How A Comped Meal Cost Nearly 50 Bucks
Here’s how I got a free dinner at an outstanding restaurant yet it still wound up costing me $45.
And before I start, I’m not complaining. It’s common for comped dinners for journalists and food bloggers to cost you some money.
That’s because unless you are part of a group with a PR person, you’re expected to tip. And because you are generally eating several dishes (soups, appetizers) and one of the premium menu items at premium restaurants, you leave a premium tip.
Still, this one experience wound up costing me $45.
The restaurant is a fine one, The Whaling Station in Monterey, CA. It’s a while linen tablecloth place that specializes in fine steaks, a locally-run version of Ruth Chris.
I had a taste of a mushroom bisque (outstanding) before going for a cup of clam chowder (excellent), a mind-blowing Caesar Salad made tableside and the least expensive steak option, a thick sirloin ($28).
To this, I had one of the the restaurant’s featured cocktail, an Orange Ginger Old Fashioned, and this where a large part of the expense came into play.
Knowing I would have one (or two) cocktails, plus some wine, I opted (wisely) not to drive. I was staying in Carmel which is close enough to Monterey ,but not close enough to have a few drinks and then drive.
Sometimes at these press events, the manager will offer several different cocktails they want to feature.
So I took the easy-to-use Monterey-Salina Transit bus from Carmel. I had discussed the return with the driver and discovered there was one in two hours. Perfect! It was $2.50 each way.
Except when I walked outside after the dinner to the bus stop two blocks away, there was no bus. I waited half an hour past its schedule time and eventually flagged down a passing cab (there is no Lyft or Uber in Monterey).
So here’s how my free dinner cost me $45:
• $2.50 – Bus ride from Carmel to Monterey
• $20 – Waiter tip
• $22.50 – Cab ride from Monterey to Carmel
But you know what – the actual cost of the meal had I paid for it would have been around $100 with the tip. So who’s complaining?