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.