According to a Zagat Survey of America's Top Restaurants, New York City continues to lead the way as the most costly US city in which to dine out, with an average tab of $39.46. That's approximately R270.
By comparison, Zagat's national average is $33.29, while New Orleans ($26.18) and Austin ($25.30) are the least expensive cities. Of course, US restaurants are still not in the same league as their counterparts in cities such as London, Paris and Tokyo where the average price is about $75. That's about R500 for us South Africans.
The top ten
The following US restaurants, made the top ten list of most expensive restaurants according to the Zagat Guide and www.forbes.com.
Topping the list of America's priciest restaurant is Masa in New York City. Starting at a whopping $400 a person, the 29-course Omakase menu includes four to five appetisers followed by 25 distinct sushi courses. Your fish is likely to be flown in on a first-class ticket from a fresh-fish market in Tokyo.
Robuchon at The Mansion
The next stop is in Las Vegas at Robuchon at The Mansion, where food lovers fork over $360 for a 16-course extravaganza. Chef Claude Le Tohic just earned three Michelin stars for his culinary wizardry.
If you truly feel like breaking the bank, then stop off at French Laundry in the San Francisco Bay Area. It will cost you a mere $240 plus just for the privilege of taking a seat at the table. The nine-course tasting menu is a serious investment of time and money.
At Alinea in Chicago their 24-course tasting menu will cost you about $195. Part of what makes a meal so expensive is the unique serving vessels designed by chef Grant Achatz himself. For example the 'antenna' is a stainless-steel skewer on a base that tilts forward so that the diner may bite off a morsel directly from the tip.
The French Room
At the French Room in Dallas caviar is queen, leading off with Imperial Royal Ossetra at $300 for a 30-gramme serving. This sets the tone for Chef Jason Weaver ambitious offerings, including Diver scallops on braised pork belly with truffled lentil potato salad for a mere $100 a person.
One would expect more Tinseltown restaurants on the list however only, Urasawa, a tiny sushi place on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles made the cut. It used to belong to Masa Takayama before he took his knives to New York City. But at $275, the 29-course meal at Urasawa is still a bargain compared to Masa in New York.
Courtesy Inn at Little Washington
In Washington, you'll pay up to $168 for chef and owner Patrick McConnell's seven-course prix-fixe menu at Courtesy Inn at Little Washington. Who knows maybe you'll see Hillary or Bill while dining there.
Next up is Canlis in Seattle that has been around since 1950, and remains a compelling venue for a Northwest-dining experience. Expect to pay $75 per person and remember to bring your reading glasses for the 90-page wine list.
At Antoine's, in New Orleans, a meal is a trip down memory lane in this 160-year-old restaurant in the French Quarter. For a city full of foodies the restaurant prices have remained low with only one entrée creeping over the $40 territory.
The last stop is at L'Espalier in Boston where a three-course prix-fixe menu starts at $75. However be prepared to add another $24 to the bill for a tantalising side dish of wild mushroom ragoÃ»t with Café de Paris butter.
* Exchange rate: 1.00 USD = 6.71358 ZAR (10/12/2007)