In these frugal times, you might expect restaurants to roll out inexpensive entrées and desserts to woo penny-pinching diners. More meatloaf! Less filet mignon! Some have. While others have stuck to their luxurious guns with dishes that could decimate your bank account in a few forkfuls.In some cases, these expensive meals are more publicity stunt than inspired eating. For instance, in New Orleans, Arnaud’s serve its namesake dessert of strawberries, ice cream, and a port red wine sauce alongside a 5-karat pink-diamond ring, bringing the bill to $1.4 million. Adding a gemstone to ratchet up a tab is an easy tactic, as is overdoing it with top-shelf ingredients.
For example, New York City’s Norma’s offers the Zillion-Dollar Frittata that, despite its florid moniker, costs a mere $1,000. That eye-popping sum buys a six-egg frittata freighted with a whole lobster, and 10 ounces of lustrous caviar.
Elsewhere, at Hubert Keller’s new Las Vegas restaurant, Fleur, the onetime Top Chef contestant has devised the FleurBurger 5000. The $5,000 hamburger is fashioned from opulent Kobe beef, black truffles, and foie gras. It’s served with two sides: crisp fries and a rare bottle of 1995 Petrus wine. Considering that you could buy that wine for less than $3,000 (a steal!), the dinner may be no deal.
Sometimes chefs’ culinary genius may justify the price tag. Also in Vegas, revered sushi chef Masa Takayama’s refined hot pot restaurant, Shaboo, offers an omakase menu (chef’s choice) featuring immaculate cuts of the finest imported beef and seafood that you dunk in divine broth. The meal’s so transcendent you might not blink at the $500 tab.
We’ve rounded up 14 of the world’s top budget-busting dishes. Which are worth the splurge? Which should be laughed off the menu? You be the judge.
This post originally appeared at The Daily Meal.
Restaurant: Fleur by Hubert Keller
Where: Las Vegas
Details: The former Top Chef toque takes the burger-and-a-beverage to decadent new heights with this two-handed splurge, which is made with rich Kobe beef crowned with foie gras and black truffles. The meaty spectacle is paired with a bottle of 1995 Petrus wine and two Ichendorf Brunello glasses -- yours to keep.
Restaurant: Nino's Bellissima
Where: New York City
Details: The pie's the limit at this pizza shop, where a thousand bucks buys a luxurious thin-crust extravagance that's crowned with chives, lobster, crème fraîche and a half-dozen kinds of caviar.
Restaurant: Niu Ba Ba
Where: Taipei, Taiwan
Details: This ain't your dorm-room ramen: Chef Wang Cong-Yuan spent 15 years perfecting his steeply-priced soup, which is constructed with four special cuts of slow-braised beef (from Australia, the U.S., Brazil, and Japan), a blend of up to six different stocks, and one of 20-odd varieties of unique noodles. We recommend sipping, not slurping.
Restaurant: Çirağan Palace Hotel
Where: Istanbul, Turkey
Details: Order 72 hours in advance to enjoy this royal repast made black truffles; French Polynesian vanilla beans; and pears, apricots, quinces, and figs that have spent years marinating in Jamaican rum. The cake is covered in 24-karat gold leaf, and served in a handcrafted silver box.
Where: Santa Monica, California
Details: The Michelin-starred French restaurant's rich spin on the childhood staple features fresh tagliatelle pasta topped with gobs of Parmesan cheese, brown-butter truffle froth, and shaved white truffles. P.S. The dish is only served October through December -- white truffle season.
Where: New York City
Details: This fluffy morning extravagance is crafted with six eggs, an entire lobster, and a whopping 10 ounces of Sevruga caviar. If you're pinching pennies, you can opt for a version with one ounce of caviar for the bargain price of $100.
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