Things We Hate–Separate Charges for Side Dishes


From time immemorial, great steakhouses have charged extra for their sides. Everyone understands this: you to go Luger for the porterhouse, and pay extra for the creamed spinach and deliriously good German-style fried potatoes. Maybe the practice dates from a time when sides were extraneous–your meal was meat, meat, and more meat, if you could afford it, and no one needed to “balance” a meal with starch and herbage.

Maybe blame Tom Colicchio for extending this practice to non-steakhouse places. Even more durable than his contribution as stickman for Top Chef, is his institutionalization of price-added dining to nearly every level of the dining industry. At Craft, the sides were all separately priced, and you even paid extra for sauces, at least in the early days. It was a restaurateur’s dream. Now the “entree”–which might be priced at $20 or $30–was no longer capable of feeding you completely, you had to pay extra to enjoy side dishes that you once ate for free. Not only was it highway robbery, it was ungenerous in the extreme, an abnegation of the age-old role of publican, whose responsibility it was to see that not only were you fed, but went away happy, as well. Now you can only stare at your check and grumble…