Colleen Rush, author of The Mere Mortal's Guide to Fine Dining (Broadway, $13,, tells how to best navigate the menu.

By Colleen Rush
Updated September 27, 2010
James Merrell

Q. What dishes are a good value?
Chicken and pasta might be cheap, but they have the highest markup. Order a steak or seasonal foods for the best deal.

Q. Where are the well-priced items on a menu?
In the middle—not the top or the bottom—of the dish list. Avoid anything printed in large letters, in bright colors, or in a box. These dishes are generally not bargains.

Q. How do you get your money’s worth on a bottle of wine?
A. Don’t order a brand or a variety that you’re familiar with. Restaurants know people gravitate toward widely available wines, so these are often marked up the most.