A thread in the Outer Boroughs prompted me to ask this question. I know I always do, with no hesitation or embarrassment. But others do feel embarrased or, as one poster pointed out, even ashamed to do so. I think it's kind of shameful that restaurants don't automatically tell you how much the specials are in the first place. Here is my partial response:
"Why the shame? You are paying not only for the food, but also contributing to the staff's salary, health benefits (if they get), the restaurant's overhead, etc. I understand all the reasons cited for people not wanting to ask how much something costs--many of my friends are like that, and then they nearly fall out of their chair when the check comes--but this is a case of be careful what you don't ask for.
I have friends who make six-figure salaries who can well afford to indugle every day, and they always ask for the price of the specials. There is no shame in asking. The shame is all self-perceived. What's more "shameful" is to get a not-so-nice surprise when the bill comes that could have been totally avoided."
I'm really interested to hear what my fellow CHs have to say about this, including those of you who work in the restaurant industry. Do you flinch when patrons ask for the price of specials?