SUTTONOMICS 101 (Updated): Here’s an interesting little culinary phenomenon. At Saison in San Francisco, it’s CHEAPER to order the 20-22 course wine-paired menu than it is to order the 16-course wine-paired menu. Well, on the weekends at least. The shorter menu is MORE EXPENSIVE by $26 for solo diners, or by $53 for a party of two. Allow us to explain.
Chapter I: The two-Michelin starred Saison charges different prices on different days of the week, a policy that helps regulate demand for more highly-trafficked days. On Tuesdays-Thursdays, the regular menu is listed at $198; wine pairings are $128. On Fridays and Saturdays, that menu goes up to $248, and the optional beverage pairing goes up to $148.
So after taxes, service charges and and a unique little reservation processing fee, a party of two on the weekend will pay up to 21% more than during the week. More precisely, they will pay $524 per person. But guests who opt for the longer, more exclusive Chef’s Counter menu will pay $498 per person, or $26 less. That brings us to…
Chapter II: The nice thing about the four-seat Chef’s Counter is that the $498 price is advertised as inclusive of tax, tip and beverage pairings. You know how much you’re paying, cut and dry. But $498 looks like a pretty steep price point, so if you don’t do the mental math the Counter Menu appears to be the more expensive option. But for wine-drinkers on the weekends, it isn’t.
To add another twist, Saison was actually asking $641 for the wine-paired counter menu earlier last week but then dropped it back to $498 in a fun little incident we reported on. The demand-based weekend pricing for the regular menu is new too, which explains why the restaurant presumably hasn’t caught this discrepancy.
SUTTONOMICS SUMMARY: If you’re dining at Saison on the weekends, the longer Counter Menu is the most affordable option for wine-pairing patrons, by up to $53 per couple. If you’re planning on ordering the shorter menu, better to eat on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, as that menu is up to $185 more, per couple, on Fridays and Saturdays. And finally, if you own Saison, you should make the Counter Menu the more expensive option on the weekends to preserve a sense of relative value between the two tasting options. Or more precisely, you should change your prices. Again.