It’s been about six months since we first got a hold of Room 21’s menu, and we realized it was high time to see what new delicacies had ushered forth from Jerry Kleiner’s fecund brain. For the convenience of us and Room 21’s customers, the menu is now online (if in the most irritating of Flash formats). We ambled over to discover that, while the principle of the menu is the same, the majority of dishes have changed ingredients and underwent a titanic surge in prices. To the raw data!
We decided that the best way to go about judging the price inflation would be to look at the average costs of each category of the menu and see exactly how things have changed. And so here’s the chart!
As you can see, inflation has varied radically in Kleineria, hitting Saladonia province the hardest. Forty-one percent, can you imagine? We guess that Kleiner saw the little ladies in little cocktail dresses were ordering his inexpensive little salads, and decided to even the score. Mind you, every salad has swapped ingredients - for example, the frisée used to come with bacon, egg and brioche for $8, and now it’s ham and cheddar for $10. Caesar salad was once unadorned at $8, and now is available with chicken (making it a suitable entree substitution) for $14. By the way, we’re aware of how sexist this sounds, but we fear we’ve hit the nail on the head.
Appetizers increased a modest (by local standards) thirteen percent, with cheaper items like chicken confit ($9) and artichoke Parmesan dip ($10) being subbed out for jumbo lump crab cakes ($16) and a house made charcuterie platter ($14). Note that the fried shrimp cocktail has stayed $11 throughout.
Soups seem to be subject to a merciful price freeze. They’ve also been made slightly fancier, with a roasted tomato bisque replacing the merely “normal” tomato bisque, and French onion soup (called baked four onion soup with gruyere here, for good measure) instead of chicken noodle.
The entrees have climbed up in price by around a fifth, although it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how this happened. On the old menu, four items were prices under $24. On the new menu, this has dropped to one. For example, the baked local whitefish for $21 has been replaced with a sauteed blue nose grouper for $27. But the grouper could also be a replacement for the $26 roasted halibut. And surely, the seared scallops and beef short ribs for $28 aren’t a replacement of anything, so who knows. Suffice it to say, what was once mid-$20s is now upper-$20s.
The steaks haven’t actually changed all that much in price, as the 8% figure would indicate. The loss of an inexpensive Steak Diane is largely responsible, as the 12oz filet ($38) and the 21oz ribeye ($44) have stayed constant. There are fewer steak options than before, reflected in the change of the category’s name from “steaks” to “meats.” The only non-steak meat in the category is the burger, which migrated from the entree category. It’s worth noting that the burger has gotten both cheaper and more expensive: it used to start at $12 with a $2 add-on fee for bacon and cheese; now, it’s $14 all-inclusive.
Like the soups, the sides remain at $7 each. We rather prefer the new offerings, which include turnips, brussel sprouts, spinach and broccolini (apologies to onion ring lovers).
So, what can we learn from all this? First of all, Room 21 must be doing well; Kleiner could not have gotten away with his price increases otherwise. And he’s certainly raised the bar on the sophistication of his ingredients, which may or may not say something about the clientele. There were too many steaks before - the menu’s been lightened up with more seafood and salads, all helpful to the bottom line. But we have to wonder - do people really go to Room 21 for the food?
[Photo: the chart we made. It was fun!]
p.s. the old menu is available in its entirety after the jump. The new menu is online, of course.
Room 21’s menu, circa June 2007: