Obviously the name implies that the "real" price is what they print on the menu... that's the phrase means, no? But as this excellent Bloomberg article points out, it is seldom the case:
Because if you’re plunging into a four-hour meal, you’re probably not dining alone. And if you’re taking out a client (or wooing a date), you’re not likely to be splitting the bill.Click through if you want to see their compilation of "real" prices for New York City. The costs of a six-courses+ with wine pairings is pretty eye popping, but the Del Posto offering is $500 per person on the menu... so you clearly couldn't expect to get out of there for less than $1300. At this point in my life I can't imagine spending nearly the cost of a class at UMass on a dinner... no matter how transcendent (some foodie I am)... but the three course prices hit a little closer to home, and they don't even include drinks. You really do have to do all the math on tax, tip, and drinks if you are budgeting for a fancy dinner... otherwise you are definitely asking for serious sticker shock.
So: Flush with cash? Mario Batali’s Del Posto serves Manhattan’s most expensive meal, the 12-course “Collection” with mandatory wine pairings: $1,269 for two. Masa’s $1,142 before-sake price gives teetotaling couples a break.
For the city’s priciest three-course dinner, try Gordon Ramsay’s $343 bash.
You won’t see those faint-inducing figures on your menu.
You’ll find them on your check
So in that sense I think this is a pretty great article, but I don't know if I really get the calls for restaurant transparency. I mean, sure, if they offer an optional wine pairing they should probably show you want the total would be... but it's not like they should be putting tax and 18% gratuity on the menu, right? Or should they? I think no, but it's an interesting idea at least.
What I'd really like to see is somebody put this same list together for Boston. Maybe I'll do it, but what'd you really want is somebody monitoring price changes more closely than I think I have time for.