Sunday’s Globe Magazine contained a truly fascinating article by Scott Haas about the rising prices of entrees in certain Boston restaurants. Foodie luminaries from Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl (who contributed this post’s titular quote) to Anthony Bourdain opined on the reasons why main courses are passing the $40 mark with increasing regularity. The conclusion seems to be that there’s a sucker born every minute and many of them seem to be living in our fair city. Bourdain thinks that restaurateurs are charging these astronomical prices “because they can.” Reichl opines that “You need great diners to hold the chefs to really high standards, people who want really good food, but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars.” Tim Zagat (of the guidebooks, obvs) concurs, claiming that anyone who would order, say, the Wagyu beef from KO Prime “doesn’t know what they’re doing.”
Bourdain and Daniel Bouloud (Barbara Lynch’s cooking idol) have been getting some flack for their statements unfavorably comparing the Boston restaurant scene to that of New York, but we happen to agree that while the Boston restaurant scene is full of delights, New York is in a class of its own. That being said, there were a few pieces of the article to which we take some umbrage. Firstly, Haas’s example of an overpriced dish is the grilled Wolfe’s Neck sirloin at Rialto. As we mentioned way back on our very first day of blogging, this just so happens to be one of our two favorite Hub meals. Do the ingredients necessarily justify the dish’s $43 price tag? No. Does the taste? Yes. Admittedly, we’ve never been to Rialto while footing our own bill (hi Grandpa!), but if we had $43 to throw down for dinner, we certainly would.
The larger issue with the piece, however, is that it doesn’t address a corresponding trend, namely, the proliferation of high end yet reasonably priced restaurants. Petit Robert Bistro (which was briefly mentioned by Haas) and Beehive won’t break the bank, and this summer has seen the openings of Gaslight and Rocca. The main dishes at Myers + Chang, which started serving dinner last night, top out at $15. It seems to us that Boston’s evolution as a foodie city is visible in the intersection of these two trends: on the one hand, a rise of luxury restaurants, but on the other, an ever-increasing amount of fine dining that won’t break the bank.
What do you think? Why do entrees cost so damn much money?
Raw Deal [Boston Globe]