Thursday, April 24th, 2008...11:04 pm

Why don’t I like expensive restaurants?

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scallop and risotto

Creative Commons License photo figure credit: kweezy mcG

ScrapperMom and I eat out together at “expensive” restaurants only a few times a year: once on our anniversary, and once on each of our birthdays. The last few times that we have been to expensive restaurants I have had the following experiences:

  • I got into an argument with our waiter who refused to run my credit card to pay the balance of a ~$109 bill after I had already given him a $100 bill (a gift from my in-laws) to cover the better part of the bill.
  • I got a dish at a very nice restaurant near our house that was way overcooked (seafood…). I am the suffer-in-silence type (ask me about not seeing a doctor for 3 days after I broke my thumb) and didn’t mention anything to the waitress until dinner was nearly over. She rightly pointed out that I should have said something earlier so that she could bring me something more to my liking.
  • We were given the bum’s rush through a meal at a restaurant in Vegas at which the cost was over $100 per meal.

After these experiences, I am inclined to believe that I can have just as bad of a time for much less money somewhere else. And yet, I don’t have that many bad experiences at less expensive restaurants. Perhaps my expectations are simply that much lower when dining at a local brew pub than at Chez Moolah. Conversely, when dining at a nice place, my expectations are much higher and maybe I set myself up for failure.

And yet when good, expensive restaurants are good, they’re really good. These places treat you like king for a day, serve up a wonderfully presented and flavorful meal, and attend to your every culinary need.

As a result of these bad experiences, I have become a bit gun shy about returning to some of these expensive restaurants. Some will never see us again, but my experiences have also shown that we can have good and bad experiences at the same restaurant, which by extension means that any restaurant on any night is a roll of the dice. The only question is: What are the chances that tonight is going to be a bad night, and am I willing to take that chance with my hard earned and closely guarded money? Or should we just stick to lower expectations and lower risk, even when celebrating a birthday or anniversary?


  • To be honest, having two kids (one 6 and one 2,) we don’t get out much at all. Even McDonald’s and Friendly’s don’t happen much with a two year old.

    So, any restaurant dinner with just the two of us is a treat.

    At this point in our lives it’s more about the getting to sit at a table peacefully without wondering when it will go south is special.

    So, we don’t “do” expensive restaurants.

    The atmosphere and the ambiance are not that important.

    The food, is, however, so we tend to go to old favorites that we love… Joe’s American Bar and Grill… The Cheesecake Factory… Carmen’s… Ecco… Not cheap by any means, but certainly not the places we used to eat before we had kids… The Hampshire House… The Chart House…

  • There’s a certain security in going with what you know. I suppose that helps to explain the popularity of so many family chain restaurants. I’d certainly rather walk into a Chile’s in Philadelphia, for example, than a Mom & Pop’s Country Grill or something similar…