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The duck confit spring rolls, one of Odd Duck's small plate offerings.
The duck confit spring rolls, one of Odd Duck's small plate offerings.

Esquire tells us what a decent restaurant meal should cost

I love talking food and restaurants. I think we all do. Analyzing what works, what doesn't, the costs, the locations and -- of course -- the food is fun and captivating.  

So, I enjoyed this question from Rick Ortlip, of Milwaukee, who asked Esquire's Josh Ozersky, "How much should a decent restaurant meal cost?" He followed it up with this, "I’m not talking about a three-star dinner. Just a basic dinner for two with a glass of wine, in an average American city (like Milwaukee). I don’t think it should be more than $50 a person, for three courses including dessert (split for two), and a glass of wine or beer each. Just a get-out-of-the-house meal for my girlfriend and me. I’m not cheap -- I just want to know what you think is fair."

Who is Josh Ozersky? For what it's worth, Kyle Cherek calls him "one of the best food writers of our time, in my opinion." Ozersky's answer to Rick's question, even on the national site, used Milwaukee examples citing Maxie's, Odd Duck and AP Bar and Kitchen

Click here for the full post. In a nutshell, Esquire answered by basically saying that Milwaukee is pretty inexpensive. 

Ozersky writes, "Eating out costs money, even if you order cheaply, even if you live in the suburbs. That’s the way it is now. And don’t forget: That money doesn’t cover parking, gas, condoms, breath mints and all the other associated costs. You have it good. Odd Duck should be half again as expensive as it is; its prices are artificially depressed by its being in Milwaukee, one of the country’s cheaper places to do business."

He goes on to say that he doesn't want to be "entirely discouraging" so he offers five great tips "for getting the best meal for the least coinage."

Have at it. I'd love to know your thoughts. 

Is Milwaukee expensive place to dine out? I say no. Can it be? Of course. All in all, we're a pretty affordable city and often it takes people like Ozersky to remind us. In his words, "But the cost of running a restaurant has zoomed up along with everything else, particularly in the past three years, as catastrophic droughts in the Midwest and the rising price of corn have pushed meat prices skyward. Add to this the typical commercial rent, even in a smallish city like Milwaukee, and you are looking at a minimum of $60 just walking in the door of a middle-of-the-road suburban restaurant."

So, until next time, remember to tip and dine out well. 


mygreendoor | Aug. 20, 2014 at 8:20 a.m. (report)

My husband and I eat out weekly, at only locally owned places (no chains). Yes, we Milwaukeeans can be cheap! People in Milwaukee tend to compare the "family diner" type meals (with their bread basket & dessert & wine/beer included) with the smaller portion sizes they get at pricier restaurants and then grumble that you "don't get as much" - meaning quantity of food.

But folks have to realize that if you want the eight course meal for $10, you will be eating a lot of pre-packaged, frozen-and-reheated, artificial & highly processed food. However, if you want a quality cut of meat, fresh veggies, and homemade desserts, with flavor that comes from healthy fats, herbs & spices (albeit, with a smaller portion size)then you've got to pay a little more. It's not just about the AMOUNT of food you get for your money - it's also about the QUALITY. So come on Milwaukee - factor that in and support our local restaurants!

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