Purposely Avoiding the Most Expensive Item on the Menu—and Ordering Whatever's Right Below It
Why it's bad:
Even if you consider yourself savvy about menu engineering, beware of this tactic we learned about from O
magazine contributor Peter Greenberg
: Restaurants often list their priciest dish on the right side of the menu, in the center, where they know you'll look first. They're counting on you to see this "decoy" (some insiders also refer to it as an "anchor"), and then opt for the more moderately priced item below it—which, in many cases, is the dish with the highest profit margin for the restaurant (such as an overpriced pasta that's been spruced up with odds-and-ends vegetables).
How to stop:
Start at the back of the menu (if there is one—if not, look toward the bottom or, even more precisely, at the bottom left). Those dishes are usually better values, and if you see them first, you'll be less tempted to go for the more expensive dish you notice later.