HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

So...What's the most you've ever spent on a meal (for two)?

sweet_polly Aug 21, 2010 07:42 PM

I'm talking a meal not jacked up ridiculously in price by wine....let's say with a couple of pre-dinner drinks, a moderate bottle of wine and two after-dinner drinks. Where was it, and was it worth it?

I'll reveal mine later. :p

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. r
    ricepad RE: sweet_polly Aug 21, 2010 07:55 PM

    One beer, No wine, no after dinner drinks: $250 + T&T at The Kitchen Restaurant in Sacramento. It was worth it, but only in a 'once in a very long while' kinda way.

    1. h
      Harters RE: sweet_polly Aug 22, 2010 04:01 AM

      This month. £450, including service charge.

      Add to that an overnight hotel, two lunches and petrol for the 400 mile round trip.

      Fat Duck - the world's 3rd best restaurant. Worth every penny.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Harters
        Tripeler RE: Harters Aug 22, 2010 04:57 AM

        Regarding the "400 mile round trip" do you still use miles where you live? Or did you convert that for the benefit of U.S. readers?
        I am curious about the meal. What did you have?

        1. re: Tripeler
          Harters RE: Tripeler Aug 22, 2010 05:14 AM

          Miles are one of the few imperial units still in common official use in the UK. Road signs, car speedometers are in miles - fuel is in litres.

          I normally post restaurant reviews to another board but did post this one to Chowhound as well: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7258...

          1. re: Harters
            Tripeler RE: Harters Aug 22, 2010 06:25 AM

            Thank you for the prompt reply. Surprising that there are other countries besides the U.S. where miles are still in use.

            Your review was well written, detailed and comprehensive. Thank you for the link.

            Interesting that in Japan there are a few pubs that serve imperial pints, usually for handpumped real ale only, for the sake of authenticity.

            1. re: Tripeler
              Harters RE: Tripeler Aug 22, 2010 06:42 AM

              Indeed, interesting about Japan. Whilst liquids here are now always sold in metric, the pint in a pub remains a pint. I think there'd be a revolution if that was tampered with :-)

        2. re: Harters
          sweet_polly RE: Harters Aug 22, 2010 06:43 AM

          Fat Duck sounds fascinating...loved your review! I had to rush off and Google them after I read it. :)

          1. re: Harters
            Bill Hunt RE: Harters Aug 22, 2010 08:00 PM

            That makes me feel pretty good, as my US$ 600 figure would be pretty close, depending on the day, and the £ exchange rate on that day.

            Now, I did not figure in any travel, or lodging expenses to that price.


          2. s
            sekelmaan RE: sweet_polly Aug 22, 2010 06:47 AM

            Restaurant Eve tasting room in Alexandria, VA. Somewhere around $400. Not worth it at all. It was the most underwhelming food. Our favourite course was a cheese course.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sekelmaan
              monkeyrotica RE: sekelmaan Aug 25, 2010 11:49 AM

              Same here, except we loved the 9 course tasting menu. It got to be kind of a Battaan Death March around Course #7, but we made it through. Particularly liked the sweetbreads. ours was around $440 with wine and apertifs.

              I once spent about the same amount for a single meal. I ordered a very large kobe steak.

            2. linguafood RE: sweet_polly Aug 22, 2010 08:45 AM

              I think it's probably a tie between Margaux in Berlin (for our 5th wedding anniversary): 9 course menu with wine flight & tip - 420 Euro (ouch, but worth it), and wd-50 with a friend of ours, so we were three... we had the tasting menu, 3 bottles at 50% off, and ended up paying $750 total. For three people. My goodness. Mostly worth it, but I've been moving away from high-falutin' food. I feel I cannot eat that much anymore, I don't want to be stuffed to the gills after a 4 hour eating event, and, last but not least -- I simply don't have that kind of money to throw around anymore.

              1. Caroline1 RE: sweet_polly Aug 22, 2010 12:20 PM

                I have no idea how much my all-time forever most expensive meal cost, and it's probably best for my heart if I never find out. It was when my first husband and I lived in Las Vegas. Spur of the moment he said to get dressed, we were going out for dinner. Dinner was the dinner show at the Riviera, Dean Martin was the headliner. When you don't have a reservation, you have to tip the maitre d' like mad to get a table behind a pillar. We were seated at the only table on a private balcony overlooking the stage. We had our own waiter all evening. The food was incredible, the wine was fantastic, and I shall remember the evening forever. Dean Martin sang a song to us. I just figure the evening cost at least the down payment on a very posh house! My guess is that my gambling compulsive husband blew a jackpot on dinner. The divorce freed me of such stress. :-|

                7 Replies
                1. re: Caroline1
                  Harters RE: Caroline1 Aug 22, 2010 01:18 PM

                  OK, Caroline wins!


                  1. re: Harters
                    Caroline1 RE: Harters Aug 22, 2010 01:37 PM


                    Or loses, depending on your perspective. '-)

                    1. re: Caroline1
                      coll RE: Caroline1 Aug 27, 2010 12:52 PM

                      I would've paid way more than the meal was worth to see Dean Martin, and not knowing the damage is a bonus.

                  2. re: Caroline1
                    cosmogrrl RE: Caroline1 Aug 22, 2010 06:46 PM

                    That sounds incredibly awesome! Actually, I think if we had that time machine we've spoken about, that may just be what I'd use for! Except, perhaps, the gambling husband part.

                    Yes, I'm part of the younger set that loves Dean Martin, and I love to dress up for dinner! I even have evening gloves and my boyfriend is now getting into it as well.

                    My most expensive dinner can't quite compare with any listed here. I went to Fleur de Lys and dropped about $400 with wine pairing, five courses, and a pre dinner cocktail.

                    1. re: Caroline1
                      OCAnn RE: Caroline1 Aug 23, 2010 01:41 PM

                      Sounds priceless to me! You have the most incredible experiences and I love reading them here. =)

                      1. re: Caroline1
                        LindaWhit RE: Caroline1 Aug 30, 2010 01:16 PM

                        Caroline, have you thought about writing a book about your life? ;-) I agree with Harters - you win! LOL

                        I *think* the most I ever spent was close to $250 - but that was with a seriously nice bottle of wine shared between the two of us.

                        1. re: LindaWhit
                          Caroline1 RE: LindaWhit Aug 30, 2010 07:41 PM

                          I suspect I have a larger audience here! '-)

                      2. u
                        upsidedownorchid RE: sweet_polly Aug 22, 2010 05:22 PM

                        Dinner at Danie'ls in NYC with my sister. I think I remember spending $740 on a tasting menu and a vegetable tasting menu, wine pairings for me and about 3 cocktails for my sister.

                        It was epic.

                        1. Bill Hunt RE: sweet_polly Aug 22, 2010 07:59 PM

                          Boy, that is difficult and the necessary math would take hours for me.

                          We consider wine part of the meal, and do not limit ourselves to a "moderately priced" wine. Now, the wines might end up being "moderately priced," but then it would depend on who was making that call.

                          I'd say that US$600 for two, with wines is near the top. One might find a meal a bit above that in our dossier, but would likely also be working with the $ vs £ exchange rate, plus the additional costs of London meals. Still, that's close.


                          Sorry to not be able to pull out a spreadsheet and then weigh the wines.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                            Harters RE: Bill Hunt Aug 23, 2010 03:18 AM

                            Yep. I agree. It gets to be a more difficult question the further back in time you go.

                            Factor in exchange rates and it gets even more difficult. Factor in inflation and your 300 from a few years back would now be whatever. Although not an absolute figure, I also factor into my thinking financial changes in circumstances - we used to be that not well paid, then we got much better paid as promotions came, now we're retired and suddenly have much less (although are actually now spending more regularly on eating out more than we ever have in our lives).

                            1. re: Harters
                              Caroline1 RE: Harters Aug 23, 2010 03:54 AM

                              Here's a fun little electronic toy for estimating then and now prices. Not deadly accurate across the board on individual items, but pretty damned close over all. Have fun!


                              1. re: Caroline1
                                KaimukiMan RE: Caroline1 Aug 24, 2010 12:34 AM

                                I remember around 1970/72 my parents coming back from a dinner in san francisco paid for by a client. my parents were shell shocked the meal cost just over $100 for only four people (probably would have worked out to about $60/couple.) I have a feeling that would have been mom's grocery budget for a couple of months at the time.

                                1. re: KaimukiMan
                                  Bill Hunt RE: KaimukiMan Aug 24, 2010 07:26 PM

                                  I understand completely. It's a "frame of reference" thing, and I am old enough to recall some earlier comments of my own. My memory is fading, but my dear wife seems to recall each comment, of that type, that I have ever made. She delights in throwing those up to me, decades later. Hey, who knew? After all, I am the son of a Mississippi sharecropper, so never even dreamed...


                              2. re: Harters
                                Bill Hunt RE: Harters Aug 23, 2010 09:39 PM

                                Yes on the "financial circumstances." I understand too well. What passes for "everyday" now, would have been the grandest of splurges not THAT long ago.

                                I recall all too well, a conversation on "dinner wines." I commented that I would NEVER think of spending US$8.00/btl. for a claret for dinner. Man, how times have changed!


                            2. a
                              akq RE: sweet_polly Aug 23, 2010 10:22 AM

                              $500 at Picasso in LV. Two tasting menus with wine pairings. **Not worth it.** In fact, so not worth it that even thinking about it now makes me feel sick. It was uncomfortable and the food was mediocre at best - one of my dishes (a piece of fish with what should have been crispy skin) came out cold and I mentioned it to the waiter who took it back to the kitchen (leaving my SO's dish on the table). He brought it out a few minutes later hot and dried out - they'd put the plate under the salamander and rendered it inedible! I was speechless and at that point just wanted to get out of there. The waiter offered to take a photo of us in front of one of their lovely paintings but he accidentally turned our camera off and didn't know how to turn it back on... After trying for about 10 seconds, he rudely handed the camera back to my SO and told him that he didn't have time to take our photo and walked away. Signing the bill for more than a month's rent in my first apartment was a really sickening experience. I will never go back there and we rarely speak of that meal.

                              On the flip side, two other meals that would have been worth paying that $$ for would be at Alan Wong's in HI and August in NOLA.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: akq
                                Bill Hunt RE: akq Aug 23, 2010 09:43 PM

                                Sorry to hear that one. I have been a big fan of Picasso, and have dined with just the two of us, and have hosted a few special board members there. We have always had top-notch food, great wine service and an excellent time. I am saddened to hear that things might well have changed and not for the better.

                                It also sounds like their prices might have gone up a bit too, as we've done both their tasting menus and the sommelier's pairings, and have gotten out for less - though that was a few years back. Now, my wife did make me pass on their "truffle spectacular," but she was hosting two other couples, and it was the entire table, or nothing. That "event" was US$600/person, but the wines alone were spectacular. Still, I got "the look," and knew better...


                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                  Sooeygun RE: Bill Hunt Aug 26, 2010 08:27 AM

                                  I also am sorry akq had a bad meal at Picasso. We were there about 2 or 3 years ago and had the tasting menu with wine. I even splurged (like going there to begin wasn't a splurge enough for us) and got the Kobe beef option for one course. And our food was excellent. Service was impeccable. The wine pairings were wonderful. I can't remember how much we spent, maybe $500?

                                  1. re: Sooeygun
                                    akq RE: Sooeygun Aug 26, 2010 09:33 AM

                                    Not as sorry as I am! :( It was truely horrible. Out of curiosity I read some reviews - it seems very inconsistant and some people have wonderful experiences while others mirror mine or worse. It's too bad.

                                    1. re: akq
                                      Sooeygun RE: akq Aug 26, 2010 11:25 AM

                                      When we go to Vegas, we usually have one big ticket meal and I read so many reviews and worry that I'm picking the right or wrong restaurant. It's so disappointing to spend that much money and have a bad meal.

                                      We have been lucky so far - Hugo's, Prime, Picasso and Aureole and they were all great.

                                      1. re: Sooeygun
                                        Bill Hunt RE: Sooeygun Aug 27, 2010 07:06 PM

                                        I have never dined at Hugo's, or Prime. All of my visits to Picasso were excellent, but Aureole was a very big let-down. My review (dated now) is probably still up on the LV Board. It was all show, and absolutely no substance. Still, as stated, it is dated, so much could well have changed. Things like that happen, so older reviews should be taken in their time-frame.

                                        Good luck, and enjoy,


                                      2. re: akq
                                        Bill Hunt RE: akq Aug 27, 2010 07:04 PM

                                        I did a counting, and have dined there four times. Twice, it was just my lovely wife and me, and twice it was with guests - once 6 and once 8. In all instances, the meals, the service, the wines, and the wine service, were all excellent.

                                        In the tow group instances, all applauded the choice of venue, and all registered a great meal, with wonderful wines.

                                        I only have those experiences to go by.

                                        Again, sorry that your experiences were the the opposite of mine.


                                2. Midlife RE: sweet_polly Aug 23, 2010 12:40 PM

                                  It was mostly paid via a special anniversary gift from a large group of friends, but still..............

                                  French Laundry - $793.87 (not including tip). We saved the bill which, by the way, is presented as a laundry tag.

                                  I don't think I would ever pay that much myself in this lifetime, but it WAS hands down the best dining experience we've ever had. And I DO mean DINING EXPERIENCE....... it was far more than a 'meal'.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Midlife
                                    sweet_polly RE: Midlife Aug 23, 2010 03:32 PM

                                    The French Laundry was one of mine, too. We "only" spent $625, though...I still have my laundry tag, too. ;) Everything was wonderful and beautifully presented, but I thought the ambience was a bit sterile and overly reverent (we were in a room upstairs) and it wasn't the "life experience" I was hoping for.

                                    My "life experience" meal cost a little bit more ($650 US)...but it was just lunch. :/ I had wanted to go to Paris for over 30 years (since high school sophomore French class), and my husband took me two years ago. On our first full day in Paris, we had lunch high in the Eiffel Tower at Le Jules Verne...overlooking the Seine and the entire city. The food was wonderful, the service impeccable, and the experience was unforgettable.

                                    1. re: Midlife
                                      Bill Hunt RE: Midlife Aug 23, 2010 09:45 PM

                                      Somehow, we managed to get away for less there, and IIRC, the wines flowed and flowed. Cannot imagine that I got a "brother-in-law" rate. Maybe I need to go back to Quicken and see just what we DID pay. Maybe I did not get the deal, that I thought.


                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                        Midlife RE: Bill Hunt Aug 24, 2010 11:31 AM

                                        Bill, the food alone is $500 for two, and that's just the basic Chef's Tasting Menu, without wine or the extras you can add. And. ....................... who's BIL are you anyway????

                                        1. re: Midlife
                                          Bill Hunt RE: Midlife Aug 24, 2010 07:24 PM

                                          Certainly not a "rich" B-I-L, that is for sure!

                                          Did not recall that price point, but then we were having so much fun. It was raining, and we were under a skylight, and the wine was flowing mightily. Maybe I just did not pay attention. Hope I tipped appropriately, and not 50% either... ? Maybe I need to look back in Quicken. I might be shocked.


                                      2. re: Midlife
                                        hungryabbey RE: Midlife Aug 26, 2010 04:01 PM

                                        French Laundry for us too- about the same as you for two, and we also still have the tag. But it was NOT my best dining experience. Actually, we have had a lot better.. In fact, that same weekend, we had a meal for a fraction of the price at La Folie and enjoyed the experience much more.
                                        We just basically found the food at TFL very.. typical, but executed perfectly. Still, nothing really that we hadn't seen before.

                                      3. GraydonCarter RE: sweet_polly Aug 23, 2010 01:39 PM

                                        I wish I could remember the details, but the story is funny. Back in 1986 I worked for a large computer manufacturer and was awarded a prestigious sales award, which involved a trip to Nassau, Bahamas, for me, my wife, and a few hundred other award recipients.

                                        On Saturday they announced that instead of having dinner at the hotel, they had arranged taxis for us all to go out, and they supplied us with a list of Nassau restaurants from which to choose. When my wife noticed that the list was arranged in order of price, we both suddenly turned our heads and looked at each other with wide open eyes. We're on an expense account, right? So why wouldn't you go to the most expensive place on the list?

                                        So I can't even remember the name of the place but it was continental cuisine with white-gloved ser vice and we had every course and plenty of wine and the bill was really quite high. I don't think I had even ever had a meal that exceeded the amount of the tip itself!

                                        When I got home I asked my boss how to account for the expenses and he said, just put it on an expense report. Needless to say, the next day he asked me to come into his office to explain how a single meal could have totaled $$$$$.

                                        1. i
                                          ImTheK RE: sweet_polly Aug 23, 2010 03:12 PM

                                          Hubby and I went to Maison de Joel Rubechon at the MGM in Las Vegas. Set us back about $700. It was for my 40th birthday, and I can't wait to be able to go back again. The bread cart alone was worth the price of admission ;-) Creative, inspiring, delicious. Service was outstanding. Have twice gone to Moto in Chicago, for about $600 including pairing. Service is great, presentation interesting, and certainly Homaro Cantu's methods are inspiring of conversation.

                                          1. c
                                            chef jd RE: sweet_polly Aug 23, 2010 05:43 PM

                                            pierre gagnaire in paris- 950 american dollars. And yes, it was well worth every penny. Four glasses of wine and two tastings

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: chef jd
                                              Miss Needle RE: chef jd Aug 24, 2010 08:38 AM

                                              I really don't want to post the price, but it was lunch with moderate wine (even less than what the OP stated) at a 3-star Michelin in Paris when the Euro was really strong. While the meal was very good, I didn't feel it was worth it. While I try to live life not having regrets, I still feel a twinge every time I think of it.

                                              On the other hand, my meal at Pierre Gagnaire was worth every cent!

                                            2. a
                                              Atahualpa RE: sweet_polly Aug 24, 2010 12:01 AM

                                              I had dinner at Eleven Madison Park about two weeks ago. Dinner for one: $175 Tasting + $125 Pairing + $25 Other (Peach Bitters Cocktail and a Chambord as a nightcap) + $90 Tip (Yes, that's generous. Yes, it was deserved).

                                              Best 4 hours of my life. Spent more on dinner than my hotel in Manhattan for 3 Nights. Worth Every Penny. Although, if I return, I might go for the incredibly cheap lunch offering. I plan to write it up sometime this week.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Atahualpa
                                                hungryabbey RE: Atahualpa Aug 26, 2010 04:03 PM

                                                I agree with you on EMP. It was one of my best meals as well.

                                              2. Davwud RE: sweet_polly Aug 24, 2010 03:07 AM

                                                $250 +

                                                Starfish in Toronto for my 40th Bday. It was one of those "Money was no object" nights. Lots of oysters. Lots of them. I mean, lots.

                                                Probably more significant was the first time I spent over $100 for two people. Equally enjoyable although the company wasn't as good.

                                                Like Linguafood, I'm not much for the hoity toity stuff anymore.


                                                1. decolady RE: sweet_polly Aug 24, 2010 12:59 PM

                                                  A lot. But I think Cleo may have us all beat:


                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: decolady
                                                    GraydonCarter RE: decolady Aug 24, 2010 01:13 PM

                                                    Yuck. Even though "the calcium carbonate in the pearl neutralizes some of the acid, so the resulting drink is not as acidic as vinegar," she was still drinking vinegar.

                                                    1. re: decolady
                                                      Bill Hunt RE: decolady Aug 24, 2010 07:42 PM

                                                      Outta' my league - for sure!

                                                      Interesting reading though.


                                                    2. ScubaSteve RE: sweet_polly Aug 24, 2010 03:43 PM

                                                      at Boston's L'Espalier (old location) $850.
                                                      10 course chef's tasting menu, coordinated wines and an upsell of a paired caviars with 4 of the courses.

                                                      but for a standard drinks, apps, mains (w/wine), desserts type dinner for two $300.

                                                      1. c oliver RE: sweet_polly Aug 25, 2010 03:14 PM

                                                        I'm surprised no one's mentioned Per Se. Tasting menu is $275pp so $550 for 2 and wines on top of that. I've always figured it wouldn't be terribly hard to hit $1k!

                                                        16 Replies
                                                        1. re: c oliver
                                                          Bill Hunt RE: c oliver Aug 25, 2010 07:42 PM

                                                          Probably because most of us cannot get in.

                                                          Now, that is not to say that Chef Keller's French Laundry is not tough, but unless things change in NYC, Per Se will probably just be seating their regulars. Others here can't score a dining time, as they sell out instants after the lines open at the appointed time before (what is it now - 3 mos.?). In my case, they said that I would not get a seat, no matter when I called, as I was not suited for their "stated minimum diner level." [Grin]


                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                            c oliver RE: Bill Hunt Aug 25, 2010 07:53 PM

                                                            Are you talking dress code? I'd think you'd always be appropriate.

                                                            1. re: c oliver
                                                              Bill Hunt RE: c oliver Aug 25, 2010 08:04 PM

                                                              Nah, I think that they meant that I was not "Per Se patron quality," regardless of my attire...


                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                c oliver RE: Bill Hunt Aug 25, 2010 08:08 PM

                                                                Har dee har dee har. In their dreams. But, seriously, I was talking with a CA CH some months ago and we were in agreement that we'd have a damn hard time paying that much for one dinner. Esp. inthe SF area when you can get multiple great dinners for that price. But if you're paying, I'lltry to convince them that you're worthy :)

                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                  hyacinthgirl RE: Bill Hunt Aug 27, 2010 12:48 PM

                                                                  Please tell me you're not being serious?

                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                    Caroline1 RE: Bill Hunt Aug 27, 2010 11:33 PM

                                                                    LOL! I've been laughing about this since the first time I read it. I only wish you had replied, "That's okay. I've been warned your food isn't all that good anyway." Or maybe you did! Did you? '-)

                                                                2. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                  small h RE: Bill Hunt Aug 26, 2010 07:53 AM

                                                                  "Probably because most of us cannot get in."

                                                                  Per Se seats walk-ins (only, no reservations) in their salon. So if you're really interested in eating there, that's an option. I showed up right when they opened and got a table easily.

                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                    Miss Needle RE: Bill Hunt Aug 26, 2010 10:38 AM

                                                                    I am a nobody but I was able to get into both The French Laundry and Per Se. With Per Se, we were lucky to have somebody else do the legwork for us. But with French Laundry, DH and I kept hitting redialing on our four phone lines for over an hour until one of us finally got through. It was probably the most work I've done to get a reservation. Would I go through that again? Probably not -- especially since I loved Cyrus more (and it's much easier to get into), and there are many wonderful meals to be had in NYC.

                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle
                                                                      Bill Hunt RE: Miss Needle Aug 27, 2010 07:21 PM

                                                                      We ran into similar with Restaurant Gary Danko. We'd managed to secure a table for six for a board dinner. All was great.

                                                                      We wished to do a meal for just the two of us, about 6 weeks out. I was told that one must sit at the telephone and hit things just right, on the morning, two months out, or they would never get a table.

                                                                      Oh well, we booked elsewhere, and just have to assume that I must have hit the magic "Easy Button" in the past. My wife asked if I'd like to "pull strings," and call in my Centurion American Express concierge tab, and I declined. As adverse as I am to bribing to get into anything, if I cannot make a reservation, being a return patron, six weeks out, that is the way that it is. Suddenly, that reservation lost importance, and we are dining elsewhere. It was very nice, but was not good enough to call in "favors," at least not in my book. Glad that they are doing so very well, and wish them the best of luck. For me, it's a "been there - done that" sort of thing, and if I manage to need to book there in the future, and hit it right by chance, then I might go back. Until then, there are other great restaurants in SF, and we will just dine there. I am not a fan of any lottery, or sitting on a Redial, in hopes. Too many great restaurants seem to love my $, so I will just not bother. I have other things to concentrate on.

                                                                      Glad that you got the FL, and Per Se. I do hope that both were great, and well worth the effort. Some day, we might hit Per Se, but if not, there are many other wonderful restaurants, from which to choose.

                                                                      Take care, and enjoy,


                                                                      PS - was this Cyrus in Healdsburg? If so, we had one great meal there, but then three days later, they did not meet our expectations. Maybe they set the bar too high on that first night? Still, based on the first meal, I'd go back. The second time must have been an anomaly.

                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                        Miss Needle RE: Bill Hunt Aug 28, 2010 07:05 AM

                                                                        Totally agree with you that there are many other lovely restaurants out there. I did have very good meals at Per Se and French Laundry. But I didn't feel it was worth the aggravation as there are many other restaurants that offer similar types of experiences, and at a lower cost.

                                                                        There is one meal that I had where I had to work really crazy to get reservations where I thought it was totally worth it. It was Basement Bistro in Earlton, NY -- not a super expensive restaurant, but a very unique dining experience as he takes the farm-to-table concept to the extreme. I would gladly jump through the hoops again for this one.

                                                                        And, yes, it was indeed Cyrus in Healdsburg. Sorry to hear that you had a bad second meal. I've been there twice (and loved both meals) and will probably be there again sometime in the fall. I hope you enjoy it the next time you go.

                                                                    2. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                      buttertart RE: Bill Hunt Aug 27, 2010 01:13 PM

                                                                      Mr Hunt: Per Se "minimum diner level" - were you going to be alone? Perhaps they only seat parties of 2 and up? I (a nobody) called about 4 weeks before I wanted a reservation (for 2, in 2009), in the middle of the day, and was offered five or six times and dates. It didn't seem that difficult to get in if you were a bit flexible. That was the most expensive meal of our lives so far.

                                                                      1. re: buttertart
                                                                        Elaine Snutteplutten RE: buttertart Aug 27, 2010 01:26 PM

                                                                        Per Se isn't a particularly tough reservation -- hasn't been since the recession started, at least. You can get a table on Open Table right now for 2 at 9:30 on Sunday night (this Sunday night). I've only been a few times, but never had a problem calling. By the way, re: dining alone, they are happy to take a reservation for one on the phone -- just not on Open Table. For the record -- I'm not a big fan of Per Se but if you want to go -- don' t be discouraged y thinking it's tough.

                                                                        1. re: Elaine Snutteplutten
                                                                          Bill Hunt RE: Elaine Snutteplutten Aug 27, 2010 07:23 PM

                                                                          Uh-oh, the forum is going wonky tonight!

                                                                          Hope that this posts.

                                                                          Interesting to know. Maybe I just needed reservations on the wrong nights.

                                                                          We hope to be back in NYC before the end of year. I will try again.

                                                                          Thank you,


                                                                        2. re: buttertart
                                                                          Bill Hunt RE: buttertart Aug 27, 2010 07:09 PM

                                                                          In my case, it was a party of two - my lovely wife and me.


                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                            buttertart RE: Bill Hunt Aug 28, 2010 01:29 PM

                                                                            That is very strange, because there have been tables of two all over the house each time we've gone (twice). Maybe their deuces were taken for the night you wanted. PS have never been able to get into the French Laundry when we've been back in the area, nor has a good friend who lives in the East bay who's tried innumerable times on her own and our behalf.

                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                              Bill Hunt RE: buttertart Aug 30, 2010 08:06 PM

                                                                              All I can tell you is that they replied that they were full, and that they always were moments after each day opened up. Their claim was that at exactly 2 mos. out, on the AM of that date, they filled to capacity instantly, so one had to be very quick to get the chairs.

                                                                              I guess that I was lucky before, as we hosted other diners - or maybe they just do not take reservations from patrons in Arizona? I may never know.

                                                                              Tried, but failed. We were graciously seated elsewhere, regardless of where we were flying in from, so all is good.

                                                                              I do find it interesting that Gordan Ramsey is reopening The Savoy Grill, in London. They contacted me about dining there, and I gave them our schedule. It will be close, but they have kept me updated on their progress about every week. We are hoping that we CAN make it, even if it's for a re-opening, when things might not be quite up to speed. Seems that someone wants us to dine with them. We're also doing his Claridge's location, on the night we arrive from the US. Some restaurants make it easy, and show that they care, and want one to dine with them.

                                                                              Who knows? One of those might end up being the most expensive meal for us.

                                                                              Ramsey's Petrus contacts me monthly, but I cannot swing a board dinner there - yet!


                                                                    3. chris2269 RE: sweet_polly Aug 25, 2010 07:57 PM

                                                                      $800 at Joel Rubicon and thats without wine pairing. Worth it...Yes ...do it agian no...I'd would take a vaction for the same price.

                                                                      1. w
                                                                        WtotheN RE: sweet_polly Aug 25, 2010 09:00 PM

                                                                        L'Arpege. Twice. Granted, the exchange rate was rough both times.

                                                                        Definitely more than $1k for two people, including what, for L'Arpege, was pretty moderate wine.

                                                                        1. hala RE: sweet_polly Aug 26, 2010 07:13 AM

                                                                          Omakase at Tojo's in Vancouver: around 400 and only 40 of that was for drinks.

                                                                          DH had been invited by a visiting family member to that place before I joined him in Vancouver. He loved it so much that he decided that he would take me there no matter what. We did not have much money since he was a postdoc with low pay and zero benefits (not even health or dental insurance) and I was a student not working due to a very difficult pregnancy and did not qualify for Employment Insurance since I had not been in the country for long enough. We saved for an entire year and then we went for our wedding anniversary after the baby was born and after DH had signed a contract for a job the following year.
                                                                          Was it worth it? Yes. It was one of the best meals of my life. Eye opening. If you like sushi, it is absolutely worth it to find a great sushi chef and let him take you on a tour of that world. To watch him work at the bar area... Interact with his restaurent... To see how committed he is to make sure that you the students who were obviously there for one night and one night only would get the experience of a lifetime.
                                                                          We were also very proud that 1) we had saved up the for that meal so we did not need to borrow to pay for it. 2) We had managed to get through that difficult two year postdoc and a difficult pregancy with ZERO additional debt. In fact, we even managed to slowly but surely start paying off student debts:) Yes, 500 dollars off student debts would have probably been a more prudent thing to do. But, we would have missed the most amazing restaurent and the most amazing chef in Vancouver. Neither of us has any regrets about that night. Now if we could only get back some of the financial saavy we had in Vancouver:)

                                                                          1. t
                                                                            thinks too much RE: sweet_polly Aug 26, 2010 07:22 AM

                                                                            $350. Still River Cafe in Eastford, CT. Tasting menu plus wine pairings. Lovely, lovely romantic meal with an amble through their garden beforehand. Wonderful celebration to mark passing an actuarial exam.

                                                                            I've noticed a little inflation as this thread continues. Didn't want anyone to feel they couldn't post a lower number.

                                                                            1. GraydonCarter RE: sweet_polly Aug 26, 2010 01:40 PM

                                                                              Would ya'll say it is more enjoyable to go to an expensive restaurant on someone else's dime (even though you are subject to their sales pitch), or to go there on your own dime and worry about how much you are spending?

                                                                              My pastor would take his wife to a fancy place every Saturday night and with a very limited budget they would order hot water for the tea bag in her purse and then split a single dessert. I'm sure the waitstaff were more than a little miffed, even though it would have been difficult to be mad at them for very long once they spoke with you.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: GraydonCarter
                                                                                Harters RE: GraydonCarter Aug 26, 2010 03:26 PM

                                                                                "Would ya'll say it is more enjoyable to go to an expensive restaurant on someone else's dime (even though you are subject to their sales pitch), or to go there on your own dime and worry about how much you are spending?"

                                                                                Don't think I'd find either enjoyable, although I havnt really experienced either. If I can't afford to go somewhere without worrying about the cost, then I don't go there. And, where I am, to have accepted hospitality from someone trying to sell our organisation something would have been a criminal offence - not something I wanted to risk.

                                                                                1. re: Harters
                                                                                  sweet_polly RE: Harters Aug 27, 2010 04:34 PM

                                                                                  Agree. Personally, it wouldn't be worth it for me have someone else pay if I would have to listen to a sales pitch over dinner or be somehow beholden to them afterwards.

                                                                                  I also don't like to try to experience a high-end place on the cheap. There is plenty of wonderful food to be had in all price ranges...I'd honestly much rather go someplace less expensive and not have to rein myself in.

                                                                                2. re: GraydonCarter
                                                                                  Bill Hunt RE: GraydonCarter Aug 27, 2010 07:26 PM

                                                                                  I do not find a difference. Actually, I am probably more "free" on my tab, as I can order the wines that I want.

                                                                                  With many restaurants, we are the guests, and I have to admit that for many, the experience is less than what I would have liked.

                                                                                  I do not mind if someone picks up the tab, but it is about the restaurant that night. For instance, I have never had a really good meal at a Morton's, even when I was pressed to pick the ultimate wines. I have never picked up the tab at any, and I have never had a really good meal at any.

                                                                                  No, I think that I'd rather be paying the tab, and then order, as I wish, including the wines.

                                                                                  Probably in the minority there,


                                                                                3. Monch RE: sweet_polly Aug 26, 2010 01:53 PM

                                                                                  We almost hit $600 at Le Cirque at Bellagio.

                                                                                  That was, however, my lovely wife's 50th birthday dinner and a huge splurge.

                                                                                  The upcharge for kobe beef, on her tasting menu, was almost what we spend on a dinner out for our weekly "Date Night".

                                                                                  Two tasting menus and drinks at Topolobampo come in a close second.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Monch
                                                                                    The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah RE: Monch Aug 26, 2010 03:42 PM

                                                                                    Well, it sounds as though you've all outordered, and outspent me, but North Pond in Chicago. $130 for just me - but I was part of a foodie group. It was FABULOUS!!!

                                                                                  2. thew RE: sweet_polly Aug 26, 2010 03:52 PM

                                                                                    wd-50 was over $500 for 2, and that was when they were having a half off special on bottles of wine

                                                                                    there was a place on 51st st that about that too - damn name has slipped my mind... started with the letter m. doesnt exist anymore. they had a pea flan i still think about a million years later

                                                                                    then there was table au sud in marseilles.also in the same price range.

                                                                                    1. a
                                                                                      arancello RE: sweet_polly Aug 26, 2010 04:32 PM

                                                                                      About $800 for 2 at the French Laundry (included corkage for 2 bottles of wine, and a couple of dessert wines and tip) and about the same at Tetsuya in Sydney. Except that in for Tetsuya we did the wine pairings.

                                                                                      But the worst pricey meal was when DH and I recently spent over $500 at Saison in SF for 2 tasting menus + 1.5 wine pairings + 1 bottle corkage. So not worth it...:(

                                                                                      Personally, I'd rather eat at Cyrus or Gary Danko - spend less and enjoy it far far more.

                                                                                      1. s
                                                                                        Sinicle RE: sweet_polly Aug 26, 2010 07:20 PM

                                                                                        About $650, La Pergola in Rome and no wine, no after dinner drink, only one cocktail each. Food good, not exceptionally interesting but the "surprise dessert" was a stunner. Once in a lifetime is enough.

                                                                                        1. 3
                                                                                          3crazydogs RE: sweet_polly Aug 27, 2010 01:21 PM

                                                                                          $863 for two at Per Se in Feb. $595 for two this past weekend at Jean George - both definitely worth it. Heading to Toque and Europea in Montreal in a few weeks, hopefully they prove to be worth it also!

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: 3crazydogs
                                                                                            Elaine Snutteplutten RE: 3crazydogs Aug 27, 2010 06:09 PM

                                                                                            Europea is delicious (haven't been to Toque) but to spend half of $595 you'd have to order some crazy crazy vin. Compared to NYC, Montreal is a bargain. Enjoy.

                                                                                            1. re: Elaine Snutteplutten
                                                                                              3crazydogs RE: Elaine Snutteplutten Aug 28, 2010 08:23 AM

                                                                                              That's great to hear, thanks for the info!

                                                                                          2. Elaine Snutteplutten RE: sweet_polly Aug 27, 2010 03:20 PM

                                                                                            Masa, dinner for two, November 2, 2007, $1725.09. NB: This included double tip because we didn't notice the included service charge. Major oops, but no one mentioned it either. So I guess it should have been $1440 or so. Two of their no choices prix fixe dinners, a reasonable amount of sake, and tax and service charge.

                                                                                            Was it worth it? I've intentionally tried never to ask myself that. If I hadn't had the experience, I'd still be wondering what it was like. The sushi was the best I've ever had -- by far. The hot appetizers were pretty unmemorable. The service was perfect, but impersonal. I loved the space between the tables, and the hush, but didn't like the windowless claustrophobia (give me the views at per se any day). I wished I was a VIP from LA w/ a private jet to be fawned over by Chef Masa -- it was hard to spend that much money and see others getting "better" treatment.

                                                                                            I probably won't do it again unless I unexpectedly get a lot richer, but if I did, I would.

                                                                                            Afterwards, my dining companion pointed out we could have gone to Tokyo for the price. We couldn't have really -- but close enough

                                                                                            1. s
                                                                                              sherriberry RE: sweet_polly Aug 27, 2010 07:43 PM

                                                                                              Not in recent dollars, but on our honeymoon in New Orleans, we had an extensive tasting menu at Emerils in1993, The bill was around 400.00 then. Emeril was actually in the kitchen that night and we got to meet him and he also gave us a copy of his cookbook with a lovely personalized message of congratulations.Can't imagine what that same experience would cost now. It was worth every penny and remains one of my favorite food memories.

                                                                                              1. Rubee RE: sweet_polly Aug 27, 2010 11:01 PM

                                                                                                Abroad was Guy Savoy in Paris. A spectacular meal at about $650. We started with kir royales, and had Belon oysters with sancerre, langoustine, poulet de Bresse, côtes de veau for two with truffles, and at least one bottle of white burgundy. Finished with cognac, but I can't remember dessert. Our first trip to Paris and we really splurged on the food. That trip was also the most we've ever spent for lunch - about $325 at Jules Vernes in the Eiffel Tower. I remembering lots of foie gras and lingering over a lovely premier cru Meursault.

                                                                                                Here in the US it was $842 at Alain Ducasse at the Essex House in NYC. I recall it exactly because it was the most we've ever spent, but we both felt it was worth it. I especially remember the exquisite surroundings and flawless yet non-stuffy service, enjoying pre-dinner gougeres and rosé champagne in the salon, sweetbreads with foie gras ravioli, and the wine pairings.

                                                                                                Ahh...nice memories. We don't splurge like that anymore, though of course still love to dine well.

                                                                                                1. bagelman01 RE: sweet_polly Aug 28, 2010 09:50 AM

                                                                                                  It wasn't the cost of the meal but the $1000 US Cash for delivery that made it so expensive.
                                                                                                  On 9/11, no not NYC in 2001, But 9/11 1973 in Santiago, Chile. I had been staying at the Hotel Carerra next to the presidential palace and had gone across the street to an early meeting.

                                                                                                  A major coup d'etat broke out and the entire square was under military attack. I holed up in the office and by the afternoon of the 13th we were all startving. We were finally able to make contact with the concierge at the hotel and explained our desperate situation and need of food. The concierge offered to send me a meal free as a hotel guest, BUT the room service waiter wanted $1,000 US cash to make the perilous journey.
                                                                                                  Not having eaten fro two days and having no idea when the fighting might end, I readilly agreed, this might be my last supper.

                                                                                                  Two hours later, the waiter arrived with a basket full of food and wine. The waiter stayed in the office and the siege was lifted late on the 14th.

                                                                                                  On a return trip to the Carrera in the 1980s, the concierge explained to me how I was ripped off, seems the Hotel had underground delivery tunnels to sveral of the office buildings on the square and the waiter was not at risk.

                                                                                                  I was more incensed that the concierge sdid not tell me in 1973 how to get safely back to the hotel.

                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                    Caroline1 RE: bagelman01 Aug 28, 2010 01:39 PM

                                                                                                    I might have stoned the damned concierge! I suspect a kickback from the delivery guy. What a tale! Moral: ONLY travel to safe, coup-proof places.

                                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                      buttertart RE: Caroline1 Aug 28, 2010 01:48 PM

                                                                                                      A particularly dreadful coup that one was, too.

                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                        bagelman01 RE: Caroline1 Aug 28, 2010 02:25 PM

                                                                                                        safe coup proof places...................
                                                                                                        really bad when it was the CIA overthrowing the Chillean givernment.

                                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                          buttertart RE: bagelman01 Aug 29, 2010 08:11 AM

                                                                                                          That's why it was so dreadful of course. Poor Allende. That was a dark day for freedom.

                                                                                                          1. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                            Caroline1 RE: bagelman01 Aug 29, 2010 08:28 PM

                                                                                                            Always best to stick with the culinary CIA. Those other guys can get you in a whole lot of trouble.

                                                                                                          2. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                            thew RE: Caroline1 Aug 28, 2010 02:34 PM

                                                                                                            there are coup proof places?

                                                                                                            1. re: thew
                                                                                                              Caroline1 RE: thew Aug 29, 2010 08:20 PM

                                                                                                              I can dream, can't I? But no, there probably aren't. Just some more likely than others.

                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                                                                                thew RE: Caroline1 Aug 29, 2010 08:55 PM

                                                                                                                given the last decade or so, id say even the unlikely ones have quiet coups sometimes....

                                                                                                          3. re: bagelman01
                                                                                                            Bill Hunt RE: bagelman01 Aug 30, 2010 08:13 PM


                                                                                                            Regardless of the price, the story is priceless!!!!

                                                                                                            Glad that you made it out safely - and full.

                                                                                                            Now, did you campaign for the waiter to be "shot at sunrise?"


                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                              bagelman01 RE: Bill Hunt Aug 31, 2010 04:01 AM

                                                                                                              I don't fault the waiter, the concierge arranged the price/deal.
                                                                                                              However, through the 80s I had to be in Santiago monthly and steered all possible business away from the Carrerra.
                                                                                                              The General Manager contacted my firm and asked why our business was lost, I explained why, but no refund was offered, just a discount on future business. Needless to say I gave them none.

                                                                                                          4. m
                                                                                                            mojoeater RE: sweet_polly Aug 28, 2010 10:10 AM

                                                                                                            I think we've spent more than $100 on dinner & drinks for two only a couple times in our almost ten years together.

                                                                                                            1. GroovinGourmet RE: sweet_polly Aug 28, 2010 10:15 AM

                                                                                                              About US$750, at West in Vancouver. Absolutely stunning tasting menu with wine pairings, dozen oysters ordered as an appy. Couple rounds of cocktails at the beginning of the meal. Worth every penny.

                                                                                                              1. Parigi RE: sweet_polly Aug 30, 2010 01:26 AM

                                                                                                                Dunno. My menu had no price listed.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Parigi
                                                                                                                  Bill Hunt RE: Parigi Aug 30, 2010 08:16 PM

                                                                                                                  [Insert great big grin here!]

                                                                                                                  My wife might give a similar answer.


                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                    c oliver RE: Bill Hunt Aug 30, 2010 08:22 PM

                                                                                                                    Come on, Hunt. Not in the 21st century :)

                                                                                                                Show Hidden Posts