Dining Poll: How Do You Prefer to Learn About Daily Specials at a Restaurant?

I am always in awe of servers’ memories when they offer to share the daily specials with my table and they are able to rattle off a lengthy list with in-depth descriptions of ingredients, preparations, and prices. Inevitably, though, my dining companion and I will have a conversation after the server steps away that goes something like this: Me: “That gnocchi special with peas sounded really good. But what was the other thing in the dish?” Friend: “I have no idea. Do you know what the whole fish she mentioned was?” Me: “Nope.” So, while I enjoy hearing a server’s informed descriptions of special offerings, I also like having something written to refer to. Which do you prefer? Weigh in on today’s dining poll!

Pay What You Wish at a Restaurant: Geordie’s at The Wrigley Mansion

Here’s one from the feel-good files: The New York Times “Freakonomics” folks called readers’ attention to a restaurant in Phoenix that is allowing diners to pay what they think is fair for lunch. Geordie’s Restaurant and Lounge in The Wrigley Mansion isn’t pricing its lunch entrees, instead letting patrons decide what they’re worth.

Being a bit of a cynic, I wondered how this pricing experiment was going, so I phoned Celeste Nichols, the general manager. She says, “It’s been very well received. We’re getting lots of local diners as well as people from out of town.” In terms of the value diners are placing on their entrees, Nichols reveals, “We’re pretty much getting $13 or better. People are loving it! They think it’s a great idea.” Nichols, who championed the concept, said she’d seen a restaurant in another state do it and thought it might be something that would be fun to try at The Wrigley Mansion. She admitted she was a bit skeptical at first (after all, someone could just wish to pay a quarter), but, Nichols says, “It’s turned out that people pay fairly, if not better than we anticipated.”

Available at lunch, Tuesday through Saturdays, the “Pay What You Think Is Fair” promotion at Geordie’s in The Wrigley Mansion has been going on for more than six months with no end in sight.

Are Restaurants Trying to Influence What You Order?

menuThis week, Grub Street calls out restaurants for trying to manipulate what diners order via carefully designed and well-written menus. Um, I should really hope they’re doing that. Give me a menu that sells me on how scrumptious an entrée is or a server who swears by a certain dish any day. Are you worried that you’re being unduly influenced? Find out what tactics to look out for – and learn which restaurants are using them.