"Tonight, the chef has put aside all of his obligations in order to prepare something very special. He starts with rare Carlsbad Cavern sea scallops. These are authoritatively grilled over an endangered redwood fire. They are finished in the oven, the very same oven that was used by Hansel and Gretel. The chef will top the scallops with a sauce that is so difficult to prepare and so mercurial that I dare not even speak its name. It's really really good. Highly recommended."
You know it can't be cheap. Redwood firewood doesn't just grow on trees. Carlsbad Cavern scallops are notoriously hard to procure. Everyone wants to eat special food. But at what cost?
Do you ask the price of the special, thus appearing to be cheap? Or, do you follow your gut, order it, and hope for the best.
Last night at Eddie V's restaurant in Austin, I ordered the special. Oh what a special it was: a 30 ounce dry-aged prime tomahawk ribeye with one foot of 'frenched' rib bone goodness. This was a manly, ostentatious steak. I chuckled at my coworkers' 4 ounce portions of fish. My tomahawk steak was the envy of the table. Until the bill arrived, that is.
The receipt took my breath away: Tomahawk steak $65.95. I felt like Ralphie after he almost shot his eye out. I felt like a thousand shoes were flying through the air toward my head. This wasn't good.
Doubts and second-guesses crossed my mind. Why hadn't I just ordered the regular ribeye? How much does a rib bone cost, anyway? And, most of all, why didn't I just ask the waiter one simple question, "how much?"