1/26/2012 11:05:00 AM

Are Special Valentine's Day Menus a Rip-Off?

Are fixed-price menus a rip off? 
Our first-ever Valentine's Day Survey went live this week, and there was one complaint that came up more than any other about dining out on the holiday: many of the special menus that restaurants offer are a rip-off. Clearly this isn't keeping the majority of diners away, as 44% of people report that they do dine out for the holiday. But those that stay in may stay away partially due to these expensive fixed menus.

The special surely serve a purpose for the restaurants - it's one of the busiest days of the year for them, and limiting choices allows a smooth flow in the kitchen. It also allows the eateries to turn over tables more quickly (if you're only preparing six dishes, you can get the food out of the kitchen much faster) and also lets the restaurant make some extra cash by choosing dishes that have good markups.

On the customer side, it also can add to the experience - many of the special menus are four to six courses, so they let you try more dishes than you normally would, and you certainly don't have to worry about leaving the restaurant hungry.

Even so, many surveyors felt that these menus are for chumps. Why would they pay extra to go to a restaurant, when they can't even try the normal dishes that they may want? Also - many restaurants slyly introduce a "tasting-menu-only" policy for V-day, meaning that you can't get a la carte dishes (and in turn, save money), even if you wanted to. Here are some of the comments from the surveyors, weigh in on these special menus in the comments.

"The restaurant we went to had replaced its regular menu with a "special" menu that had NOTHING either of us wanted to eat, so we left without ordering. That's why we do no attempt to dine out on Valentine's Day."

"A general complaint about Valentine's Day (or any other holiday) is getting shoehorned into pricy prix fixe menus. No thanks."

"This isn't a specific day, but a general complaint is getting shoehorned into pricey prix fixe menus. No thanks."

"The last one I went to a restaurant for was disappointing because the menu was pre-selected prix fixe and that is not what I wanted. That is why we no longer go out on Valentine's Day. Not only is it a rip-off but you often don't even get the meal you want."

"The places I wanted to go to refused to take reservations, which is ridiculous. Some of the places that had reservations refused to offer regular menu items and charged ridiculous prices for a shi**y V-Day special menu. I ended up cooking a nice meal at home."


  1. Refusing to take reservations IS ridiculous! Especially on Valentine's Day, when restaurants are typically so crowded....

  2. I actually like the special menus. It can be a nice change up...