UPDATE: The $55 Mac And Cheese: The Menu Said ‘Truffles’

UPDATE: The $55 Mac And Cheese Guy Speaks

Here’s a snip from the menu of the Waverly Inn, which charged a reader’s friend $55 for a bowl of mac and cheese. Fresh shaved truffles are clearly included in the mac and cheese.

So Max’s friend is a bit silly for not reading . However, that doesn’t excuse a $55 bowl of macaroni and cheese.

To its credit, the Waverly gave the couple several free glasses of vino. The price probably works out in the end, considering the waiter came by and sneezed caviar in their wine. — BEN POPKEN

Full menu reprinted, inside…


Click to enlarge.

http://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2006/12/menuofwaverly-thumb.jpg?w=522&h=394

The Waverly Inn is the creation of Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair editor and inventor of Spy Magazine. Which means this whole affair is probably some kind of a satirical sendup.

Menu courtesy of Eater.

This post originally tried to make a connection between the price of the truffle fries and the price of the mac and cheese. However, a reader has informed us we know nothing about making truffle fries and so we have retracted this assertion. Our apologies to the truffle union.

Comments

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  1. lovelyday says:

    Note to self: Don’t order the”special” Haddock tonight. I heard it was hand raised by Tina Brown and cuddled to its death by Bee Schafer.

  2. etmthree says:

    Um, truffle fries are made by putting a little truffle-infused oil into the fryer, or maybe by grating a *tiny* amount into them. Fresh white truffle shavings are expensive anywhere, since you need a big ol’ white truffle to grab onto and, you know, shave it. So mac&cheese + truffle fries does not = mac&cheese + truffle. Yeah, $55 bucks is too much, but the whole menu’s not exactly bargain-priced. The guy might want to be a little embarrassed in addition to being all indignant — you shouldn’t order something you can’t identify unless you like potentially expensive surprises…

  3. oudemia says:

    etmthree beat me to it. Busting out the microplane+truffle=$$$. Truffles, too, are so very strong smelling that it’s hard to understand how he could have had one grated directly in front of him and think it was cheese. The $55 is still completely insane though.

  4. Miss D says:

    This guy needs to eat out more, I had a $55 truffly baked potato at Daniel years ago (and no, I normally wouldn’t spend $55 on a potato, it was my birthday!).

  5. King of Pants says:

    I fail to see why the rube couldn’t just ask how much the special was. Oh, right, because he was a douchebag.

  6. Michael says:

    “Truffles, too, are so very strong smelling that it’s hard to understand how he could have had one grated directly in front of him and think it was cheese.”

    Actually, not all people can detect the smell of truffles. What may be a strong odor to you may be nonexistent to someone else.

    That aside, if I ordered mac and cheese “with fresh shaved truffles”, I’d assume that’s what was going onto my dish.

  7. Falconfire says:

    I cant stand cooks (cause they ARE NOT CHEFS) who think throwing truffles and foie gras into food makes it “special”

    Special is something you dont make often and uses rare ingredients ment for the dish. Mac and Cheese dont call out for truffles just like Handburgers dont need fucking kobe beef which I have ALSO seen done and tastes like shit because the beef isnt prepared the way its supposed to to get the full flavor of kobe…

  8. dan says:

    Handburger? That would be a “rare ingredient” indeed…

  9. Ha Ha Sound says:

    Maybe the $55 is for the privilege of breathing in Graydon Carter’s cigarette smoke while eating?

  10. Ghost_of_Awesomist says:

    This moron just didn’t know where he was or what he was doing. As someone pointed out, truffles reak, so yes he should have realized; you know, in case he also couldn’t read.

    As for the concept of a $55 bowl of mac-and-cheese, well, welcome to New York. Suck it up or move to Debuke. And if you want cheap mac-and-cheese, there are plenty of places in the city to find that also. This guy was at the Waverly. Buy a Zagat, douchebag.

  11. tonycontento says:


    If this was winter white truffles over pasta, this guy probably got a deal. Let’s say there were two ounces on the special, to make it at home yourself 2 ounces of white winter truffles would cost you between $45-$150 (canned is about $40 per ounce). Black winter truffles would cost about $10-20 less. Summer truffles would be about half price.

    So yeah, that’s an expensive bowl of macaroni. But still, it had to be THE best bowl of mac-and-cheese, well, fungus, ever.

    He definitely got what he paid for.

  12. Pelagius says:

    Should have stuck to Cracker Barrel.

  13. kcs says:

    The point is not whether this guy should have known he was eating truffles or that truffles are expensince. Rather, the point is that the dining establishment should have anticipated that a significant portion of its customors would not, in their wildest dreams, have imagined they would be charged $55 for this dish. A restaurant with good service would have prevented this situation from occurring, perhaps by mentioning the price of this entre which is so steeply priced that many would find themselves in this guys situation.

    I eat at expensive restaurants a fair amount and frequently order dished containing truffles, which I realize are expensive. However, I would have been utterly shocked had I recieved this bill, particularly when you consider that nothing on the menu comes close to this price.

    The waiter and/or restaurant assumes that people who don’t ask what the price is on the menu are either too rich to care, or will be too embarressed to speak up when they get their bill. That is not a dining establishment that cares for its customers, and is not one I would ever patronize.

  14. The Unicorn says:

    Right, kcs, but wouldn’t you feel somewhat offended if you ordered an expensive meal (when there was no price listed on the menu) & the waiter responded with, “Excellent choice…but just so you are aware, that dish is rather costly. Are you sure you can afford to spend $60 on your entree?”

    Look I feel for the guy who got stuck with the $55 mac’n’cheese tab, but at the same time, he’s not fourteen years old & even if he’s new to NYC we can assume he’s at least had access to various media resources wherever he lived before. And truffles are expensive *everywhere.* In fact, they’re generally the default example people use when talking about ridiculously expensive luxury items.

    It’s a shame that this mistake had to happen, but I feel that a lot of restaurants would’ve been even snootier about a gaffe like this & wouldn’t even have proffered the free wine. I think they handled it well, all things considered (particularly since he did eat — and presumably, enjoy — the offending dish).

  15. Josh Smith says:

    Can you please change the post title to “the Truffle Shuffle”

    At least he got free Wine!

  16. MuuMuu says:

    Amen, kcs. I can’t believe how harsh people are being to this guy. It’s the restaurant that being douchey (and ridiculously sneaky) not the customer.

    And Ghost of Awesomist, “reak?” “Debuke?” Really? OK, I’ll buy the guy a Zagat and I’ll throw in a dictionary and an atlas for you.

  17. avclubvids says:

    my girlfriend had 4 cheese macaroni and cheese with shaved truffles that was amazingly good last night- for $17. there is no excuse for $55, that’s absurd – unless everything on the menu is that expensive.

  18. timmus says:

    Why doesn’t someone call the restaurant and get their side of the story?

    I would, but I need to go get a beer.

  19. Ghost_of_Awesomist says:

    Hi kcs… you’re obviously not from NYC. And you’ve obviously never been to the Waverly. ‘Expensive’ restaraunts elsewhere in the country don’t quite compare, to say the least (a dinner for two at Alain Ducasse will set you back well over $1000, for example, and I have yet to go out to dinner with my girlfriend this year for less than $300).

    The point actually is, that anyone eating at this place absolutely should expect a $55 dish. Nobody else complained, just this idiot who still has a roommate and a taste for ‘comfort food’. Obviously not the intended clientele. The restaraunt management had it right, and this guy is way out of his league.

  20. Obviously not the intended clientele. The restaraunt management had it right, and this guy is way out of his league.

    I have to agee here. This guy was way out of his league in doochebaggery, skullduggery, and conspicuous consumption. Please, leave the $55 macaroni & cheese to the more deserving Manhattanites.

    Oh, and ktc, I wholeheartedly agree with you. There is no excuse for not printing a price on a menu, it’s underhanded.

  21. Solo says:

    As a consumer, when I dine out, I feel entitled to ask questions about food item to the kind person waiting on me. Such as “How spicy is that spicy salad?” and “I did not have a chance to look at the specials for the night, what are they?” also, “Bring me a menu with the prices on it, or just give me an idea of how much the mac and cheese and truffles cost?”

    But then again, you’d wonder why someone would want chocolate candy over their mac&cheese.

    People.

  22. B says:

    I don’t feel too much sympathy for the guy, but the fact that the Mac and cheese cost 2 1/2 times as much as the next most expensive thing on the menu is pretty surprising. Specials tend to be expensive, but not that much of a price difference is a real eye-opener.

  23. drewheyman says:

    ghost, you’re obviously an idiot.

    the prices are right next to the main items, so we can see for ourselves whether or not they are priced fairly, and judge for ourselves whether “New York prices” (we pay $30 for ramen noodles, so that means we’re better than you) are out of the rubes’ range.

    2 things:

    1)
    usually, “Daily Specials” mean defined meals and sold for slightly less, so it’s a poorly written menu; however, it says what the item is, so i don’t feel that sorry for the guy.

    2)
    as the part-owner of a truffle farm, i’m so glad people pay so much for fungus.

  24. kcs says:

    Not to be a bitch, Ghost of Awesomist, but making assumptions about people solely from the content of their comment does not speak highly of your intelligence (nor does paying $1000 for a dinner for two for that matter). But since you asked, you are correct that I am not from NYC but from a little hick town called Los Angeles. I have, however, enjoyed many many of NYC’s fine restaurant. And while I consider it a cheap night if I’m able to leave a restaurant having spent less than $300, I hope that I would have enough manners not to broadcast that fact.

  25. oudemia says:

    I agree that it is douche-y not to put the price on the menu. Vulgar, even — like some kind of rube notion of “fancy restaurant.” But, good gravy, there is no shame in asking! But at least know that, if they are making your pasta truffle-y via busting out an actual truffle rather than throwing in some truffle oil or truffle butter in the kitchen, you will pay through the nose.
    Also — really? Some people can’t smell truffles? I never heard that. I would kill myself — because if you can’t smell ‘em then you can’t taste ‘em either.

  26. bambino says:

    Damn. Burn.

  27. lovelyday says:

    If they can print the specials MONDAY -SUNDAY put the fucking prices on it too. I think it’s weird when people order Mac & Cheese to begin with, but don’t nail the guy by charging him $55. Just wrong.

  28. DeeJayQueue says:

    Not everyone’s pee smells bad after eating asparagus. Not only that, but not everyone can smell it anyway. It makes it difficult to test for such things. It’s the same with truffles. That’s probably a reason why he flipped over the price… He thought it was cheese because he didn’t smell or taste it. Maybe he thought the truffles were baked into the dish. At any rate, I wouldn’t consider something as basic as Mac n Cheese a suitable substrate for something as decadent as fresh shaved truffles. It’s easy to have been caught off guard, even if it did say so on the menu. Speaking of the menu, that thing reads like the side of a stock car. Emulsion? Really? Are we doing amateur photography now? I’d have been pissed, but the restaurant tried to make up for it, and in the end I’d have just chalked it up to a bad experience and resolved not to eat there anymore.

  29. aestheticity says:

    Yes Ghost is a dickhead; I believe he’s using that name, in fact, because there used to be a commenter called Awesomist who mysteriously disappeared, one would assume banned, for making inflammatory posts. Clearly he or she felt the need to come back again.

  30. Chief Wahoo says:

    Let wise Solomon here help you kids out. The Restaurant is partially to blame. By adding a very pricey ingredient to something as common as mac and cheese they are taking advantage of some people. The customers they are taking advantage of are the types who are eating in a restaurant that is perhaps slightly over their head based on name alone (see: Bette). Both are to blame. Best case scenario, customers in question take it as a lesson to either educate themselves better about food or stay out of the deep end of the pool.

  31. Drinker Nisti says:

    The rest of the menu simply isn’t that expensive. Without wine, it looks like you could get a full meal for two for well under $100.

    I make orgasmic macaroni and cheese. Perhaps I should open a high-end restaurant. One’s date still might not put out, however…

  32. Hoss says:

    Here’s what a Google came up with —

    “Posted by Voyeur on 12/07/2006
    Warm gooey mac n cheese

    After observing the reconstruction at the Waverly this past month, I finally decided to venture in yesterday. I was pleased to find they had a GREAT white truffle mac n cheese to offer. It was a little pricey, but understandable b/c of the truffles. The server was excellent (and from MI GO BLUE!!!), and the atmosphere was pleasant but bordering on hectic when it got really busy.”


    http://www.menupages.com/restaurantDetails.asp?areaId=2&re

    Maybe the atmosphere was hectic cause some dumbass was complaining that this is no HOJOs??

  33. deliriousnyc says:

    Just put freakin’ prices on the menu! Is it really so hard?

  34. Steverino says:

    Yes, once something is on a menu it needs a price. That’s just shady.

    I also think it’s a waiter’s responsibility to be looking out for the customer in this way, too, and say something like, “Just so you know, that item’s priced at $55. Is this alright?”

    I hate when a waiter suggests a glass of wine, for example (and you don’t have the menu in front of you), and it later turns out to be $16. That’s shitty and annoying.

  35. kidgenius says:

    DeeJayQueen:

    An “emulsion” is a mixture of two substances that don’t mix. Ever seen an oil based salad dressing that you have to shake to mix? That’s an emulsion. It has nothing to do with photography.

  36. Ghost_of_Awesomist says:

    Christ, you people have WAY less of a sense of humor than the Gawker commenters.

  37. acambras says:

    When I waited tables, I always hated telling people the specials because the chef instructed us not to say the price unless asked. I guess most people eating there were in the position not to need to ask. Still, it felt a little awkward.

    A kind-of related story: More than once, someone saw “sweetbreads” on the appetizer menu and would start to order them, saying they “love bread” or “were in the mood for something a little sweet.” I would explain as discreetly as possible exactly what sweetbreads are. I NEVER made fun of them or scoffed at them. I think they appreciated both the fact that I cleared things up and the discreet way I did so, without embarrassing anyone.

    There are some people who may be a little less sophisticated than others about dining out. A lot of people love dining out and enjoying fine foods and wines, but can’t afford it as often as they would like. This does not make them douchebags.

    There are also plenty of people who love NYC and wish they could afford to live there. Plenty of people who visit NYC and experience a little sticker shock because it IS a relatively expensive city. This does not make them douchebags.

    And then there’s Ghost of Awesomist, who calls people morons, looks down upon them for having roommates, drops names of restaurants and how much it costs him to take his girlfriend there, and makes fun of cities whose names he can’t even bother to look up. Now he IS a douchebag.

  38. rogadelic says:

    Bravo, acambras. You saved me the breath.

  39. cryrevolution says:

    The fault lies in both parties. The guy should’ve just asked the price, but then again, the restaurant should’ve let him know how much it was. Granted some people don’t actually know how expensive truffles are, so you can’t fault him on that.

  40. acambras says:

    Thanks, rogadelic — I’d been following this issue all day and couldn’t figure out why it was gnawing at me to the point where I had to speak up.

    I think it come down to this:
    It really pisses me off that some people are taking such an elitist attitude toward the “rubes” of this world.

  41. OnoSideboard says:

    Ultimately, the offensive thing about this story is the disparity in pricing between the ENTIRE MENU and the “special” mac ‘n cheese.

    At nice restaurants, specials frequently are more expensive than the regular menu items, but at nearly twice the price of the steak entree, and almost $20 more than anything else on the menu, the guy had every right to be shocked at his bill.

    And for all the people using the “NYC is expensive” excuse, yeah, that would fly if this were an expensive NYC restaurant, but it’s clearly a moderately priced restaurant (with a $30 steak) bizarrely charging high-end prices for one dish. Ducasse’s place this is not. The $55 mac ‘n cheese makes no sense.

  42. acambras – i’d buy you some overpriced drink if I ever ran into you. Better yet, I’ll buy a few people I know like you drinks, and call it even for now.

  43. zingbot says:

    I think OnoSideboard nailed it. The “appetizer” was priced VERY differently than the rest of the menu.

    Also, it surprises me to read comments on a consumer interest blog knocking NYC meal prices. Anyone who lives here (or can shop well at all) knows it is entirely possible to find Cracker Barrel prices for fine, fine food not from a chain. I spend more on meals when I want to, but only then.

  44. El Guano says:

    Honestly, I don’t think the restaurant is doing anything wrong or out of the ordinary here.

    He’s at the Waverly Inn. It’s not Denny’s. Upscale restaurants in the city often have menus without prices. There’s nothing shady or even strange about it. If it strikes you as odd, you’re just unfamiliar with the culture (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    The dish said “Mac and Cheese **with fresh shaved truffles**”

    It’s the middle of white truffle season.

    Truffle dinners are being served at restaurants like this everywhere this month, often for $200-300 or more. Truffle shavings on an a la carte dish can go for $8-15 **per gram** (5-6 grams is considered a good helping on an entree, 3 grams would be great on a small mac and cheese.

    Truffles are such that they’re particularly enjoyable on “plain” dishes, like scrambled eggs. Or, mac and cheese. It’s how a lot of people eat it.

    The fact is, the consumer screwed himself up on this one. He didn’t know what he was doing, walked into a Four Seasons, threw them his credit card, and expected the room bill to be $50 a night. You can make an argument that the restaurant could have put a price up there or told him about it, but to the regular clientèle, it would be considered insulting to do so.

    If he thinks this is shocking, he should stop by Barclay Prime next time he’s hankering for a Philly cheesesteak.

  45. eaglebtc says:

    Are all NYC restaurants like this? What can one eat for $5 a plate? The corner hot dog stand? Chinese take-out?

  46. It’s the middle of white truffle season.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that the truffles should have been cheap.

  47. taaurrus says:

    I think its funny that such an overly-priced, expensive restaurant with insanely ridiculously priced mac n’ cheese has PAPER menus. You’d think they could afford proper menus with all the money they are making over-charging for the food.