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What is the most you have paid for dinner?


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I'm interested in how much others have paid for dinner. Being a good food lover myself, I'm perfectly happy to pay anything up to around £50. I sometimes think anything beyond that is just unreasonable.

However! It is my wife's birthday coming up and I am strongly contemplating taking her to L'Enclume for the Underground menu, which at a guess will set me back £250 just for the food!

How much have you paid?!

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As time has gone on I find myself less willing to fork out substantial sums only to end up with sub standard food, having said that if somebody could guarantee me the best meal of my life I wouldn't have too many problems paying £500 a head.

£50 a head is easily achievable in London these days, when I started eating out I gradually edged my way upwards price wise and found that the best meals roughly correlated with the increase in price. Non-foodie friends often ask me about particular restaurants for celebratory meals (notably GR@RHR and The Fat Duck) and whether they are worth the money, these are people who are normally happy spending £25 a head in their local Italian. Without hesitation my advice to them is that they won't enjoy them any more than if they spent £50 on a meal, this isn't a snob thing, I just don't believe that diving in at the deep end can enhance your enjoyment. Gradually working your way up the different levels of restaurants and gaining an understanding of ingredients and techniques will mean that you will probably enjoy your meal costing £125 per head far more, not only that, you will understand why you enjoy it so much more. :smile:

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I disgree Matt. The notion that someone who doesn't eat out much wouldn't tell the difference between a £50 meal and the Fat Duck sounds incredible to me. The difference is chasmic.

My first such experience was at le Manoir when I was 16. It was a world apart from anything I had ever tasted. And I don't think I would be disappointed by that same meal now or enjoy it any less.

I do agree however that greater experience at different levels, different types of cuisine, and different countries can only heighten your appreciation (like anything)but not necessarily your enjoyment.

By way of example, I went to Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road a couple of years back. I had had two stunning meals there 4 years previously and was very excited about returning. I was very disappointed. In those 4 years, I had eaten at a lot more 3 star restaurants, and wondered whether my disappointment was due to greater experience. But my 3 fellow diners felt the same way, and they had a range of experiences from no michelin restaurants to stars a plenty.

If you're having your first time at a super expensive restaurant, it's more important to read recent trusted reviews (michelin are often behind the times - the Waterside Inn is an example in my opinion) and choose a place that correlates with your own personal tastes ie perhaps the Fat Duck wouldn't be for everyone.

To answer the original post, my most expensive food bill was at l'Arpege in Paris three weeks ago. It ended up at about 300E for the food... With the current exchange rate, that was super violation. BUT, it was possibly the best meal of my life.

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Ok so my most expensive meal ever was lunch at Alaine Ducasse in Paris at £300 for two (10 years ago)

Recently 700 Euros for three + child at Duomo in Sicily was fairly painful- especially as we had really cheap wine. Eeven more so when we failed to get past 160 euros anywhere else (and believe me we tried).

http://www.allium.uk.net

http://alliumfood.wordpress.com/ the alliumfood blog

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming - Whey hey what a ride!!!, "

Sarah Poli, Firenze, Kibworth Beauchamp

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I disgree Matt. The notion that someone who doesn't eat out much wouldn't tell the difference between a £50 meal and the Fat Duck sounds incredible to me. The difference is chasmic.

My first such experience was at le Manoir when I was 16. It was a world apart from anything I had ever tasted. And I don't think I would be disappointed by that same meal now or enjoy it any less.

I do agree however that greater experience at different levels, different types of cuisine, and different countries can only heighten your appreciation (like anything)but not necessarily your enjoyment.

By way of example, I went to Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road a couple of years back. I had had two stunning meals there 4 years previously and was very excited about returning. I was very disappointed. In those 4 years, I had eaten at a lot more 3 star restaurants, and wondered whether my disappointment was due to greater experience. But my 3 fellow diners felt the same way, and they had a range of experiences from no michelin restaurants to stars a plenty.

If you're having your first time at a super expensive restaurant, it's more important to read recent trusted reviews (michelin are often behind the times - the Waterside Inn is an example in my opinion) and choose a place that correlates with your own personal tastes ie perhaps the Fat Duck wouldn't be for everyone.

To answer the original post, my most expensive food bill was at l'Arpege in Paris three weeks ago. It ended up at about 300E for the food... With the current exchange rate, that was super violation. BUT, it was possibly the best meal of my life.

I didn't say they wouldn't be able to tell the difference, merely that they would enjoy just as much a lesser restaurant, simply because they wouldn't know any better. Most people of limited dining experience tend to be impressed by the surroundings, service and pretty plating of dishes, as well as the food (IMO), things that you can get at places less expensive than RHR for instance. As you point out yourself your first experience was le Manoir and it was a world apart but where had you been eating prior to that? How do you know that you wouldn't have been as impressed eating the £35 lunch at the Connaught for instance?

I racked up £500 at the Waterside Inn once, it was a fabulous meal and lives long in the memory however, impressive as it was, in hindsight and with more experience I reckon that foodwise it probably falls outside my top ten meals.

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I racked up £500 at the Waterside Inn once, it was a fabulous meal and lives long in the memory however, impressive as it was, in hindsight and with more experience I reckon that foodwise it probably falls outside my top ten meals.

Although sometimes its the whole evening , the sum of the parts rather than just the food that remains in the memory , and I think thats just fine. (although if its just the hangover the next morning, well thats a wholenew ball game!!)

I've had stella nights out that have had good food, but not the best ever, but the evening out still ranks up there.

On the other side bad food, good evening will always be remembered as a bad night. :biggrin:

My meal at Ducasse was probably the most scary 3 hours of my life, I was terrified of clanking cutlery, dropping anything or saying/doing the wrong thing. The ladies of Paris kept staring at us, and it totally freaked me out. The food was fantastic, once I'd stopped sitting up straight and wishing I'd bought something new to wear. In hindsight I really wasn't ready for it. These days no waiter or French diner would scare me, and the wine list would be alot easier to negotiate!!

Although now we have two kids we REALLY can't afford it! :unsure:

http://www.allium.uk.net

http://alliumfood.wordpress.com/ the alliumfood blog

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming - Whey hey what a ride!!!, "

Sarah Poli, Firenze, Kibworth Beauchamp

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I've had a few meals £200+ per head. they're all memorable because they are events in themselves - something to look forward to and savour.

The Fat Duck was one of those. Although terrific food, we felt ripped off by the 'wine by the glass' accompaniement. they were interesting wines, but didn't justify the price. the resulting wine bill left a sour taste in our mouths!

Only a couple of weeks ago I ate at L'Arpege which was sensational - brilliant food, terrific playful service. Free 'chef suprises' such as lobster with white truffles made it great value, despite the cost.

These meals are meant to be events, like a good night out. When they exceed expectations like L'Arpege, no matter how much you pay it's the memory that counts.

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I disgree Matt. The notion that someone who doesn't eat out much wouldn't tell the difference between a £50 meal and the Fat Duck sounds incredible to me. The difference is chasmic.

<snip>

To answer the original post, my most expensive food bill was at l'Arpege in Paris three weeks ago. It ended up at about 300E for the food... With the current exchange rate, that was super violation. BUT, it was possibly the best meal of my life.

I didn't say they wouldn't be able to tell the difference, merely that they would enjoy just as much a lesser restaurant, simply because they wouldn't know any better. Most people of limited dining experience tend to be impressed by the surroundings, service and pretty plating of dishes, as well as the food (IMO), things that you can get at places less expensive than RHR for instance. As you point out yourself your first experience was le Manoir and it was a world apart but where had you been eating prior to that? How do you know that you wouldn't have been as impressed eating the £35 lunch at the Connaught for instance?

I racked up £500 at the Waterside Inn once, it was a fabulous meal and lives long in the memory however, impressive as it was, in hindsight and with more experience I reckon that foodwise it probably falls outside my top ten meals.

I suspect this is a rehash of the expectations versus enjoyment argument. You derive more joy from a cheap meal that beats expectations than an expensive meal that only meets them. Or your first crack at a * cheapo lunchtime prixe fixed with have more wow that your fifteieth *** a la carte later on in your career.

Personally I would add I had a storming garlic mayo burger from GBK for supper today. Cooked lovely a rare inside with smashing garlicy mayo - I expected BK, got GBK and for six quid eighty I was well pleased.

Case in point.

J

On the pricing front the most I've got to is the EUR200-250 going rate for a *** French tasting menu (don't really want to know what that is in pounds) - but NB I normally order tap water rather than booze...

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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800 pounds at Club Gascon last Autumn for two. Hurt even more when it showed up on the Canadian credit card at $1700 dollars. Nice bottle of bubble and Bordeaux did not help the cause :rolleyes:

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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firstly the actual most you have ever spent is a silly question as there are obviously the more illustrious among us that can blow big money on wine, some rules are needed but i am not going to be the one to create them!

I am with Matt, if someone asked for a recommendation for somewhere special and they were unfamiliar with gastronomic restaurants i would recommend maze or claridges or even boxwood (if it was still there) over RHR purely because the leap in quality of these over pizza express is greater than the leap from these to RHR, (does this make sense? i have a hangover)

jujst for the record, most in uk £360 at waterside, two bellinis, 1 average bottle of wine, coffees, food, biggest rip off of my life.

France £560 euros ledoyen, well worth it.

biggest bill, although picked up by someone else, le cinq, also worth it, well easy for me to say that!

Matt Christmas.

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Mine are rather well documented (what do you mean you haven't bought a copy yet?)

still... £250 for one at a sushi joint in Tokyo.

an 855 euro bill for two at l'arpege, the majority of that being the 340 euro a head tasting menu. and no, it wasn't worth it.

Jay

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it has certainly become noticable the price inflation at the higher level especially in paris/france, when i first started dining there (and the 10 franc £ was a wonderful thing) i'd be going some to spend £100 a head but now it's really getting out of hand, even arpege aside, the 3* are all falling into 'that's not a meal out, that's a week on a beach' type expense.

Of course as you get older and fatter the meals go from just the tasting menu and a bottle of wine to aperitifs, 2 bottles of wine, extra cheese, digestifs which all do their own damage both physically and fiscally.

As i think matt said upthread the ones you remember are the ones that you feel the gouge and don't have a great time, which for me were £300+ plus meals at fat duck & le gavroche (and that was 5 years ago) and most recently a fairly frightening amount at roellinger 170e tasting menus and i think 3 100e-ish wines (between 4) though i called an end to the expensive wine for puds and had i think a 30e - odd riesling that was fine . I was quite relieved not to be going back the next day for ALC unlike my friends who did.

on the fat duck point, a friend of mine had pretty much the same meal i had 5 years ago ie tasting plus wine flight, spent £600+ for 2 . Didn't enjoy it much either :shock:

you don't win friends with salad

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Ok so my most expensive meal ever was lunch at Alaine Ducasse in Paris at £300 for two (10 years ago)

Recently 700 Euros for three + child at Duomo in Sicily was fairly painful- especially as we had really cheap wine. Eeven more so when we failed to get past 160 euros anywhere else (and believe me we tried).

Blimey Erica !

I'm booked into Duomo in a couple of weeks. Was it worth it?

We're there for 10 days or so. Any other recommendations? Nobody replied to my post on the Sicily thread. Miserable lot.

Sorry to go off subject! To make amends.....

My own most expensive bill would be every time we go to the River Cafe. Silly prices really but worth every penny. The risotto with white truffle last autumn was a stunner.

£50 quid a head in London is all too easy to break. Even our local places in Richmond and Twickenham are beyond that with a decent bottle of wine. Ok maybe too decent but I've spent as much in Manchester and Leeds recently.

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In countries like Japan or Italy or Spain, you can eat extremely well for $5 or $500. I've also eaten miserably for $300 without wine. Price is not always an indication of gastronomic return.

Replying to your question, price is not an issue with us, and we are willing to pay a lot for good food. Paying the big bucks (the record so far is £2,000 per person with astonishing wines for a fantastic lunch and only so-so dinner at a private gastronomic event) does not guarantee bliss. You pays your money and takes your chances.

In a restaurant, Arpege is the most expensive meal we've had in Europe (280 euros per person without wine), Masa in NY the most expensive in the US ($350 per person, food only), and we have paid $700 per person without drinks in several places in Japan. The bummer there is that you often have to pay in cash. The good thing is that we ate very well in these instances. However, we have paid slightly less for much lesser meals in other places. Let the buyer beware.

None of this takes into account travel costs, which ups the price of a meal enormously. It is worth it to us, as eating is a great joy in life. However, others may not feel it is worth it.

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Overall, prices in say the 50 best restaurants in Europe are pretty similar. In this category, the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy have almost identical prices. So if one does visit a place like this, one knows roughly what is to be expected on the bill.

However, what drives me crazy sometimes is being ripped off in places like this for reasons other than food. Basically, you end up paying for a posh location, for high rents, for dozens of unnecessary waiters, etc. Parisian three-star restaurants tend to be more expensive than provincial ones, for example. Restaurants surrounded by a media hype tend to be more expensive than "forgotten ones". I don't mind paying a lot of money for excellent food (give me the Gavroche a la carte menu every day!). But if I have to pay 30 Euros for a glass of ordinary non-vintage champagne or 50 pounds for a mediocre main course, this clearly spoils my dinner.

Edited by ameiden (log)
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I usually try to judge the meal and the food seperately.

The meal being the sum of the experience and the food seperately.

Most I spent was £115 at matsuri and it wasn't really worth it as it was quantity over quality.

How about we also ask what the cheapest most spectacular meal you ever had?

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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Most - £150 a head at the Square, Mayfair. Worth every penny though 'as it 'appens.

Cheapest and most spectacular - Tayyabs, every time. But also honourable mention goes to La Cerisiae in Paris. I had hazlenut soup followed by Pyrenean suckling lamb, followed by a chocolate dessert so extraordinary I ordered another one.

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How about we also ask what the cheapest most spectacular meal you ever had?

Egg, sausage, chips and beans from Morrison's canteen; £1.99

Wednesday morning, raining outside, back from my final week at university after not eating very much. No two chips the same, each mouthful an absolute pleasure.

After that it would have to be The Golden Fortune in Windemere, Bowness. £9.20 for four courses of unbelievably excellent chinese food. I've mentioned before that I think it's nicer than the likes of Phoenix Palace in London. The restaurant itself is beautiful, ambient and charmingly authentic, the service spot on, friendly, competent and efficient and the food stays in my memory for a long time afterwards. It has become an annual event going there.

Edited by SaladFingers (log)
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Most expensive was £250 for two at Fat Duck two years ago. I'm fortunate in that neither myself nor my g/f are big wine drinkers - we tank out at one glass - as wine seems to double the cost of meals for a lot of people.

Best cheap meal ever would be at Vue de Monde in Melbourne, about 5 years ago. The chef had returned from europe working with MPW and the Rouxs, with his balls on fire and the notion of recreating an antipodean Harveys. I think 3 courses with a glass of wine was between $AUS26-29. At the exchange rate back then, that works to around 10 pounds. The food was excellent - got the same vibe I get eating at Foliage these days. The meal started me on fine dining, and I went back twice within 5 months. Lunch there now costs over $70 for 3 courses.

Edited by beandork (log)
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Best cheap meal ever would be at Vue de Monde in Melbourne, about 5 years ago. I think 3 courses with a glass of wine was between $AUS26-29. At the exchange rate back then, that works to around 10 pounds.

I am afraid they have put their prices up a bit - we paid $600 (aussie) for lunch for two there about a year ago.

We had a tasting menu with matching wines. I always put my trust in the sommelier and 99% of the times it is repaid - this time we were served lots of (average) French wines at horrendous prices. In fact the whole meal was trying to be too French, with imported French ingredients rather than better local Australian ones. I am sorry to say I think it is now a bit overrated and overhyped.

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Having just come back from the "Underground" dinner at L'Enclume, I can say that it's definately worth it. 22 courses, took 4 1/2 hours, Superb food and excellent service. The expense for it is about the same as the Fat Duck, which probably makes it my 1st or 2nd most expensive meal, but I would say that the expericence compares admirably.

Lee

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