Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Dinner with Richard

I had a nice meal last night with a friend who I'll call Richard. He owns a small business which has been very successful in the last few years, catering to a very wealthy clientele. Richard himself seems pretty wealthy these days, and it's gotten to the point where arranging to have dinner with him makes me a little anxious, as he sometimes suggests rather expensive restaurants!

It's not always a problem-- sometimes we just order cheap Indian food and eat at his apartment. But last night we went to a place where the entrees ranged from about $27-40, and Richard ordered an $18 appetizer. He also picked the wine without my seeing the list, and when I did the math in my head afterward, I think it must have been between $40-50 for the bottle. And who knows, maybe that was the cheapest bottle! The total bill with tip ended up being about $80 per person-- you could certainly do far worse in New York, and the meal really was very good, but I couldn't help thinking it was the kind of thing I should only be doing for a special occasion, not just a routine dinner with friends.

The other thing about the dinner that made me laugh was that just before we were about to leave, Richard's eyes suddenly opened wide as he was looking behind the other friend who was sitting next to me. "Don't look, don't turn around!" he said. At first I thought, ooh, what celebrity is sitting behind us at this swanky place... but there was only a wall behind us-- a wall upon which a giant cockroach was crawling! I reached over and swatted it away with a napkin and an attentive waiter immediately stomped on it with a big crunch. And that is one of the great truths of life in NYC-- no amount of money will ever make you totally immune to cockroach encounters!

20 comments:

modena604 said...

lol
i hope i dont see any cockroaches when i come to ny ih may.

wow 80 bucks for dinner.

i am budgeting 50 for food in ny, i wonder if that is going to be enough.

Anonymous said...

Ouch. $80 a piece ... and I squeak like an old spring bed when my wife and I spend $60 for two on our anniversary dinner. I better stay away from NYC. ;-)

Clyde said...

Great writing today. Very fluid and engaging.

Optioned Unarmed said...

Wow, so that is about $240 per cockroach! (Just kidding.)

Is it just me, or is normal to think that you are supposed to be offered a discounted or free meal when your experience is disrupted by infestation? Or does it only count when the bug is actually in your food?

Chicago Rob said...

Too funny...thanks for the laugh. Nor does a high priced meal stop a stray hair in your food or water glass. I don't flip over that as I know what goes on in even high end kitchens, thanks to my waitering days, but something comped is usally in order.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, $80 dinners are not uncommon in NYC.

Anny said...

Ack I would have flipped over the roach :(

Viva said...

Did he buy you dinner or did you split the cost?

It seems if you split the cost then it wasn't very fair of him to pick a wine without conferring with you.

Tim said...

man, i hate splitting checks, especially if it is with people you go out with frequently. whoever invited should pay.

frugal zeitgeist said...

I have a couple of friends who do this. It irritates me to no end. One way to reduce the impact is in the planning: if you're making plans to meet for dinner, before you decide on a place, say "I'm watching my budget right now. Can we aim for a place in the $$XX-$$YY range?"

Of course, anyone determined to be profligate will find a way, no matter how reasonably priced the venue is.

Jobs In Islamabad said...

Hi

I think this dinner was proud for you.

Madame X said...

Yes, it definitely occurred to me that we should get something taken off the bill, but the bug incident happened just as we were paying, so it was sort of too late!

And the other friend and I emailed back and forth about whether we'd suggest a cheaper place, as we sometimes have before, but in the end we decided to just go along with Richard this time. There were 3 of us, and we split the meal evenly 3 ways. Richard did share his $18 appetizer, which was a heavenly foie gras! (My apologies to vegetarian readers!)

Alger said...

This is horrible and somewhat humorous. I agree it would have been smart to speak to the manager and get the bill reduced but sometimes it's not always appropriate.

It's too bad Richard doesn't like to cook. Can you imagine the incredible meal you could have had for $160!

Thanks for the post.

bugbear said...

cockroach safari.

banking deals said...

You can put ketchup on whatever you want no matter how much you pay even if it doesn't go with the meal.

DB Cooper said...

I cannot imagine spending $80 on a meal and wine. Honestly, I don't think I've ever been to a restaurant where it would be possible to do so!

I'm at a point in my life where I *maybe* go out to eat 3-4 times a year, and it's always very low key.

bugbear said...

"I cannot imagine spending $80 on a meal and wine. Honestly, I don't think I've ever been to a restaurant where it would be possible to do so!"

maybe you should try it once for the fun of it. Go to a place with the $15 appetizers, $20 entrees, and $10 desserts. That's how you get the bill built up good and high.

If you're concerned that it still won't add up, buy a good bottle of wine for the table, that'll take care of the rest of it.

mOOm said...

"I cannot imagine spending $80 on a meal and wine. Honestly, I don't think I've ever been to a restaurant where it would be possible to do so!"

I don't think I have spent that much but it's not too hard to get there if you go to a fancy European style restaurant and order a full course meal + wine. Where I used to live in Troy New York (a somewhat touristy but poor town in the Hudson Valley) there were even two or three restaurants where it wouldn't be too hard it you picked all the more expensive dishes.

Anonymous said...

I'm always struck by anecdotes like this. $240 for a meal. That's about what the annual income of someone in rural Asia is. Not many Americans ever think of skipping one of these meals and donating the amount to a Third World charity. Even ones who are bleeding heart liberals. Yet it wasn't always this way. Charity used to be a huge portion of Americans' budgets a few decades ago. I wonder if a dramatic recession will change anything.

Chicago chica said...

I live in Chicago, where there are lots of wonderful inexpensive ethnic restaurants. Why not suggest a less expensive option the next time you dine with Richard? If you are uneasy about saying, "Let's go somewhere less expensive," why not suggest a specific place? You must have some favorite inexpensive places.