Author: has written 1136 posts for this blog.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

51 Responses

  1. j swift
    j swift August 17, 2006 at 10:32 am |

    Unpriced menus are about chivalry?

    Certainly have heard of the man ordering for the woman, in which case she does not need a menu, but

    Pleeeeease

    As noted, I always thought they were about the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” restaurant.

  2. frumious b
    frumious b August 17, 2006 at 10:39 am |

    I once read an advice article in some stupid women’s magazine, Glamour or its ilk, which said let the man pick up the check. If you split it, you risk having your “I have a job and can pay for own dinner” message be misinterpreted as a “you won’t be getting any” message and you might drive him away.

  3. Holly
    Holly August 17, 2006 at 10:47 am |

    I can’t believe I never realized that’s what those unpriced menus were. I thought they were for restaurants that were so fancy, the subject of money was gauche; if you have to ask how much it is, you probably can’t afford it and you ought to have a rough idea anyway.

    I guess I might have just made that up based on the idea that rich people are arcane, weird, and assume knowledge in their ways. When really, all along somebody else had the menu with the prices?!?

  4. mk
    mk August 17, 2006 at 11:02 am |

    Oh man. I remember reading Alice In Rapture (Sort Of) when I was maybe ten, and the title character was given advice to order the second cheapest thing on the menu when she had her first real date with a boy–that way she wouldn’t look cheap, but she’d still be a modest date. Only she got to the restaurant and her menu had no prices–so she called her advisor (an older sister or something? I can’t remember) in a panic on the payphone, and was told that meant his menu had the prices.

    Personally I’ve only been to restaurants a couple of times that were expensive enough to warrent priceless menus, and it was always with large family groups where I wouldn’t have a chance of paying. But it makes me nervous nonetheless that I’ll unwittingly order something way expensive–luckily I’ve never been much of a lobster grrl.

  5. bmc90
    bmc90 August 17, 2006 at 11:14 am |

    There is nothing improper about these menus except that the modern thing to do is give the one without prices to the person who is host or hostess of the meal. Of course, even in fancy restaurants, it’s difficult to know how that could be accurately ascertained by most wait staff. My private dining club has these menus, and they are always given to the MEMBER (me), and I really like it when I am hosting business meals. Also helps me cheat men out of paying when I asked them for business because the club does not take any cash (you get billed monthly) and the people have no way of ascertaining the cost of their meal. Works great, even well for women in business, when you take the inappropriate gender element out of the picture.

  6. Mikey S
    Mikey S August 17, 2006 at 11:30 am |

    I’ve only seen a priceless menu once, and it was in Paris. I was out with my aunt and uncle, so only after asking later did I realize that the uncle had a price list.

    There are some circumstances when it would have been cool to have my dining companions on a priceless menu – some dates (and in turn, I wouldn’t mind having a priceless menu when I’m being taken out), and also just situations where I owe someone dinner and I don’t want them to cheap out – I owed a friend for helping me move, and the solution was to wait until after he had ordered before announcing I was picking up the tab.

  7. binky
    binky August 17, 2006 at 11:31 am |

    I can’t believe I never realized that’s what those unpriced menus were.

    Me either. Even at fairly fancy places (Trotter, Daniel, etc) when you do a “tasting menu” with wine pairings that are selected for you, they generally print a total price.

    I used to live in a country where a woman seated alone at a restaurant had difficulty even getting a menu from a server. That a woman would pay for her meal, much less dine alone, was almost an impossibility (in their minds). A female friend and I used to joke that we could stand on the table, on our heads, naked, and a waiter still wouldn’t come over.

  8. Dennis
    Dennis August 17, 2006 at 11:37 am |

    It’d be nice to get one of those for birthday dinners. My wife is riddled with guilt at the money she spends when she goes to Starbucks, a real restaurant is always much worse. (I don’t have this problem, because I am a financial idiot, and was never Catholic.) bmc90 makes a good point. Remove the link to gender, and it’s fine.

  9. KnifeGhost
    KnifeGhost August 17, 2006 at 12:10 pm |

    I’m with both the “I never knew that’s why they had menus without prices” and the “it’s a cool idea if you remove the unnecessary and archaic gendered assumptions about who’s treating” crowds. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a restaurant fancy enough to do the menus-without-prices thing, as it is.

  10. frumious b
    frumious b August 17, 2006 at 12:26 pm |

    Just how expensive does a restaurant have to be to have those menus? Average entree price, anyone?

  11. Esme
    Esme August 17, 2006 at 12:38 pm |

    I’ve been to places like that. There’s one in town which my mother favors, and I don’t know the entree prices, but I know that dinner for 3, complete with rolls, salad, wine, and the inevitable dessert, is at least $100. I have never eaten there without feeling guilty

  12. nik
    nik August 17, 2006 at 12:38 pm |

    Wasn’t it just a sleazy way for the restaurant to maximise profits by exploiting romantic gender dynamics? The person paying (who has the prices) would commit a huge faux pas if they attempted to get the person being paid for to get a cheap meal. The person being paid doesn’t have the information to regulate the cost of their meal themselves.

  13. Thomas
    Thomas August 17, 2006 at 12:42 pm |

    but I know that dinner for 3, complete with rolls, salad, wine, and the inevitable dessert, is at least $100.

    Heh. Visit New York some time.

  14. Sailorman
    Sailorman August 17, 2006 at 1:25 pm |

    I was surprised–well, perhaps not–at the number of comments which seemed incapable of even seeing a problem with the man being handed the priced menu. “What’s the matter with that?” “It’s chivalrous!” “I like being paid for!” sigh….

    Esme: $100 for 3? With wine? Bad news, sorry, but in the fine dining world that’s essentially unheard of. The food can easily run $100-200. Per PERSON, PLUS wine, which rarely costs less than $100/bottle if you’re trying to match food of that quality.

    Try this: Make sure you’re sitting down first, and then go read the online NYT review of a place called “Masa.” heh ;) Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

    I wish I had access to priceless menus sometimes though. I like to treat people, and it’s alays a shame when I suspect they are not ordering what they want for reasons of price alone.

  15. LR
    LR August 17, 2006 at 1:25 pm |

    A few years ago I went to Las Vegas with six of my friends (men and women). We were reading a bunch of travel books and one of them said that it is common in some of the more expensive restaruants for there to be menus without prices given to women and ones with prices to be given to men. It said that if a group of women were out together, the menu with the prices went to the oldest woman (that’s gotta be tricky to figure out without someone’s feelings getting hurt).

    My friend, Mr.M made reservations for all of us at a really nice place. When we got there the Maitre D’ said “Good evening Mr. M, will you be the host this evening?”

    He stammered, “Well yes…I mean. I made the reservations but I’m not…Give everyone menus with prices!”

    It was funny.

    ;)

  16. Sailorman
    Sailorman August 17, 2006 at 1:27 pm |
  17. Raging Moderate
    Raging Moderate August 17, 2006 at 2:13 pm |

    and then the inevitable Nice Guy™/MRA type who says, “I wish that more women would be sensible on dates and help split the check. Double standards still apply in most cases.”

    I’m confused by this statement. Are you saying that “going Dutch” is a something only an MRA or “Nice Guy” would do?

  18. Kyra
    Kyra August 17, 2006 at 2:27 pm |

    If you split it, you risk having your “I have a job and can pay for own dinner” message be misinterpreted as a “you won’t be getting any” message and you might drive him away.

    Which is better than the corresponding risk taken when you let him pay, that of it being misinterpreted as “you will be getting some.” Plenty of guys function under the assumption that accepting a gift from them is accepting them, or that you owe them (sex) for dinner. Ugh.

    Not to come off as a prude—there are plenty of times when one might sleep with a guy one goes out for dinner with. But for reasons other than their paying for dinner, thankyouverymuch.

  19. Amber
    Amber August 17, 2006 at 2:59 pm |

    Well call me the most naive gal out there. It never occurred to me THAT was what the menus were about. And yes, it annoys me to no end when the server puts the check in front of my boyfriend. I always be sure to smile and make eye contact with him/her as I take out my credit card and reach across the table to take it.

  20. frumious b
    frumious b August 17, 2006 at 3:03 pm |

    #2:

    btw, I wasn’t endorsing this advice, just sharing it. I’m with Kyra- better a false negative than a false positive.

  21. Sara
    Sara August 17, 2006 at 3:07 pm |

    I’ve had waitresses scold me for paying for dinner. In reality, my husband and I share our finances anyway, but really, is it any of their business?

  22. bmc90
    bmc90 August 17, 2006 at 3:12 pm |

    To finance someone else’s social life in addition to your own these days, you really have to be one of the Trumps. ‘Specially if you like concerts, white table cloth dining, and the like. I think the splitting the check thing is taking care of itself for that reason. Either that or I only dateed the cheap and impoverished before I got married.

  23. JenM
    JenM August 17, 2006 at 4:06 pm |

    I’ve noticed at more and more restaurants here in Dallas the server always announces that “let’s start with the ladies drinks/orders then I’ll rotate around to the men.” These aren’t extra fancy or expensive plaes but can be dinners where tab is about 50.00 per person.

    I’ve only seen menus without prices when it was a business lunch at a country club and the boss had already arranged for menu options/price point prior to the lunch.

  24. Djur
    Djur August 17, 2006 at 4:20 pm |

    “The food can easily run $100-200.”

    Man. I’m glad I live in a city where $200 buys dinner for five at a really fancy restaurant. I can’t imagine spending as much as New Yorkers and the like do on food, no matter how good it supposedly is.

  25. Ron O.
    Ron O. August 17, 2006 at 4:26 pm |

    Sara – that waitress should have her tip severly reduced for a comment like that. You should never critisize a customer.

    When I was a waiter at a couple fancy places, if you had a host you gave the check to him or her, if not, it gets placed in the middle of the table.

    One annoying thing happened twice when I was dating. A woman asked me out & then expected me to pay for dinner for both. WTF? They weren’t getting any from me. My wife asked me to dinner for our second date & she paid like a good host should. Now we share finances, but we still like to “treat” each other to dinner.

  26. Raging Moderate
    Raging Moderate August 17, 2006 at 5:01 pm |

    I’ve been to a couple of restaurants here in Montreal where none of the menus have prices (or translations). You can ask for a translation, but don’t ask about prices!

    I can’t imagine spending as much as New Yorkers and the like do on food, no matter how good it supposedly is.

    The food’s only part of it.

  27. Lauren
    Lauren August 17, 2006 at 5:34 pm |

    The only priceless menus I see around here are drink menus.

    Nice Guy™/MRAs should be glad to hear that whomever pays for dinner or drinks when Chef and I go out is whomever happens to have more money in their pockets at the time. We don’t keep track.

  28. Miss Robyn
    Miss Robyn August 17, 2006 at 5:42 pm |

    I don’t spend much of my time at fancy ass restaurants- yet- but I have to say, I absolutely believe that the man should pay for dinner? Why? Not for chivalrous reasons, or old fashioned ones, but for purely feminist reasons. What, you ask, is feminist about a man paying on a date (or buying drinks, etc.?)? Because of the wage gap. Yes, until the wage gap is closed, I say they have to use that extra money to buy me dinner.

  29. Thomas
    Thomas August 17, 2006 at 6:27 pm |

    is it any of their business?

    Emphatically no. I would ask to speak with the manager.

  30. j swift
    j swift August 17, 2006 at 6:29 pm |

    Just a point there M.R. I don’t usually share my salary info with a date. Does that mean that if I date a woman who makes a 6 figure salary to my 5 she gets to buy?

  31. Tuomas
    Tuomas August 17, 2006 at 6:44 pm |

    I don’t spend much of my time at fancy ass restaurants- yet- but I have to say, I absolutely believe that the man should pay for dinner? Why? Not for chivalrous reasons, or old fashioned ones, but for purely feminist reasons. What, you ask, is feminist about a man paying on a date (or buying drinks, etc.?)? Because of the wage gap. Yes, until the wage gap is closed, I say they have to use that extra money to buy me dinner.

    *Gag*

    Are you serious, or just trolling?

    Let me try something…

    I don’t spend much time in in fancy hand-scrubbed squiky clean environments -yet- but I have to say, I absolutely believe that the woman should do all the housework? Why? Not for self-sacrificing reasons, or old fashioned ones, but for purely masculinist reasons. What, you ask, is masculinist about a woman doing all the housework (or child care etc.?) Because of the life expetancy gap. Yes, until the life expectancy gap is closed, I say they have to use that extra time to wash my dishes.

    Doesn’t it look absolutely charming?

  32. Tuomas
    Tuomas August 17, 2006 at 6:46 pm |

    (Sorry for the hijack, but priceless menus is about the weirdest idea I’ve heard, so I don’t have much to add to that.)

  33. KnifeGhost
    KnifeGhost August 17, 2006 at 8:49 pm |

    Seconding jswift.

    That women make on average 70 cent to the dollar compared to men in equivalent jobs doesn’t make more able to pay for dinner than my date if she was, for example, a legal secretary.

  34. batgirl
    batgirl August 17, 2006 at 9:24 pm |

    It drives me crazy when the check gets set down in front of my boyfriend when it’s my turn to pay, especially if the waiter doesn’t see me break out the wallet. Grrrr.

    I was at a Mexican restaurant with my family and my boyfriend, and the waiter spun a steak knife on the table and gave the check to who it landed on. It was a super cute way to avoid offending anyone, and it was funny (especially since the knife landed on the waiter first, and he said, “Ah, we’ll try again.”)

  35. ginmar
    ginmar August 18, 2006 at 7:59 am |

    Um, Tuomas, you’re comparing social inequity to a biological inequity, and what—you’re blaming women for the latter? Are women supposed to pay for the unhealthy things men do to themsleves and one another? Meanwhile the pay gap is not biological, and the very people benefiting from it then have the nerve to whine about its effects on the people it hurts.

  36. car
    car August 18, 2006 at 9:44 am |

    Usually I’ve seen the waiters/waitresses place the check square in the middle of the table, face down. That way there’s no way to mess up.

  37. jayunderscorezero
    jayunderscorezero August 18, 2006 at 9:54 am |

    I’ve seen the “Yes, until the wage gap is closed, I say they have to use that extra money to buy me dinner” argument before and it always sets off a mental double-take. Can one really say, “I’ve identified that there’s a problem, but I’m going to do absolutely nothing about it”? It’s hardly making a visible point when it’s maintaining the perceived status quo.

  38. Tuomas
    Tuomas August 18, 2006 at 10:44 am |

    ginmar:

    Um, Tuomas, you’re comparing social inequity to a biological inequity, and what—you’re blaming women for the latter? Are women supposed to pay for the unhealthy things men do to themsleves and one another? Meanwhile the pay gap is not biological, and the very people benefiting from it then have the nerve to whine about its effects on the people it hurts.

    Nah. I was reversing the thing (sort of) to illustrate how IMO assholish it looks. I think wage gap — where it exists — should be abolished, not make men (as class) subject to some demands because women (as class) have it worse in some area.

    Punishing a class collectively for some disadvantage your class has isn’t my idea of justice, and as some have pointed out, the mere fact that men on average earn more doesn’t mean that every man earns more than every woman.

  39. Kaethe
    Kaethe August 18, 2006 at 11:18 am |

    Miss Robyn, perhaps it should be noted that the tradition has always been for the person who makes the invitation and is hosting to pay. Expecting a man to always pay because men earn more on average is as foolishly sexist as expecting a woman to suck at a sport because women on average are not as large or as strong as men.

  40. mk
    mk August 18, 2006 at 11:29 am |

    I’ve always wondered how waiters decide where to place the check when the dining duo is same-sex. Yeah, the check in the middle would be the most obvious solution, but I find that when I’m out with my girlfriend waiters overwhelmingly slide it in my direction. It always pisses said ladyfriend off–I guess she thinks they’re somehow assessing our finances or power dynamic in some weird superficial way. I just find it funny, since I’m often broke and she often pays.

  41. Julie
    Julie August 18, 2006 at 11:57 am |

    When Chris and I dated, it was whoever’s idea it was to go out or whoever had money. I think he picked up more than I did, but he worked full time and I was a broke college student. Even after five years of marriage, it’s still whoever has money on them at the time. I will admit though, we live in an area where an expensive restaurant would run you maybe 30 dollars a person? More if you get multiple alcoholic drinks. I think the most expensive dinner I’ve ever had ran us about 75 for the two of us.

  42. Miss Robyn
    Miss Robyn August 18, 2006 at 12:18 pm |

    Ooh- hadn’t checked this for a while, but my statement was made with my toungue rather firmly planted in my cheek- sorry if it didn’t come across that way. I make this joke quite a bit, mostly when men complain about how “women totally have it easy because men buy them drinks all the time”- which is just beyond absurd. However, the main reason they should pay is clearly because, frankly, they really ought to be grateful that I am deigning to dine with them at all. It’s quite the privilege, I’ll have you know. (also, so there is no confusion, my toungue has yet to center itself)

  43. Official Shrub.com Blog  » Blog Archive   » Sexism on a Plate (Classism, too)

    [...] nt practice of giving menus without prices to some patrons at restaurants. (Feministe has commented on this as well.) The actual practices described varied from automa [...]

  44. ACS
    ACS August 18, 2006 at 1:05 pm |

    Um, Tuomas, you’re comparing social inequity to a biological inequity, and what—you’re blaming women for the latter? Are women supposed to pay for the unhealthy things men do to themsleves and one another? Meanwhile the pay gap is not biological, and the very people benefiting from it then have the nerve to whine about its effects on the people it hurts.

    While some of the life expectency gap is biological inequity, a huge proportion of it is caused by what are clearly social factors. Men are less likely to make regular visits to the doctor. Men are disproportionately injured and killed in the workplace. Men are disproportionately victims of non-sexual violence. Men consume a higher percentage of their calories in fats.

    These are not, in any real sense, “biological.”

    Not that either point makes any more sense either way. Just saying.

    – ACS

  45. rebecca
    rebecca August 18, 2006 at 1:37 pm |

    My family took my boyfried and me out to a very fancy restuarant for my birthday while we were in Paris last summer. Now, I’m no fan of price-free menus for women, but I do understand that it is a vestige of an older time when men always paid for dinner. Indeed, having waited tables in NYC for a summer, I’ve found that in any given family, the eldest male picks up the check 95% of the time. So it’s not the most outrageous assumption that the man will pay.

    What irked me about this particular Parisian restaurant was that the waiter presented both my father AND my boyfriend (all of 22 years!) with regular menus, while my mother, sister, and I all received price-free menus. I’d never experienced anything like that. It might be one thing for the eldest male at the table to receive the menu with prices, but for the youngin’ who’s half my mother’s age to receive the price menu while my mother is forced into ignorance is just plain sexist.

    My floppy-haired boyfriend clearly was not going to be picking up the check, and yet he was afforded the priviledge of knowing how much his food costs while my mother, much more sophisticated and experienced, was overlooked. Pissed me off.

  46. Raincitygirl
    Raincitygirl August 19, 2006 at 5:06 pm |

    I really don’t see how the average wage gap applies to individual men and women. If I’m going to restaurants with someone on a fairly regular basis, we’ll probably take turns paying. If it’s not definite that I’m not going to see them again, split the bill. And if you can’t afford half the bill at the restaurant suggested by your date, suggest a more moderately-priced restaurant. Either they’ll go along with that or they’ll say “Dinner’s on me” in advance.

    If people have very dikfferent financial situations (say A has a good job and B is a starving student), it makes sense for A to pay mosst of the time, or for B to only pay when they go out somewhere inexpensive. If A *wants* to go on fancier dates (nice restaurants, maybe a play) and doesn’t mind paying for both, they shouldn’t necessarily only do things that are wtihin B’s budget.

    Heck, I’ve had that happen with platonic friends. If one of us is in a financial crunch and the other is doing fine, the other will offer to pick up the tab for, say, dinner and a movie, because it’s not that big a deal, and more fun than going to MacDonald’s. And maybe a year or so down hte road the financial situations are reversed.

  47. anotherlynne
    anotherlynne August 20, 2006 at 11:33 am |

    I too like the idea of price-free menus if one can get away from the gender issue.

    The check thing, tho, that really chaps my ass. In the last month I’ve been out to dinner with a male (three times a friend and once my son) 4 times and each time the check was given to the male in question. WTF?

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.