Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sticker shock

Friday night I went out my Eye Candy and friends for dinner at Le Chien Fumant – a petit bistro-resto in the plateau that has a low-key, but stylish vibe and the most delicious menu. I had only been there once before for my EC’s birthday, but he is a regular with his friends as their Moscow Mules are apparently legendary. Heading into the night, I had taken with me $75 of my Fun Money which I figured would be enough for dinner and a glass (or 2) of wine.

What I am about to describe is likely every other budget-conscious gal’s worst nightmare, but I think we all go through it as a “live & learn” kind of situation.

My good friend is a good friend of the chefs at Le Chien and he arranged for our group of 8 to enjoy a fixed-tasting menu that would be about 5 courses… but nothing too fancy. After having whispered side conversations with my Eye Candy, he told me that the dinner would now cost $100 each, but that it would be worth every penny. Given that we were sitting down for dinner and everyone was enthused to do a taster-menu, I refused to be the one who would bust-the-bistro-bubble and opt just for a meal à la carte. I had to bite the bullet and agree to split the bill.

Dinner lived up to its hype and I had a fabulous time with my friends while making new ones. But unfortunately, my evening came with a major price to pay. When the meal was all said and done, the bill came to $1,058 plus tip. Split between 8 of us, my share was $155.... YIKES! My evening out cost double what I had planned to pay.

I drove home that night (as DD, I had stuck to my 2 glass limit and drank about 6 glasses of lemon water), I could feel myself fuming. The fixed-menu may have been delectable; but spending an evening with my friends should not be a $155 expense. The worst part is that I knew I would have had just as much fun had I picked my own meal off the menu. I felt like my money had been spent for me and the social atmosphere of it all made me too uncomfortable to say anything.

While 2:30 am chats are never a good idea, I talked it over the situation at length with my Eye Candy as I’d never be able to sleep otherwise. I was mad at myself for spending my money so foolishly. In the end, I realized that there was nothing more I could have done as the eating arrangement was pretty unique to Le Chien Fumant. I had to chalk up my $155 to being a lesson learned: splitting bills with friends over dinner is never really “fair” and that’s the price to pay for their company. Also, if a restaurant is out of my budget, I need to be more confident in speaking up ahead of time that I will order my dinner.

On the flip side, I did make the most of the taster-menu at Le Chien given that I am a notoriously picky eater. Having sworn off seafood simply because I don’t like the look of it, I’m pleased to report that I tried 3 new appetizers and my sense of adventure received rounds of applauses from my friends: a lobster bisque, a mussel radish salad, and general tao fried calamari. These were dishes that I would have never ever ordered on my own for fear of wasting my money if I didn’t end up liking them. In some ways, I suppose the $155 has allowed me to expand my future menu choices… but my next dinner out will not be for a while as my Fun Money envelope is pretty thin this week.  

Are you comfortable splitting the bill with friends or do you speak-up about your budget? 



  1. Oh man..I have been in those situations and they are not fun at all. Luckily I have a few friends that are frugal too and they like to go places that are not as expensive. However, I do speak up and try to get my money's worth and I have even brought coupons! Haha. It's all about just hanging out and spending quality time with your friends, shouldn't have to feel too crazy about it.

  2. I am glad I'm not the only one who has been-there done-that when it comes to bill splitting. I love my friends dearly, but $155 is too pricey for their company! My favourite new activity is picnic'ing on a Saturday. Food, wine, fun and sun... And not for a lot of money!