It was our 20th anniversary, and we thought we’d take a trek to Santa Barbara to celebrate. As many people know, this quaint town is home to some of the finest restaurants in Southern California. We thought we’d try Bouchon, rumored to be quite good.
It was July 4th, so celebrations were in the air. We were impressed with the menu, even knowing that the prices were on the high side. Still, service was wonderful, and the food delivered.
What shocked us was the $35 corkage fee. We should have confirmed the price of the corkage beforehand, but in most establishments, these fees are usually $20 and under. Not at Bouchon. They are between $25-35.
Had we known this charge was going to be so high, we would have taken our champagne home, and simply ordered a few glasses of wine from the menu.
I spoke with the owner a few days later, and she reluctantly said she’d remove the fee from my bill.
Restaurants take a hit when people bring in their own wine. I’ve been in the restaurant business, and alcohol is one of the primary ways a restaurant makes its money. But perhaps corkage fees should be printed on the menus, so that buyers can steer clear of these exorbitant charges.
In discussing this incident with our oenophiles back in LA, they were equally surprised. They retold a tale of having to pay a hefty corkage fee when the waitress couldn’t even open their wine, and they were forced to open it themselves.
Bouchon, you’re a nice addition to the Santa Barbara dining scene, but these sorts of surprises are not a great way to endear yourself to new patrons of your restaurant.
Note to myself: ALWAYS check the corkage fee first!