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Help! (Sticky Situation)

Two of my best friends and I are planning a girls' weekend in NYC. As young professionals, our goal is to see/experience the city on somewhat of a budget. We'd like to enjoy a nice dinner (each contributing about $100 or so for the bill).

Here's the problem: One friend suggested we try Eleven Madison Park, which is waaaay out of my price range. On their website, they state, "The menu is $195 per person." With drinks and a hefty tip included, that would bring our meal to $300 per person. I simply can't afford that kind of meal right now and neither can our other friend.

My question is, how can I gracefully let my friend down and tell her that we can't do dinner here (unless I win the lottery)? Her friend works here but I doubt he'd be able to get us a discounted menu (and I certainly don't want to be the one to ask!). I'd like to propose just having drinks and maybe dessert here.

Thoughts? Please advise. :)

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  1. You say that these are two of your best friends. If so, I would just be open and honest just like you were in your post here. A good friend will certainly understand, and be sensitive to, your financial limitations.

    1. Just say it's crazy expensive.... its your friend- how hard can that be?

      1. "Hey, friend, EMP sounds great but I checked their website and its way over my budget. How about [xyz restaurant] instead?"

        1 Reply
        1. re: Hobbert

          perfect response.

        2. I love EMP, but its not a place I think that 3 young professional women will find to be the the best place to spend an evening. Its pricey but I think worth it for a certain kind of experience. Tell your friend that its too expensive and that you've heard that its full of old couples celebrating their multi-decade anniversaries or fat cat bankers closing deals (which is mostly true). For three young ladies who want to have a good dinner in a fun setting, I will send you to Balthazar. If your friend still wants to try EMP, suggest its younger more reasonably priced sibling, NoMad.

          1. You say you can't afford it and neither can your other friend. That's 2-1. Why don't you both just tell her.

            1. As they are "best friends" then I see no reason not to be absolutely honest. And, as "best friends", they will absolutely understand what you are saying.

              1. Once you resolve the EMP dilemma, you should check Savored.com to find restaurants that offer great discounts (25-30%) on food and drinks. Some of the restaurants are really good. I just took advantage of a Savored offer earlier this week at a place called Duo on Madison Ave. Look for a good number of consistently favorable reviews on the website.

                1. EMP is not a place for just drinks or dessert - you go and do the prix fixe menu, or you don't go (they do have a bar area, but again, it's VERY expensive). I second another poster's recommendation of Balthazar - it's a fun place, very energetic vibe, and much better suited to a girls' weekend than EMP. I think just saying "sorry, I can't afford EMP, how about Balthazar?" is plenty graceful!

                  1. i'd just simply tell her the truth.
                    simply.
                    unemotionally.

                    "a meal that expensive is simply out of the question for me."

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: westsidegal

                      I really like the way that WSG cuts quickly to the truth in a really kind and practical way.

                    2. I'd just be upfront and say it's not in the cards for me financially. There's no shame in not being able to afford a $300 dinner.

                      However, I wouldn't want to be the one to prevent friends from experiencing a restaurant like that, either, so I'd let them know that they shouldn't not go on my account.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: LeoLioness

                        Though if the idea of the weekend is for the three of them to spend it together, I'd hate to see two go to dinner one place and one to head somewhere on her own.

                        1. re: debbiel

                          Yes, it does depend on the group and individual dynamics. I'd feel really badly if EMP was someplace the majority really wanted to go to (especially if a similar dining experience wasn't available where they live). I also like some time "off" when traveling with any group, so I'd pony up a dinner if need be.

                          That said, if a friend said the same to me, I doubt I'd take her up on it--I'd just find a less expensive option.

                      2. Just say "Whatareyou Crazy"!

                        1. e-mail them a link to this thread.

                          But really, if they are your best friends then you should be able to just say - um, thats going to run about $300 for EACH of us. Which of you is buying for me?

                          1. I had a girls weekend to NYC last year with women I had only known for a year and had never met in person. During planning, things started going a bit over the top budget wise, well past what I had planned. So I piped up. "I was hoping for ____. I can probably make ____ work. If you all want something a bit more luxurious for this weekend, I get it. Go for it, and hopefully you can count me in on the next trip."

                            Budgets were adjusted down, still a bit more than I had hoped for but something I could handle. You don't have to be best friends with folks to be upfront about budget. Oh...and we had a fantastic weekend!

                            1. Just explain that your ethics prohibit you from patronizing absurdly over-priced restaurants.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: beevod

                                Yes, claiming the moral high ground is always charming.

                              2. I concur completely with westsidegirl, just tell the truth if these are your best friends they should understand completely. If not perhaps you need to reassess your friendship(s).

                                Being the fact this isn't even moderately high, it's ridiculously high I can't see how they wouldn't understand your position.

                                If they insist on going, I suggest going, ordering an insane amount of food and drink, then go "powder your nose" after your done eating and leave.

                                1. you all agreed to spend a bout $100 for the dinner, right? does this friend know how much emp actually costs? the sole option of $195 prix-fixe only got instituted last year.

                                  agree with the others about just being up-front. plenty of places you can enjoy for a fraction of emp, and yes balthazar is one of them.