Note to All Restaurants: Stop the Sleight of Hand!

Note to All Restaurants: Stop the Sleight of Hand!

Seriously, if you're going to advertise a deal outside, don't assume we've forgotten about it once we get inside. We are not goldfish!

This happened on Sunday afternoon. Tempted to try newbie Brasserie Pascal at Fashion Island, we noticed the dealbreaker on a board in front of the entrance: filet mignon, halibut or coq au vin for $10.

But once we were seated, we were given just the regular menu. No word of the bargains. Perhaps we'd made a mistake? Maybe they were only offered during the week, or earlier in the day at weekends? We asked the waiter, who, by the way, was charming, unlike one of the waitresses, who dropped my soup spoon on the table with a loud clank and didn't break a smile the entire time we were there. He replied that the dishes were indeed available (they run from 11.30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily).

Normally, I'd silently fume for a good 15 minutes, but he averted any chance of this in an instant, by suggesting we order the slightly smaller but far cheaper filet mignon from the $10 trio rather than the steak au poivre we were mulling over.

As for the bargain dishes, they weren't bad at all. Not spectacular, but more than worth the $10 price tag. The meat in the coq au vin literally fell off the bone, and the accompanying tagliatelle soaked up the bacony sauce. The juicy steak was medium, as requested (most places overcook it), and sat on a bed of rich-but-not-sickly mash. Both dishes came with perky carrots, green beans and squash.

Verdict? Pascal certainly isn't the only restaurant guilty of not declaring everything upfront, and, judging by our waiter's behavior, isn't trying to rip anyone off. But it still ticks me off a little: There's no shame in wanting to order the cheap stuff, but do we have to beg for it?

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