Dining Ouch

Dining out in New York these days may bring on a critical case of sticker shock. Restaurants in the Big Apple have always been expensive–but prices have soared in just the past few months. The $15 breakfast is now the $25 breakfast. The $20 lunch is now the $40 lunch, and the $50 to $60 dinner is now the $80-$100 dinner. That glass of wine that used to be around $8 is now $12 to $15. And that $6 dessert is now $9 to $12. What’s worst: portions have been reduced in many cases, as well. Dine at one of those fancy-smancy, small plate restaurants, and you can drop a bundle trying to leave well fed. At one popular Manhattan eatery, I found an entrée that I wanted; then decided that the pumpkin-filled ravioli would make a nice appetizer. It was listed at $24, under main plates, so I asked if they could make it as an appetizer–say about half the regular portion [for half the price, hopefully], and I was stunned when the waiter said that the dish only consisted of five small raviolis to begin with–too small to halve. Twenty-four dollars, and it didn’t even contain any meat. If I had ordered an appetizer–most ranged from $18 to $35–an entrée and a dessert [no salad], my bill would have been more than $80, without beverages, wine or tip. [And this was not La Grenouille.] Now, consumers not only have to worry about high gasoline prices, but, when they eat out, they are feeling the same pressure at the table that they are feeling at the pump.

Hey, we’re all living in Gouge City. The latest Zagat restaurant guide for New York City says that restaurant prices are up by 71 percent since 2001, increasing the cost of a meal at a better restaurant from around $84 to $143.

By the way, here is a recipe for pumpkin ravioli, by Wolfgang Puck (click the link). I think I’ll just make my own, thank you!



  1. Dear Diva,

    Alas, you were rooked, you poor tourists. They saw you coming. When will you ever learn? Here are just a smattering of options, just a scant few that come to mind.

    Saigon Grill: Locations throughout Manhattan, average meal with appetizer, w/o drinks 20.00, a small chain, excellent dumplings, and cold sesame noodles, perennial Chinese, comes with fortune cookie, after you read your fortune out loud, you have to add the words “in bed”.

    Gabriella’s: Upper West Side, average meal with obscenely large Rainbow Margarita 35.00, everything is excellent, wonderful service, beautiful presentation, specials are special, I eat here every Friday night, guests include Parker Posey on rare occasion.

    Popover Café: Upper West Side, average meal with famous popover 25.00, order their popovers online, they arrive in a flower box with strawberry butter, a carb-o-holic confection, brunch includes lemon twist pancakes and a bacon cheddar omelet with cranberry chutney that is worth the calories! Guests include Fran Drescher and on one occasion Warren Beatty sans Annette Benning.

    Arte Pasta: Greenwich Village, pre-fix dinner 26.00, great Northern Italian food, ravioli, wonderful foccacia bread with aged olive oil and outdoor seating when the weather permits.

    Ollie’s: Locations throughout Manhattan, average meal with appetizer w/o drinks 17.00 ask for the lemon chicken (sauce on the side, insist on it with a fresh lemon wedge, or order the chicken broccoli with garlic

    Rachel’s: Theatre District, pre-fix dinner 28.00 quaint, authentic artesian bistro on Ninth Avenue, where the locals hang out, dark and grimy interior ads to the appeal, the menu changes weekly.

    The Algonquin: Theatre District: visit for tea in the lobby, sit in the wing chair once occupied by Robert Bentley or Dorothy Parker, pet their cat that roams freely, civilized, old world, hearth fire, petit fours, grandfather clock chimes sedately, and butlers in service to refill your cup, 1920’s charm. In the 1970’s when I worked in the theater, it was the only decent (safe) place for a child to go to. The desk manager used to baby-sit me.

    Joe’s Pizzeria: Greenwich Village, large pie and Caesar salad 23.00, simply the best thin crust charcoal black pizza, dress warmly; you’ll wait outside on the line. Regis and Letterman order from here, they don’t do take-out or slices!

    The Waverly Inn: Greenwich Village: average meal 40:00, has not changed one iota since Eden St. Vincent Millay ate here in the 1910’s, several fireplace, a glassed in courtyard, vintage wallpaper, wooden booths, superb chicken pot pie and meatloaf with mashed potatoes, it has become this year’s in spot for celebrities slumming, including Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Alec Baldwin.

    I’d rather starve than pay more than 30.00 for a meal.

    Well Fed and Warmly,