Hi-yo Silver!

The higher price of dining in SF

Although I would love to sit on Santa's lap a year hence and give assurances that I had spent the previous 12 months being good — all right, being nice — I am fundamentally a realist. This means, among other things, that I no longer believe in Santa, and so there will be no lap sittings and no wish lists and probably not much nice either. Still, there are a few things I wouldn't mind seeing in the new year.

How about more split or half-size main courses? Too many big-bruiser plates seem to be huge mainly to justify their prices or to look imposing. But nobody needs a week's worth of calories in one course. In the same vein, I would like to see more half bottles of wine on wine lists, along with half pours of wines by the glass. Less is more!

I would like to know that the fish and other seafood on restaurant menus have been taken from sustainable wild populations in an ecologically responsible manner or farmed in such a manner. Change will come if we all start asking questions and declining to order items, such as orange roughy and shark, we know to be threatened. Saving the seas is one of the worthier causes I can think of, and since we are most of us implicated in the problem, it will take a lot of us, pulling on the same rope, to bring change. Consult the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch (www.mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp) and make it clear, if you see a no-no like skate or Chilean sea bass on some menu, why you won't order it. It is possible to be respectful but firm about this, as about many other matters.

Prices. Here we have an enduring headache. Naturally, I would like them to drift down a little or at least not jump up, or at least not quite so steeply up. While New York's $40 main course still seems a way off, the rising water hereabouts has reached the $30 level in a lot of places. It's 1999 all over again, as Yogi Berra might say if he stood in my shoes — 1999, plus interest. The truth is that this always well-to-do little city has become a stinking rich little city; we have worshipped money and been rewarded with it, a lot of it, 30 pieces of silver and then some. Will that cover the dinner tab?

Paul Reidinger

› paulr@sfbg.com

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