Think restaurant prices are scary now? Just wait

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Despite what you may think, there is an upside to our region’s lagging economy. Namely, having never climbed the pinnacles of affluence, the valley of recession looks an awful lot like home. Take the cost of restaurant dining. Even while entrées in New York and California have been soaring toward the stratosphere, local prices still rarely broach the $30 barrier. And though our dinner for two at Thomas Keller’s award-winning French Laundry set us back a whopping $514.94 -- in 2002! -- we can still score a fine meal at our nationally known Lola for around $150. Still, as any frequent diner – or grocery shopper, for that matter – can tell you, food prices are creeping up. ... For a relatively quick and painless lesson in the forces behind that fact – and a few hints at how bad it may get -- check out these three short videos from CNBC on the causes of food inflation. (Thanks to chef Dominic Cerino for sharing.) The first looks at the state of U.S. agriculture. The second considers world economic conditions. And the third asks how bad it’s likely to get. Will diners stop going out? Will restaurant portions shrink? Will the day come when Moxie’s $11.75 burger seems like a steal? See for yourself. – Elaine T. Cicora Read Elaine Cicora's restaurant reviews, food news, and comprehensive dining guide on the restaurant page at clevescene.com.

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