Beware: Why you might regret ordering the fish

Fiona Govan
Fiona Govan - [email protected]
Beware: Why you might regret ordering the fish
The price of fish is not always displayed on the menu. Photo: jypsygen / Flickr

Ordering the catch of the day can deliver a rather nasty side effect, as two diners on holiday in Spain recently discovered...when the bill came. And it can serve as a lesson to us all.


We all know what it’s like to be shown a display of fresh fish on ice while an enthusiastic waiter persuades you that the big ugly specimen eyeballing you was caught this morning and will taste exquisite baked in the oven with a little garlic.

But don’t be intimidated into ordering a fish if you don’t understand the pricing, as a couple of diners on the Balearic island of Formentera discovered last week.

Ignacio Villalgordo tweeted a photo of his lunch bill after dining at a beach restaurant on the Island of Formentera last week. The bill showed that he and his wife had paid €221,85 for a baked John Dory that they shared between them

"Tourist trap. Speechless.” Villagordo wrote to accompany the photo. The post touched a nerve and sparked a flood of other people coming forward to share their rip-off restaurant stories.

"We didn’t  ask the price, it wasn’t on the menu or written on a board and we assumed it would be similar value to that of a nearby restaurant where it was €90 a kilo," Villalgordo later told Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

It turned out that the fish was actually 153 euros a kilo and that the serving weighed in at just short of a kilo and a half, including head and bones.

Although he did admit that the fish was fresh and good quality. "But the accompanying potatoes were a bit hard," he informed 20 minutos.

The restaurant has responded to criticism arguing that the prices are displayed in the menu and that the price of the 'catch of the day' is available on request.

"The waiters know the prices which change every day and all the diner has to do is ask," said a manager at Juan y Andrea, the beach restaurant.

"We cannot understand what all the fuss is about," he added.

But although the bill was an unpleasant surprise, consumer associations warn that a restaurant can charge whatever it likes for a fish - as long as it is open about it.

"To charge for something that wasn’t requested is against the law. But as long as they indicate the price of the fish, even if it is per kilo and not for the final dish, it is within the law,"  said Spain’s consumer organization OCU.

So just remember if you are looking forward to a fish supper, make sure you find out the price in advance to avoid a nasty surprise at the end of the meal.

Read more: Outrage in Italy over €20 service charge for coffees


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