There are several reasons we like to test our potential partners with a meal at L'Academie, an important one being the rock-bottom prices. This is a learning restaurant for students of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, so the trade for our being guinea pigs is a low bill. Appetizers for $2.95. Entrees for $8.95. Desserts for $2.95. At these prices, even if our date is a washout, it won't leave us washing dishes in the kitchen.
We also like to use L'Academie to see how our date deals with potential mishap. Students haven't honed their server skills quite yet, but if our date has a meltdown over minor blips, we know we haven't met our true love.
It helps that the setting is high-class bistro, and the food is really tasty (spinach salad, prime rib, leg of lamb, bread pudding). So, if by chance our date turns out to have potential, we still look good in their eyes.