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The cost of fine dining

Vital Information | Jul 18, 200205:30 PM

Has anyone else noticed that the cost of fine dining is rather like the relationship between normal salaries and CEO salaries, i.e., not even close.

What gets me is not the actual food costs. If we were calling it entree to entree we'd be in the same ball park. What gets me is all the add-ons that are either expected of fine dining or it seems, what differentiates fine dining.

The pricey set menu at Spiaggia was $135 a person. That seems a lot, but consider this:

A pre-meal cocktail, glass of prosecco or other apertiff: $15 (all prices approximate)

Bottled water - $5 per pop

Wine - nothing extravagant, but not Coastal Mondavi - $60 per bottle

After dinner drink - $15

Cafe - $5

That's nearly the cost of the food. Sure, all of those things can be skipped, and believe me, that IS all of the things I skip to make my dining dollar stretch.

But that's kind of my point. I long not for the foamed fois gras, truffled tripe or the other chef-created creations. I want the experience that comes with an expansive bankroll. I want to start with a long flute of Veuve Cliquot and end with a comfortable VSOP (I'll supply the cherub.)

Am I out of my mind? Do others long, like me for the periphials, more than the main course? Who does these things best. Who really takes you the cleaner--and let me say, I do not think the way a Gibsons or something charges for vegetables or sauces is the same. And most important, where can I get the fine dining experience without laying out the fine dining expense?

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