Folks Who Cheap Out at Good Restaurants Give Me Agita

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Everyone likes to go out to eat, right? Especially parents, whose dinners at home generally involve cutting other people's meat, refereeing sibling squabbles, deflecting requests for candy, and the inability to finish a sentence or eat your food while it's hot.

It's just so pleasant to be seated at a nice quiet restaurant table with good lighting, talking to your spouse or your friends while someone else takes your order, makes your food and brings it right to you ... and then takes the dishes away and washes them (one would assume).

That kind of break is worth the outlay of some cash, yes? I think so. Which is why I took issue with this post on Get Rich Slowly about how to cut corners at swanky restaurants.

The writer, JD, suggests splitting an entree or taking some of it home, sticking to one drink or no drinks, and ordering an appetizer instead of a meal. All good advice, and better for your health as well as your wallet.  But here's the thing: If you're going to go to a really nice, high-end restaurant, don't cheap out.

If you're lucky enough to have a great temple of cuisine in your city, you ought to enjoy it. Why fight for a reservation at Le Chateau de Snobby only to restrict yourself to an appetizer and water? By all means, if that's what appeals to you most then order away, but I'd rather spend that $15 (or more) per person plus tip on a full meal at a local spot with interesting, if inexpensive, food.

If Chateau de Snobby is the "it" place in your city and you feel like you just have to go there ... well, you're not the kind of person who's likely to be too concerned about saving money. But if you are, say, a frugal foodie, it's better to save up enjoy the full experience: wine, entree, maybe even dessert (JD suggests bringing a chocolate bar in your purse and eating that on your way home; I say if I am going to blow the calories on something sweet after dinner I'll have it made by a pastry chef and served to me on a pretty plate, thank you).

A better idea from JD, since no one is made of money, is to choose one indulgence, either an appetizer, or wine, or dessert, not all three. Another trick I like is to go to the swanky restaurant for lunch instead of dinner. It costs less, and you often get better service because the place is not as packed.

Speaking of service, you're not going to get a server's best effort if she senses you're scrimping on your bill. While outright rudeness isn't acceptable, your request for more water is not going to be her first priority and she will not be encouraging you to linger.

Of course, the exception to this rule is when the restaurant choice is out of your control, like when a group of people decide to celebrate a birthday at the swankiest place in town. Just make sure you get separate checks so your $20 appetizer and water doesn't end up costing you $50. Or meet for drinks or dessert after.

 

How do you keep the bill from ballooning at restaurants?

 

Image via e_calamar/Flickr

everyday celebrations, eating out

16 Comments

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Jenny... JennyG0929

Coupons from The Entertainment Book, Enjoy the City or the Money Mailer.But we always tip on the full amount.


P.S. - Don't disclose you have a coupon until the end of your meal or you risk getting bad service.

PonyC... PonyChaser

I often buy the appetizer - because many times, the entree is just way too huge.  If an appetizer doesn't appeal (if everything is deep fried, for example), I will often ask for half to be put in a take-home box, simply because I can't eat all that food!


But to save money?  I would skip the appetizer and dessert. I'd drink water (I'm not an alcohol drinker anyway).  But if I'm honest, if I'm planning ahead to scrimp on dinner, I can't afford to go there, and I stay home.

miche... micheledo

We order water to drink, do not order appetizers or dessert, and try to order the least expensive meals.  And that is at an inexpensive resteraunt.  We eat at nicer resteraunts (again, still pretty cheap - an entree is $15-19) with gift cards!


IF we were able to go to a high end resteraunt we would be splitting a meal or just ordering an appetizer an water.  We have also gone to the Olive Garden on a date and just ordered dessert.

san3 san3

PersonallyI didn't see anything wrong with the article. We've done almost all of these in the past. Why would it be wrong to try to cut costs and calories while dinning out?  Then again if it is more stress than fun just skip it. Find a sitter and enjoy the evening home alone with your husband. Plus I don't shy away from telling friends who want to go to high priced restaurants that it isn't in our budget right now but we'd love to meet them for drinks or coffee and dessert later.

lovin... lovinangels

I'm so glad they didn't say skimp on the tip.

SAMNM... SAMNMAYASMOM

I agree, lovinangels. However, it's likely that people will still do it simply because they're cheap. Nothing wrong with saving some money, but don't punish the server for your lack of funds.

miche... micheledo

We NEVER skimp on the tip.  I am pretty cheap and will do whatever I can to get a lower price at the resteraunt (coupons, appetizer, no drinks, just water, etc) but we ALWAYS give at least 20%.  You have to be a very BAD server to get 15% and I think I have only done that once in my life. 


One time we gave nothing because the guy was SO terrible.  So terrible that we will never go to that place again.  It was awful.  And the manager was just as bad.  Ha ha.

toria... toriandgrace

I find nothing wrong with those suggestions. I would rather get my water, skip the appetizers and desserts, and get to eat out a little more often, or have money to spend on a movie too, than go all out and spend a ton on one meal. And just because I'm super frugal, doesn't mean I skimp on the tip. That's just rude.

RanaA... RanaAurora

It's like Olive Garden's "soup, salad and breadsticks." Just because you're going out doesn't mean you have to break the bank or order the most expensive thing on the menu.

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