Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hold The Cheese, Please

Armed with raincoats and umbrellas, my husband Tim and I decided to have lunch at one of our favorite neighborhood spots, Markt, a Belgian brasserie. We settled in with a pint of Belgian beer and I ordered the tomato soup while Tim zoned in on the hamburger with fries. Once our server had taken our order and turned away, he tipped his head toward us again as if it were a quick afterthought and asked Tim if he would like to add cheese to the hamburger. Without hesitation, Tim nodded while answering 'yes'. I caught myself nodding along as I pictured how few times that question is likely to be met by a 'no' in response.

As expected, a bowl of hot tomato soup and a juicy hamburger topped with one thin slice of melted Gruyere cheese arrived a short while later. Other than good conversation, there was nothing eventful about this particular meal...until our server brought us the bill. A bowl of tomato soup-$7.00- fine, a hambuger with fries-$14.00- fine, cheese-$3.00- what?? I understand menu items are priced not only to ensure restaurants are able to survive today's tough economy, but also so restaurant owners can make a respectable profit. I also understand that unless I am ordering off of McDonald's Dollar Menu, $3.00 won't get me very much. What I cannot understand, unless Markt is footing the bill to house Gruyere cheese producing Swiss cows somewhere on the island of Manhattan, is a charge of $3.00 for one thin slice of basic Gruyere cheese (especially as the price is conveniently absent from the menu).

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