The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 8, 2001 · Page 52
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 52

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 8, 2001
Page 52
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.VloneySmart .Restaturant ripf^offs = and deals Pros help you avoid the pitfalls, and enjoy the pleasures, of fine dining. BY JEAN SHERMAN CHATZKY LOVE TO EAT OUT. Little on my list rates higher than digging into a lamb shank, a glass , of eailhy zinfandel alongside. Statistics show you're with me. You may prefer tandoorl chicken or pasta pri- mavera. But if you're like the respondents to a recent Zagat Sui*vey, you eat out 3.4 times a week on average, spending $25 a pop. Using that fonnula, diners could di-op more than $4,400 a yeai- on food eaten outside the home. That's fine, assuming you get good value for your money. But there ai-e times — I know I've had my shai-e — when you leave a restaurant feeling less than sated, financially speaking. That's not to say restaurateurs don't work hai'd for youi* money. A three- month stint in cooking school early on taught me how tough a business this can be. Alan Greeley, chef-owner of The Golden Truffle in Costa Mesa, Calif., concurs. To make one $2.50 cup of coffee, "we probably spend about $1" — which may not sound like much, but if it's a 'TDottomless cup" that's refilled several times, there may be no profit at all. And "you have to remember our other costs," Greeley adds. "The fi-eez- ei"s, the walk-in [refrigerators], the gas meters run all the time." Agreed. But I take issue with items on the biU that surpiise: daily specials priced higher than any other dish on the menu (a fact often left out of the sei*ver's recitation), "sharing" charges not mentioned on the menu, and so on. To make sui-e youi' meal is a good value, we sought advice fi'om chefs and critics. Here's what they said: • B« skeptical of bargains, if it sounds too good to ba trua, it usually is. If they're giving food away, it's probably past its pi-ime, Greeley says." 'Discount' sushi is like saying 'day-old.' " And as bad-boy chef Anthony Boui'dain notes in his caustic memoir. Kitchen Confidential, weekend branch buffets, which often come at a special price, with a mimosa for good measure, may be a dumping gi'ound for food that didn't sell all week. Likewise, items that sound exti'avagant and are priced accordingly may not be worth it. • Be sawy whan ordering wine. The mai'kup on restaurant food is typically 33% to 40%, vs. 300% or more for wine, says MarkWeisberg, manager of the Veitical Wme Bai- and Restaui-ant in Laguna Beach, Calif. First, make sure you get what you ordered. Substituting a cheaper vintage is one way to boost profitability. "Be particularly cai'eful when ordering by the glass," Weisberg notes. Ask your waiter to pom- the wine at the table. Otherwise, the restaui'ant may substitute a less expensive wine. And on that point, you may find it's more economical to order a bottle mther than by the glass (often $5 to $8 a pom-) if your party plans to have foiu- glasses of wine. If you go that route, says Arthur Schwartz, who hosts a dally show about food on the WOR radio network, watch the pom-- ing. "The waiters are all ti*ained to re- poui", not when you have finished yom- glass or when there's veiy little left, but after you take one sip. You end up di-inking a lot more than if you poui- it youi'self" — and perhaps feeling you must order a second bottle. Of course, check out potential bargains among the house wines, if $60 chai'donnays ai-e not your thing. And don't hesitate to order the cheapest bottle on the wine list. "I've been doing this lately, just to see what they're giving me," Schwaitz says, "and the wines ai-e often interesting and very good." • Don't be Intimidated into ordering overpriced bottled water. Ever wonder why restaui-ants push it? That $1 or $2 bottle of Eviancanbe sold for $7 or more. This bothers Schwartz. "Restaurants intimidate people by never saying, 'Would you like a glass of water?' but 'Would you like bottled water?' Then you have to say, 'No, I want tap water.'" The rip-off continues with indisQiminate pouring. "They biing a second bottle vwthout even asking. Nobody would ever poui' a second bottle of wine without asking. But for some reason, with water, they think it's OK." • Ask the price of specials. The practice of offeiing specials that aren't on the menu, without quoting a price, isn't just my pet peeve but one shared by many critics. Specials may PRESIDENT, CEO & EDITOR: Marcia Bullard • PUBLISHER: Charles Gabrlelson • VICE PRESIDENTS: Dave Barber, Bill Coakley, Jim Hackett, Thomas Melsel Executive Editor: Jack Curry Creative Manager: Casey Shaw Sr.AMocEdltonBrenda Turner A«sot.Edltors :CralghBarboza,GayleJoCarter,CarolClurman ConstanceKun Lorrioiunrh Dri.Hii,T„,. ,- . T , MakeADHWenceDayEdltonPamelaBrcwn SuffWHten DennisMcCafferty ««Por.«/Re.e.rcher .:MicheleHat ^,FrappaS ,ou ,%dltodalA ..llnrT ^S^^ Ken Burns,Jean Carper, Jean Sherman Chatzky.Stephen Covey.Kenneth Davls.Dennie Hughes.Wally Lamb,Lisa Ling,Jim Louderback,Lou ManfredinLStephanie Mansfield TeddXche^K lh,^r. n,^^^ , „ „ ^"^ " 1 ' TavlsSmlley,TenySt.ckels,JeffreyZa ,l^ Design Director: Leon Uwrence III Asslstant^Ar. Dl^cton DIan Helton Photo Edl ^!lTZdS^^^^ Irene Rudakewych Office Staff: Stephanie Keltz Advertising Office: 535 Madison Ave., New York N.Y.10022 Editorial Office: ,000 Wilson Blvd,Arllng,on,Va .222TTon."ool7 2 «rEm^ ^^'"'^"'"'"^"^^ » copyright 2001 USA WEEKEND.adlvlslon of Gannett Co.lnc.Slnce 1953,your Family weekly. THEMAG«INETH/^^MASD^^^^^^^ USA WEEK HMD 6 USA WEEKEND-April 6-8,2001

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