When Enough Is Enough: Resisting Upselling

Last night I realized there’s one more good reason to become a regular at a restaurant. It makes it so much easier, not to mention more dignified, to resist the inevitable upselling. This was at a newish, constantly packed place we’ve managed to get into four or five times, and we were with friends on their maiden voyage through the menu. My consort knew to take charge of the wine and order the cheaper big-A carafe of rosé because we might want a second, sitting out there on the sidewalk in the setting sun. So when the very charming waiter instead recommended the Provencal that “most people seem to prefer” over the just-okay New York State one we’d chosen, he said thanks but no thanks. Not for 20 bucks more. And it was the same after we’d ordered our main courses. The very charming waiter was very persuasive that we should add some garlic spinach or crushed Brussels sprouts or Mexican corn off the cob. But I intervened to say there would be more than enough food on our plates as it was. Every time we’ve eaten there we’ve come home with a heavy kittybag. (My two fat fillets of trout Milanese were layered over fingerlings, fried artichokes, pickled onions and aioli for all of $25.) Given how generous the affordable portions are, it makes sense that the place makes its money with the add-ons. Especially given that most patrons probably go there for the oldest reason in the restaurant profession: Location, location, location (near Lincoln Center). So I didn’t mind a practice that’s normally annoying. And I definitely didn’t blame that very charming waiter. He was only doing his job, and well. It’s just that a little knowledge is not always a dangerous thing.

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