Most Egregious Restaurant Surcharges

I remember the first time I went to Europe, actually the time before the first time I went, when I got the usual list of warnings about how wacky foreigners could be when it came to things we right-minded, commonsense Americans took for granted. The biggest culture shock? Learning that I should expect to be charged for water–water!–at restaurants. I vowed to drink at least Coke when I ate out on my trip, because I’d have to be a sucker to pay cash money for water, right? Fast-forward a couple decades, and now our old Epi Pal James Oliver Cury has me fuming all over again, this time with a list of what he considers the most shameful surcharges restaurants will add to your bill. Charging an extra couple bucks for a bread basket? Sure, I’m on to that scam by now. But shelling out $3 for steak sauce or butter when I’m already paying $100 for a beef at a pricey New York steakhouse? A $15 charge for sharing a side dish of fries with your husband? Or asking for a separate tab? How about a $32 “waste charge” for not being a member of the Clean-Plate Club? Luckily, I haven’t been hoodwinked into paying any of these outrageous extras … yet. But I’ll certainly keep an eye out now. I’m still smarting about that table water in France. What’s the most egregious restaurant surcharge you’ve been asked to pay? And how did you handle it?

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