I sent Yet Another Attorney Date an email suggesting four places for our first meeting. She opted for the last place on the list, Vidalia. I chose not read anything into the fact that she selected the most expensive place on the list and was eager to visit a place I had not been in almost a year. I arrived a few minutes early and made myself comfortable at the far end of the bar.
While the technically proficient but far from engaging bartender made drinks for a trio of post-work suits in the mildly stylish lounge, I looked over the by the glass wine offerings. The prices were a shock to my sensibilities. Instead I ordered a Makers Mark Manhattan Up and with a dash of the Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters I spied sitting unloved on a bottom shelf of the bar. My date was late so I went back to the wine list to occupy my time and satisfy my curiosity.
The WBG list was extensive – at least ten varieties each of red and white, and a solid smattering of sparklers and rosés. I knew at least 90% of them and I was astonished at the grotesque price gouging.
It is not often that I publicly call attention to the failings of a restaurant. However, I have heaped praise on Vidalia in this space prior and now the record requires correcting. I have solid recall of the wholesale prices of each wine I knew on the list and Vidalia displayed profound greed in their cost structure. DC restaurant industry standard is for a glass of wine to sell for around the wholesale price of the bottle. Vidalia, however, prices a glass at close to the RETAIL cost of a bottle further the average price of a glass of wine there is north of $15.
Their list, by the glass and bottle, is still one of the best in the country if one doesn’t look at the prices, but their prices scream exorbitant to anyone who knows wine well.
I was bothered by their list but not inspired to vent until I had finished my Manhattan, decided that I was getting stood-up, and got my tab. My Manhattan which would have cost me $9 at the Capitol Grille, $10 at Citronelle, $11 at the Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental Hotels, or $12 at Per Se was astoundingly $14 at Vidalia. At that price, I expect a drink to give me a happy ending.
Your pricing is simply a profane expression of greed and for that, Vidalia, you are off my list and my radar screen. I get expensive, hell, I have a penchant for expensive, and I understand all of the costs associated with running a premier wine program, and a high-end restaurant because I have done it. Yet even I cannot imagine a justification for your prices or why your organization crossed the line into offensively expensive since my last visit.
To my dear dozen readers, feel free to speculate about the fact that I was more angered by being over-charged than being stood-up.