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If you are feeling puckish, and you have $6990 burning a hole in your pocket (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), you might wonder what sort of delicacies your cash might buy you? You could acquire 6990 donuts, but surely there is something out there that would provide more bang for your buck, and would turn this exorbitant amount of money into an investment not only in extremely tasty food, but food that also provides a memorable experience. Where might one look for the world’s most expensive and fabulous foods, excessive both in extravagance and cost? Why, Las Vegas, of course.
Seriously, like most of the world, I do not have $6990 to spare (and, for some reason, the fine editors at Fine Dining Lovers did not feel like giving me an expense account of that sum to research this article), so I am writing about foods that I have researched but not tasted myself. Few have. The people who have eaten these dishes number in the hundreds only. But they are out there, and they sound incredible. Let’s imagine, then, a very expensive “food crawl,” in the vein of pub crawls, where you’d order the house specialty beer at a series of pubs. Our $6990 food crawl will bring us to a series of restaurants in the city of excess, Las Vegas, Nevada, and examine just what sort of delicacies money can buy. This may be the most expensive a la carte menu items in the world. Hold on to your wallets…
Masa Toro with Caviar Roll at barMASA ($240)
High-quality sushi can be extremely expensive, but the expense usually manifests itself in extensive tasting menus. Here is a single dish, eight bites or so, that sounds great. But when each bite comes out to $30, that better be one tasty bite. It’s a shame you can’t order a single piece, rather than the eight that come with the dish, because it would feel much easier to splurge on a $30 piece of sushi to enjoy the experience than a $240 plate. Celebrity Japanese chef, Masa Takayama, offers this dish at several of his restaurants (including the newly-opened Kappo Masa in New York), and it features the best tuna one can get and a heap of caviar atop rice wrapped not in seaweed but thinly-sliced avocado. In a recent New York Times review of Kappo Masa, the reviewer admitted to having been unable to bring himself to order this dish, despite its fame (and despite the fact that the New York Times was picking up the bill). It is tough to swallow when you consider that you can get a 20-course tasting menu at the same restaurant for $350—just $110 more than the single plate.
Main Course and Wine
FleurBurger 5000 at Fleur ($5000)
Fancy burgers are all the rage, and many a restaurant boasts their own special version. But these fancy burgers tend to cost around $30, which already sounds pricy when most burgers in the normal world cost under $10. Heck, my favorite burger on the planet, found a Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut (a place that historians say invented the burger) until recently cost $2.75. So $5000? Really? Well part of the rationale for the price tags featured in this article, let’s be honest, is for advertising purposes—to be able to claim that you offer the world’s most expensive version of any given dish. It makes headlines, which attracts guests. This burger, designed by the famous Alsatian chef, Hubert Keller, looks and sounds pretty stellar. Kobe beef topped with seared foie gras and a mound of truffles, served on a truffled bun is accompanied by fries. But when I looked into buying the raw ingredients to make a version of this burger at home, and averaged out the costs, I estimate that I would spend about $10 per burger (or more, depending on which truffles you want to load on). Even with fries, $5000 is a pretty high mark-up. So what else do you get? Well, in order to make more of a “meal” of it, Fleur gives you a bottle of Chateau Petrus 1995, which retails for around $2500. Now the price tag is starting to make more sense. You also get a certificate attesting to the fact that you consumed a $5000 burger (which may win you friends or lose them, depending on the circles in which you run), and a pair of Ichendorf wine glasses (which cost around $75 for the pair), which the restaurant will ship to your home for you. So you get a souvenir. But given the price of the wine, this sounds more like ordering a bottle of Chateau Petrus and getting a bonus side of burger, rather than the other way around.
Golden Opulence Sundae at Serendipity ($1000)
Serendipity (which multiple locations, but originating in Vegas, is a bit of a curiosity because, aside from a $1000 sundae that you must pre-order 48 hours in advance, the rest of their menu is entirely reasonable. $12 burgers and $15 ice cream sundaes and a seafood fettucine for $18.50. That all sounds fine. So what’s with the sundae? Their menu proudly notes that it holds the Guinness World Record for most expensive sundae, and this is entirely the point—it is an advertising tool. They don’t expect to sell a lot of them, claiming an average of one per month (which is actually quite a lot). But what do you get, if you order it? The ingredients are specially flown-in from abroad, in order to assemble the sundae to end all sundaes: Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream infused with vanilla from Madagascar, chocolate sauce from melted chunks of Amedei Porcelana chocolate plus whole pieces of Chuao chocolate, from the coast of Venezuela. The surface is dusted in 23 carat edible gold leaf, and then scattered with gold-covered almonds, candied fruit flown in from Paris, chocolate truffles and marzipan cherries. On the side you get a glass bowl containing Grand Passion Caviar, a salt-less American caviar that is sweetened with passion fruit, orange and Armagnac. So, there’s a lot going on there. But it raises the question of whethr you’ll wind up tasting everything in each bite? These ingredients sounds worth eating one at a time, if they are as good as they are cracked up to be. I think I’d be inclined to deconstruct the sundae as I eat it, rather than melding such ingredients in motley mouthfuls. But at least you can see the cost. These ingredients are bought from a number of different vendors from around the world, and all of it is imported. While the ingredients probably don’t approach $1000, this would be much more difficult and costly to assemble in component parts than the sushi or the burger.
Decadence d’Or Cupcake at Sweet Surrender ($750)
I had read about this $750 Vegas cupcake. But when it came time to research for this article, I quickly found that there was a war in progress over who could make the most expensive cupcake. A bakery in Toronto announced a $900 cupcake with 24 carat gold and diamond sprinkles, only for a Dubai bakery to produce a $1000 version. But since Vegas is our focus, and this is the first ridiculously expensive cupcake, let us consider it for our “midnight snack.” The Decadence d’Or doesn’t look like a cupcake. It looks more like a hand grenade from Versailles. The cake is made of Valrhona brand’s exclusive Palmira Single Estate chocolate and the Porcellana Criolla bean that, believe it or not, is sold in vintages with wine-style tasting notes for each year’s crop. Its frosting is made with Charentes-Poitou AOC butter (which research suggests is extremely good butter, but I couldn’t tell you myself) and Tahitian Gold vanilla caviar (which is pollinated, harvested, split and extracted by hand after ripening for nine months—labelled “the world’s most labor-intensive crop”). Gold leaf is scattered on top.You eat the cupcake with a spoon out of a specially-made golden cup and topped with a fleur-de-lys made of sugar which contains a shot of Louis XIII de Remy Martin century-old cognac. The gold plate on which it is served makes for a nice souvenir.
Of these dishes, the most expensive seems like the easiest to reproduce at home at a reasonable price. Minus the $2500 bottle of wine, the a decent replica of the FleurBurger 5000 can be made for two, rather than four figures, which seems like a good deal all around. But when in Vegas…