The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare has overtaken Per Se as New York’s second most expensive restaurant, after Masa, as determined by entry-level cost at dinner.
Brooklyn Fare now charges $255 for its 20-30 course menu, up $30 from its previous price of $225. Dinner for two at The Chef’s Table, after tax and 20% service charge, will now run you $657, a 13% hike from $580, which is what dinner for two used to cost. Date night at Per Se, by contrast, is a few dollars less at $642 after tax (the menu is listed at $295, service included).
Keep in mind that Per Se charges supplements for truffles ($125-$175), foie gras ($40), kobe beef ($50-$100), blue lobster (MP), and luxury caviar courses ($75), which can push a Per Se dinner to over $500 per person before wine. Brooklyn Fare does not extra charge for luxury ingredients.
It’s Australian Black Truffle Season! That’s because it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere (MIND-BLOWING, RIGHT?). As such, we get to enjoy the bounty of winter truffles during our Northern Hemisphere summer. But will prices rise in 2013.
Last year, Thomas Keller priced Australian black truffles as a $75 supplement at The French Laundry, and as a $100 supplement at Per Se. This year, the cost appears to have risen by $25, which pricing at $100 at The Laundry and $125 at Per Se, as per two recent menus. We contacted The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group via phone & email during business hours yesterday, to inquire about why prices are higher in 2013; we haven’t received a response.
So what say you world? Are Chef Keller’s new truffle prices a BUY HOLD OR SELL?
Easy question: Would you prefer to dine at Corton, one of New York’s most envelope-pushing French restaurants, and order an intruging bottle of Champagne, say, Duc de Romet for $80? Or would you rather go to Gaonnuri, the subject of my one-star Bloomberg News review, where the cheapest Champagne, a very un-intriguing bottle of Moet & Chandon, is $160? That’s a 300% markup over the $40 retail price at Astor Wines.*
Thomas Keller’s “service-included” Per Se hasn’t raised the price of its $295 menu in over two years, but diners can always spend a bit more with the tasting menu’s spendy supplements. So it goes that the three Michelin-starred joint in Midtown Manhattan isn’t charging more on this Valentine’s Day, but diners can spend as much as $595 if they opt for the pricey caviar, foie gras, blue lobster and black truffle add-ons. So far, the priciest Per Se menu we’ve seen is the $685 extravaganza during white truffle season. This one comes close enough, though.
So what say, you people of earth? BUY HOLD OR SELL? Personally, we’re pretty stoked about the “veal heart and dover sole.” The restaurant appears to be booked up tonight, but walk-ins can try the odd surf & turf in the lounge for $34. Boom.
One interesting note: While we were investigating the price increases at Jean Georges, a spokesperson for the restaurant mentioned that it’s “still the lowest priced three star Michelin and four star New York Times prix-fixe in NYC.”
Is that an accurate statement?
So writes New York Times food critic Pete Wells in his largely skeptical take on tasting menu-only restaurants, an odd, albeit interesting world where meals last over three hours, where bread courses are dictatorially delayed until mid-meal, and where dining rooms are filled by “big game hunters,” eager to spend a thousand dollars per couple for the privilege of feasting at a trophy establishment. Instagrams of the now-closed El Bulli must be the ultimate taxidermy, non?
Smart eaters will read the NYT piece in its entirety because it’s a fine lament on an expensive & idiosyncratic slice of modern gastronomy.
But what I focus on here at The Price Hike are prices, and it’s Mr. Wells’ statement about this “epidemic” of expensive tasting menus that piques my interest, as well as another one of his musings: “I can’t feel good about watching great restaurants that were already serving an elite audience taking themselves further out of reach.”
The NYT critic raises good questions. As much as I love American Omakase spots like Alinea, Blanca and Brooklyn Fare, committing the necessary financial resources toward a pricey tasting (or dealing with the subsequent gastro-intestinal distress) isn’t exactly my regular brand of bourbon.
Thomas Keller’s Per Se, whose 9-course tasting menu costs $295 before supplements, offered a few interesting options yesterday: Scottish blue lobster for $50 and American Wagyu for $100. This was in addition to the regular $75 caviar and $40 foie gras add-ons. Guests opting for all of the supplement would have spent $560 on food, or 90% more than the menu’s base price. This is the highest that we’ve seen Per Se’s menu go since last summer, when we documented a $610 menu.
If both members in a party of two each ordered all the supplements, the bill would have started at $1,120 before sales tax and wine.
Is Per Se’s $560 menu a BUY HOLD OR SELL? Your call, world. Meanwhile, check out the supplements. We’ve been keeping close track of Per Se’s offerings as part of The Price Hike’s Most Excellent Menu Contest, which emphasizes the role Tumblr can play in promoting price transparency.
Now that The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare has published its wine list, all but two of New York’s top Michelin-rated restaurants have their selection of vino available to peruse online. Le Bernardin and Jean Georges are the two holdouts. We’re hoping they’ll join the club soon, especially since wine can cost as much as (or more than) dinner at these excellent, high-end venues.
Think of it this way: If Le Bernardin’s $190 tasting menu is unlikely to be an “impulse purchase,” then a $190 bottle of bubbly at that restaurant is also unlikely to be an impromptu decision. High-end wine, like high-end food, is something you plan in advance. It requires thought. As such, here are the wine lists for New York’s three Michelin-starred restaurants. Minus two.
(See Update Below): Starting next week, it will be illegal for California restaurants to sell foie gras. Those who violate that rule may be subject to a $1,000 fine. But so it goes that the San Francisco authorities might not prosecute chefs who give away the dish for free, as Bloomberg News reported today. So here’s where things get interesting.
Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry typically offers a single foie gras dish for $30. It’s a number that’s always published on the online menu (Per Se in New York charges $40). But we The Price Hike noticed something interesting today. The French Laundry’s current menu lists three foie gras dishes: sherbert, torchon and Americna Wagyu with foie gras “pastrami.” Only the latter carries a supplement, at $100 (that’s what Keller usually charges for Wagyu).
So effectively, there are no real foie gras charges on this menu. Is this an effort to “work-around” the law? Or is this simply an effort to celebrate the silky duck liver before it (theoretically) becomes illegal? We’ll find out in about a week. The French Laundry updates its online menus almost every day — though keep in mind that Keller has said he’ll comply with the ban. Stay tuned, folks.
Update (6/27/2012): The Good People at the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group emailed The Price Hike to let us know that the menu without supplements was a “menu-in-progress” and was posted “inadvertently.” The foie gras dishes do, in fact, carry an extra $30 charge. Click here for an updated list of those dishes.