How a $400 Steakhouse Dinner Helped Me Stop Ordering Delivery

Photo by Mantra Media on Unsplash.

For a while, it was easy for my husband and me to justify our food delivery habit. We live in Washington, DC, and given the choice between walking to our local Safeway in the rain or ordering kebabs over lemon rice and lavash, well… it’s only $30, right? (Plus tax and delivery.)

I never understood how other people could spend $4 each morning at Starbucks without thinking twice, until we started ordering through Postmates whenever we woke up hungover, were held up at work until late, or wanted to avoid making a trip to the grocery store in inclement weather.

Confronted with the staggering amount of money we were spending on food delivery, did we resolve to break the habit? Not exactly.

It took a trip to Miami Beach, and a $400 steakhouse dinner, for us to change our thinking on food and finances.

The intersection of Collins Avenue and 1st Street is south of the nightclubs and throngs of young tourists who had gathered to celebrate spring break. Our view of the beach was interrupted by a condominium in which each floor constituted a separate unit. The building was equipped with an elevator that transports residents, along with their rides, to the private garages that adjoin their condos. (Heaven forbid they have to share an elevator or risk a parking lot collision with another quarter-million-dollar sports car.)

It was our last night in Miami. My husband and I had a 10 p.m. flight from Miami to Dulles, where we would be greeted by dreary weather and a long journey back to Washington, followed by an early morning the following Monday. For these reasons, we decided to splurge on dinner at a restaurant with prices that were commensurate with the value of properties in the neighborhood. We chose Prime Fish, which is part of the group of steakhouses of which Miami’s storied Prime 112 is the flagship.

It was worth it. How, I wondered, could wheat-flour dough and yeast produce bread that was so much better than any bread I had ever tasted, then or since? My husband encouraged me to try the A5 Kobe beef, which is imported from Japan and widely considered the best cut of meat in the world. At first, I balked at the price — $35 per ounce — but it was so mind-blowing I ended up ordering more.

Seated outside, we drank martinis and enjoyed our food as the sun set behind the high-rise buildings that shaped Miami’s skyline, many complete with art deco detailing and neon lights. My husband teased me about my sunburn, and as we laughed together it dawned on me: This is a rare experience that represents why sharing a meal can be, or perhaps should be, so special.

As our server delivered the bill, my husband inserted his credit card without opening the check presenter. “I don’t want to look!” I stole it from him to add my payment and assess the damage. My first thought was that the dinner cost more than our three-night stay at the hotel. Then, I remembered we had spent nearly as much on six weeks of food delivery. “Honey,” I said, “We could have nights like this once every couple of months if we make dinner at home every night.”

My attitude toward food, at this point, has shifted to more closely align with my approach to buying clothing. In my view, it’s better to invest in well-made pieces and the associated maintenance (professional alteration, shoe repair) than to stock up on a high quantity of poorer-quality items.

More importantly, food brings people together for a shared experience that can be extraordinary — and that is much more valuable than the convenience afforded by a food delivery service.

With the money we have saved so far, my husband and I hope to try Upland, Stephen Starr’s California-inspired spot on Park Avenue South. My friend, a New Yorker, tells me: “I went there on a brunch date and had a soufflé that changed my life.”

Christopher M. Kane is a journalist, essayist, and writer based in Washington, DC. He recently started freelancing, so feel free to drop him a line at kane.christopher.m@gmail.com, and read more at christopherkane.work.

This story is part of The Billfold’s Food Series.


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