Thursday, 18 November 2010

Binge and run

Have you ever been tempted to walk out of a restaur-ant without paying when you notice the exorbitant prices on the menu?

A couple who were arrested in London are suspected of doing a runner from a string of posh restaurants, clocking up unpaid bills amounting to £2500.

The bills included bottles of vintage champagne, repeat orders of foie gras, hare, venison, mille-feuille and other exotic items.

I must say when I see the phenomenal prices some eateries charge for very basic dishes, simply because the venue is fashionable and luxurious, and the obscene levels of profit involved, the idea of stuffing oneself and then scarpering is very appealing.

I do wonder whether these affluent diners are simply savouring their over-priced titbits or whether their real aim is to feel superior to all the impoverished grafters peering enviously through the windows.

I'm sure most people would love to dine out in style every night rather than cobbling up another makeshift meal in a poky kitchen. Unfortunately they don't have bank accounts hefty enough to finance such casual extravagance.

Mind you, on the odd occasion when I've found myself in some fancy restaurant renowned for its haute cuisine, the servers have an unnervingly supercilious attitude, as if they know far more about culinary nuances than you, the uneducated punter, could possibly know. They give the impression you're gracing their tables on sufferance, only tolerated for the sake of financial gain. They'll wash their hands of you at the earliest opportunity.

When I recall occasions of that sort, I think maybe there's something to be said for a makeshift meal in a poky kitchen.


  1. I have only once left a restaurant, but that was before we had food. There was nothing suitable for me on the menu!

  2. I read about that couple, Nick. Theft is theft is theft.

    I think their greed got the better of them and I suppose it is easier to rip off the swankier establishments where you pay later rather than Burger King.


  3. Grannymar - Oh yes, Jenny and I have walked out of lots of restaurants because we weren't being served or it was too noisy or the vegetarian options were rubbish.

    www - Theft is theft indeed. Their motive is very unclear. Was it greed? A wish for perfect food? Revenge on greedy restaurants? The thrill of getting away with it? All sorts of possibilities.

  4. Like you, I've left establishments because the vegetarian options were rubbish. I've also sent food back when it wasn't thoroughly heated, but doing a runner would possibly make me a felon, depending upon the size of the bill, and there is no food for which I would risk incarceration...

  5. e - I've sometimes sent food back to the kitchen but not as often as I should have. Indeed, who wants to risk jail? Making a bolt for it may be tempting but I would never actually do so.

  6. Mmm, no never tempted to leave a restaurant because of prices being too high as I usually look at the menu before I go in (most restaurants have some semblance of a menu outside that can be glanced at first). That said, there are plenty of restaurants I'd never set foot in, in the first place because of inflated prices.

    There's a place some miles from us where they serve sardine on toast as a main meal and charge a lot for it... crazy! Who'd have something in a restaurant for a silly price that they could do for themselves at home in a matter of minutes?!

  7. i have thought about doing a runner lots of places, usually inspired by horrible service but i cant actually run so i guess i have to pay!

    as for the sardines on toast, i know it sounds ridiculous but you might be surprised at how a restaurant can make an averge everyday thing into something quite different

  8. Val - I've heard of some cheeky offerings in my time, but sardines on toast is hilarious! Presumably described as succulent marine creatures on a bed of lightly browned loaf-slivers.

    Kylie - What surprises me is how some restaurants can make an everyday thing with no more flair than if I'd cooked it myself. And the endless variations of horrible service deserve a post of their own.

  9. I don't think I've ever been to a really fancy restaurant. I am, though, lucky enough to live in a town that has two small restaurants run by fancy restaurant trained chefs, very good they are too. We can only afford to eat in them about twice a year but if either did sardines on toast I would happily pay for it.

    I'm hoping that before my taste-buds give out I'll be able to eat in The River Cafe to see if what I produce in my poky kitchen from their books bears any resemblance to the real thing.

  10. Eryl - You're lucky to have such restaurants close by. And if you'd even pay over the odds for sardines on toast, they must be pretty dazzling.

    Good point about copying famous recipes. Do they come out the same or is there some magic touch that only the original chefs can provide?

  11. Nick,

    I have no idea what happened to the brain coral. Presumably, it went the way of most of my mother's possessions when she died, into a large truck rented by her now-dead sister and made off with...

  12. e - Maybe it was sold to an upscale restaurant as the evening's special delicacy....

    (Ths will only make sense btw if you've read e's latest post)

  13. hard to beat a decent home-made sandwich I say :-)

  14. Conor - Very true. And the mark-up on sandwiches at sandwich bars is outrageous!

  15. Since you see the menu with prices before you order, there's no excuse for ordering, eating and then leaving without paying. That's theft, plain and simple. But yes, sometimes I am appalled by the prices and I do not mind ordering an appetizer if it just feels too steep. I love really good food made for me, but you can get that without an outrageous pricetage or a snotty attitude.

  16. Secret Agent - There's no argument that it's theft. But it's certainly tempting to order some ridiculously over-priced food and then run for it. It's always a delight to stumble on some hidden-away backstreet restaurant that serves fantastic food but doesn't charge a fortune for it.