Forty years ago it was common scenario at the world’s fine dining restaurants to provide some guests with a menu without pricing – often called a ‘blind’ menu, or, just as irritating, a ‘ladies’ menu! The latter assuming that if a couple or mixed group goes out for dinner that the male diner will be the host and also paying for the meal.
This custom still exists today, but more as an eccentric remnant to a bygone day or in special circumstances where the customer requests it as she (!) is entertaining for business or wants to make the guest feel comfortable.
Here’s a lovely quote from Tracy MacLeod (Nov 2010), “I recall the irritation of a friend of mine, a high-powered BBC current affairs presenter, whose attempt to treat her husband to a special birthday dinner was foiled at every turn. Even though she’d made the booking, the staff treated her as the little lady guest. She got the menu with no prices. He got the wine to taste. She requested the bill. He was given it to pay. As they were leaving, the manager asked if she’d enjoyed her meal. It was lovely, she said, but as she was paying for her husband, it would have been nice if they’d treated her as the host. The manager’s face broke into an incredulous smile, and he turned to my friend’s husband. “Lucky fella!” he breathed.
Many a comic moment in movies has been made of the blind menu, with the husband, forbidding his wife to order certain dishes such as lobster! Which brings me to the point that women are quite capable of predicting the price of a dish – the lobster and langoustines are going to be more expensive than the chicken, so it kind of defeats the object!