The Most Expensive Restaurant Menus in America
December 22, 2014
If you’re planning on visiting one of these restaurants, be ready to drop some serious cash
The Most Expensive Restaurant Menus in America
When it comes to dining, we all have our definitions of what qualifies as a “splurge.” For some, a visit to a restaurant where entrée prices exceed $20 is reserved for special occasions only; others have no problem ordering a $50 steak any night at all. There are expensive restaurants, and then there are the expensive restaurants, the ones where everyday folks are left wondering how anyone can actually afford to eat there and still have money for the cab ride home. Reserved for high-rollers only, these are the 30 most expensive restaurants in America.
#30 La Grenouille, New York City
This iconic New York restaurant opened its doors on a snowy night in 1962, and has survived while its onetime counterparts like Lutèce, La Caravelle, and La Côte Basque have shuttered. So what makes this restaurant so special that it's continued to flourish, despite a change in management earlier this year? La Grenouille is a captivating snapshot of the classic dining trends of past eras, and the luxurious dining room, decorated with fresh flowers, ensures elegant surroundings. The menu may lack the kind of culinary drama often experienced at more modern fine dining restaurants, but when the food is as expertly prepared as it is here, there's no need to change a thing. The prix fixe is $106, with caviar supplements available at additional cost.
#29 Victoria and Albert’s, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in the Walt Disney World Resort, Victoria & Albert's, recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award, is known for being among the last remaining establishments in the country to require jackets for men. The modern American fare is crafted by chef Scott Hunnel, who makes a point to source ingredients from the most prime locations, such as truffles from Italy and beef from Japan. The tasting menu is $135 per person, with wine pairings an additional $65.
#28 Menton, Boston
Despite being younger than many of its counterparts (it opened in 2010), Menton has accomplished much in the culinary world, having earned four stars from the Boston Globe, as well as being named one of the “best new restaurants” in both Esquire and Bon Appétit magazines. Menton offers menus with both French and Italian influences: a seven-course tasting menu for $155 a person, as well as a four-course prix fixe for $95 a person.
#27 Daniel, New York City
This very grown-up restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side maintains standards of service and cuisine — French haute cuisine, very much an endangered species today — that harken back to an earlier era. But Daily Meal Council member Daniel Boulud's cooking is up-to-date and really, really good. Offering entrées like sea scallops with a birch reduction or cedar-wrapped Scottish sea trout, the restaurant’s nine-course tasting menu is available for $158 per person and three-course prix fixe for $125.
#26 Tru, Chicago
Anthony Martin, the young and ambitious chef helming the kitchen at Tru, quietly took the reins from Rick Tramonto a few years ago when Tramonto decided to shift primary focus to his other restaurants. Tru has received AAA Five Diamond Awards, a Michelin star award, and two four-star reviews from the Chicago Tribune, among its long list of accolades. The current nine-course menu is available for $158, and the seven-course prix fixe menu is $125.
#25 Moto, Chicago
With his sense of whimsy and cerebral molecular gastronomy, chef Richie Farina’s kitchen at Moto may better resemble a laboratory. His “Which Came First?” dish — complete with chicken and egg — is a favorite, and other dish names like “Thyme Capsule” are sure to intrigue. Guests may get a glimpse of the indoor “farm” on-site. Two tasting menus are available: the eight-course menu ($125), available only Tuesday through Thursday, and the 16-course ($175) tasting menu.
#24 Momofuku Ko, New York City
Now moved to a larger location, Ko, which has received two stars from the Michelin Guide for seven years in a row, still offers seating around a large counter and provides as unique an experience as ever. The dinner-only multi-course tasting menu for $175 has items like poached Matsutake mushrooms with pineapple, smoked egg with caviar, and charcoal-grilled beets with Furikake. A beverage pairing is available for $155 per person.
#23 Coi, San Francisco
Using carefully sourced ingredients, Coi chef Daniel Patterson — named 2014 Best Chef: West by the James Beard Foundation — serves thoughtful Northern California cuisine, balancing classical methods with modern techniques to create unusual and evocative experiences for diners such as Matsutake, a potato-pine needle purée. Some of Coi’s many accolades include a two-star Michelin rating and four stars from the San Francisco Chronicle. There is a daily tasting menu that varies from $155 to $185 (if walk-in spots are available, those are $195), and reservations are by a ticketing system; all have an 18-percent service charge at the time of purchase.
#22 Everest, Chicago
True to its name, Everest towers head-and-shoulders above many of Chicago's other upscale restaurants; literally, from its perch on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange Building, and also gastronomically, through Alsatian-born chef Jean Joho's superlative French food. The wine list is almost as stunning as the views, setting Everest above most other restaurants in its collection of great wines from Joho's home region of Alsace. Various menus are available, from the tasting menu for $185 to prix-fixe menu for $120, but signature dishes like Filet of Sole New Meunière are a must-try.
#21 Benu, San Francisco
Benu is located in a historic building in the heart of San Francisco’s SOMA district. James Beard Award-winning chef Corey Lee offers the chef’s tasting menu Tuesdays through Saturdays for $195 per person. The former French Laundry chef spent more than a year creating the perfect design, feel, and food for his restaurant. Sample tasting menus include such dishes as "thousand-year-old quail egg" and fluke with sesame leaf and daikon.
#20 Blanca, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Classic rock in a spare, modern, and polished atmosphere might be an unexpected atmosphere for a restaurant, but this is where Blanca works its culinary magic. With only a dozen diners at a time and eating facing the kitchen, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Wagyu beef in kohlrabi broth, cucumber sorbet with gin, and tofu with a pea purée are just some interesting combinations you may encounter in the $195 tasting menu.
#19 Le Bernardin, New York City
Think Le Bernardin and you think accolades: Michelin, The New York Times, James Beard Foundation. Is it a little stuffy? Sure… But with a super sleek renovation recently completed and a lengthy new lease, this iconic restaurant isn’t going anywhere. And if cooking fish well is an art, then chef Eric Ripert is Michelangelo; his contemporary French touch has led some to call his creations the world's best seafood. The four-course prix-fixe dinner menu is $135; there are also two tasting menus, the chef’s tasting menu at $198 ($336 with wine pairing) and Le Bernardin tasting menu at $155 ($246 with wine pairing).
#18 Herbfarm, Seattle
Located just outside of Seattle, Herbfarm offers a seasonally inspired dining experience that celebrates the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. Each unique, nine-course meal features the freshest ingredients from forest, farm, and sea, and is paired with five or six wines; the menus, with themes such as Truffle Treasure and Chambers of the Sea, change with the season about every two weeks. There is a single seating each night and the tasting menu prices vary depending upon the theme, beginning at $205.
#17 Grace, Chicago
Behind the large glass window making the kitchen visible to diners, Grace’s chefs create gorgeous, colorful presentations on the plates, pretty enough that you might hesitate to cut them up. Luckily, the taste is worth it, with two tasting menu choices, Flora and Fauna, at $205 per person each. “Fauna” features seafood and protein, such as king crab with lemon mint, and “Flora” focuses on vegetables — a recent selection was sunchoke with Concord grapes. The available wine pairing is $125. Grace was awarded three Michelin stars in the 2015 Guide, improving upon 2014’s two stars.
#16 Jean Georges, New York City
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is one of the few chefs in New York City with the distinction of four stars from The New York Times. At his eponymous restaurant in the Trump International Hotel and Tower, his classic French technique bridges old and new worlds, eschews heavy sauces, and embraces the spice and flavors of Asian cuisine. Guests may encounter such dishes as scallops with caramelized cauliflower and sashimi with pistachios, chile, and mint. Dinner prices range from a tasting menu of $208 to a prix fixe of $128.
#15 Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Va.
Patrick O'Connell, a self-taught chef, opened this restaurant in 1978 in what was originally a garage in a little town about an hour's drive from D.C. He formed alliances with local farmers and artisanal producers long before it was fashionable, and developed into a sophisticated modern American chef of the highest order. This Five Diamond Award-winning property, which creates classic French cuisine with a fresh update, offers its tasting menu at $178 per person Monday through Thursday, $188 on Friday and Sunday, and $208 for the dinner on Saturday. Garden views, silk lampshades, and elegantly set tables accompany delicious dishes like the Tin of Sin caviar meal, truffle-stuffed breast of pheasant, and scallops with candied yams and coconut.
#14 Mélisse, Los Angeles
Acclaimed chef-owner of Mélisse and native Southern Californian Josiah Citrin draws inspiration from ingredients available at the farmers market and the local purveyors he partners with to craft his seasonally changing menu. With two Michelin stars, four from the Mobil Guide, and a host of various industry awards, Mélisse attracts locals and visiting food enthusiasts alike who are looking to celebrate special occasions. The Carte Blanche menu costs $210, the vegetarian tasting menu $135, and various supplements, such as caviar or white truffles, are available.
#13 Alinea, Chicago
It could be said that Grant Achatz, whose training includes stints with Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller, and Ferran Adrià, deserves the title of America's most creative chef. Pushing boundaries with items like the Edible Helium Balloon and the Black Truffle Explosion, he puts modernist techniques to delicious use. Besides such curiosities, Alinea has earned both the Michelin three-star rating and the James Beard Award for Best Service in the United States. Seasonal menus, ranging between 18 and 22 courses, begin at $210 before wine pairings, and reservations are sold by a ticketing system.
#12 Addison, San Diego, Calif.
Addison is the signature restaurant located in the Grand Del Mar resort in San Diego. Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef William Bradley combines French cooking with local ingredients to create his menus. Most first-timers opt for the 10-course Chef’s Tasting Menu, which costs $215 per person. However, the most popular menu is the four-course standard, which costs $98 per person. The elegantly styled dining room overlooks the resort grounds and centers on a wine room. The frequently changing menu offers dishes such as caramelized codfish and a chilled white corn velouté.
#11 Eleven Madison Park, New York City
Eleven Madison Park is an event all its own. The restaurant has, among its credits, four stars from The New York Times, where the reviewer hailed the imaginative presentation, and three stars from the Michelin Guide. Soaring ceilings and beautiful décor set the tone for the sole dining option available on the menu: the $225 tasting menu, where a diner might find items like cucumber snow and langoustine with fennel.
#10 The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.
Chef Chris Kostow's widely acclaimed Napa Valley dining spot creates food custom-suited to each guest based on a process of communication. The restaurant received a James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Service this year, and in 2013, chef Kostow got the James Beard Award for Best Chef: West. A Chef's Tasting Menu of nine or ten courses is offered each evening for $225 per person, and wine pairings for each course are offered for an additional $225 per person.
#9 Baumé, Palo Alto, Calif.
Bruno Chemel’s two-Michelin-starred Baumé is named after the French chemist Antoine Baumé — appropriate for this modern approach to French cuisine. The eight-course dinner tasting menu is offered at $238 per person; the six-course lunch tasting menu is $178. In both cases, service is complimentary. Guests, who will enjoy the polished service in an intimate setting, should be prepared to spend a few hours indulging in the array of dishes, such as the 62 Degree Jidori Egg, Avocado Kohlrabi, and Golden Osetra Caviar.
#8 Saison, San Francisco
The recipient of three stars from the Michelin Guide, Saison nevertheless has a more laid-back atmosphere than some of its counterparts. An open kitchen allows diners to see the meticulous preparation of dishes of extraordinary freshness, from a standout tomato salad to the trout roe. The dining room’s tasting menu price is $248 for an eight-course meal (an enhanced “Discovery” menu is also available at varying prices), and a customized wine pairing for $248 is optional.
#7 Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Located in the lower level of a gourmet grocery store in downtown Brooklyn, the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, the recipient of Michelin’s three stars, is one of the toughest tables to book in New York City. Part of the exclusivity stems from the fact that the entire restaurant includes only 18 seats of communal dining, but the quality of the food ensures that repeat customers get right back in the reservation line. Seafood, mostly shellfish, is the focal point here, and the prix fixe dinner of at least 20 small-plate courses changes daily. $255 is the current prix fixe price, plus tax and 20-percent service fee. Wine is now available; prices per bottle begin at $60.
#6 The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.
Chef Thomas Keller approaches French cuisine with classical technique, and his restaurant The French Laundry established new standards for fine dining in this country. In 2012, Keller and The French Laundry received the coveted AAA Five Diamond Award, and the restaurant has been given the Michelin Guide San Francisco’s highest rating of three stars six years in a row. The French Laundry offers two daily nine-course tasting menus, a Chef’s Tasting Menu and a Vegetable Tasting Menu, for $295 per head.
#5 Per Se, New York City
Upholding the standards of excellent cuisine and customer service set by Thomas Keller’s restaurant empire, Per Se remains a must-visit dining experience in New York. Its elegantly luxurious dining room, overlooking Central Park, has an open fire and friendly wait staff that keep the experience from being stuffy. But while the prices are on the stuffy side — two nine-course tasting menus are offered daily: $310 for the Chef’s Tasting Menu, and $310 for the Tasting of Vegetables — many feel that with its three-star Michelin Guide rating, two four-star reviews from The New York Times and the “Outstanding Service Award” from the James Beard Foundation in 2011, the experience is worth every penny.
#4 Guy Savoy, Las Vegas
At the top of his profession, with a well-deserved three Michelin stars at his Parisian flagship, Savoy has translated the best in contemporary ingredient-based French cooking to the world’s most famous gambling mecca without missing a beat. The artichoke and black truffle soup, red mullet fillet, frozen cauliflower mousse, and other such extravagances will remind you why French chefs got so famous in the first place and why the bill is so pricey. In addition to the 14-course Innovation menu 14-course at $375, a nine-course $290 Signature menu, and an À La Carte menu is available.
#3 Urasawa, Beverly Hills, Calif.
This Japanese culinary shrine, with a sushi bar and just enough room for 10 diners nightly, is located in a shopping center off Rodeo Drive. Some might call it the West Coast version of New York City's Masa, which is not surprising considering that not only did Urasawa chef-owner Hiroyuki Urasawa train under Masa Takayama before opening his restaurant, but also the restaurant's spot previously housed Ginza Sushi-ko, where Takayama made his reputation. Urasawa has a nearly 30-course omakase menu, priced at $395, that changes daily.
#2 Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas
This opulently furnished dining room in the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino is the first restaurant opened in America by the famed, award-winning Robuchon, commonly considered the greatest of modern French chefs. It maintains the highest standards, from its superb service and impressive (and impressively pricey) wine list to such finely crafted signature dishes as La Langoustine, truffled langoustine ravioli with chopped cabbage. The 16-course prix fixe menu is a truly memorable experience, as well it ought to be at $425 a head, wine not included. However, their most popular menu is the five-course tasting menu, at $195.
#1 Masa, New York City
Established as the premier sushi spot in New York City (as well as the best in the United States) Masa Takayama's namesake restaurant in the swanky Time Warner Center draws diners into its hushed, intimate setting for an evening of exquisite food and exotic presentations. The menu-less cuisine, with fish flown in from Japan, is accompanied by a high bar for entry: the price. For dinner at this Three-Michelin-star venue, you’ll pay a minimum of $450 per person before tip.