Restaurants are in the business of seduction. Just look at all the meal deals strutting about.
Trouble is, you may have to know about these prix-fixe specials beforehand or risk being handed a much costlier la carte menu.
That’s what happened to the reader who wrote to Newsday about taking his wife out for an anniversary dinner. At 6:15 p.m., they ordered two entrees and two glasses of wine. No salad. No bread, even. Neither coffee nor dessert. The tab came to over $90. Printed on that bill was a note about the restaurant’s $24.95 prix-fixe, offered Monday to Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. So, why weren’t they informed? Said the waiter: You should have asked the hostess for the special menu. Said the hostess: The waiter should have told you about the prix-fixe. The upshot? They paid the bill for a meal they truly enjoyed--but vowed to never return.
Moral of the story: It never hurts to ask whether there are any prix-fixe deals before you place your order.
Another situation where inquisitiveness pays: Hearing a long list of specials recited without prices (and who among us hasn't experienced the sticker shock resulting from that situation?) Currently, both Nassau and Suffolk County law require restaurants to post specials, in writing (either on each table, along with the regular menu, or on a “prominently displayed” board). That doesn’t mean that every restaurant follows – or even knows about – this law. So whenever a special is given without a price, smile sweetly and inquire. It’s neither uncouth nor improper.