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Michel Richard Is Pouring Free Dom Perignon. Sort of.

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Villard Michel Richard at The New York Palace Hotel, which flaunts the name of a great French chef as it garners some of the country's most disappointing reviews, is now offering the equivalent of a Groupon.

Is one of last year's biggest openings turning out to be one of this year's biggest busts?

Parties of two who dine at The Gallery, the prix fixe-only half of Villard Michel Richard, will be treated to a half bottle of Krug. Parties of four will receive a full bottle of Dom Perignon. And just so there's no confusion, the marketing geniuses involved have renamed the entry-level offering the "Dom Perignon Prix Fixe," which is a pretty funny title for a menu that includes no Dom unless there are four of you. Maybe next year they'll start advertising Iranian caviar menus and then send out Israeli fish eggs to half the guests, because what's the difference? Nothing matters, right?

Also worth noting: the $185 tasting menu, which this critic body slammed during a Bloomberg News writeup, has been eliminated. You're welcome.

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Want another discount? Guests who book online for virtually any day of the week and at practically any time will collect 1,000 OpenTable points for their financial and culinary sacrifices. So if you're compelled to eat here twice and collect 2,000 points, you can get a $20 "Dining Cheque" snail mailed to your home in under six weeks, in which case you can come back a third time and save almost nothing off the cost of your meal. Is this all a BAD DEAL?

It just might be.

Think about it. In exchange for the free champers you'll be be feasting on what could be New York's most expensive four-course menu, at $150. By comparison, Jean Georges charges $118 for four-courses while Le Bernardin commands $135, two entirely better restaurants that haven't had to resort to advertising free bubbly to attract patrons, to the best of our knowledge.

The Suttonomics are steep. Dinner for two at The Gallery, after tax and tip, will cost almost $400, while dinner for four will cost $773. Add a cheese course and two extra glasses of wine each and you're easily approaching $1,000 for four. So you're paying a lot of money for free wine at a very so-so restaurant. Why not just do the $148 farmer's feast at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, one of America's best places to eat?

Now to be fair, it's tough to determine exactly how much of a windfall you're getting from the Champagne giveaway. A receptionist couldn't say how much a half-bottle of Krug would cost if purchased a la carte and The Gallery doesn't publish its wine list online. These people aren't really interested in letting guests know how much they'll be spending.

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So let's guestimate. At Astor Wines, 375ml of Krug runs $65 and the cheapest bottle of Dom is $168. Reasonable restaurant markups for wine can range from 50 percent -300 percent. Since bubbly sometimes veers toward the higher end of that spectrum, and since The Gallery isn't the most reasonable place to eat, let's pretend they mark up the Krug to, I don't know, $1,500, and that the Dom is $15,000, exclusive of your first born child as mandatory collateral. Apologies if my math is off.

Let's also pretend that guests are ferried home (anywhere south of 96th Street) in The Bat Wing, just to sweeten things up. Would your meal be worth it now? I'm going to say no. Because let's be real about this. If the most public thing Villard Michel Richard can do after an unimpressive debut is pour what a press email calls "super-luxe" wine, and then dole out a few extra OpenTable points (rather than say "we've overhauled our menus and fixed our food"), then we haven't made much progress, have we?

You heard it here first; I'm calling this one BAD DEAL.

In a related development, I can't wait for the new $4 million Bugatti menu at Nello, where parties of two who can only afford a single crappy salad (~$495,000) will just have to make do with the 2014 Rolls-Royce Phantom as a consolation prize.

· All Coverage of Villard Michel Richard [~ENY~]

Villard Michel Richard

455 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022

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