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!
This short documentary will survey the custom of tipping and what it means for fair wage, discrimination, and women’s issues.
YOU GUYS let’s make this happen? A young filmmaker, Anna Savittieri, is gonna make a movie about one of our favorite topics, TIPPING. She’s set a goal of $1,550 and has raised $250 so far. She’s fixin’ to visit Boston, DC, New York and Chicago to interview service industry workers. Tipping is a BIG DEAL, as the hospitality industry is the second-largest private sector employer in the United States, providing work for more than 13 million people, many of whom earn the tipped minimum of just $2.13/hour.
This issue is particularly significant as restaurants like Sushi Yasuda have moved to abolish tipping, and as efforts to raise the tipped minimum have faltered. So we hope Savittieri raises her Kickstarter goal many times over and gives us some serious film making!
The Many Prices of Elizabeth For The Same Meal. We Dig It, Baby.
Iliana Regan has some serious tattoos, a Michelin star, and wicked future ahead of her. She is a real deal forager, serving up fried lichens, raccoon snausages, and the broth of freshly killed deer. And house made Cheerios. It’s all part of the loooong tasting at Elizabeth Restaurant on Chicago’s North Side. Expect 17-plus courses.
“You go into Carbone, and the whole thing is so fake…I went for dinner and I was embarrassed to be there”—
Says Sean MacPheron in an interview with The New York Times. He’s the guy behind Waverly Inn, which sells $55 truffled mac & cheese to celebrities. He’s also the guy who’s allowing Tao, a Buddha-themed restaurant that sells $88 Wagyu ribeye to tourists, to open underneath his Maritime Hotel.
So to be fair, the dude clearly knows a thing or two about fake.
Benu, a two Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant that’s famous for its faux-shark’s fin soup, has raised the price of dinner by $15 to $195. So a meal for two, after tax and tip, will now cost $502, or $888 after wine pairings — quite an auspicious number! All-in-all it’s a modest 8% hike. Also, Benu now no longer offers an a la carte menu.
The $195 prix-fixe is more or less in line with what other two-Michelin-starred restaurants in The Bay Area are charging for long tastings. Coi is $175; Atelier Crenn asks $180; Manresa is $185; Saison is $248. And $195 is also what Atera charges in New York, as does Blanca. Will Guidara and Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park used to ask $195, but recently HIKED its price to $225, which is what Benu would like to charge, as we’ll learn below.
Benu’s chef-owner Corey Lee was nice enough to chat with us about his new pricing, about his decision to go tasting menu-only, and the debate over tipping. Here’s our conversation, which took place over email on Thursday:
Even in New York, the land of $200 tasting menus, $150 wine-pairings and $20 cocktails, there’s something eyebrow-raising about Alder, an East Village pub hawking pigs-in-a-blanket for $13. You’re skeptical because they recall the pastry-wrapped franks your uncle buys for $10 at Wal-Mart so he can force them upon you on Thanksgiving. For that familial pleasure, you, the consumer, pay nothing. And the portion size is all-you-can-eat.
At Alder, you get six bites. Stack them from end-to-end and they won’t even equal the length of a Nathan’s foot long. And yet you’re paying $17 after tax and tip, about three times the price of a ballgame hot dog, which is already too much for a hot dog. More practically, you’re paying about 1,000 percent more than a $1.25 Gray’s Papaya Dog.
So mentally, you deal with all that. And then you try Alder’s $13 treats. And you smile. Because they’re the best pigs-in-a-blanket you’ve ever had, anywhere. And that’s why Alder is the subject of my 2.5 star Bloomberg News review today. Chefs Wylie Dufresne and Jon Bignelli are getting us to pay a few bucks more for elevated pub food, just as Alex Stupak gets us to pay more for refined Mexican fare, just as Danny Bowien gets us to pay more for take-out-style Chinese-American fare, and just as Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi get us to pay a HECK OF A LOT MORE for Italian-American fare.
I can’t stress how awesome and important this all is, because what’s happening at Alder and all those other venues makes our current culinary times such gosh darn exciting times. These chefs are taking so-called ethnic foods, or in the case of Dufresne and Bignelli, regional American snack foods, and they’re extricating these tradition and nostalgia-based cuisines from the burden of being cheap. What they’re doing, for lack of a better term, is the future of food. Rock on.