The following is a guest post by Dana Livingston of CulinarySchools.org.
Money is especially tight these days, particularly because of the current global economic crisis. So spoiling ourselves with the lavish and luxurious extras in life is almost entirely out of the question. Unfortunately taking ourselves and our loved ones out on the town for a fancy pants dinner is one of the first things to make it on the list of what is unnecessary and must be cut out in order to save an extra couple of bucks.
But experiencing the ambiance and cuisine of your town’s most expensive finer dining restaurants isn’t the only way to spoil yourself and eat like royalty. Moreover, ordering off the menu at the more extravagant eateries and experiencing what it is like to dine in style does not always have to break the bank.
Even at high end restaurants you can still find some great specials or coupons for discounted meals. Call the restaurant before you waltz in blindly unaware of their steep food prices and find out if they’ve got lunch or dinner specials. Usually in these cases, if you eat at the restaurant during a specific period of the day, you can get a meal fit royalty for mere peasant prices.
Or sift through your daily newspaper or the piles of junk coupons building up in your mailbox. Sometimes restaurants have special marketing projects they’re working on to boost clientele and they issue coupons in order to motivate people who don’t usually come in because of their high prices to try them out.
If you’re going out to eat with other people and are afraid of seeing the check at the end of dinner, encourage the people you are with to try eating family style. This entails everyone coming to a consensus on a few dishes they would like to try, and then ordering only those few and asking for extra plates so everyone can share. This allows you to still experience the fine dining food and atmosphere, but saves you the expense by cutting the cost and sharing the bill with your party at the end.
And try setting a limit on how many drinks you purchase, usually beverages are the part of the bill that subtly, yet steadily, builds up and can tack on an extra twenty to fifty dollars on your final bill.
Don’t be duped by the waiter offering you the nightly special, thinking that “special” in this case means cheaper. A restaurants lunch or dinner special is usually the dish they are choosing to highlight and push sales for on that particular day. And, in fact, these specials are sometimes the most expensive items on the restaurant’s menu. They offer you the special and neglect telling you the price, which is a smart business tactic, but can hurt those checkbooks once you get home. Ask about the price of the special, and don’t be afraid to do so. Then compare the price of that menu items to the rest of the meals listed on the menu. If it seems reasonably priced and you are interested in trying it out, indulge yourself. Just make sure you are aware of the price of what you want to order before actually doing so, this way there will be no unexpected surprises when you receive your check.
About the author: Dana Livingston is a writer for a culinary school website where you can browse schools and the latest trends in the culinary arena.