Your thoughts? Since we have people on both sides of the aisle reading this site?
Noted baking author Rose Levy Beranbaum and her lunch party were recently charged a $25 "forkage" fee* for a couple slices of leftover cake they brought into The Breslin with them. While it was "outside food," Beranbaum had brought the cake from a video taping and wanted to share it with her pastry chef friends. (She even offered the pastry chef and the server a piece.)
While it's common for restaurants to charge a "cake fee" to customers bringing their own dessert (usually on special occasions like birthdays) here $25 seems a leetle steep. Particularly when it didn't need to be cut, and because it wasn't plated (they made due using the plastic wrap as a plate)—and mostly because the diners were not informed of the fee beforehand.
As a consumer, it's easy to become outraged on Beranbaum's behalf. She mentions all the times she's brought cakes into restaurants and how they have been well-received. (It doesn't hurt when you're the author of a cookbook called The Cake Bible.):
When Lutèce was in its hey day as top New York restaurant, André Soltner allowed me to bring a special birthday cake into the restaurant. When editor Pam Chirls and author Lisa Yockelson and I went to Restaurant Daniel for an after event nightcap, not only did Daniel Boulud voice no objections to my having brought a piece of coconut cake from my then upcoming book, the wait person graciously insisted on plating it for us. Scott Conant had no problem with my bringing an entire birthday cake into Alto for lunch.
So you wonder why this restaurant couldn't just go with the flow.
At the same time, restaurants can't just allow people to bring things in willy-nilly. That seems to defeat the purpose of being a restaurant. I also imagine that all the times Beranbaum received great hospitality had a lot to do with who she is. I'm not so sure that Soltner or Boulud or Conant would have let just any ol' Susie Homebaker bring in a homemade cake without charging a cake-cutting fee.
How do you feel the restaurant should have handled this? And if you're a server, how would you approach this. [via Diner's Journal]
* Nice word coinage, Ms. Beranbaum.