The recited specials list
In a comment yesterday under his Ocean City restaurant reviews guest post, Hal Laurent brought up a subject that I thought we had talked about before, but I couldn't find an entry on it:
At three of the restaurants reviewed above, long lists of specials were recited to us. I don't know about the rest of you, but my brain isn't capable of handling that much information, especially when delivered verbally rather than in writing. I wish more restaurants would have the specials on a piece of paper instead of it being a test of my (and the waiter's) memory.
This is a particular pet peeve of mine, ever since many years ago when I ate at a Little Italy restaurant and every special on the recited list -- recited without prices, of course -- was $10 more than the entrees on the menu. And that was when $10 meant something at a restaurant. ...
But lately I haven't noticed it as much at the restaurants I've been going to around here, and I have a theory why. The long, recited specials list may be a casualty of the local and seasonal trend, which new restaurants are emphasizing. To stay true to it, you have to have a menu that changes monthly if not weekly. At most the server will mention one or two specials, and my brain can handle that.
I always ask what the prices are. I agree with another commenter who suggested they can be a way to get customers to order something that costs more than the regular menu items. Some folks feel uncomfortable asking.
Of course, these days no one could you fault you for being economy-minded.
I'm trying to think of any Baltimore restaurants I've been to recently that have a long list of specials, either recited or written, and I can't. Then there are places that write the specials or even the whole menu on a blackboard. That can be irritating if you aren't seated where you can read it easily unless they follow it up with a paper copy.
(Karl Merton Ferron/Sun photographer)