$30 TV Dinner Features Porcelain Tray, Free Range Chicken

The New York Times City Room blog says that the Loews Regency Hotel is now serving a $30 TV dinner– complete with porcelain trays and pricey free range chicken.

“We are looking for comfort food items that we can turn upscale,” said Mr. Rubin [executive chef]. “These days comfort food is this hip, cool thing.”

So-called “comfort food” is cool these days, though we’re unsure about how comforting paying $30 for a “TV dinner” can possibly be.

“I got TV dinners when my parents was going out to dinner and the baby sitter was coming over. That was a treat for me: Oh, cool! I got the little cake thing. There were the vegetables I could ignore because my mom wasn’t around.”

Ok, to each his own, we suppose. TV dinners? Bleecch!

Is There Any Comfort in a $30 TV Dinner? [NYT via Buzzfeed]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Gopher bond says:

    Salsbury Steak and Peach Cobbler FTW!

  2. invaderzim says:


  3. Dakine says:

    “Free range chicken”?

    There are herds of chickens roaming the countryside in the wild? What the heck is a free range chicken? Aren’t all chickens kept fenced or cooped? Sounds like some more feel-good BS cooked up to sell product to enviro-conscious soccer moms.

  4. Gopher bond says:

    @Dakine: i.e. pigeons

  5. donkeyjote says:

    I bet they don’t get to keep the tray…

    But that useless ash tray is going in their pocket.

  6. snoop-blog says:

    Microwaved = Rubber

    $30 T.V. Dinner = Idiot!

  7. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @Dakine: Aren’t all chickens kept fenced or cooped?
    Yeah, except for the free range ones. My girl’s parents raise them; while they are technically fenced in they have acres and acres to roam around. I’ve eaten one and there is no difference taste wise.

  8. PinkBox says:

    @Dakine: It is a pretty common term, really. It just means they have access to a “yard”, but that doesn’t mean much of anything. :/

  9. ConsumptionJunkie says:


  10. Joedragon says:

    all Hotel food is over priced and they come with hidden fees on top of it as well.

  11. sir_eccles says:

    @Joedragon: Ah yes, the old “you will be charged £2 delivery charge and a 20% service charge is automatically added” followed by me hoping the delivery guy won’t get upset because I haven’t added a further tip on top of the 20%.

    Free range as opposed to battery reared.

  12. ArgusRun says:

    @HIV 2 Elway: I can taste the difference in eggs. I get these sweet eggs from pastured chickens fed on organic feed and whatever bugs and scraps they get in their pasture which is rotated regularly. The biggest difference is the richness of the yolk. Bright, bright orange yolks.

  13. Nogard13 says:


    Actually, according to the USDA, if a regular chicken has “access” to yard it’s technically a free-range bird. What most farms do is keep them in their cages for all but the last 10 days of their lives, then put them in a section of their “hen house” that has a little 2×2 foot opening that leads to a yard. Since the birds are used to their cages, institutionalized, if you will, they never go outside and the farmer can claim they are free-range.

    It’s a scam I tell you.

  14. LUV2CattleCall says:

    @HIV 2 Elway:

    That’s awesome of your gf’s parents…but in general, the free-range stuff makes my blood boil, because corporations are exploiting the hell out of it. Free range = what you described, not Egglands’ Best’s version, which is “stuff a few million in a barn, cut a small hole in the side of the barn, and call it free range.”

    I’m convinced that there’s an un-catered for market out there of people who would pay a reasonable amount more for meat/eggs/dairy if they could be assured 100% that the animals were, in fact, treated well.

  15. Narockstar says:

    I work with the Regency. If you think this is ridiculous, you should see their $17 PB&J. This seems almost reasonable.

  16. jscott73 says:

    Further proof of the bifurcation of the American populace, the rich get richer and feast on $30 tv dinners, I keep getting poorer and poorer, relatively speaking, and eat $0.69 tv dinners. **sigh** At least I have sports…

  17. LUV2CattleCall says:


    This pisses me off even more… I figured that at least they’re not in a battery cage…where did you hear that they are only let out of the cages for the last 10 days?

  18. Bourque77 says:

    $30 hell I could raise my own chickens for that kind of price.

  19. Anonymous says:

    It amazes me how stupid people can be.
    “Oh, this is an upscale tv dinner… I guess I’d pay an extra $28 dollars for that”

    Any moron who pays $30 for ANY tv dinner deserves to loose his money.

  20. Eric1285 says:

    Doesn’t free range just mean they’re not stacked 30 high and drowning in their own poop?

    Speaking of outrageously priced hotel food, I stayed at the Palazzo in Vegas a few months ago. Cheapest item in the mini bar was like a tiny $9 bag of gummy bears. Crazy!

  21. GrandmaSophie says:

    I think that’s kind of funny! I’d expect to pay $30 for a meal in NYC in any case. Hell, I’d expect to pay $30 for slop in NYC, that place is in it’s own universe price wise. So, they take the meal and put it in a kitchy platter. Cute!

  22. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    at $30 you get to keep the tray at least, right?

  23. oldtaku says:

    If you read Michael Pollan’s excellent ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ you will find that ‘free range’ just means they have (theoretical) access to a tiny fenced off grass yard, through a door they are afraid to pass through.

    There is real free range chicken, of course, but the term is as abused into meaninglessness as organic is.

  24. goodywitch says:

    I heard about this on food network a few years ago. The program made it seem more like the meals were really inspired by tv dinners, as in what to serve, but make it, you know, taste edible. If people are willing to pay for it, why stop them?

  25. wwwhitney says:


    “Free range” chickens aren’t kept in battery cages but rather in cramped sheds. The sheds have a small outside fenced in which the chickens in theory can mingle in. However, as I understand it, these areas are typically only large enough for a couple of chickens at a time and the chickens typically spend the vast majority of their life in a dark, crowded building. Whatever the exact details, “free range” is definitely a marketing scam intended to make the customer feel better about his/her decision without providing any material benefit to the chicken. The term is not governed by the FDA and can really mean whatever the producer wants it to mean (like “all natural”).

  26. TheBigLewinski says:

    Wow, I get to eat their “food” off of the porcelain tray and then give it back to them in their porcelain bowl.

  27. I really don’t see this as that big of a deal, and kind of a neat idea. At an upscale gourmet establishment you could pay that amount for a good chicken dinner. Putting a good meal on a dilineated porcelin plate does not make it a bad deal. Also, those plates would make awesome hot oil fondu plates.

  28. HIV 2 Elway says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: Her folks are in no way raising chickens for income which makes raising them truly “free range” possible. Its just a hobby they have that gives them access to fresh eggs.

  29. HeartBurnKid says:

    @CaptainCynic: To be fair, this is real food presented as a TV dinner, apparently.

    But seriously, who the hell sees TV dinners as “comfort food”? I see TV dinners as “I don’t have time to cook/it’s too hot to cook/I’m hungry and tired so let’s just do something fast” food. If you’re going to serve me a real meal, serve it to me on a real plate.

  30. azntg says:

    @Joedragon: That’s pretty much it.

    The $30 TV Dinner sounds a lot like a crappy gimmick. Not too different from “upscale” bottled waters.

  31. PinkBox says:

    @HeartBurnKid: No kidding. “Lazy” food would be a more fitting term.

  32. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Here’s a really cute set of porcelain TV dinner trays. [www.stonewallkitchen.com] (Apparently the retail cost of the tray is one third the cost of this preposterous meal.)

  33. Is there fries with that?

  34. floyderdc says:

    Selling “comfort” food to the rich. What is this? I mean is this for the trashy who have risen to some level of having lots of cash. This seems like an interesting point. The poor/middle class have things sold to them so they can pretend to have money. The rich have things sold to them so the can pretend to be broke.

  35. I loved TV dinners as a kid.

    Still do.

    As a kid it was the only time that I got to choose my own dinner. That was kinda of special, especially having something because I (BIG I) wanted the food.

    But paying $30 Farking bucks for a TV dinner? Better be a damn fine dinner. Even so, I can visit McD’s and pig out for under $10.

  36. Charred says:

    Din’ these use to come vit a cobblah?

    YOU smell like cobblah!

  37. GrandmaSophie says:

    So, uh, has anybody given thought to how this is being sold? Those who are derisive of it seem to think it’s a true tv-dinner, wrapped in plastic and cardboard and sold frozen at SuperFresh. Maybe I’m reading some of you wrong, though.

    Considering it’s being sold by a hotel, I assumed it was just a gimmicky way of serving hot food – either at their restaurant or through room service. The gimmick totally screams room service, so that is my first guess. Either way, this is a hot, served, restaurant meal. I would totally expect to pay that for a meal of this sort at a restaurant, especially in an expensive city like NY.

    As for the “free range”, ITA with those of you who turn up your noses at the label. 99% of the time it is bunk, as Michale Pollan described. I buy truly pastured chicken from farms I’ve visited, chickens that my kids have chased through open fields; and I eschew the phrase “free range” for that chicken, because I consider it to be negatively loaded.

  38. Xerloq says:

    @Dakine: Depends on where you put the hyphen: I think free-range chickens are different than free range-chickens. I don’t know what the latter is, though I picture the leftovers of a Mythbuster’s firing-range experiment, which I would not take for free, let alone pay $30.

    Sorry for the grammatical comment. I needed an easy post.

  39. Xerloq says:

    @Xerloq: It’s kind of like when people use [adjective]-ass in the description: big-ass free-range chicken. Just move the hyphens, and it’s a whole other, funnier beast.

    big ass-free range-chickens!

  40. JennQPublic says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: I’ve been saying for years that I would pay more for meat that had lived a happy life. I just don’t know where to find it! I’m going to end up raising my own chickens, just so I can eat without guilt.

  41. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @JennQPublic: Try checking out localharvest.com. Not sure where you live, but I’ve had luck finding places that sell pastured meat on there. Plus, you can find local sources so you are helping a local farmer and buying meat that was happy. :) Or try a local health food store…many of those have ethically raised meat now.

  42. geoffhazel says:

    I’m betting you don’t get to keep the dish. It’s the hotel’s dish just like the normal round ones are.

  43. geoffhazel says:

    wonder what “cage free” means when it comes to buying eggs.

  44. alejo699 says:

    Is it wrong that the first thought into my head was, “I’ll bet that couple with the $700 stoller would love this!”

  45. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @alejo699: Yes. You should have thought, “I’ll bet that couple with the $700 stroller would love three of these.”

  46. efnord says:

    Porcelain tray? That’s not a TV dinner, it’s a bento box American style.

  47. Televiper says:

    The way I see it. You get room service in a nice plate that you can sit on the bed and watch TV with. The plus side is that it’s not pizza, fried chicken, chicken wings, or Chinese food. $30 for a room service meal with dessert included isn’t that much.

  48. phelander says:

    @Dakine: “Aren’t all chickens kept fenced and cooped?” No, genius. Not if they’re free range. They aren’t kept in coops. Your mom must be proud.

  49. phelander says:

    @geoffhazel: Another mental midget. Work it out, Einstein. The chi-kens-who-lay-dem-aren’t-caged-duh. Was that slow enough for you?

  50. Meathamper says:

    Oh, great. Next we’re gonna see caviar TV dinners and champagne in those little plastic container cups on airliners.

  51. Dustbunny says:

    That looks like chocolate pudding in the pic. Mmmmm…pudding. Maybe if it was a made-from-scratch dark chocolate pudding I could see paying $10 for this dinner. Otherwise, no.

  52. JennQPublic says:

    @mjane79: Thank you! Free-range happy cows are 30 minutes away from me. Whoopee!

  53. you don’t eat the porcelain plate, so why not drop the pretension and focus more on providing better quality food? Free range, my ass.

  54. pixiegirl1 says:

    $30 TV dinner shit I’d take a $15 pizza for comfort food any day! The only thing on that tray that even looked remotely half way good was the cake/pudding/brownie/mystery dessert.

  55. Dakine says:


    Please ‘splain me where the chicken herds are roaming free then. If I go to Wyoming will I see cowboys driving the chicken herd south for the winter?

    Idiot. Chickens are not free. Anywhere.

  56. garbagehead says:

    better than free range chickens are KFC’s delicious little mutant birds. Born without feather or beaks these guys are easily mashed up into your preferred shape of consumption.
    Who wants free range when you can have this.

    @phelander: gee, you’re friendly

  57. TorrentFreak says:

    In economic times like this, $30 TV is sick. For you people that are actully buying this…


  58. Angryrider says:

    Porcelain Plate? Included in the $30 price? What a gyp! I get bowls for $1.50 a piece. That porcelain better come from a magical country with bubblegum pie.

  59. Grive says:

    @TorrentFreak: Why, because those people have made the money not to suffer through hard times?

    Or because people who stay at hotels and for some reason or another would be benefited by room service will get their food served in a gimmicky way?

    Oh, such horrible, horrible crimes.

  60. phelander says:

    @Dakine: Yes, it’s wierd you’ve never heard of Chickenboys.

  61. GrandmaSophie says:

    *snort* City people. Yes, I can direct you to at least a half dozen farms where chickens really *do* roam free. The farmers use “chicken tractors” for the coops – huge coops on trailers. In the morning, the hitch the trailer to the tractor and move it a few hundred feet to a different area of their fields. Then they open the door and the chickens are free to roam as far as they wish, doing natural chicken-things – eating bugs, uprooting weeds, wandering freely. Chickens have a fairly limited natural range – they’ll only roam so many hundred feet from their coop. And they instinctively return to their roosts in the coop as night falls; then someone just comes and closes the door to keep the raccoons out. I’ve visited farms like this. My kids have chased those free-ranging chickens. I bike past several farms that use this method when I do my errands. At least three farmers who use this method deliver their wares to our local farmer’s market. You see these chicken tractors all over Amish Country.

    Y’all are right about how the phrase “free range” has been co-opted by the manipulative SOBs in agri-business, so that it’s now pretty meaningless. I avoid the phrase in favor of “pastured” or “grass-fed”, and yes, I do confirm that the farmers with whom I’m doing business live up to their claims. But those farmers are out there, there are a lot of them. I have a big fat binder full of business cards, price lists, pamphlets for dozens of these farms within about a 50 mile radius of me – and I know of a lot of farms with good reputations whom I have not yet visited, but could be represented in my binder if I had the time to seek them out.

    And once again, jeez! Room service and hotel restaurants in NYC are always expensive. Hell, room service is expensive in East Bofuck, it’s astronomical in NYC. $30 for a meal in NYC? Why is this surprising anyone? Just because it’s packaged in a cutesy way that evokes images of cheap commercial foods doesn’t mean that it’s any lesser a meal than any other $30 NYC dinner.

  62. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @TorrentFreak: Ooh, I picked myself up two sets of those really kawaii lunch trays I linked to!! They’ll be so fun when my nephews come over! And we’ll think of your dour, unsunshiny, ungentlemanlike language, and laugh at you.

  63. nikki0081 says:

    $30 for a well balanced meal is not much but I just wonder if it tastes like those microwave dinners from my childhood. If so I’d rather eat off the $1 menu at mcdonald’s.

  64. @Dakine: most industrially farmed chickens are kept inside, never see the light of day, and are in such tight quarters that they have to chop their beaks off so they don’t peck each other to death as they stand atop their own poop and are fed daily antibiotics as preventitive medicine because the conditions tend to cause the chickens to get sick if they don’t. Free range means the chickens were raised the way chickens used to be raised. And no, I’m not a vegetarian but I am unwilling to buy meat where the animals were pretty much tortured the entirety of their lives.