Appetizers: The New Entree & other restaurant ramblings…


Two things to talk about in this blog entry: the first is appetizers and the second is the increase in prices in restaurants across the Nation.

Appetizers.  Hors d’œuvres. Tapas.  First Bites.  Bocaditos.  Antipasto.   Amuse Bouche.  All of these terms refer in one way or another to the small portions of food items served before the main courses of a meal.  The dictionary defines Appetizers as “food or drink to stimulate the appetite; A small, light, and usually savory first course in a meal.”  The general point of an appetizer is to stimulate the appetite…before the meal.  Appetizers are meant to be small, often single bite portions of especially prepared food designed to foreshadow the quality of the entree that will be served.

In America, Appetizers started off on menus in a way that adhered to that dictionary definition.  Appetizers were small portions of food served before the main course.  They were offered at a low price point to induce their purchase.

Fast forward to today.  Appetizers have become the money-making stars of the menu.  Today, most appetizers feature something that has been breaded and fried in some manner.  Portion sizes have grown larger and larger…and at some point, restaurateurs decided that a lot of people were buying the $10 cocktails and ordering a plate of fried cheese sticks and zucchini…so they got together and decided…why don’t we just charge entree prices for cheap, fried appetizers?  And the profit making bar scene was born.

I was greatly surprised the other night that 2 beers and three of the el-cheapo snak hour appetizers cost me $36.  $36 for junk food?!  Obviously, charging the higher prices for appetizers and their associated beverages is a wise move…and we all know that Profit is the bottom line.

Now…let’s talk menu prices.  After church last week, we went to Longhorn.  We were seated in a pleasant and revamped dining area.  Opening the menu, all of us were shocked at the prices…everything had increased by 30% or more.  Upon further analysis, I asked the server…”do you have a lunch menu?”  He said..why yes, we do!  I then said…”can you give one to me?”  He said “ummmm yeah.” The lunch menu was cheaper, but it was still 10% more than it used to be.  A huge banner out front proclaimed “lunches from $6.99″…though not a single item could be located for that price.

Prices at middle-class eateries have skyrocketed.  Have you been to Fridays?  They tout “smaller portions, big flavours”…how about “smaller portions, bigger prices?”  No matter where you go, restaurateurs have found a way to charge you more.  Perhaps it is the “lemon” in your “free” $1.99 glass of water.  Perhaps it is serving you a substandard Absolut martini for $11.99.  Who knows.  But prices are up, so be careful out there.  And as the napkin shortage indicates..along with the prices comes a lowering of service and the quality of amenities.


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