Eating Out on $50 once was a popular monthly restaurant feature in The Record of Hackensack, because it focused on places where four people could eat well for that amount, including tax and tip. I wrote more than a dozen of those reviews in 2005-06, when I was employed there, and the newspaper paid for the meals.
But this year, in a bid to save money, the reviewer only writes about restaurants where two people can eat for $50. How did the change save money? The reviewer, a former reporter by the name of Jeff Page, was having an increasingly difficult time finding restaurants that could feed four for $50. So the editors, rather than boosting the amount Jeff is reimbursed for a meal to $60 or $70, kept it at $50, but knocked off two diners.
Do we really need The Record's help in finding restaurants that can feed two people for $50? They are a dime a dozen. Today's Eating Out on $50 review is of La Batalla in Bergenfield, a Mexican restaurant where the food sounds pretty unexciting, the usual Americanized mix of loads of melted cheese and tame spicing.
When The Record started the $50 restaurant reviews, it appeared the main goal was service to readers. But the food editor at the time dissuaded me of that notion, explaining the newspaper's prime motive was to cut the cost of buying restaurant meals for its reviewers. Nothing seems to have changed much.