Tonight my husband decided to get in touch with his more primitive inner man by grilling enormous pieces of meat over open fire. As someone who rarely cooks things like steak or other large chunks of animal product, I was amazed at the prices of beef.
$5.99 discounted for a pound of rib eye? Apparently $11.99 normally?? I’ll take pasta and vegetables for a fraction of the price over that any day. Nevertheless I indulged my husband and purchased two slabs of meat that would’ve made Fred Flintstone proud. And they were good! (And admittedly, I did just eat a $7 heirloom tomato from the local farmer’s market, so I guess a $9 steak for my husband is entirely fair)
The prices of meat in the supermarket bring me back to a question that has been floating around in my head for several months, ever since I first ate at Bates’ Steakhouse. Is it reasonable for a place like Bates Steakhouse in Eugene to charge $30 for this same pound of rib eye (taking into consideration that they also get wholesale discounts)? Going by retail prices, I would say $10-20 for 6-8 ounces of Filet Mignon with a side is quite reasonable. But $30 for some not particularly great meat? Even more surprising are their prices for some plain old Fettucine Alfredo (A sauce that in my many years of regular Italy trips I have never encountered in that country). $18?? Cost of ingredients: Probably $2. And how about $3 for blue cheese crumbles? And $5 for a bread basket that I would expect to be complimentary? Even in Italy the infamous ‘pane e coperto’ is usually only E. 1.50 or so.
God knows what they spend the rest of the money on, because it isn’t the decor of the restaurant. The atmosphere is less than inviting; resembling someone’s old Eugene house, only without that charming homey feeling, and with the cold sneer of a pretentiously priced cowboy-theme menu. Friends seem to share my amazement at their prices.
And here’s what really breaks my wooden shoe, as we say in Dutch: I just received a very amateurish newsletter that looked like your latest community letter (only crappier), advertising Bates’ great new steak deals. And what do I find on the inside of the newsletter? A list of their customers who are celebrating their birthdays or anniversaries. Saps like me, who filled out the comment card and now get their information sent out around the city. Is it just me, or is this a grossly inappropriate invasion of privacy? Publishing my name and birthday/anniversary without my permission, for advertising purposes (“Look at all these people who are loving customers”) ???
As my accountant once told me: “New restaurants are the worst business to get into. They are opened a dime a dozen, but 95% of these clients comes back to close down their business within 3 years.” So it will probably be with Bates. But perhaps I just don’t appreciated grilled meat enough.