Wanted: A Bar That Doesn't Blow On New Years
There's a slew of press releases in my inbox about New Year's Eve menus from various local restaurants. I haven't written about any of them for a simple reason: Dining out on New Years Eve is invariably terrible. It's almost certainly No. 2 behind Valentine's Day for the worst day of the year to patronize a restaurant.
Flickr Never serve Veuve in plastic, give them J. Roget instead
The reason is simple: These are two of the three days of the year when anyone and everyone dines out. Mother's Day is the third, and while I'd happily desecrate that brunch fiasco I must refrain. It would make me a bad son.
Restaurants know all this, so they squeeze you by the wallet until it bleeds. You've got no choice. No options. They set up fancy fixed-price menus and prepare for the churn. Like an industrious street hooker, they turn covers like tricks -- get 'em in, get the check, get 'em out, reset the table. No kissing on the mouth, please. This is business.
I'm being drastic, I know. And certainly there are a handful of restaurants that can not only handle the deluge, but also resist the temptation to use these holidays to tap your finances like a money keg. They're firmly in the minority, however, and dining landmines are struck far more often than evenings are safely navigated.
And that's just dinner. With eating out of the way you'll want to go out party, right? Have at it. But Prix Fixe follows you everywhere. You wanna drink, too? Now they're really got you by the balls.
I've even seen a legitimate dive bar plaster its walls with banners touting all you can drink, a food buffet, and a $65 cover charge -- gratuity not included. Translation? Give us 65 bones and we'll let you wait 20 minutes for every drink, fill a chaffing dish with salty, flaccid wings and cheeseburgers we bought yesterday, and please, don't even think about getting cheap on us. Remember to tip your barkeep.
This just doesn't sound fun. With a high cost of entrance, you're essentially trapped in whatever establishment you choose first. That's not a party; that's the dinner cruise from hell.
Go if you must. God knows we've all done it, swam through midnight in a bottomless well of cheap liquor and sparkling wine masquerading as real champagne. Not this year, though. Not me. I'll be in my bathtub with a hot dog and a bottle of the good stuff.