Yesterday, some friends and I dined at Aroma, chef Javier Angeles-Beron‘s new Latin American place in Olney, and were faced with a Sunday night offer we couldn’t refuse: For every $50 spent per couple on food, you had the opportunity to buy a bottle of wine for $5. This recession does have its payoffs.

Now, granted, it was a bottle of wine secured from the rather plonk-heavy folks who run the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control, but still I was more than happy to suck down an Argentine tempranillo or a Chilean pinot for a mere fiver. The deal, in fact, seemed too good to be true. I mean, these days, it’s unbelievably easy for two people to hit the $50 mark for dinner. You don’t even have to stuff yourselves silly.

Or so we thought.

The four of us ordered four appetizers, secure in the thought that these would be mere warm-ups to our main courses and our forthcoming bottles of dirt-cheap wine. But when the waiter brought our apps to the table, I knew we were doomed. These were the Yao Ming of appetizers: a heaping bowl of papas y chorizo, two thick logs of vegetarian tamales, an avocado overflowing with mayo-drenched succotash and chicken (never mind that we ordered shrimp), and a small tower of tuna ceviche stacked atop even more avocado.

We were revising our entree selections even before our stomachs started to stretch from those apps. We were forced to share entrees and forgo a night of cheap wine.