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12 signs you're going to a restaurant you can't afford to be going to

Updated on March 15, 2013

We've all done it. You want to impress your new girlfriend. It's date night with the wife. It's someone's birthday. Someone's new job. Someone's death.

We go to a restaurant that we damn well know we should not be going to. Not only is it going to hurt the Mastercard, but we'd be happier (and more satisfied) going to a Ruby Tuesday or a Panera Bread. Even a Waffle House would do the trick.

Let's see what separates a Denny's from an historic stone structure held up with wooden beams, attended by waiters in tux shirts and decorated with LED candles flickering in a Pier 1 bowl on antique tables.

1. The sign is wooden.

Hey someone’s gotta pay for the fancy shmancy, special order, imported, hand carved, intricate wooden sign. And that someone is you. It not only tells you the name of the place, it tells you that your bank account is about to take a hit.

Beware. They try to fool you by putting words like "grill" or "bar" in the name. This is to make you think it's not pricey, that it's just a neat hangout to consume the food you love from a bbq grill or a bar. They lie.

If that doesn't work, they'll use images of sports or vacation destinations or adventurous things to do to get you in there. Don't fall for it.

2. If "Old" is part of the name of the place and it's spelled "Olde"


That extra “e” says it all. Pay up chief.

3. The lighting is low.


Or the fixtures are funky-looking and/or modernish-looking.

Or, God forbid, both. If you see a funky-looking dim light, it's guaranteed that a house salad is going to cost you one of your offspring. Bring the one you like the least.

4. The linen napkins are folded in a fancy way.

Cloth napkins don’t necessarily indicate that it’s gonna be pricey. But if you see the napkin fanned or folded into an animal shape or a geometric shape, that’s when you say “Uh oh.” Thank goodness today was payday.

5. The water glasses are shaped like goblets.

Water tastes fancier when drunk from a glass that doesn't know if it's a regular glass or a wine glass.

6. There's more than one fork.

Remember - eat from the outside in.

Also remember to bring a backup credit card. You might need two.

7. It's a one page menu.

Single-sided or double-sided, it means the same thing: "Aw crap."

8. It's in cursive writing.

Or some other flowery style. Or a modern style. Or Old English.

Basically if its any other font besides Arial, dust off the checkbook.

9. There's no cents in the price.

It's a whole number. Not $18.95 or $6.99. It's $19 or $7.

Rounded up prices = your car title.

10. The food descriptions include words like "lightly" and phrases like "served with", "on a bed of" or "with a hint of."

Adverbs and prepositions are not your friends.

This one even has sub-titles.
This one even has sub-titles.

11. The bathroom smells good.

Yup. Even the men's room. No gas station bathroom here.

Of course you just paid $16 for a clam appetizer so the bathroom better smell like a garden of clean laundry.

12. The desserts are nothing you want.

They're never just chocolate ice cream or a cookie or a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Cookie Dough Blizzard with whipped cream and sprinkles.

It's always:

a trifle
a trifle
or a meringue
or a meringue
or a tart
or a tart
or a crumble.
or a crumble.

So what to do

At some point in our eating lives, all of us get stuck going to a way-too-expensive restaurant. So we might as well enjoy it while we're there. Enjoy the mood-lighting. Savor the filet mignon. Luxuriate in the gentle scent of the restroom. Relish the strawberry tart.

There'll be plenty of time later to weep over the bounced checks and overdraft fees because of it.

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