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Is going out to eat at 5 star restaurants worth the money?

Is going out to eat at 5 star restaurants worth the money?

Mar 14th, 2002, 06:52 AM
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Well Tamara, I may be the only one who agrees with you. I hate gourmet food so dining in a 5 star restaurant is NOT worth it to me. It is not that I am cheap, I just don't see spending that much money on food that I am just going to push around my plate and pick at anyway. Different people splurge on different things. I like expensive shoes myself and drive a fairly expensive car always less than 3 years old. BUT we never spend more than $50 for two for dinner including drinks! I am basically a plain jane and a very picky eater. I don't like vegatables and I can't stand any type of sauce or marinade. I live in Chicago but would never eat somewhere like Everest, Tru, or Charlie Trotters because I would waste money on food I don't even like. I would much prefer top go to Outback Steakhouse and get a prime rib with a dry baked potato, no butter salt only, no salad. Bland food is best for some and to us Applebees, Outback and Olive Garden fit the bill. To each his own, o nees to trach someone else's preferences.
Mar 14th, 2002, 08:41 AM
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It's worth it to me. When my husband and I travel we always do research to find a top restaurant to go to (wine Spectator and Gourmet Magazine websites are good places to look for recommendations). Some times we've even reserved months before our trip. We don't do it every night we are away (we wouldn't be able to fit in our clothes!) but we usually do it once each trip. Often this is one of the most memorable parts fo the trip. It's also great to visit the top restaurants near home (Toronto for me) once and a while.

I know it's not for everyone but I do think everyone should try it at least once. It truly is a wodnerful experience to dine out where people treat food passionately, and take time and care in pairing different ingredients, wines, surroundings, etc. to get it just so. Of course I don't think you have to pay a lot of money to get good food. Some resturants that are very reasonable might take food seriously and offer incredible value for a great dining experience, but in my opinion chain restuarants don't fall into this catergory.

I like beer and wings as much as the next person, but there is a time and a place for everything. I would never visit a chain restaurant while travelling because I can get that food at home if I want it.

For the person who posted this thread, I would say it's about expanding your horizons. Take three hours (the dining is the night out, no need to go to the theatre or plan another event) try it and don't think about the amount you are spending, just chalk it up to experience and enjoy!
Mar 14th, 2002, 10:50 AM
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I agree with the poster above who said it's only worth the money if you love really interesting, innovative food. If you prefer grilled cheese sandwiches and French fries, it's crazy to waste money on a place with expensive food you'll hate anyway.

I am quite frugal (cheap?) in general, but once a year or so, when I'm in a city, I'll go to a 5 star place. I'll research it for weeks or months, and be fine with going there alone if I think the food (and overall experience) is worth trying. A couple of times, I've wondered if a waiter thought I was a food critic because I came alone and was so concentrated on all the aspects of the meal.
Mar 14th, 2002, 04:27 PM
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A really good meal in pleasant, quiet, cozy or romantic atmosphere is one of life's better pleasures. But 1.) why does it have to cost an arm and two legs? and 2.) why is it so hard to find?

To us, $75 for two is a splurge dinner...the pockethook has to accommodate a lot of things and $100+ dining isn't among them. I have eaten (as a for instance)at Charlie Trotters (thought it over-rated) and Windsor Court (intenseley disliked the stuffy, aren't-we-something atmosphere and was not impressed with the food). For people for whom $ and 'disposable' do not go in the same sentence, 'trying' 5-star restaurants, and taking the chance of getting really singed....just isn't worth it.

But that doesn't mean you can't find exceptional dining experiences...one of our favorites is a romantic, neighborhoody, little French spot on Second Ave in New York. It's not cheap, but neither does it make 5-star rankings (or post those kinds of prices)...and we love it!
Mar 14th, 2002, 05:43 PM
wes fowler
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An article in the business section of the New York Times early last week mentioned that six bankers had dined during the prior week at Petrus, one of London's most expensive, prestigious and fashionable restaurants. At the conclusion of their multi-course dinner, the bankers were advised that management would not charge them for their meal. The reason? The six had run up a bar bill of $62,700.00 U.S. comprised of one pack of cigarettes, four bottles of Kronenbourg beer and a number of bottles of wine ranging from $8,000.00 to $17,000.00 a bottle. A followup in the next day's Times indicated that five of the six had been fired by their employers.
Mar 14th, 2002, 05:46 PM
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I would have loved to eat (DRINK) with those guys in London-Hope they had a good time
Mar 15th, 2002, 03:54 AM
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As an american living in europe now, I would say no to a five star meal in the states and yes to one in europe. The experience is completely different, it is more subtle, indiscriminate here. There are the big name chefs but for some reason it doesnt feel like mass marketing the food and their name, for recognition. If it wasn't friday afternoon, and I wasn't feeling brain drain and anxious to be at home for the weekend, I could probably be more specific. Maybe others can help me out here on this one....
Oct 2nd, 2003, 10:51 AM
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I came across this old thread and was interested in reviving it (I posted last time around as "Kelly"). Any bites?
kireland is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 10:58 AM
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It's espescially worth it if work (or someone else's) picks up the tab! When friends are visiting me in LV we go out to a 5 star dinner at least once. I never feel cheated because I know the best places to go! I would never venture to spend the $$ on the place that doesn't have an excellent reputation, though.
nataliemm is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 11:34 AM
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My brother has a tax business, and says its absolutely amazing how many clients come up with receipts for $200 and $300 dinners, but give absolutely NOTHING in charitable contributions each year.

Seems to me that if you have that kind of money to spend on food, you ought to at least make a donation now and then to the hundreds of thousands of people in OUR OWN COUNTRY who have no food at all!
clarkgriswold is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 11:47 AM
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Well said ClarkGriswald.

5 star restaraunts are ok but I usually leave hungry. Whats with the size of portions in those places? They are usually tiny. Just not worth it if you ask me.
DeborahB is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 11:47 AM
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$100 per person for a 5 Star experience is worth it to me.
Oct 2nd, 2003, 12:06 PM
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Fine Clark, I think all Americans should not patronize nice restaurants for several months and give that money to charity instead. Of course, the charities will need it as those who work in those places and those who work for their suppliers will soon be in need of a handout, as well.

In terms of the clients coming in with receipts to your brother-in-law, wouldn't they in fact be business expenses? If in fact it is businesses who are supporting these establishments, don't most businesses make it a point to provide some charitable donations.

Ryan is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 12:10 PM
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First of all, excellent point, clark! Good re-establishment of perspective. Everyone, please donate to your local food bank(s)-- there are a lot of people in need.

Next: Five-star experience isn't about QUANTITY, it's about QUALITY. You're paying for top-drawer ingredients, top-notch preparation and presentation, a bit of novelty in the menu, etc. But I'm lucky in that I can occasionally afford it, and I was raised to appreciate it (my family was taught that food is pleasurable both in preparing and eating).

Last night, I had a relatively expensive meal at a French restaurant near my home (Long Beach, CA). We could have gone to a Claim Jumper and spent roughly $50 for both of us, and waddled out stuffed to the gills with mediocre food and cheap wine or beer. Instead, we had a wonderful four-course meal with highest-caliber ingredients (and a made-to-order chocolate/Grand Marnier soufflé for dessert) and realistic portions (we Americans are TOO DAMN FAT because we eat TOO DAMN MUCH), and a great bottle of local wine (from Solvang), and we walked out spending $160 all in. Completely worth it. Frenchy's Bistro, for anyone in the area. Fantastic.

If you're happy with chain restos, fine. Enjoy yourself. Those are my "gotta eat, don't have to be prissy or snooty" places. Some are better than others (P.F. Chang's, Houstons, CA Pizza Kitchen). Some are awful (Olive Garden, Buca di Beppo, Denny's). Most fall in between. But if you appreciate the whole experience of fine dining, a five-star meal is so worth it.
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 01:18 PM
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One of the dumbest questions ever. You know the bum on the corner thinks that McDonald's is gourmet next to the garbage he generally eats. How many wealthy people drive Dodge Neons. It is all relative. You enjoy moderately priced restaurants and the type of food that they offer (Don't get me wrong, Houstons is great)while many wealthy people enjoy the gourmet food and inpeccable service offered at the finest restaurants. If you had ten million in the bank would you think twice about owning a Mercedes Benz. You also would not question whether a 5 star restaurant was worth the money. While it may not be suitable for your palate and budget 5 star restaurant's are loved by many.
mrt is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 01:27 PM
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If only Ryan's suggestion were so simple. So everybody avoids good restaurants for a couple months and suddenly tens of thousands of restaurant employees are unemployed adding to the "hunger" problems. It's all part of the overall economy.

I, of course, agree that if you have to ask "is it worth it?" then it probably isn't to you.

And I will say, while I like good restaurants of all price ranges, I've probably felt "ripped off" far more often at medium priced restaurants than I have at "five star" type places. I don't mind paying $100 or more for food for two when every bite is something wonderful. But I feel ripped off paying $25 for two, when the food is simply ill-prepared and not good.
Patrick is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 01:33 PM
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Sorry, I meant to agree with Ryan. What I meant was " if only Clark's suggestion. . .".

Also, Deborah, I for one would much rather have a small portion of really great food than a huge portion of something mediocre. I always laugh at the comment, "well the food was only OK, but they give you so much of it", and that's supposed to be a good thing.

Also john, you are about the only person who shared my opinion of Il Mulino. Except our food was NOT "only average", it was simply awful, which I took to be a really off night. But again if you paid by the pound it was a bargain. The worst tiramisu ($15 as I remember) I've ever tasted but it was simply gigantic! And my horrible veal chop looked like something Fred Flintstone would be served.
Patrick is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 01:38 PM
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I think mh has hit it on the head.

Dining is a wonderful experience in Europe. There's good service and good food - from the very expensive to the least expensive. At least that has been my experience. My wife and I have dined in so many little places in Europe, the names of which we have long forgotten, but not the food! Some places have been almost like holes in the wall.

As a general rule, in Europe, we are given the time to savor our food. The service people are serious about their service. AND, the other people going to that establishment are also getting good food and good service, so there is a general feeling of well-being in the restaurant, a feeling we have not experienced much in the States. But, we have had some very good dining experiences in the States as well! Don't get me wrong!

Maybe it's just my uneducated palate, the food in the 5 star places have not been THAT much better than what we may have gotten at some hole in the wall place.

We've eaten out often. Last night, after the SF Giants lost, in order to put salve on our wounds, we went to one of our favorite places: Il Fornaio in SF. We had a wonderful dinner. It came to about $35/pp including wine, but not tip. The antipasto was great, the main entres were great, the wine - a house chianti from Siena - was great, the dessert was great, and the service was great. I guess you know: we had a GREAT time!

A lot of stars or not, we find that great food can be had in the rated places as well as the nonrated places. At our age, we don't look to see how many stars the establishment has, we look to see how good the food is and what kind of service, ambience, we'll get.

I'd say that the former posters are right: the chain restaurants serve relatively mediocre to OK food. To find a great dining experience, for the same price, you need to go to a one of a kind restaurant. Guess my point is that there are plenty of great small restaurants without need to look at how many stars some gourmet - subjectively, I might add! - has given to any particular establishment.

If you like TGIFs and Rubys, fine. No shame in that. If you want fine dining not in a chain, you can find some real gems without having to go the 5 star route.

Enjoy your dining!
jason888 is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 02:03 PM
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Reading about that mention of tiramisu reminds me of a bad "fine dining" experience I had in Atlanta, in a fairly fancy Italian restaurant downtown.

Overpriced bland food topped off by the blandest tiramisu ever created. Eating Criso out of the can probably would have been more flavorful. Maybe even less fattening, too. The best thin in the restaurant was a gigantic aquarium full of exotic saltwater fish. You could watch them swim around and envy them their fishfood flakes.

I guess that all in all, everything depends on the restaurant. I don't doubt for an instant that some restaurants are worth upending your wallet for. Unfortunately it's a matter of trial and error to find them. Meanwhile, at least with chain restaurants you're usually assured that the food won't be awful. It might not be very good, but it won't be inedible.

What's best for me is to stick with a reliable chain while storing up the cash to head out to someplace better every now and again. I keep a list of restaurants I want to try and as I try them I check them off and note whether or not they'd be worth another visit. If they are, I recommend them to friends and to the guests at my hotel. If not, I wait a few months and try again. If they still stink after two or three visits, they earn a place on my "rancid restaurants" list and if a guest at my property asks about them I tell it like it is.

I'm slowly making my way through my list -- slowly because there are a lot of restaurants to go through around here, in Asheville, NC, where there are more than a few excellent restaurants, more than a few great one, and too many good ones to count. But... I'm getting there.
hauntedheadnc is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2003, 04:11 PM
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Clarkgriswold, just because someone doesn't turn in receipts it doesn't mean they don't give to charity. We use our corp acct to deduct business expenses but do not do not supply our accountant with charity receipts because we never get a tax break from it. We keep them in case we get audited but don't turn them in at the end of the year bec. there is no benefit. Please correct me if I'm wrong but the years we supplied the acct with receipt there was no kind of tax break and stoped doing so the past 2 years.
nataliemm is offline  
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