Del Posto’s $1,269 Meal Tops NYC’s Priciest List: Ryan Sutton

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Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

The dining room at Del Posto in New York. The restaurant has undergone a $500,000 renovation.

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Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

The dining room at Del Posto in New York. The restaurant has undergone a $500,000 renovation. Close

The dining room at Del Posto in New York. The restaurant has undergone a $500,000 renovation.

Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

Del Posto antipasto dal carrello at Del Posto in New York. Close

Del Posto antipasto dal carrello at Del Posto in New York.

Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

Veal in ash with polenta and osso bucco vinegrette at Del Posto in New York. Close

Veal in ash with polenta and osso bucco vinegrette at Del Posto in New York.

Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg News

Chef Michael White of the restaurant Marea poses in New York, U.S. on Monday, July 13, 2009. Marea features Italian fare and is located at 240 Central Park South. Close

Chef Michael White of the restaurant Marea poses in New York, U.S. on Monday, July 13, 2009. Marea features Italian... Read More

Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

"Spinosini": Manilla clams, calamari and hot chilis with pasta is shown at Marea restaurant in New York, U.S., on Monday, July 13, 2009. Marea was voted New York’s top new restaurant by the Zagat Survey’s “New York Restaurants” guide. Close

"Spinosini": Manilla clams, calamari and hot chilis with pasta is shown at Marea restaurant in New York, U.S., on... Read More

Only a naif would figure the cost of a meal at one of New York’s top restaurants based on the menu price. That’s just a tease.

What follows is a real-world guide to prix-fixe dining around town for two. The restaurants will be familiar. The prices won’t.

Because if you’re plunging into a four-hour meal, you’re probably not dining alone. And if you’re taking out a client (or wooing a date), you’re not likely to be splitting the bill.

So: Flush with cash? Mario Batali’s Del Posto serves Manhattan’s most expensive meal, the 12-course “Collection” with mandatory wine pairings: $1,269 for two. Masa’s $1,142 before-sake price gives teetotaling couples a break.

For the city’s priciest three-course dinner, try Gordon Ramsay’s $343 bash.

You won’t see those faint-inducing figures on your menu.

You’ll find them on your check.

Take David Chang’s Momofuku Ko. The East Village spot offers a $125 menu -- which is fine if you don’t tip, don’t drink, don’t bring company and have a diplomatic exemption from paying sales tax. For the rest of us, dinner at Ko will cost $317 for two after tax and 18 percent gratuity. If both of you do the $95 wine pairing, the price grows to $558.

Hidden Numbers

Checks are tough to estimate. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Midtown doesn’t publish an online menu with prices. Opentable.com, which takes reservations for L’Atelier, says you’ll spend “over” $50, a useless figure for a venue where a beverage-paired tasting for two will cost north of $700.

Fine restaurants do a fine job of e-mailing guests when black truffles are available, a lousy job communicating champagne prices and a downright miserable job at letting you know how much a meal will actually cost.

Our charts show what your check will really look like. A couple enjoying a wine-paired menu at these restaurants will easily spend over $500 after tax and tip; a table for four might spend over $1,000.

Transparency is the issue, especially in the era of food inflation. Good restaurants like Blue Hill at Stone Barns inform diners of new tasting menu prices during the booking process.

Not so at Bouley, where reservationists don’t tell you that the set menu has grown by $50 in recent months, so through no fault of your own, you’ll show up and pay $100 more per couple than expected.

The Index

Everyone’s a human calculator in the age of the smart phone; we just shouldn’t have to rely on one.

Really, would you walk into Eleven Madison Park and order the $145 beverage supplement without the $195 degustation menu? Maybe if you’re a very rich alcoholic. So the more useful statement is that the $340 paired-menu will cost $863 for two with tax and tip.

The first chart below includes wine pairings in every price; think of it as the maximum you might spend after tax and tip. The remaining lists of longer and shorter menus exclude wine prices; think of that as the minimum you’ll spend.


Real Cost of Prix-Fixe Menus, 6-plus Courses With Wine Pairings
================================================================
Restaurant              Menu Price    Check for 2   Check for 4
================================================================
Del Posto (Collection)       $500       $1,269         $2,538
Per Se                       $470       $1,023         $2,047
Daniel (Eight-Course)        $350       $888           $1,776
Eleven Madison Park          $340       $863           $1,726
Le Bernardin Chef’s Tasting  $330       $837           $1,675
Tom Tuesday Dinner           $320       $812           $1,624
Gordon Ramsay Tasting        $300       $761           $1,523
Rosanjin                     $295       $749           $1,497
The Modern                   $290       $736           $1,472
Picholine (12-Course)        $290       $736           $1,472
Jean Georges (Seasonal)      $288       $731           $1,462
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon   $280       $711           $1,421
Del Posto (Tasting)          $280       $711           $1,421
Bouley                       $275       $698           $1,396
Corton                       $275       $698           $1,396
Momofuku Ko (Lunch)          $270       $685           $1,370
Marea (Eight-Course)         $260       $660           $1,320
Stone Barns                  $258       $647           $1,294
Megu Midtown (Umami)         $255       $647           $1,294
Gilt                         $245       $622           $1,243
Adour                        $230       $584           $1,167
WD-50                        $225       $571           $1,142
Cafe Boulud                  $220       $558           $1,117
Momofuku Ko (Dinner)         $220       $558           $1,117
Aureole                      $218       $553           $1,106
Dovetail                     $215       $546           $1,091
La Grenouille                $210       $533           $1,066
Asiate                       $210       $533           $1,066
Brushstroke                  $210       $533           $1,066
Le Cirque                    $200       $508           $1,015
Ai Fiori                     $200       $508           $1,015
Compose                      $200       $508           $1,015

Real Cost of Prix-Fixe Menus, 6-Plus Courses, Without Wine
================================================================
Restaurant             Menu Price    Check for 2     Check for 4
================================================================
Masa                         $450       $1,142         $2,284
Per Se                       $295       $642           $1,285
Kurumazushi                  $250       $634           $1,269
Romera                       $245       $622           $1,243
Daniel (Eight-Course)        $220       $558           $1,117
Tom Tuesday Dinner           $210       $533           $1,066
Morimoto Omakase Bar         $200       $508           $1,015
Rosanjin                     $200       $508           $1,015
Eleven Madison Park          $195       $495           $990
Le Bernardin Chef’s Tasting  $190       $482           $964
Gordon Ramsay                $185       $469           $939
Megu Midtown (Umami)         $185       $469           $939
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon   $185       $469           $939
Brooklyn Fare                $185       $469           $939
Momofuku Ko (Lunch)          $175       $444           $888
Bouley                       $175       $444           $888
Jean Georges                 $168       $426           $853
Marea (Eight-Course)         $165       $419           $837
La Grenouille                $165       $419           $837
Picholine (12-Course)        $165       $419           $837
The Modern                   $155       $393           $787
Corton                       $155       $393           $787

Real Cost of Prix-Fixe Menus, 3-5 Courses, Without Wine
================================================================
Restaurant               Menu Price    For 2          For 4
================================================================
Gordon Ramsay                $135       $343           $685
Eleven Madison Park          $125       $317           $634
Gilt                         $120       $305           $609
Aureole                      $118       $299           $599
Del Posto                    $115       $292           $584
Le Bernardin                 $115       $292           $584
Daniel                       $108       $274           $548
River Café                   $100       $254           $508
Jean Georges                  $98       $249           $497
La Grenouille                 $98       $249           $497
The Modern                    $98       $249           $497
Tocqueville                   $95       $241           $482
Gotham Bar & Grill            $95       $241           $482
Picholine                     $92       $233           $467
Le Cirque                     $92       $233           $467
Marea                         $91       $231           $462
Aldea                         $90       $228           $457
Aureole                       $89       $226           $452
Gramercy Tavern               $88       $223           $447
SD26                          $85       $216           $431
Adour (Vegetarian)            $85       $216           $431
Asiate                        $85       $216           $431
Lincoln                       $85       $216           $431
Ai Fiori                      $84       $213           $426
Aquavit                       $84       $213           $426
At Vermilion                  $80       $203           $406

NOTES: Per Se’s tasting menus and wine pairings
(suggested starting price, $175) reflect a service charge.
Most sommeliers will create personalized wine pairings that
adhere to your budget. Just the same, discuss your price range
with Kurumazushi’s chef. The omakase starts at $250; hungry
diners will spend more.
     Romera, at $245, will open this summer at the Dream
Downtown. Its price will include a non-alcoholic drink pairing.
     All prices are subject to change.

(Ryan Sutton writes about New York City restaurants for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this column: Ryan Sutton in New York at rsutton1@bloomberg.net or qualityrye on http://twitter.com/qualityrye

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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