Dinner for two at Next, a Chicago restaurant that overhauls its entire menu three times a year, will cost over $500 per person in its latest iteration, we report over at Eater. Yeah, that’s a lot of money.
The menu, which revisits the time chef Grant Achtatz spent at Trio before he opened Alinea, starts at $245 during off-peak hours and reaches $255 on Friday and Saturday nights. Wine pairings are $138. Add on Chicago sales tax (10.5%) and the service charge (20%) and you’re at $1,015 for two.
Trio appears to be Next’s most expensive menu to date. Previously, the el Bulli service was $365 with pairings. Last year’s Bocuse d’Or menu, by contrast, was $313 with regular pairings, or $363 with reserve wines. The Trio service is spendiest of all, at $383-$393 before tax and tip. As is the case with every menu at Next, tables are booked by paying for the full price of the meal in advance, via the restaurant’s online ticketing system.
So what say you world. Is Next’s new menu a BUY HOLD OR SELL?
The year-old Austin restaurant will open its long-awaited tasting room this summer and will charge $100 for 20-25 courses, Eater reports. That’s pretty gosh darn reasonable considering that a meal of that length will cost $195 at Blanca in Brooklyn or Atera in Manhattan. The main dining room will also offer a shorter set menu at $60.
As Eater mentions, Qui is just one in a long list of restaurants to reduce consumer choice in favor of providing a more consistent guest experience; the move should also theoretically allow Qui to cut down on food costs by reducing the amount of excess product they need to buy for an a la carte menu.
Sushi Nakazawa charges $120 for a sushi omakase in the dining room, and $150 for the same meal at the bar. What accounts for the difference? ”We’re definitely pricing on demand,” says co-owner Alessandro Borgognone, whom I quote in my three-star review for Eater. Borgognone believes that guests will pay a premium for the theater of watching chef Nakazawa rip the head off a live spot prawn. His belief is correct.
The Price Hike is a big supporter of demand-based pricing when it works. Whether it works here is more complicated. From a value perspective, $120 is below average for this level of sushi, so a $30 surcharge to $150 shouldn’t make a big difference to most. But demand-based pricing isn’t just about magically giving the guest a feeling of value despite the higher price. The policy should also create a bit more slack in demand, and that hasn’t really happened here, as the bar seats are snapped up almost instantly. Then again, if a restaurant raises the price too much it runs the risk not just of alienating its own clientele but of becoming the subject of price gouging allegations. So it’s a tough balance to strike.
Is Sushi Nakazawa’s demand-based pricing a BUY HOLD OR SELL?
Meet your newest class of booking fees, which might range from $10 for a seat at Charlie Bird to $50 for a prime time seat at Minetta Tavern. Are such policies elitist, or will the clearinghouse effect help make certain last minute reservations more accessible? Read the Eater interview with co-founders Ben Leventhal and Gary Vaynerchuk and decide for yourself!
“Even though the standard meal is three courses, we had a leisurely repast that wouldn’t have been a lot shorter than, say, the tasting menu at Momofuku Ko. And while I’ll take a longer tasting menu over an expensive three-courser any day, because that’s just the way I like to eat, Le Grenouille made me unwittingly remember the loveliness of short-form gastronomy.”—Those are my thoughts on La Grenouille, which serves one of New York’s most expensive three-course menus at $104. Check out the full Eater writeup, penned by our national restaurant editor Bill Addison, and with cameo commentary by Robert Sietsema and myself! (Source: Eater).
“The business practices of Holey Donuts! are interesting in themselves. No cash is accepted, so you have to use your credit card. When you sign the iPad screen…you are warned that your receipt will arrive by email, as soon as you give them your email.”—Since we were talking about cash-only joints earlier today, here’s Robert Sietsema on a doughnut shop that apparently will only let you pay with credit cards (via baddeal).
Too bad it’s not very good — I chewed a piece of Wagyu beef fifty times to render the sinewy meat “swallowable.” And then I did that over and over again until the meat was gone. It was impressive in that Saul took something luxurious and made it a burdensome. For those who prefer a la carte dining, expect to spend about $100 per person.
Briefly: You have a very clever way to get customers to spend a lot of money, because everyone orders off trolley carts (without prices) rather than off menus. Guests choose their dishes after making an emotional, visual connection with the food, rather than making a rational decision based on the price. That all said, I dig it and award TWO STARS in my review for Eater.
Yet another sad story about how BIG FARMERS can weather tough conditions while the small farmers cannot. This time, it’s a product of the California drought, which has helped pushed avocado prices up to $1.28 each, up 29% over this week last year.
The Modern is one of Danny Meyer’s most successful restaurants. It gets more business than Gramercy Tavern, Maialino, North End Grill or Union Square Cafe. It’s not where one would expect Meyer to lower his entry-level price by $10, or slash the tasting menu down to five-courses.
But that’s exactly what he did, even amid our era of rising food prices and ninety-course tasting menus. It’s less a story about money though, and more a story about saving people time.
Check out my full EATER ESSAY right here, good peoples!