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I am going to a Michelin three-star restaurant in New York City this fall. On their website, it says that for the fixed-price tasting menu, both the course menu and the beverage pairing are ”inclusive of service”.

Does that mean that if add those two prices together, that's what it ultimately will cost me? Am I not expected to tip a single penny, even if the service was fantastic? Will there be sales and/or state tax added on top of that?

For the record, even though I come from Europe, I have absolutely no problem with tipping when I am expected to. I probably over-tip anyway when I'm the US, just to not cheat the service staff over their hard-earned wages. I don't want to offend anyone.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – JonathanReez Supports Monica Jul 27 '18 at 6:29
  • Did you ever have your meal? Love to hear if you ended up leaving an additional tip or not. – Mark Henderson Mar 4 at 23:44
  • @MarkHenderson Yes I did go and I ended up not tipping. The waitress told us several times that it was included and there wasn't even a tip line on the credit card slip. I guess she wouldn't have mind if I would have left her a small tip as a token of appreciation, but it really didn't feel necessary. During dinner, I was watching to see if other patrons were tipping and they weren't, except for one (didn't see how much it was), so I kind of went with the flow. – Daniel Mar 5 at 11:15
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"Inclusive of service" should mean that you are not expected to tip. That doesn't mean that you can't tip if you want to, especially if the service was good. The US restaurant business is pretty much wedded to tips, and they will be appreciated no matter what. However a Michelin 3-star restaurant should be paying its wait staff a decent wage, with or without tips.

Yes, there will be sales tax on top of the price (unless you are in a state where there is no sales tax).

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    Are there any states which include Sales Tax in the price (the European model)? – Nigel Touch Jul 26 '18 at 15:36
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    To answer a couple of mentioned questions: the only US states without sales tax are Delaware, Montana, Oregon, and New Hampshire. Alaska doesn't have a state sales tax, but local municipalities are allowed to charge a local sales tax. I'm not aware of anywhere in the US where taxes are routinely included in the cost listed on the menu or price sticker, with the possible exception of ballpark concession stands or similar venues like carnivals and/or amusement parks. – BradC Jul 26 '18 at 16:42
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – JonathanReez Supports Monica Jul 27 '18 at 6:26
  • @BradC New Hampshire does not have a general sales tax, but it does have a sales tax on hotels and restaurants. – Michael Hampton Jul 27 '18 at 14:17
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    A chat room was created for this discussion. Link above. – DJClayworth Jul 27 '18 at 16:20
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I dined at Per Se last night, so I guess there's a 20% chance that you'll be dining there as well (there are only 5 three-star's in New York as of 2018).

When the bill came, it was very clear that gratuity was already included. I even received a beautifully hand-written bill with no spot for additional gratuity. The staff were excellent and I have no doubt that it would not be held against you if you did not include an additional tip. Especially as your bill can easily reach $1,000 for two people without even buying wine. And if I were dining for something that was not a special occasion, I would probably have left it at that.

However on our occasion (10 year wedding anniversary and my wife's birthday) they really went the extra mile. We received personal touches and a note from the sous-chef, complimentary champagne, and they sent an additional goodie bag home for our kids. And because we're not big drinkers, we we went with non-alcoholic beverages which they did not charge us for and the bar tender saw to us personally and honestly stole the show with his non-alcoholic cocktails.

With these extra above-and-beyond touches, we did leave an additional 10% tip on top of the already-included gratiuity - mostly because of the bar tender.

  • Man, I wish I could select both as answers; @DJClayworth for promptness and yours for empirically sharing your experience from last night... – Daniel Jul 27 '18 at 13:47
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    @Daniel take DJClayworth's - his is more thorough and broad. Also the going salary for a 3-star restaurant server can be close to or at 6 figures for the best of the best, so it's not the same situation as a small diner or hole-in-the-wall place. – Mark Henderson Jul 27 '18 at 14:14
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    "$1,000 for two people without even buying wine"!!!!!!!!! – camden_kid Jul 27 '18 at 20:43
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    @camden_kid yes. But it's not a surprise, you know this going in. – Mark Henderson Jul 27 '18 at 20:44
  • @MarkHenderson still, this is a lot. The one-star Trianon restaurant next to me in Versailles (a Ramsey restaurant), right at the entrance to the Versailles gardens and the Trianon Hotel is 200 EUR/person for the sampling menu (or whatever it is called in English - a showcase menu or something where they put seven servings of good stuff). When biking with my kids we routinely stop in front of it and discuss whether we should hop in for a lunch or eat at home :). EDIT: what I meant by this comment is that I find the prices high compared to a posh place in France – WoJ Jul 28 '18 at 9:45

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