"Welcome to our restaurant. Yes, it's very fancy. We have French sounding entrees. Our wine list is longer than the Dead Sea scrolls. You won't find bourgeois electric lighting here . . . just candles and firelight. The androgynous wait staff all wear the same black uniform and have the same haircut. We won't tell you what's in our food (probably pig's blood, ground up ants and the entrails of kangaroos), and we certainly won't tell you how much it costs. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries."
To some people, this is a highly-exaggerated version of the experience at high-end restaurants -- like one in the Upper East Side of Manhattan called Nello. David Segel, better known as "The Haggler" on the New York Times website, explains how "bill shock" can happen sometimes
, but it's a pretty regular occurrence at Nello.
A reader sent in a letter about his experience, which involved ordering the "special" and finding out later that the special cost $275. This isn't an isolated incident -- Segel cites reviews from TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon, and Menupages.com in which patrons were absolutely astonished upon receiving the bill.
Reading the article is pretty infuriating -- but a giant lesson can be learned from this. If prices of entrees aren't listed (and this is NOT a good sign for budget-minded diners), ask the waiter before you order. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a $400 check . . . and doing dishes to pay your debt.
(Does that happen? Or is that just in movies?)