Danny Meyer’s Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Manhattan is kind of like GoogaMooga. Except with better food, better organization, and a better charity component, which is another way of saying it’s kind of NOT like GoogaMooga.
Still, the Block Party, which lets guests purchase $8 plates of meat smoked by pitmasters from across the country, is famous for its long lines, which is why there are $125 Fast Passes that let you cut the lines. That’s pretty cool. You get $100 worth of cashless food and beverage credits, which means you and your companion get to share around thirteen plates of BBQ, or fewer if you spend your Fast Pass dollars of drinks, which you should. That’s a STRONG BUY and a GOOD DEAL.
Just one problem, those Fast Passes are SOLD OUT, as are the $500 Park Passes which have a stronger charity component, and which let you sample everything from a nice VIP tent in Madison Square Park. Of course, some Savy Sallies on Craigslist have been trying to scalp their passes for $150-$400, a markup that ranges from 20% to 220%. If these Wily Willies succeed in commanding such higher prices on a consistent basis, all the better reason to HIKE the Fast Pass price of entry next year. That would ensure the extra money goes to the Madison Square Park Conservancy, rather than to these Joe Schmoes on the secondary market.
What do you think? Are the Fast Passes a BUY HOLD OR SELL at these $150-$300 levels? Your call, people of earth, and please do buy carefully when using Craigslist. In the meantime, check out my colleague Patrick Cole’s coverage of the event for Bloomberg News.
Eleven Madison Park, the three-Michelin starred restaurant previously owned by Danny Meyer, is selling tickets for a $375 per-person deal with Savored.
The one-night-only event includes a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres, a four- course meal, wine pairings, and an autographed cookbook. Tax and tip are included in the purchase price, so dinner for two will cost $750; dinner for four will cost $1500.
Is this worth it? Let’s do some BAD DEAL math to find out. Eleven Madison Park, now owned by chef Daniel Humm and General Manager Will Guidara, typically charges $125 per person for the signature four-course menu. So the REAL COST of a regular dinner in the restaurant, after 20% tip and tax for two, is $322 before wine pairings, or $568 after pairings, or $182 less than the Savored deal. Our personal dinner checks for two at EMP, without formal wine pairings, have hovered at $500, or $250 cheaper than the Savored deal.
Thing is, for this special dinner, wine pairings are mandatory, and we’ll tack on $34.50 for the cookbook (the Amazon.com price plus New York State sales tax) so you’re at $318 per person, (or $636 for two). That’s still short of the $375 purchase price.
So where does the extra $57 go? To the cocktail hour perhaps? We told Eleven Madison Park’s Will Guidara that the math wasn’t quite working for us and we asked him a bit more about the dinner. Here’s what Mr. Guidara had to say:
Point taken, Mr. Guidara. So is this a GOOD DEAL? Yes, for some, it definitely is. Though we at The Bad Deal think the restaurant’s regular options are the better call. Instead of risking $375 per person on a one-night only event, we recommend making a standard reservation; Eleven Madison Park is (overly) generous in not charging a cancellation fee.
You’ll arrive at the restaurant and have the option of choosing between the $125 menu, or the $195 tasting. Maybe you’ll want the wine pairings, at $95 or $125. Or maybe you’ll have the sommelier select a shorter selection of wines, sakes, sherries and spirits. No, you won’t be attending an exclusive event, but we at the Bad Deal prefer choice over exclusivity; and any dinner at Eleven Madison Park comes with enough coddling to fulfill most standards of exclusivity anyway.
Either way, we credit Eleven Madison Park for offering a better deal than most. And we’ll add one final comment from an EMP’s spokeswoman: “It’s not a deal, it’s a dinner.”
Gilt City is partnering with Danny Meyer’s Maialino to serve a pasta tasting menu and unlimited house wines after the New York City Marathon. Runners are charged $78, fans are charged $98. This is a a HALFWAY DECENT DEAL. It’s very far from a GOOD DEAL, but a helluva lot better than the BAD DEALS typically offered by Gilt.
The nice thing about this offer is that it creates a communal experience; it’s exactly the sort of intangible awesomeness that Danny Meyer is all about. Following the Marathon, one of New York’s greatest annual events, fans & athletes get together and have dinner at the very good Maialino.
That’s pretty cool.
Now let’s get a little more technical. If ordered separately, the included olives, three courses of pasta, and dessert would cost around $75 bucks or so, according to The Bad Deal’s math. And because this is Meyer here we can be sure he’s giving extra big portions to the hunger runners. So if you’re a marathoner, you’re pretty much getting unlimited wine for free in exchange for limiting your choice of noodles. Not to shabby.
If you’re not a marathoner, you’re sacrificing choice and paying $20 or so above Maialino’s retail value for unlimited house wines, so probably better to skip this offer if you didn’t put in some hard sneaker time through the five boroughs.
But here’s the thing: And this is important. As a lifelong runner, short-track speedskater and downhill skier, I know I need calories after a hard race. Sometimes that means fatty food and cocktails. Sometimes it doesn’t. Every now and then, after a particularly tough workout, all I want to do is hydrate, vomit, hydrate some more, take a cold shower, get some nutrition, hit up a Russian sauna, and sleep.
The average runner probably can’t predict how exactly she or he will feel after 26.2 miles. Maybe you’ll want to ditch Maialino after the marathon. Or maybe you’ll want some lighter proteins instead of carbs. It’s probably the worst day ever to lock yourself into a set menu, purchased in advance.
Danny Meyer understands this. That’s why he’s offering a full a la carte menu after the marathon, per a receptionist. So if you’re hungry for Nick Anderer’s awesome Roman fare food after you run, drop by at the bar, and get whatever you want. Maybe you’ll spend less. Maybe you’ll spend more. Maybe you’ll hit up inoteca or somewhere else instead. But you’ve just ran a marathon, so give yourself the option.
You deserve it.
Gilt City has produced a candidate for Most Aggravating Deal of 2011: Danny Meyer’s The Modern is selling a $210 Veuve Clicquot picnic basket with no Veuve Clicquot. Compare that against a four-course meal for two at The Modern for $196. You reserve the picnic basket 48 hours in advance. But you wait a month to redeem the champagne. To understand why this is such a BAD DEAL, let’s pretend a guy named SUTTON is roaming the mean streets of Midtown Manhattan when a hairy fellow wearing a green bowtie pops out of a dark alley and tries to hawk this deal. We’ll call that guy YOGI.
YOGI: Hey man, wanna buy a pic-a-nic basket? $210 bucks.
SUTTON: That’s pricey for for a… . oh wait, are you selling me drugs?
YOGI: No man, it’s just a picnic basket for two from The Modern. Check out this photo on Gilt City’s website. You get caviar, gazpacho, liverwurst, quail terrine, arugula salad, salmon rilettes, panna cotta, a brownie and champagne.
SUTTON: What kind of champagne?
YOGI: Half-bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Thing is, we don’t actually give you the champagne when you pick up the picnic basket.
SUTTON: Come again?
YOGI: Yeah, probably some legal thing. So you don’t get the champagne until you return to the restaurant’s terrace.
SUTTON: But the Veuve Clicquot is photographed INSIDE the picnic basket on Gilt City’s website.
YOGI: Read the fine print, hombre: “the image of the picnic basket does not represent the exact menu.” Think of it as metaphorical champagne with air quotes around it.
SUTTON: Any other caveats?
YOGI: The champagne “is to be enjoyed at a later date on The Modern’s Terrace between September 15 and October 15.”
SUTTON: But that’s over a month away! Is the terrace closed until then?
YOGI: No, the terrace is open.
SUTTON: Is the champagne on backorder?
YOGI: No, there’s never a shortage of Veuve Clicquot.
SUTTON: So I’m putting a three-week down payment on champagne even though they’re selling the same stuff at The Modern right now? And I don’t get a discount?
YOGI: Bingo! It’s like when Best Buy promises you $300 in savings for that flatscreen television and then they tell you to fill out a mail-in rebate and wait 3-6 weeks. Except in our case, you’re not really getting a rebate.
SUTTON: Well, can I order the picnic basket without the champagne?
YOGI: No, but truth be told you are getting a picnic basket without champagne.
We at The Bad Deal like Danny Meyer, the man behind Eleven Madison Park, Shake Shack and other fine venues. So it pains us to lampoon a $65 breakfast deal at Untitled, Meyer’s restaurant at the Whitney. To explain why this one-morning-only Gilt City event is a BAD DEAL, let’s listen to a phone call between Renee and Charlee, our favorite fictional Williamsburg couple with lovably androgynous names. They’re always getting into fights over deals:
RENEE: Hey sweet cakes, I’m working. Lemme call you back?
CHARLEE: No, you can’t call me back. I just brought us a Gilt City breakfast deal. Meet me at the Whitney at 9am — that’s 20 minutes from now!
RENEE: Baby, I don’t eat breakfast. No one in New York does. I wake up and pound a can of Mountain Dew and two Excedrin gelcaps. They’re the same color of mean green and both have caffeine. Let’s do breakfast some other morning, like on the weekend at 4pm.
CHARLEE: Honey, that’s not gonna fly like Casey Anthony, we have to eat breakfast now. It’s a one-morning-only breakfast.
RENEE: Hold on sugar, it’s a TUESDAY. People are working. Is this a breakfast for out of unemployed bankers and bloggers? Is this a geriatric bingo breakfast where they give old people lessons on how to user the Internet?
CHARLEE: I know, right? ANNOYING. I had to take a half day because the food blog I work for wouldn’t let me live tweet the event. Kinda sucks because I spent $65 for each of us on this breakfast, so $130 altogether. Whatevz.
RENEE: You spent $130 on BREAKFAST? Is Ferran Adria in town? Has he launched a one-morning-only pop-up at the Whitney, where they’ll serve 40-course tasting menu of pancake caviar and oatmeal foam served on tables made of ortolans? Is Hawaiian Punch flowing from the water fountains of the museum?
CHARLEE: No, it’s just yogurt, granola, eggs, grits, bacon, etc. at Danny Meyer’s Untitled restaurant.
RENEE: Wait a minute, Meyer’s a smoother operator. How much does he charge normally for those dishes?
CHARLEE: Umm, $10 and under for most of those plates. But it’s family style today! And we get a Stumptown Coffee demonstration. Gilt City says we’ll learn about the “cappuccino’s journey from seed to cup.”
RENEE: Wait, so we’re both taking off half a day from work to eat a $130 breakfast with $20 worth of food and then they’re gonna lecture to me about JOE? Is there a multiple choice exam at the end?
CHARLEE: And we get free admission to the museum too. They give us a private tour of the Lyonel Feininger exhibit. Admission is normally $18 per person!
RENEE: Baby, like many people in this city, I work for a corporation gives us free tickets to The Whitney. Or we could’ve hit the museum on Friday night when it’s “pay-what-you-like” for everyone. Then we could’ve had dinner at Danny Meyer’s Maialino. A plate of carbonara and some suckling pig for well under $120.
CHARLEE: I’m sorry honey. Maybe I’ll just scalp these tickets on Ebay.
RENEE: You can’t scalp breakfast, baby. You can’t scalp breakfast.