Pizza for $499 - An Easter Bargain

We passed the marque for a new pizza place this morning on our way out for a drive (the only thing we can do with two of the three kids feverish and quite literally snotty), and saw the advertisement in bold letters, "Pizza $499!"

"Wow, expensive pizza," Dr. D said.

"Makes last night's dinner look like a bargain." And we both burst into something between giggles and weeping.

You see, last night we went to a party at some posh downtown restaurant. "It's covered," Dr. D insisted, saying that the hostess, who had just come into a huge inheritance, wanted to celebrate with her favorite friends in style. Well, who is going to pass up a bash in one of those restaurants you see on TV - the ones where the servers tuck your napkin under your chin for you and bring your meal out covered with a silver dome?

So, we went. "You said 'covered' right?" I asked as we drove to a distant parking lot (where we can park for free). "There's no way you misunderstood and we'll get stuck with the tab?"

"Oh, no. She was very clear. She wants to do this."

The restaurant was, indeed, a posh place. A bevy of servers escorted us to a table, shook out our napkins, offered menus, filled our water glasses. And I found you can tell the quality of a restaurant by the menu selection - i.e., more quality equals fewer options. There were eight or so dinner offerings, none of which were under $25. And all sides were ala carte. But the hostess again intimated that the meal was on her, and that no one should think about the dollar signs on the menu (she never exactly said this, however, not in so many words). So we ordered wine, and salads, and potatoes, and steaks. Not extravagant, but not the "budget plan" either. And the food, although not brought out with little domes, was delivered in perfect synchrony - six servers holding six plates, all bending to place them on the table at the exact same moment.

A new Olympic sport - synchronized serving.

My steak was lovely, but I'll admit, I've made steak au poivre before, and it tasted exactly the same. So a nice meal, good conversation, overpriced wine (Rosemont Cabernet at $10 per glass when I can get a whole bottle for $12? Please.), and an eerily choreographed serving staff - it would have been a good experience, for a party. But, then came The Moment. Our server asked, "Will this be on separate checks or one?"

One of the other guests, who'd been knocking back Scotch with gusto, quickly said, "Oh, separate of course!" The hostess said nothing.

And that was that.

The cost of two steaks, two salads, drinks and a side? $170, with tip. Compared to a $499 pizza, that is quite the bargain.