Chicago's Priciest Corkage Fees

Mel - You are right. I saw the exact same thing. The kitchen table was bringing in wine they just bought at Binny’s. (Still in the bag) I asked the manager, sort of WTF? He said they are friends of the restaurant. I have eaten at the Kitchen table and was not allowed to bring wine.


the wines I saw were trophy wines from deep cellars not exactly recent Binny’s purchases but FOH get all kinds of special treatment…

Indeed. Its not what you know its who you know. But now with social media you can call them on it. Or, just not go which is what I do.

Re: Bavette’s, I think that all of the restaurants in that group have the same policy. It can have its down size but it doesn’t upset me. We took two bottles in and only gave one glass away. Its just a small glass of wine. Probably the same as I would leave for the Chef/staff.


I don’t like the restaurant telling me how to enjoy my dinner. Yes they have the right. I have the right to go elsewhere. Doesn’t seem like they’re missing me so everyone’s happy.

was at sun wah today, and they raised their corkage to $10/bottle. sad day.

Still never been.

The article is reporting face value policy. Although not the “leader” myself, I’ve been to half of those restaurants with big hitters and experienced corkage entirely waived (the no-corkage spots included). Relationships trump everything, they just don’t want to advertise/encourage it.

At Nico Osteria (my place) the corkage is $25, but when I’m working I rarely charge it if the people are nice.

I loved Nico. Great restaurant. We brought an 08 Coche Genevrieres there and had a killer dinner.

Nico was fantastic the couple times I’ve been. Glad to hear their corkage policy is reasonable/flexible.

I went to Proof in DC for a business dinner, and the party I was dining with was quite embarrassed when they refused to pour the HSS he brought since it was on the wine list…

Absolutely agree - have had a few excellent dinners. Brought a bunch of SQN for one dinner last year with three other guys and food/service was terrific and we were very well taken care of from a wine perspective in particular. I haven’t been in a couple months and have been meaning to go back since it is only a few blocks from me. Most of the time have gotten pasta and fish but their special steak with the SQNs was perfect.

Nico Osteria now has no corkage on sunday nights, so bring em if you got em.

Guess you have to hope for a State System in PA that is so onerous and restaurant unfriendly that there are a multitude of great restaurants in Philly that happily allow corkage. Honestly it works out a lot better for the restaurant rather than pay for liquor license, inventory, breakage and storage, etc. I am happy to pay a $50 corkage fee if I can drink what I want and eat excellent food. When you peel away all the associated costs, is not a $50 profit for alcohol on a dinner for two people reasonable? Maybe the problem is that food is underpriced. If it takes so much effort and cost to prepare top flight ingredients, just charge me for it. I am tired of the cost shifting argument in many restaurants and the argument that if we peasants are allowed to bring our own wine it will clash with the chef’s vision.

This is why I always bring multiple bottles. (1) I don’t know what food we will order, and (2) backup in case one bottle is bad and (3) if its a place I don’t know well I worry less about them having the bottle. Having said that, Proof has a deep list, so i would really call first before I brought a bottle to a place like that. When we went to Convivial in DC a couple weeks ago, I brought my 6 bottle bag, lol.

It’s not just the dollar level of the corkage fee, but the service level and/or attitude that comes with BYOB. If a restaurant’s wait staff (or somm) makes BYOB/corkage a less than satisfying experience, then it’s not a place I want to frequent regardless of the precise corkage charge.

For example, I’ve been to places that charge a corkage fee and give you crappy, thick stems. We’ve asked for nice stems and been told those are only for wines ordered off the list (that policy, of course, is not noted on the website). So if you’re going to make us feel like second-class citizens for BYOB, then the amount of the corkage fee isn’t the critical factor.


Several years ago, my wine serving at Dos Caminos (Soho, Manhattan) arrived in a small glass, best described as an over-sized thimble. I nicely asked to use a properly sized goblet instead, as many were sitting idle on a shelf. Both the waitperson and manager refused steadfastly, saying that they were reserved for higher priced wines, whether by the glass or full bottle.

Bruce - I’ve observed that before too, but typically if you request the better stemware, servers will try to accommodate.


The economic cycle hasn’t turned yet, and at least from the OP link, it seems like some venues are getting high handed with corkage. We’ll see how smug they are when the cycle turns. It seems to me that the restaurants which have a balanced corkage policy are more likely to survive the full economic cycle than those who attempt to squeeze everything they can during their moment in the sun.

That happened to me once (Sapphire in Laguna Beach). I’m not angry or anything, but I did remember it and never really thought of going back.

If they want to do that I would retaliate by coming the next time with a wineglass carrier and use my own Zaltos…