February 13, 2012

"You might be interested in letting your readers know that a restaurant meal is a 'sale of goods' under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code."

"The code provides that where the buyer and seller have agreed to a contract but have not agreed on the price, the price is not what the seller subsequently demands. It’s a reasonable price for the goods at issue. Thus a customer has no obligation to pay for anything more than the reasonable price of a pasta meal at a trendy restaurant."

Lawprof weighing in on a story about a customer who ordered the pasta with white truffles and was shocked to get the bill and see the price: $275.

Here's the $65 worth of white truffles 'n' pasta I had last fall. I knew the price in advance. Cheap, apparently... compared to New York.

23 comments:

KLDAVIS said...

Well, when the highest quality truffles can go for $10,000 a pound (of up to 10x that amount in one high-profile case), the 'reasonable price of goods' may not be much help in lowering the bill.

edutcher said...

The only place The Blonde will go with prices like that is Brennan's in Nawlins.

The steak is to die for.

KLDAVIS said...

This weekend over 6000 people fought for the chance to buy "tickets" for dinner at el bulli vs. Next...~$500 per person.

Coketown said...

I haven't been to a trendy restaurant that caters to egos rather than appetites, so I don't know: Is the price printed on the menu? Doesn't the mere act of ordering it create that seller/buyer contractual agreement?

I have been to faux-upscale restaurants, the kinds with fake fur for wallpaper and leather ceilings, and the menu had just numbers next to the items.

Chicken pot pie 7
Roast zebra 13
Barnacles 10

I didn't know if it was a price or a rating or a Michelin star or what. So it makes sense that some establishments would forgo pricing altogether and make people feel like bigger asses.

EDH said...

Hate to put my ignorance on display here, but do these mushrooms taste really good or something?

Psilocybin
Common Name: Shrooms
Street Cost: 1/8 ounce $20-40, ounce $110

Palladian said...

I prefer black French winter truffles to white, but the white ones are delicious.

Beware of "truffle oil", which is a hideously-tasting synthetic that does not taste of truffles.

KLDAVIS said...

One of the strangest "menus" I ever received was at a *** Michelin place in Paris called l'Astrance. It was just a list of ingredients on one page and a choice of 3, 5 or 7 courses on the other. (Thankfully, my wife's menu did not have price printed on it. She would not have enjoyed the meal nearly as much if she'd known what it cost.) You picked the number of courses you wanted and wonderful dishes composed mostly of the listed ingredients appeared.

Palladian said...

"This weekend over 6000 people fought for the chance to buy "tickets" for dinner at el bulli vs. Next...~$500 per person."

Forget les truffes, how long will the overrated, frothy specter of Ferran Adrià and "molecular gastronomy" darken our dinnerplates?

KLDAVIS said...

Paladian, as Batali so wonderfully put it, truffle oil is made in the same place as Chanel No. 5...and tastes about as good.

EDH, if you've never had them, it's hard to explain. Truffles are like an entirely new taste sensation. It's like trying to understand how salt changes the flavor of food without having tasted it. It's such an elemental and essential, but unique, flavor.

William said...

Fresh squeezed vs Tropicana. The taste difference is worth the price differential. Coffee from the gourmet shop vs Maxwell House. Also worth the differntial. Truffles vs mushrooms: I'll never know. It's just too extravagant. If it's good, how good can a mushroom be. If it's blah, the knowledge that I paid so much for a stinking mushroom, would give me such indigestion that the meal would be completely ruined. I have trouble enough with the subtle flavors of pepperoni to go messing around with truffles.

KLDAVIS said...

For every person claiming Adrià is overrated, there's another claiming he's a culinary genius. I'll reserve judgment, as I haven't eaten his food (though my 1st meal at Alinea was one of the best I've ever had, perhaps only topped by the molecular-tinged French at L'Arnsbourg). In any case, I'll let you know on 4/15...I got my tickets.

Coketown said...

For every person claiming Adrià is overrated, there's another claiming he's a culinary genius.

Thöse people are snóbs, cut from thë same cloth as other snóbs whö use àccënts, umlauts, and other diàcriticals whën writing English.

Palladian said...

I wasn't writing in English, I was writing a Catalan proper name.

People who call other people snobs for writing words correctly are generally compensating for their own feelings of inferiority and their own lack of education and worldly experience.

Palladian said...

KLDAVIS, as I'm a perfumer I have to disagree with Batali. Chanel No 5 is, as far as I know, compounded in-house by Chanel, and contains a hell of a lot more natural materials (jasmine absolute, sandalwood oil, rosa centifolia absolute, etc) than 2,4-Dithiapentane ("truffle oil").

Matthew said...

People agree to buy things without knowing what they cost?

Cavet emptor people. Or whatever.

John said...

Palladian,

Read the label of the Chanel #5. See if it actually says where it comes from or where it is made.

Been a while since I looked but I believe that it says something like "Chanel #5 Paris"

Not made in Paris. Not product of Paris. Merely the word with no actual claim.

All the Chanel#5 sold in the US and a bunch that was exported used to be made in a rather swampy industrial park on Frontera Creek in Humacao Puerto Rico. I know. I've been in the plant and worked with their packaging process.

About 10 years ago they closed the plant and moved it to another swampy industrial park in New Jersey. I seem to recall Paterson but might be wrong on the city. In any event, the Newark, Jersey City, Paterson area.

The essential fragrances came from France and I assume that they still do. They were then blended with industrial alcohol and filled into bottles.

Back when in PR, the bottles cost $9-10 each and the stopper another dollar or so. I was told by the plant manager that these two components made up more than 50% of the total cost of the product.

I was once given, as samples for a project, a case of 24 bottles of another perfume that retails north of $75/bottle. When I said I only needed 3-4 bottles, they told me to take the case since it cost them very little. I made my wife and a lot of people at my principal very happy on that project.

As someone else mentioned, I think most of this stuff is pure snobbery and that very few people can tell the difference between an expensive perfume, wine, food, etc.

See the recent articles on blind tests between Stradavarious and $300 violins. None of the experts, concert violinists all, could tell the difference.

Its all about bullshit and marketing.

John Henry

Peter said...

'Coketown' said, "I have been to faux-upscale restaurants, the kinds with fake fur for wallpaper and leather ceilings, and the menu had just numbers next to the items.

"Chicken pot pie 7
Roast zebra 13
Barnacles 10"

Upscale department stores also do this- no dollar sign, no ". = cents," just a number.

I've never understood it. It's almost as if they're saying it's just to tacky to actually talk about money.

In any case, perhaps someone could go to work on the contract one must sign in order to obtain service from a hospital. As near as I can tell, it says they can charge whatever they please and you'll be obligated to pay it.

paminwi said...

Similar thing happened to us after we took the United Nations tour. We went into a small Italian restaurant about a block away for lunch and their "special" was pasta with truffles. Our daughter said that sounds good that's what I'll have and thank goodness my husband asked "How much?" because the price was $150.00. Of course we said, pick something else!

Prior to that instance my family had always given my husband grief for asking the price of specials, etc. but no longer!

rhhardin said...

The reason tipping is wrongheaded and awkward is that the buyer and the seller don't agree in advance on a price that both are happy with.

Everything depends on the buyer valuing what he gets more than what he pays, and the seller valuing what he gives less than what he receives.

The difference, called a consumer surplus, is an addition to the national standard of living. Both sides are better off by a total of that amount, so the nation is better off by that amount.

All voluntary transactions have that property.

With tipping, the seller hasn't agreed on a price in advance, and the mutual benefit and voluntary nature of the trade break down.

Which leads to either guilt or resentment, in what would be a perfectly normal happy transaction if governed by free exchange.

If you're disappointed in a trade you make, which happens all the time, it's a matter of not doing it again, not a matter of guilt and resentment, if you've both agreed on a price.

Matthew said...

"I've never understood it. It's almost as if they're saying it's just to tacky to actually talk about money."

It normally is, except in the case where you're actually dealing with paying goods and services. No one should ever ask how much their host spent on the wine; but you should ask the cashier how much the bottle of wine you're about to pay for costs.

KLDAVIS said...

"No one should ever ask how much their host spent on the wine; but you should ask the cashier how much the bottle of wine you're about to pay for costs."

And, this may just be one of the reasons why restaurants that coddle their guests and treat them like guests in their home get away with charging obscene prices without mentioning them. People feel like their host is offering them something special, and god forbid they tarnish this beautiful moment by bringing up something as sordid as the price.

Chumps.

Methadras said...

A dollar of noodles in a restaurant and we complain how much it costs afterward.

Xmas said...

EDH,

No, those mushrooms taste like dirt (if you're lucky, cow poop if you're not)...

Be careful, they're also diuretic, so you may want to make sure you've got plenty of water on hand.