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Aust/US restaurant prices

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Recently an American Fodorite commented on high restaurant prices in Australia. So I got to wondering, and played a little game. I picked a highly rated restaurant in Sydney (Marque) and another in San Francisco (Chez Panisse), and compared the price for a 3-course meal in each.

In accordance with local custom I allowed a 10% tip at Marque and 25% for tip and taxes at Chez Panisse. I tilted the comparison in Chez Panisse's favour by using their weekday set price of US$65 rather than Saturday night's $75, and the sum of the highest-priced courses at Marque (AU$89) rather than the lowest ($74). I used an exchange rate of AU$1 = US$0.76.

Now, not having patronised either I can't be entirely sure that I'm comparing apples with apples - I relied on reviews in the Sydney Morning Herald and Foodtourist.com (who gave them equal ratings) - so I'd welcome comment from anyone who has.

Also, I wasn't able to allow for wine prices. With those disclaimers the numbers came out as follows:

Marque: AU$97.90 (US$74.40)
Chez Panisse: US$81.25 (AU$106.91)

We could argue about relative purchasing power - i.e. whether AU$1 to an Australian at home means the same as US$1 to an American at home. If it does, Marque is 17% more expensive than Chez Panisse (bearing in mind that I've tilted the comparison in CP's favour). But to a visiting Australian who's earned his/her travel dollars in Australia, CP is 9% more costly, and to a visiting American who's earned his or her travel dollars in the US, CP is still more expensive (7%) than Marque. Note that wine hasn’t been allowed for.

Any budding economists out there are more than welcome to query my methodology, of course. Have I missed something?

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