Friday, July 23, 2010

What We'll Pay for a Magnificent Meal

Wednesday night, I decided to celebrate the publication of What the Great Ate, a book I co-authored with my brother Mark, by dining at Citronelle -- one of Washington, D.C.'s culinary cathedrals. The fixed price menu was $105 so, yes, this was one decadent dinner. The very next day, at the "Talk" blog on the food portal Serious Eats, BaguettenBrie raised the question of how pricey a meal should be:
I firmly believe in giving oneself the opportunity to experience great chefs' work. But I have been starting to question a bit how much certain tasting menus are costing.

On the one hand, with a truly great restaurant, somewhere you probably won't return to often, money shouldn't be considered a limiting agent. However, on the other (hand), should I feel guilty about questioning the cost of just one meal?
"No" is my answer. By all means, question the cost of any menu. The issue is value for your dollar. A more expensive meal can sometimes often more value and, at other times, less value.

As for that three-course Citronelle dinner, it was absolutely wonderful. But would I have considered it less wonderful if it has cost $120 instead of $105? Probably. By the way, the crowning glory of that meal was the cherry vacherin that I chose for dessert. God, that was good.