Yes, it was a special occasion. My dear, sweet husband had taken me out for dinner for my birthday, to the very special occasion restaurant, Prima Ristorante in Walnut Creek. We were splurging on a nice dinner at this much-acclaimed upscale Italian restaurant, which is also famous for its wine selection.
But silly me: I decided to ask the waitress for a recommendation on which glass of wine to order with my dinner, which would include a pizzetta appetizer (with black truffle and prosciutto, yum), and a nice hunk of halibut (grilled and served over little potatoes and a puree of celery root, yum some more). Now, traditionally, one should have white wine with fish, correct? But foodies these days say that many lighter reds go perfectly well with seafood.
Since I favor red wine, I asked the waitress which glass might go best with my dinner choices. Her finger moved down the Wine by the Glass menu to a choice near the bottom, a Napa Valley Pinot Noir that went for $24. She assured me it was an excellent wine.
I know this was a special occasion and my husband and I were splurging, but I could not justify spending $24 for a glass of wine, especially on myself. Let's just say I don't have a very refined palate. I'm not what they call in wine world "a supertaster." A Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck Cabernet Sauvignon is my idea of a decent wine (yes, you wanna-be Robert Parkers out there, I am pathetic). So, a $24 glass would really be wasted on me. I immediately told, "I'll try this Pinot," a glass that cost about $9--one of this restaurant's cheaper selections.
Now, today, I'm wondering, was that waitress directly steering me to the higher-priced glass? Or was she genuinely advising me to try the one she truly liked the best and thought I would adore, too? Was she mistaking me for someone who has genuine taste?
Restaurants supposedly are hurting, like all other businesses, especially businesses that sell luxury goods. Not sure if that goes for Prima, too, which is one of the East Bay suburbs' most popular upscale dining destinations. I don't know if my husband had as much trouble getting us 7 p.m. reservations for a Saturday night as he would have in the past. As we walked into the restaurant and as we left, I noticed some empty tables, but perhaps those were tables in between dining parities and waiting for their reservations to arrive.
Don't know. But to Prima, if you're hurting, and to other restaurants that are definitely hurting, here's a tip: be sensitive to the fact that even if you do have patrons who are willing to spend on eating in your establishment, these patrons are not splurging like its 2007. We're in the middle of Global Economic Crisis (GEC); or, as some of my doomsdayer co-workers like to call it, Great Depression 2 (GD2). Even very wealthy people--which my husband and I are not--are being careful with how they spend their money. So, I'm guessing you'll have more and more patrons bypassing that $24 glass in favor of the $9 glass.