The finest ingredients and top chefs are key components to the best dining experiences, but it can be the added extras that make meals or venues memorable.
1. Daniel Boulud’s Caviar, New York City
At US$205, Daniel’s tasting menu is a relative bargain compared to other high-end Manhattan eateries but care for some Champagne and caviar in the lounge before dinner? Fifty grams of Boulud’s private-label Caspian Sea Golden Ossetra caviar goes for US$860.
2. The French Laundry, Napa Valley
Even the wiliest concierges have trouble scoring reservations at Chef Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry. Each day Keller and his staff create two nine-course $240 menus – a chef’s “tasting” menu and a “vegetable” menu – promising not to repeat a single ingredient on either menu.
3. $1,000 Sultan’s Golden Cake, Istanbul
Upon request the pastry chef at hotel the Ciragan Palace Kempinski will prepare a “golden cake” that has been flavoured with fruits marinated for years in Jamaican rum, vanilla beans from French Polynesia and French wheat. But what makes this the ultimate bakery bling is the dusting of 24-karat edible gold.
4. White Truffle Dinner at Les Amis, Singapore
For special clients, Les Amis, the elegant French restaurant in Singapore, can arrange a top-to-bottom white truffle menu that starts at $800 per person, not including wine.
5. $5,000 Fleur Burger, Las Vegas
Created by Fleur de Lys chef Hubert Keller, the man behind Burger Bar in the Mandalay Bay hotel, this burger contains kobe beef, truffles and foie gras. The real cost comes with the concoction’s accompaniment – a bottle of 1995 Chateau Petrus from Bordeaux.
6. Nino’s Bellissima Pizza, New York
There’s nothing special about the sauce or the crust. This pizza earns its US$1,000 price tag with its toppings. Nino’s in New York loads down this pie with caviar and fresh Maine lobster. There’s also some salmon roe and a little wasabi.
7. Dinner In The Sky
“People were getting bored with just going to the same old restaurants,” says David Ghysels, the Belgian entrepreneur who created this movable restaurant suspended by a crane. If you’ve got the cash, Ghysels will bring his portable dining room anywhere he’s got clearance. Bringing a star chef and his suspended restaurant to a US locale could cost between US$50,000 and $100,000.
8. Picnic on Macaroni Beach, Mustique Island
Barbecued chicken, mango and avocado salad, couscous with vegetables and rum punch sounds like standard picnic fare. Unless, of course, your picnic is on Macaroni Beach, on the exclusive Mustique island in the West Indies. The private island is open only to guests who own or rent some of its stunning villas, all of which come with their own kitchen staff.
9. Chef’s Table at L’Espadon, Paris
This restaurant, complete with a climbing lilac tree in the middle of the opulent dining room, serves up dishes like roast rib of milk-fed veal in a hay-infused stock and filet de boeuf Rossini with “cappuccino-style” mashed potatoes (with truffles and cocoa). Occasionally, Executive Chef Michel Roth invites guests to dine at the chef’s table, offering a ringside seat to the choreography of the Ritz’s mythical kitchens.
10. Private Dinner at Chef Louis Pous
For diners who aren’t into travelling, Little Palm Island resort chef Louis Pous has started making house calls. For US$10,000 (for up to 10 people) plus travel costs, the chef and his staff of two will fly anywhere in the United States to prepare a private meal. The package, which must be reserved 30 days in advance, does not include wines, china or stemware.
11. Dinner at Three on the Bund, Shanghai
This small domed dining room capping Three on the Bund, Shanghai’s upmarket shopping and dining complex, is so intimate it can only squeeze in two diners and a butler. While taking in the panoramic views of Shanghai, you can feast on food from any of the restaurants in the complex including Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Jean Georges, Laris or Whampoa Club, for about US$500 for two.