Thursday, May 10, 2012, AM | Leave Comment
When I was living in New York City in the 1970s, a restaurant by the name Nirvana opened on the 15th-floor of 30 Central Park South. (between 5th & 6th Avenues.) Founded by Shamsher Wadud, Nirvana was America’s oldest Indian restaurant. It closed its doors permanently in 2002. Eating there cost you $99 a person and that’s 1970s dollars.
What I mean to say is it’s all in the timing and location. The latter does not just mean the physicality of the restaurant but also means where in the restaurant you happen to sit down.
Why bother to go to a restaurant like Nirvana unless you are absolutely sure you can afford it. Even though, in my opinion, it would just be a waste of money. Here are some options available to you to make the best of your eating out for less and come out of the place not feeling too guilty.
Opt for the bar menu
The portions are smaller, but so are the prices. For instance, in the city of Boston, MA at Morton’s the Steakhouse, you’ll pay $15 for four petite Filet Mignon sandwiches as opposed to $49 for the New York strip steak off the dinner menu.
Buy lunch, not dinner
Eat off the same basic menu minus the extra-large portions (a 10-ounce meat entree rather than a 14-ouncer) and fancy side dishes (say, potato chips instead of fingerling potatoes), for about two-thirds the price.
Stand in line to order at upscale chains such as Vapiano’s (Italian) and La Madeleine (French). You’ll get the food and atmosphere of fancier, full-service restaurants while saving on price and tip.
Pick the prix-fixe
Land a deal on the fixed-price menu even at high-end restaurants. At Manhattan’s Gotham Bar and Grill, you can get a roasted-beet salad and the Scottish salmon entree for a fixed price of $25. Choose from the a la carte menu and a comparable selection — a green salad and the pan-seared skate entree — runs $34.
Find the best happy hour
Go to Daily Happy Hour to find the happy-hour specials — usually offered between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. — at bars near you. Typical deals: beer for a buck, cocktails for $4, and half-price appetizers.
Let the kids eat for free
Visit My Kids Eat Free to find the restaurants near you where the kids score a freebie (usually on a particular night of the week and with the purchase of an adult entree).
In Evanston, Ill., that would be Chili’s Grill & Bar, on Tuesday nights; in Elkridge, Md., it’s Mamma Lucia’s, where the freebies flow all day Sunday.
In a Nutshell