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Valentine's Buzzkill: The Average Prix-Fixe Dinner Tonight Costs 32% More Than Usual

We know you already have reservations, but we just want you to feel bad about it. 

Valentine roses

Is it worth the extra $37.74 to dine on Friday rather than Thursday?

We know you've had reservations for tonight since Christmas—but if you wanted to save some money, you should have made them for the 15th. We've crunched the numbers and what you've always suspected is true: You're paying a crazy high premium if you're getting a fancy dining out tonight. As in $38 dollar per person more. As in 32% more. And that's not even counting the wine. You might be getting a more romantic meal tonight than you regularly would—but you're also paying for it.

We checked the menus of every one- and two-Michelin starred restaurant in the Bay Area that's offering a special Valentine's day menu—23 in all—and compared the prices of tonight's offerings to what it would cost to buy a similar meal normally. What we found was that the holiday markup is pretty steep: an average increase of $38 dollar per person. The highest increase was $100 a person; the lowest was actually a decrease (!) at $5 less than normal. (Shouldn't someone be fired for that?)

We ran the numbers by looking up the menus online or by calling the restaurants. (For restaurants that don't serve a prix fixe normally, but are offering one tonight, we compared the cost of similar dishes if ordered a la carte.) It's not a perfect comparison, since the menus tonight are different in some cases from the normal offerings (some V-Day dishes are special, and some of the ingredients are more expensive), but it does give you a decent sense.

During our research, almost every reservationist we spoke to made it a point to mention that tonight is already booked, just in case we wanted a table. (We didn't.)  Here are the five one- and two-star restaurants with the largest Valentine's Day markups, and the five with the smallest.

Highest Markups:

1. Acquerello 
Regular Price: $115 for five courses
Valentine's Price: $215 for five courses
Markup: $100 (87%)

2.  La Folie
Regular Price: $105 for five courses 
Valentine's Price: $180 for five courses 
Markup: $75 (71%)

3. Spruce 
Regular Price: $81 for four courses 
Valentine's Price: $140 for four courses
Markup: $59 (72%)

4. Madrona Manor 
Regular Price: $91 for five courses
Valentine's Price: $135 for five courses
Markup: $44 (48%)

5. The Village Pub
Regular Price: $77 for four courses
Valentine's Price: $120 for four courses
Markup: $43 (56%)

Best Deals: 

1. Madera 
Regular Price: $110 for four courses
Valentine's Price: $105 for four courses
Markup: -$5 (-4%)

2. Auberge du Soleil 
Regular Price: $150 for six courses
Valentine's Price: $150 for six courses
Markup: $0 (0%)

3. Terrapin Creek Cafe 
Regular Price: $45 for three courses
Valentine's Price: $49 for three courses
Markup: $4 (8%)

4. Luce
Regular Price: $59 for three courses
Valentine's Price: $65 the three courses
Markup: $6 (10%)

5. La Toque
Regular Price: $90 for five courses
Valentine's Price: $98 for five courses
Markup: $8 (9%)

 

Have feedback? Email us at letterssf@sanfranmag.com
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Follow Katherine Guzman on Twitter @kvguzman
Email Theodore Gioia at tgioia@modernluxury.com
Email Katherine Guzman at kguzman@modernluxury.com