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Published: Tuesday, 4/10/2012

The price is right ... out of this world

BY DANIEL NEMAN
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

So, do fries come with that?

They certainly ought to. Nothing goes with a hamburger like a pile of hot, crispy french fries -- especially when the hamburger costs $5,000.

At Hubert Keller's Fleur at the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas, diners can order the FleurBurger 5000, a burger made from wagyu beef stuffed with seared foie gras and topped with shaved black truffles and a truffle sauce, all for a cool five grand. Judging by a picture, the burger is a little on the small side.

But it does come with a bottle of 1995 Château Petrus, which is apparently a pretty decent bottle of red. Essentially, you're buying the bottle of wine and they're throwing in the burger for free. Even so, one wonders if they charge for extras.

"Can I get bacon on this?"

"Certainly, sir. That will be an additional $1.75."

"So, $5,001.75, then?"

"Correct."

The restaurant has sold 18 of the burgers over the years. If you're feeling less flush, you can buy the burger without the wine for $35, which seems like a deal until you remember we're talking about a hamburger. Wagyu beef is pricey and truffles are pricier, but in its most elemental form it is still what you get at McDonald's. The difference is that their special sauce has truffles in it.

The FleurBurger 5000 tops the new list from Zagat of eight of the most expensive dishes in the United States, and although it is much more expensive than any of the others, at least it has the excuse of coming with the high-priced wine. The others are just ridiculous for the sake of being ridiculous.

Norma's, a breakfast-and-lunch joint in New York's tony Le Parker Meridien hotel, sells what it calls its Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata: a six-egg frittata with lobster tail and 10 ounces of caviar. It costs $1,000.

American sturgeon caviar, which is what they dump on this frittata, runs about $60 an ounce retail; a restaurant would pick it up for much less. But the price is less of a consideration than this: a single frittata has 10 ounces of caviar. That's more caviar than any human could eat in a month, more than most eat in their lifetimes, more than the entire population of some medium-sized cities eat in their lifetimes. That's enough cholesterol and sodium to kill most folks, and you get that on top of six eggs.

Nino's Positano sells a thousand-dollar pizza with thin slices of lobster tail, creme fraiche, and six different types of caviar. Perhaps fortunately, the caviar is doled out in relatively small amounts. On the other hand, it's also a relatively small pizza, just 12 inches. According to the restaurant's hostess, people who order it tend to share with their friends, but the same size of an ordinary mushroom pizza there is meant to feed just one.

Of course, if you're still hungry after that pizza, and you might be, you can always stroll down to the famous Serendipity 3 restaurant and indulge in a Golden Opulence Sundae for dessert: five scoops of Tahitian vanilla ice cream topped with Amedei Porcelana chocolate sauce and studded with gold-covered almonds, marzipan cherries, candied fruits, and chocolate truffles, all covered in edible 23-karat gold leaf. It, too, costs $1,000, but you get to eat it with a gold spoon. Or you could just take a regular spoon and wrap it with the 23-karat gold leaf.

At Shaboo in the Aria resort and casino in Las Vegas, you can get a shabu-shabu for a mere $500. That includes the finest fish and beef flown in daily for your hot-pot pleasure, so you could understand the price, if you are inclined to be forgiving. But shabu-shabu requires briefly dunking thinly sliced foods in a flavored hot broth. It can be delicious, it can even be transcendent, but you still have to cook it yourself.

It's probably cheaper if you offer to do your own dishes.

Contact Daniel Neman at dneman@theblade.com or 419-724-6155.



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