system when the price is inclusive of service and tax.

                        1. re: PorkyBelly

                          Oh, the price for the meal isn't inclusive of tax and service, even after they go to the ticket system. If you check out the link below, you'll see that the final ticket will include tax and tip on top of the price of the menu. Maybe that will help you feel a bit better. :)


                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              I have to say that even though I had a fantastic meal at Saison, they really are way overpriced.

                              Their prices should be comparable to Atelier Crenn. Instead their food prices are comparable with the highest-rated restaurants in the world (their weekend pricing is higher than French Laundry when you factor in service). At that level i don't think they compare very well.

                              And then they have that ridiculous ticket system, which I can't imagine working out well for them.

                              1. re: calumin

                                The meal I had there compares to the best I've had anywhere in the world. TFL, Le Bernardin, Manresa. Two of the Saison dishes are of the most memorable I've had ever, which I can't say about my TFL meal, where the level of richness fatigues the palate.

                                Price performance is a funny thing. I was at a sushi bar in Tsukiji two weeks ago, and they rang a bell and made an announcement that they had three slices of tuna "fresh off the boat". That one bit of chu toro was one of those seminal bites, and I suspect cost about $5 - our entire bill for the night was about $70/pp including drinks & tax.

                                1. re: calumin

                                  I disagree (that Crenn and Saison are comparable). I ate at Crenn, Manresa, Coi, and Saison Chef's Counter last week and the meal at Saison was miles ahead of the others. I would have gladly paid more than the $498 for the Saison meal where as I left the other 3 wondering if it was really worth the $165-$175 (plus drink, tax, tip) prices.

            2. I think you should be happy that you can afford to eat there at all, and the French Laundry the next day. why complain about pricing? sheesh

              1. I've always adhered to this wisdom: The right price is the price you're willing to pay.

                1. They haven't switched to their ticketed price yet. Right now their menu varies by number of courses and ingredients they're using except for the Chef's Counter which is the same price every day. I'm not sure how much actual variation there is with the regular seating.

                  With the ticketed pricing, you'll be able to see if there is a price difference between weekend and weekdays since you pay in advance like a theater ticket. I believe it'll be a lot like Next in Chicago in that respect.