So anyway, last year the wife (who was then the girl friend) and I went to Meritage for our Valentines Day (eve) love feast. We ate, we drank, we paid a bill that was about $110.00 - we each had an appetizer, salad, a main course, desert (probably only one), wine, and coffee. Really for Valentines day it wasn't bad. I have always liked Meritage and had no problem with the bill.
I have eaten in a lot of restaurants in Chicago - I know price points - Trotters is a high point in both cost and food. My delicious Trio dinner was (without wine) $85.00 - Trio was a high point of deliciousness for me with melt in your mouth to die for Fois Gras (sp?). I expect to pay a certain amount at a given restaurant for a certain level of food quality. I made a reservation at Meritage because I figured that it cost about what it cost last year. No restaurant would jack up their basic cost for a couple by a hundred bucks would it. Well...
So we were seated promptly. The bus/bread person seemed to have not noticed that we were seated and handed out bread to everyone but us, but I won't belabor the point - the bread was ok when it was delivered.
We looked at the menu. It didn't say that it was a prix-fixe, but I looked at it and thought to myself, self - this looks like a prix-fixe menu becuase there were no prices. However, there were no prices ANYWHERE. There wasn't even a note explaining that it was indeed a prix-fixe menu or how much it might cost to enjoy the lovely food. We ordered because of course we were there and it was Valentines day.
We had a choice of appetizers, soup, salad, main course, and desert.
All of the appetizers were sea-food based, except for Fois-gras which was unfortunately another non-fave, and my beloved hates sea food so after a quizical look from our server/waiter he finally found a way out (vegetarian egg roll things). So that is what she ordered.
I chose the tuna tartar and tempura which really wasn't tempura - it was good rare tuna, but it wasn't tempura.
Soup: it was crab-bisque - ok - a couple lumps of crab. They provided a nice potato soup for my beloved (very nice of them).
I had a nice John Dorey with mashed potatos. The fish had a nice tasty crust.
The beloved had a fist sized piece of correctly done medium steak.
I had a flourless mouse cake (the mouse was kind of liquidy and poured over the cake by a server (we had to ask for it though).
The beloved had a bread pudding that was more fruity and less chocolaty than she wanted.
We had to ask about coffee - I guess that on nights when every table is booked and the restaurant is crowded coffee has to be asked for specially.
Wine - two glass of wine.
The food was good, not great, not even super duper good; it was just standard high standard food. Nothing I would kill for, nothing worth writing to Chowhound about.
So anyway - we were wondering how much the prix-fixe would be because the waiter never mentioned it, and although I should have taken the opportunity to ask, what would it matter - we were already sitting down.
So the actual prix-fixe price was $75.00 each, plus wine, tax and %18 tip (added on by the way) came to a bill of $220.00.
Now, look, I understand that the bar was 3 people deep, that every table was full and the restaurant would be full for the rest of the night, but $75.00? Trio's 8 course meal is $85.00 - more courses and better food. And the price for two would be only marginally higher. Meritage was peddling what to me was about a $50.00-$60.00 meal for $75.00. (plus %18, which made it more like $80.00). Now I'm a school teacher, my beloved is a social worker. We aren't rich, but we budget. We planned on a dinner cost about what it cost last year. It's my fault that I didn't investigate how much it would cost; however, it did not occur to me that the price of the meal would effectively double a the same place for food that was of the same quality.
The moral of the story: next year: Spoon Thai - I bet they don't up the price just because couples want to go out for a nice dinner.
Oh, and I'm sure that they won't miss me, but I won't be going back to Meritage - taking me once is all it takes.