Fine dining in New York City is increasingly democratic and casual — but that doesn’t mean it’s getting any cheaper. As evidence, Luxury Listings NYC ranked the cost of dinner at the city’s 10 priciest restaurants. We found that the emphasis is increasingly on food, not fuss: reservations were generally available, (respectful) photography is often permitted and six out of the 10 had no jacket requirement for gentlemen.
But perhaps most noticeably, Uptown is losing its grip on the world’s best chefs, with four of the city’s priciest establishments (Eleven Madison Park, atera, Ichimura at Brushstroke and Momofuku Ko) operating below 34th Street. And even those anchored Uptown aren’t occupying the precious ground-level spaces they might have a decade or two ago.
Take, for example, Time Warner Center’s Masa and Per Se, outliers among outliers at nearly $100 more per person than many of the city’s other top restaurants. But despite the extraordinary cost of admittance into their famed dining rooms ($450 and $310 per person respectively), their location is extremely pedestrian: what basically amounts to a shopping mall, albeit an extremely pricey shopping mall.
“Today, people enjoy casual dining,” Kenneth Himmel, the restaurateur and developer behind Time Warner Center’s dining, told LLNYC. “Even your most respected Michelin three-star chefs are focused on cafés, brasseries and informal dining done at a high level of quality.”
The ranking also demonstrates that Manhattan is no longer the de facto center of NYC’s culinary scene. Two of the city’s priciest chef’s tables are now in Brooklyn and both boast Michelin stars. The three-star Michelin-rated Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare located in downtown Brooklyn commands a lofty $306 per seat. And Bushwick’s Blanca picked up two Michelin stars in this year’s guide for its $195 prix fixe.
Another observation of note: Price doesn’t correspond to satisfaction (as if it ever did). Eric Ripert’s $140 diner at Le Bernardin was ranked the city’s best this year by Zagat, which relies on customer surveys and is therefore anecdotal. Meanwhile, Masa — by far the city’s costliest dinner — didn’t even make Zagat’s top 100 list, even if the New York Times did give it three stars.