Breslin charges $25 for using four forks

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The New York Times says this one takes the cake: after finishing their lunch as the trendy Breslin, pastry chef Rose Levy Beranbaum and her pals were charged a $25 "forkage" fee for requesting plates and forks with which to eat a few slices of cake they'd brought from a photoshoot.

Then, of course, Beranbaum went home and wrote about her experience on her blog:


I gave him my card and asked if he would like to offer one of the pieces of cake to the pastry chef. He revealed that she wasn't there, so I offered him a taste of the cake. "I don't do that kind of thing," was his haughty reply...

The wait person brought back four forks, pushing them onto the table, but no plates. We started to taste the cake, still set on its plastic wrap "plate," when he returned with the information that he had reported us to the chef who said we'd have to pay a fee for the forks. I asked him if it was a "forkage fee" and he smiled and said "yes." I suggested that he might have mentioned that before he brought out the forks.

The bill came, and that fee for the use of four forks was a shocking $25.

So it sounds like the server handled the situation poorly and the fee was a bit excessive, but, as a lot of commenters point out, Berenbaum made the first misstep by bringing the dessert in at all. Yes, it was generous of her to offer to share her spoils, but consider:

1. Does city health code allow patrons to bring outside food into a restaurant?
2. It seems rude to BYO food that the restaurant already carries.
3. Assuming the service was fine before the cake incident, stiffing the server on $145 bill is pretty harsh. In most states, I believe servers' taxable income from tips can be calculated as a percentage of their sales, so not only was the server stiffed, but he could be paying tax on income he didn't receive.

Then, this comment, which is possibly from Berenbaum or one of her pals:

17. Anonymous March 11th, 2010 11:25 pm just to clarify, this was supposed to be a taste testing of one forkful for the two people who had not been at the shoot and then they would wrap it to take it home. if you look at the photo you will see along side the bill the two pieces of cake that were not eaten except for two bites.

woody asked for ONE plate and 2 forks. and we had every intention of buying dessert. woody is from minnesota and has never had a problem with this. he agreed to allow me to come clean that it was not i who asked for the plate and 2 forks. nancy suggested i tell them "who i am" and i said no. then it occurred to me that if i gave the card to the pastry chef she would be my ally and understand as we pastry chefs are very supportive of each other but unfortunately she wasn't there.

While the friend's suggestion that "i tell them 'who i am'" is cringe-inducing, I couldn't help but stop at the comment "woody is from minnesota and has never had a problem with this." What are your thoughts on BYO desserts and "forkage" fees?

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