When dining at one of the most expensive three Michelin starred restaurants in the world, it would probably come as no surprise that the ingredients on the menu have made an 8,000 kilometer trip, or that the view from the dining room is “made of thousands of fiber optic lights”. So, the next time you complain about a USD 7 Diet Coke in a restaurant or the dreaded USD 25 Caesar salad, consider this – it could be much worse. It’s not just that some restaurants create outrageous dishes to get attention (like a USD 1,000 ice cream sundae or a USD 666 “Douche Burger”), it’s that there are now countless ‘prix fixe’ menus around the world that require a second mortgage. Regardless of how otherworldly these meals are, here are some bills that are likely to surprise you.
SUBLIMOTION, Ibiza, Spain (USD 1,850 per person)
Sublimotion is a multi-sensory dining experience that includes a light show, course-themed music, and diners’ names projected on the table. Opened in 2014 by Michelin-starred chef Paco Roncero, Sublimotion is located in the Hard Rock Hotel in Ibiza and costs a staggering USD 1,800 per person for the gastronomic privilege of dining there. Each seating at Sublimotion – or “show” as they call it—accommodates 12 diners and features one tasting menu of about 15-20 courses. And it’s a feast for the senses—combining food, art, and technology during a meal that takes approximately three hours. Stratospheric cost aside, the reviews have been quite good.
The restaurant is the creation of Paco Roncero, a 46-year-old Spanish chef with designer stubble and an easy smile. Together with Ferran Adrià, he is one of a small group of Spanish chefs who spearheaded modernist cooking and helped make Spain one of the world’s most important gourmet destinations. He has two Michelin stars for his restaurant in Madrid, La Terraza del Casino, and Sublimotion — which opened in June 2014 — won the “best innovation” prize at the Worldwide Hospitality Awards in Paris.
While the menu changes annually previous dishes have included edible dining tickets, foie gras doughnuts delivered by a balloon and a calm dish you eat “under the sea”. Equal parts wacky and tasty, the menu is always unknown and the whole shebang will set you back a whopping USD 1,800. Just to build on the mysticism, guests are picked up at their hotels and they are taken to an unmarked door in the city where they are led into what appears to be a service or goods lift. This lift leads you to a white room with a single white table and 12 white chairs where Paco Roncero puts his guests through what he describes as a “merger of haute cuisine, gastronomy and . . . technology”, offering a series of mind-boggling culinary special effects in a room whose appearance constantly changes as a result of a series of high-definition video projections. During one course, sharks and fish appear to swim around the walls as diners are invited to skewer their seafood from a giant illuminated shell. For another, waiting staff appear with palettes of ingredients and “paint” an edible version of Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” on to the table.
However, where credit is due credit needs to be rendered. Sublimotion is not the first and only multi-sensory restaurant ever opened. Actually, the first such restaurant – called Ultraviolet – was opened in Shanghai and it is still very much one of the most extravagant culinary attractions of Shanghai – even if it comes out slightly more affordable.
MASA, New York City, USA (USD 595 per person)
Located in the swanky district of Manhattan, Masa and Bar Masa are twin Japanese and sushi restaurants located on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center in Manhattan in New York City.
The restaurants were opened by Chef Masa Takayama in 2004 and the smaller Masa side is today considered one of the most expensive restaurants in the world, as well as the most expensive restaurant in New York City. It is located inside, newt to or alongside – whichever way you look at it – of Bar Masa, which is the larger, more popular and more accessible dining proposition offering an à la carte menu. Masa forms the private section where guests are treated in person by Chef Masa Takayama himself.
If you have never heard of New York City’s MASA then don’t feel bad, I’ll let you in on what you are missing. This is a world renowned sushi bar known for its extremely excellent food, famous chef, and its steep prices. For starters, just to get a seat at MASA the base price is USD 595. A dinner for two will set you back a whopping USD 1,200 – that is more than a MacBook, but for your money you’ll get white truffle ice-cream and ohmi beef. That may seem like a bit much but it doesn’t stop people from rushing into their doors every day. To get a seat at MASA you must reserve it and people come from all over the world to get a taste of what most agree to be one of the best sushi restaurants in the world. It is highly exclusive, there are only 26 available seats and they are booked months in advance. It is Chef Masa Takayama who prepares the menu himself, often using many exotic ingredients, such as truffles and Kobe beef. Most of the fish is flown in from Japan 8,000 miles away.
In 2011, when Masa was a mere UD 450 per person, New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton famously asked: “Is it worth it?” (Not exactly, he concluded.) Five years later, the prix fixe menu at Chef Masa Tamayaka’s high temple of sushi is now a savory USD 595 per person – not including drinks and taxes.
RESTAURANT GUY SAVOY MONNAIE DE PARIS, Paris, France ($525 per person)
Internationally renowned French chef Guy Savoy created and manages the Parisian restaurant GUY SAVOY since 1980, which has been awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide. He also opened a RESTAURANT GUY SAVOY in Las Vegas, the twin to the first one, and five other establishments in Paris: Le Chiberta, Les Bouquinistes, l’Atelier Maître Albert, L’Huîtrade, Etoile-sur-Mer as well as a shop, Goût de Brioche. Unarguably one of the world’s greatest chefs, the Burgundy-born Guy Savoy’s delicate cuisine bursts on the palate with unforgettable verve with a focus always on emotion, on the unrivalled desire to please his patrons. For the star of Nouvelle Cuisine who trained Gordon Ramsay, cooking is an art of artisan precision with dream-inducing powers where the utmost respect for the ingredients, the products of nature, is central.
‘Goodness’ and ‘generosity’ are two words which keep coming up to describe this chef, who transforms his ingredients into works of art. Cooking, texture, flavors: everything is perfect in the Michelin-starred chef Guy Savoy’s restaurant, and after 28 years, he has decided to up the ante, and moved his restaurant GUY SAVOY from its original home near the Arc de Triomphe (where he already had three Michelin stars) to a “4,300-square-foot top-floor space” at the Monnaie de Paris – the French mint – with windows overlooking the Louvre and the Pont Neuf.
The restaurant sits at the top of a grand, red-carpeted stone staircase decorated with medallions and laurel wreaths. A series of dining rooms in shades of anthracite and brown are set along windows 10 feet high that offer a view of the Seine. The Louvre is on the far side of the river, the Pont Neuf to the right, the Square du Vert-Galant (a pointy-shaped spit of land at the tip of the Île de la Cité), straight ahead, the booksellers on the riverbank just below.
Stepping inside the imposing eighteenth-century stone Monnaie de Paris via the grand red-carpeted staircase, complete with mouldings and lofty colonnaded interior, will send shivers dancing down along the spine of any guests. Hit with unexpected emotion, in an evocative surrounding that recalls a hotel particulier, a door without a handle will open up of its own accord upon approach, inviting diners inside Mr Savoy’s lair. Time, and everything outside the space suddenly fell away and the next few hours turn into a dream that most likely see guests starting at the seaside and end in the woods during hunting season.
When a three-Michelin-starred chef names his restaurant Monnaie de Paris (after the French mint), you know it’s going to cost you the bank. While diners can go a la carte and spend about USD 250 a person for dinner, that’s not why you go to a three-star restaurant, is it? Hence, Guy Savoy offers various prix fixe 18-course “Innovations and Inspirations” menus that include roasted lobster and artichoke soup with black truffle. The prix fixe cost is around USD 525.
KITCHO (ARASHIYAMA), Kyoto, Japan ($475 per person)
Chef Kunio Tokuoka helms the Kyoto outpost of Kitcho (known as Arashiyama) as part of his birthright –because both his father and grandfather were the chefs here before him.
It might be a good idea to avoid excessive emphasis on Kyoto as the restaurant’s location, because Arashiyama is well of the beaten track and known for its picturesque cherry blossoms and autumnal leaves. The setting is that of a natural environment around perfect to enjoy delicious cuisine, so the Kitcho experience is “delicious” from the moment a reservation is made, because guests are very excited about coming out to the restaurant.
The so-called Japanese cuisine was established after the Meiji era in 1868-1912 and Japanese cuisine is generally prepared in strict conformance with the Japanese cooking style in Japan in spite of slight differences in the geography – but as Chef Kunio Tokuoka puts it – “Desire and passion to make delicious food is shared among all top-ranking restaurants in the world. Those chefs and I share the same desire and passion; however by just looking at a dish it is not possible to immediately put your finger on the desire and passion invested, and so I strive to do my best by making full use of the Kitcho legacy, the surrounding, the history and God given location. An encounter between ‘Guest’ and ‘Restaurant’ is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and plenty of meticulous preparations are essential to address all elements of cuisine-dishes, seasonal arrangement, place, setting and service in order for guests to enjoy their time to the fullest extent possible. In our case this also includes the serenity of our location”.
In third-generation Chef Kunio Tokuoka’s Kitcho you will indulge in Kaiseki, a traditional, elaborate, multi-course Japanese dinner – and there are various such prix fixe menus to choose from – but to partake in this age-old Kitcho experience you’ll need to part with around 58,000 Yen (or USD 475) per person. It’s at least a 10-course meal, including two separate sashimi sections as well as grilled and steamed courses.
ALAIN DUCASSE AU PLAZA ATHENEE, Paris, France ($425 per person)
No one can accuse Alain Ducasse, arguably the most successful Chef on the planet, of resting on his laurels. His flagship Paris restaurant ‘Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée’ has been entirely reinvented, reopening last autumn with a sparkling new dining room and radically revised menu – Alain Ducasse has reclaimed his coveted three Michelin stars with a fundamentally different approach focusing on nature and simplicity through an haute cuisine lens.
The restaurant interior is luxurious and striking, with polished stainless steel ‘shells’ dividing the space. Almost every element of furniture, tableware and cutlery has also been crafted by French producers specifically for this enterprise. But the food is even bolder: Ducasse and executive Chef Romain Meder have based the menu around the trilogy of fish, vegetables and cereal. The idea is to refocus on healthier eating using produce that has been caught or grown in a sustainable and largely organic fashion, exploring the flavors of relatively humble, natural ingredients in the process. That means there are starters such as Anjou quinoa, morels and green asparagus or Brittany langoustines with golden caviar, and main courses including turbot with Lovage, Borage and warm oysters. There are even elements of Japanese ‘Shojin’ cuisine involved, though the cooking is still fundamentally French.
Turning his back on traditional presentation, wines are now classified by generation. 10 years, 15 years, all the way up to 55 years! A beautiful way to choose wine, defined by an event that marks a life and their celebration.
Everywhere is wonder. The remarkable quality of the various pieces is achieved with an absolute attention to detail, a formidable representation of the craftsman’s expertise; and on the table, shapes are joined in perfect unison and precious materials cohabitate with the simpler objects in a collection of unique creations designed by Pierre Tachon or Shinichiro Ogata, by Rina Menardi, Gérard Crociani or Tina Frey. Cutlery created in the 1970’s by Roger Tallon is exclusively reedited for the restaurant. But fine dining comes with a price and the prix fixe menu here – which includes three half-courses, cheese and dessert, but not drinks – costs nothing less than USD 425.