Counting Calories in America's Best Restaurants

Forget Big Macs — how fattening are Thomas Keller's oysters, Grant Achatz's truffles?
Counting Calories in America's Best Restaurants
Arthur Bovino

Counting Calories in America's Best Restaurants

Corpulence was once a sign of wealth and girth equated with the ability to eat well. These days, junk food gets the bad rap for causing bulk, but who are we kidding, high cuisine is just as much a culprit. It’s time to look to the white-tablecloth restaurant set to see how many calories are hiding behind all their caviar and truffles.

This search examined recipes of 10 signature dishes from the nation’s most renowned chefs, and plugged each ingredient into the USDA’s official calorimeter. The rare ingredients that are included in most of these champion meals often demanded more legwork in the calorie counting process. Turtle meat (the main ingredient of the Commander’s Palace famous turtle soup) was in the USDA database, crème fraiche and truffle oil were not. WD-50's chef Wylie Dufresne’s masterpiece of molecular gastronomy, Fried Eggs Benedict, sends you researching what sounded like components of a science fair project. (How many calories are in a hexaphosphate?)

It should come as no surprise to learn that many high-class feasts are extravagant for more than just our wallets. Of course, there were a few exceptions. Dishes from chefs such as Dan Barber and Alice Waters, who earned their reputations on their approach to the vegetable, had fewer calories than a typical four-star meal.

Check out the slideshow for the illuminating results of our calorie research. But if you do ever have the opportunity to eat one of these meals, try your best to forget what you have learned. After all, it’s not every day that you can eat like a king or queen.

Click for Counting Calories in America's Best Restaurants Slideshow.