My husband and I are planning on dining at Alinea in Chicago, and I got to thinking about what the tip might be on a meal that will cost close to $800. I just don't know if I can bring myself to tip my usual 20%. We have eaten at some pretty pricey places (Charlie Trotter's, Avenues, for instance), and I never quailed at the tip before - but really! Shouldn't there be a cut-off point? The funny thing is that I used to be a waitress (at Arnie Morton's parent's place - which in the 60's passed for fine dining), so I'm sympathetic to waiters in general - but now I'm an architect, and in my profession, in many cases, the bigger the construction budget the smaller the percentage that the architectural fee is based on - so for a smaller job it may be 15%, but on a large multi-million dollar job it may be 5% or less. The fee is still a larger dollar amount, but the percentage is smaller. This reflects the fact that though there will be more work required for a larger project, it won't be, say, three times as much, so the fee percentage shouldn't be three times as much, either.
So to get back to tips - shouldn't the same philosophy prevail? I know a waiter at Alinea has a much more demanding job than one at, say, Chicago Chophouse, and must present a much more polished and sophisticated image, but does he really deserve a $160 tip? Isn't $100 just fine? I am usually such a generous person, and love to reward a good waiter with a good tip. Maybe I'm a closet cheapskate. Maybe the genetic influences of my Scottish forbears are finally making themselves evident. Advice please?