Actual headline today (12/10/08) in the New York Times Dining section:
Great Meals for Two, Under $100 (It’s Possible)
Times food writer Frank Bruni stressed that it “was an experiment for lean times, but not an exercise in cheap eats.” In case there was any doubt.
Looking back in the FAIR archives, one recalls that in 1997, the Times‘ wine columnist wrote: “The $100-a-bottle wine, once an example of vulgar excess, is now an everyday occurrence.”
Earlier (12/18/92), the Times ran a story that dared readers to believe that it was possible to eat lunch and dinner in New York City for less than $50. “‘Lunch and dinner in New York City for $50 a day?’ sniggered a seasoned veteran of Manhattan restaurants. ‘Is that sitting down?'” The story came with maps to show readers where this amazing feat might be possible.
As long ago as 1988 (3/11/88), the Times was announcing that “dinner for two in the average New York restaurant has broken the three-digit barrier.” This is a special usage of the word “average” pioneered by the New York Times–meaning “catering to the extremely affluent.”