dineLA started out as a simple idea. Participating restaurants offered a 3-course prix fixe menu for a set price. Things got complex as $40 a plate restaurants tried to meet the same standards as $15 a plate restaurants. Thus was born the tier system. There are three price ranges for the participating restaurants.
$ Deluxe Dining: Lunch $16 Dinner $26.
The next step is $$ Premier Dining: Lunch $22 Dinner $34.
For a splurge, $$$ Fine Dining: Lunch $28 Dinner $44.
Just to make things more complicated, a number of restaurants are offering upgrades for $3 and up a plate, others are adding options at a separate price, and some are offering wine flights. It’s easy to feel like they are “selling up.” You came in for a $26 dinner, and nothing more. On the other hand, If a restaurant is famous for say, donuts, and simply cannot afford to offer them at that price, yeah, I’ll kick in 3 bucks for donuts.
There are other pitfalls: The special menu is only offered on weekdays, some restaurants require that everyone at the table order the dineLa menu or no one can order it, and some menus are actually not a deal, or provide half servings without warning. I once received a salad adorned with a fried triangle of fried goat cheese that had been cut in half.
Some restaurants, like the mid and upper-range celebrity chef spots were just made for this kind of tasting menu. Other restaurants, like the Deluxe Dining Mexican and Chinese restaurants aren’t such an easy fit. And I’m sorry, Canter’s, but potato salad is not a first course. You will also notice that the bulk of restaurants are in Beverly Hills, down restaurant row to Culver City and the Westside. South LA and the South Bay have a few stragglers. It’s been 5 years — let’s have some outreach to restaurants not already in the network. (cough) Harold and Belles.
Don’t even get me started on the 2-week week; I can’t wrap my head around that one.