Vidalia Restaurant’s Pricing Doesn’t Pass the Laugh Test

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.


19 Responses to Vidalia Restaurant’s Pricing Doesn’t Pass the Laugh Test

  1. Shannon says:

    Well, which is harder to find: a good wine, or a good woman?

    Good wine – like a number of good women – is easy.

  2. f.B says:

    i think your anger was in the right place. especially since if you hadn’t been stood up, the expense would have been exponentially higher

    The notion of a $17 Makers Mark Drink (about $15 with tax, and a $2 tip) is just crazy.

  3. Anonymous Coward says:

    What was your date’s excuse?

    Haven’t heard from her, wouldn’t care if she did call.

  4. Lisa says:

    You probably know that I am so mood driven, plus I always generalize. So with that said, if it were me and I were the one paying, then if I’d wound up having a great night I wouldn’t have given much thought to the price. But if I’d had a crap night, I’d be all bitter about paying more for no good reason.

    And maybe if I hadn’t had the time to study the list, or if the tab included a number of drinks and some nibbles then I wouldn’t even have looked at the itemized prices just the total. And I probably still would have thought it pricey but maybe not grotesquely so.

    By the by, I don’t consider getting stood-up to be a crappy night – I learned everything I need to know about that inconsiderate harlot without having to spend a minute in her company.

  5. gilahi says:

    I never cease to be astonished at the $15.00 WBG prices at some restaurants, especially if I know the label and know what it really costs. When I see a California label that I know I can buy at my local Giant for $12.00, I’m not inclined to pay $12.00 (or more) for a glass of it.

    I am happy to pay $15 for a glass that is worth $15. After I left Vidalia, I went to Cap Grille and had a $20 glass of Belle Glosse Telegraph Vineyard Pinot Noir which I happily forked over because it was worth it.

  6. Fearless says:

    I work in the financial district where restaurants charge whatever they want, and get away with it (at least, until now), because of the almighty expense account. However, I have generally found the price of the glass to be the standard trade-off for having a decent by-the-glass selection. Is it justified? Of course not.

    Just one more excuse for ordering the whole bottle.

    I get expensive, but when you are more expensive than a five star hotel you’ve crossed a line of decency.

  7. Liebchen says:

    I’m kind of inspired now to do a little wine research. I enjoy wine as it is, but I’m probably one of those suckers who’s paying more than she should.

    And I agree that you found out what you needed to about that girl. If someone’s not going to show up and can’t be bothered to call or get in touch somehow….well then it’s just not worth it.

    Given all of the money grubbing middle men between you and your booze, we all pay too much money.

  8. kathleen says:

    maybe the woman is like the manhattan — unnecessarily overpriced.

    among other things, i suspect she is that too.

  9. Sara says:

    I think Kathleen is being overly generous to the woman… Who stands someone up after going through the trouble of picking out a place?

    Troglodytes, Visigoths, and other variety of knuckle draggers.

  10. come on folks..maybe she was hit by a car & is in a coma dreaming of WBG @ vidalia … and they can meet again someday maybe at the top the empire state building in exactly two years…

    or maybe she’s just a bitch…

    I like to think of her as being highly efficient – she taught me everything about her in the shortest amount of time possible.

  11. I don’t think it’s tacky she picked Vidalia. I mean, I’ve been known to suggest drinks at the Swann (Four Seasons). The sofas are squishy, the crackling fireplace is calming and the live jazz on Saturday nights is entertaining. Plus, back in the day, they were cigar friendly. But, and this is important, whenever I suggest it, I show up with the intention of covering my share of the bill.

    It is, however, exceptionally tacky to stand up a date. She masqueraded as a Caymus Cabernet and turned out to be Boones Country Kwencher (RIP shitty college era wine, RIP). But as you said, best to find out sooner rather than later.

    Cocktails and cigars at the Four Season are always a good idea.

  12. brookem says:

    i make number 12 for your dozen. though, i think you have more than just a dozen readers.

    lame of her to stand you up. her loss RR.

    Maybe a few more than a dozen…

  13. and lucky number 13.

    I can empathize with your anger toward the pricey drinks. I probably would have been more mad over the Manhattan than the waste-of-skin-that-she-probably-is-of-a woman standing me up. Having been (and currently practicing as) a bartender for a few years now, anything over $10 or $11 for a Makers Manhattan is ridiculous.

    Forget the girl. Forget Vidalia.

    Already forgotten both.

  14. Brett says:

    That story annoys me. When Doug Mohr was there, Vidalia was worth visiting for a great glass of wine and conversation. Haven’t been back since he left… and obviously there’s no reason to change that.

    Doug was giant among sommeliers, and one of the nicest people in the business. He, like someone else we know, left the restaurant business to have more of a life.

  15. Vittoria says:

    i’m back in the new york metro area and was similarly astonished at the price of dinner this evening. i have to wonder, how did i put up with it for years. the wine list was only the beginning – everything was just insanely overpriced. don’t people know we’re in a recession?

    yeah ok i was out at dinner. but still!

    NYC and the surrounding area is a bit of an anomaly in this regard – the real estate is so damn expensive and the prices reflect that.

  16. kjohnsonesq says:

    Forget the prices, do we need to address this continuous stream of Attorney Dates? As one, it’s within my right to say, “NO! Don’t do it!”

  17. I am lucky number 13.

  18. […] Chance, Different Place – Mark & Orlando’s Scores After Yet Another Attorney Date left me sitting at Vidalia to enjoy an over priced Manhattan and an outrageously priced wine list, I reminded myself that getting stood-up is a good […]

  19. Paul says:

    Tough love all around. You should try the Z Lounge bar over at The Sports Club/ LA. Its a quiet bar, but a great view from your stool and a nice atmostphere. Wine list is nothing special, but prices are reasonable, a Manhattan is $9 with a generous pour, and the bartenders are as engaging as they come. They always have some kind of happy hour deal going on too. Great place to meet clients and peers, I have meetings there all the time.

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