Whether it's the Blue Plate Special or the Chef's Special, almost all restaurants have that limited-time- only dish. But is this a truly unique dish from a creative chef, a pricing scam or something the kitchen need to get rid of before it expires? The answer could be all three.
A daily special is often a way for the chef to get creative, and spice up the menu for the restaurant's regular diners. But, it can also be a way to establish a pricing structure and manage diners' perceptions. If the special pecan-encrusted salmon is $30, you might feel better about ordering the shrimp scampi at $25.
Specials can also be ways to get rid of surplus. If the salmon is not moving quickly enough, it may end up as a "Salmon Surprise" that week. Additionally, if that particular restaurant does catering or hosts special events, they may have leftovers they need to use.
Specials also give restaurants pricing flexibility. Specials are a temporary item on the menu, if they're listed at all, so the chef can change prices based on changing costs or low sales.
To avoid busting your budget on a daily special, ask some questions about the preparation to help determine how special things really are.