Certain magazines just seem tailor-made for the pretentious, elitist snobs of the world. Wine Spectator is one of those magazines. (But I’ve subscribed regularly for years, so what does that say about me?)
Having fallen way behind on reading Wine Spectator, I was recently catching up with the June 2013 issue. In a feature on new (at the time of publication) San Francisco restaurants, I was stunned to read about a place called Saison, which opened in its new permanent location in February 2013.
I would link to the article, but Wine Spectator is one of those supremely douche-tastic magazines that only lets you read articles if you subscribe to their online content. Even if you subscribe to the magazine, you have to subscribe separately to the website. (Why do I still give these people my money??) Here is the New York Times review, and one from Business Week, if you’re interested.
The first thing that caught my eye was the fact that diners are greeted with a taste of Krug Champagne Grand Cuvée. That’s a big deal. According to Wine Searcher, the average price for that Champagne is $226 a bottle. Take into account the typical restaurant price gouging, <cough> I mean mark-up, and they probably charge in the neighborhood of $400 a bottle for Krug Grand Cuvée. Granted, a “taste” is not a glass. It’s probably about two sips’ worth of Champagne, but still, it’s a very fancy touch.
But then I got to the real kicker. The menu is pre-set by the chef, changes nightly, allows for no substitutions, and starts at $298. Two hundred and ninety-eight dollars! For something you have absolutely no say in. Wtf? And that’s before you add the $148 wine pairing. As Wine Spectator pointed out in the article, once you take into account tax and tip, you’re looking at “well north of $500 per person.” For one meal. That’s unconscionable.
Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks $298 for a no-substitutions-allowed menu is a little steep. The current Saison website lists their starting price as $248, which is still ridiculous, but slightly less so. Okay, no, it’s equally ridiculous.
Even more ridiculous is this little tidbit from the “About” section of the website:
How long does it take to eat at Saison? [Is this seriously a question that they get often enough to put it on their website?] It really depends on the speed that you eat your food. [Really? You don’t say. Thanks, Captain Obvious.] On average one should allow up to three hours for your meal. [Is amortizing $248 over three hours supposed to make the outrageous price more acceptable?]
I enjoy reading Wine Spectator for the in-depth articles about wine regions and winemakers. But reading about restaurants that charge obscene amounts of money makes me want to punch someone in the face. Look out, Saison chef/owner Joshua Skenes. It might be you. Especially because you seem to be completely detached from reality (and also to have no sense of irony). According to the article, Chef Skenes, “says he wants to serve food simply and without pretense.”
YOU’RE CHARGING $500 PER PERSON FOR DINNER!! IT DOESN’T GET ANY MORE PRETENTIOUS THAN THAT!
Your itty-bitty food is pretentious. Your pricing is pretentious. Everything about your entire restaurant concept is pretentious. So stop trying to fool yourself, and us.