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When "very good" isn't good enough

AdamL | Sep 9, 200501:23 PM

I've had two meals out in the last week that have gotten me thinking about value in high-end restaurants. We went to Cole's Chop House in Napa and Martini House in St. Helena. In both cases we had very good meals. The food tasted very good, the service was pleasant and prompt but not overbearing. I wasn't expecting anything adventurous at Cole's--just wanted a dynamite steak. At Martini House, the mushroom tasting menu was unique, well-planned and tastily executed. The tomato tasting, ditto (except that the green tomato and plum brown betty just didn't really work)

I really don't have anything negative to say about either experience. Except that, in each case, when the bill came, I just didn't feel as though I had gotten my money's worth. For well over $200 for 2 people (we brought our own wine to Martini house and just had a few glasses at Cole's) I guess I'm expecting something beyond just "very good."

I've certainly had meals where I didn't mind shelling out the bucks, as the experience more than lived up to the cost. but in these 2 cases, I walked away just a bit disappointed.

I think that I've been spoiled by the fact that there are simply so many options here in the area where one can have a "very good" dining experience for far less--so when I'm spending that much more, I'm looking for something to transcend simply "very good."

I only skimmed the Chronicle article about 4-star restaurants last Sunday , but my experience seems like a case of paying 4-star prices but getting a 2-3 star meal.
Am I unreasonable to want to be wowed just a bit more, or do I need to re-adjust my expectations of finer dining?

I've chosen to post this here and not on the SF board as it regards local spots--my apologies if this is more of a "not about food" topic.

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