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A week ago my daughter and son-in-law celebrated their anniversary at Laboratorio del Galileo in DC. Being a Chowhound, I of course, received a detailed description of their entire meal. They had a wonderful experience and I'm sure an anniversary they shall never forget.

I, being a gray-hair, turned even grayer when they told me the cost of the dinner! Yesterday while perusing the Chowhound boards I came across a discussion on tipping which centered around an $800 dinner at Alinea in Chicago.

Since I am a etiree and don't eat out nearly as often as I once did, these two incidents got me to thinking about the most expensive restaurants in the country. So, my question is, where are the most expesive restauants and what are the average costs in these establishments? I think wine costs should be left out of the discussion since one or two bottles of good wine can considerably run up the tab.

Dinner for two, sans wine. Where are they?

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  1. The French Laundry is about $200 san wine. But that's nothing compared to some of the most expensive restaurants in Tokyo and Hong Kong. You can easily get into the 4 figures terrority.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Peter
      Frosty Melon

      According to their website, it is $210, sans wine, with service included.

      1. re: Frosty Melon

        Same for its sister restaurant in NYC, per se.

      2. re: Peter

        What's the going rate for a man3 han4 quan2 xi2 (Manchu & Han Complete Banquet) these days? I was under the impression that for a proper version, it's in the 5 figures for food only, but not absolutely sure if that is for the whole table or individual.

        1. re: Limster

          Some of that cost is because of the expensive ingredients. The "8 mountain treasures" course features bear paws and tiger kidneys. I dont know if these are offered because the taste is exquisite, because of presumed medicinal value, or in order to impress the guests, much as a modern day American mogul might dazzle his dinner guests with buckets of caviar.

        2. re: Peter
          Melanie Wong

          Absolutely. At the top restaurants in Asia, one course per person can be well over $100 each. If you order 10 or 20 courses in that range, it gets to be pretty pricey.

        3. Urasawa is in Los Angeles is $250 per person sans wine, tax and tip. Best meal I ever had!

          1. From their website. Alain Ducasse in NYC. Aquatic flavors Menu - 280 $

            1. Masa, a four-star Japanese restaurant in Manhattan, is $350 per person, sans liquor, tax or tip. The $800 meal at Alinea would include all that, I think.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Akatonbo

                I recently read somewhere that Masa is the most expensive restaurant in NYC, starting at $350 per person. There are extra menu (food items) bells and whistles you can opt for with an additional "suppliment" charge.

              2. s
                Seth Chadwick

                Mary Elaine's at the Phoenician Resort in Phoenix has a prix fixe menu set at $500.00 per person sans wine, tax or tip.

                They also have an $87.50 and $125.00 prix fixe menus, but what's $400 between friends. :o)

                Link: http://www.feastinginphoenix.com

                1. j
                  JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                  Joël Robuchon at the Mansion, in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, has a sixteen-course tasting menu for $350 per person sans wine.

                  Link: http://thecosmicjester.blogspot.com

                  1. Masa and Alain Ducasse in NYC both have special set meals that upon occasion are $500 per person not including sake/wine.

                    In South Africa I had a meal that at La Quartier Francaise was $US 125 tasting menu with wine. The exhange rate was $1= 7 Rand. One Rand purchased aproximately what a dollar would in the US, so for the locals the meal was apx $875.

                    Sketch in London is known to be infamously expensive with a meal running around 200 pounds per person which is equal to $400.

                    Forbes has articles on the most expensive restaurants. The US article from 2004 is outdated already. The restaurants mentioned have raised their prices 100-400%.

                    Forbes 2004 US

                    Forbes 2005 Worldwide

                    About.com has a list of NYC ten most expensive.


                    1. The Inn at Little Washington is about $200/person, without wine.

                      1. Perhaps the most expensive meal for two in history was eaten by Craig Claiborne in 1975. American Express offered the high bidder in a charity auction a no-price-limit dinner at any restaurant. Claiborne donated a big sum, won the meal, and proceeded to eat a 31 course, five hour meal at a top Paris restaurant. It cost about $4000 -- and would be a lot more today.

                        If you want to top that dinner, here's an idea: persuade one of the top chefs in the world to cook a private dinner for you. I'm sure you could find one... if he were convinced that you really appreciated food and if he were offered a LOT of money. By the way, that's what people who eat in Laboratorio or in Masa basically pay for... a semiprivate meal cooked by a top chef.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Brian S

                          A heck of a meal, but as I recall the bill (which was for 2 - Pierre Franey joined him) included some fabulous and very expensive wines.

                          1. re: Striver

                            Yeah, it did. Still, the franc was worth fairly little then, and prices have probably at least doubled since then. Not that many years before, I had a big blowout meal at London's most expensive restaurant including Latour 61 for fifty dollars.

                            1. re: Brian S

                              That meal was in 1975. If the prices only doubled it would be a miracle. Think of the wines a 1918 Chateau Latour, a 1928 Mouton- Rothschild, a 1929 Romanee-Conti, a 1928 Chateau d'Yquem, an 1865 Calvados and so on.
                              But even then "..the presentation was mundane..", ..the overall display was undistinguished, if not to say shabby.", the oysters and pheasant lukewarm, and "the lobster was chewy".
                              Sounds like a Chowhound review.

                        2. The most expensive restaurants are in Paris. There is nothing that is their equal for the total dining experience: quality, decor, service. The price runs about $300 per person without wine.

                          1. In HK, the 10 course tasing menu at Gaddi's in the Peninsula is about US$360, sans wine. But one can easily beat that in Japan. Try any one of the good beef or sushi restaurant.

                            How much is the grand tour meal of Alinea? I should know since I have had it but I actually forgot and don't have my credit cards records with me.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: HKTraveler

                              The tour is $175 and the tasting is $125. When I was there last summer, there was an 8 course for $75 which is no longer offered.

                            2. Forbes listed Aragawa in Tokyo as the world's most expensive restaurant in 2005.


                              1. I was only 8 at the time, so I don't recall what restaurant this was at. I only remember that I was in Tokyo with my mom and my brother. My Japanese uncle treated us to dinner at one of the city's top sushi restaurants after he heard that I loved sushi. My mom told me years later that that meal cost him about US$1100 for the four of us. To this day, I'm positive that's the most expensive meal I've ever had, despite not having a very clear memory of everything I ate.