Estimating the cost of a meal in one of New York’s top restaurant is not as simple as it might seem to a visitor. The prices mentioned on the menu reveal less and hide more. Unfortunately the sites where you can make a reservation or even the staff who take your reservations do not give you the correct idea of how much a meal might cost. It is better to understand the pricing mechanism of the New York restaurants or else you will be shocked with the wide gap in the prices on the menu and the totals on the check.
Mario Batali’s Del Posto serves Manhattan’s most expensive meal. The 12-course extravaganza comes with mandatory wine pairings and will cost as much as $1,269 for two. At Masa’s it will go up to $1,142 before adding the cost of sake. Even a three course dinner at Gordon Ramsay will cost you $343. If you total the prices on the menu you will not arrive at these figures. Those prices are valid only if you don’t tip, don’t drink, don’t bring company and have a diplomatic exemption from paying sales tax. A $125 price on menu could go up to $558 for two with wine pairing.
The restaurants are most unhelpful if you want to estimate the probable figure on the check. L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Midtown doesn’t publish an online menu with prices. The site that takes their reservation simply says that the cost of the meal will be over $50 which isn’t technically incorrect because chances are a beverage-paired tasting for two will cost more than $700. Good restaurants like Blue Hill at Stone Barns inform diners of new tasting menu prices during the booking process. But generally there is no transparency about the pricing mechanism. They only believe in informing you when black truffles are available but shy away in telling you what a meal will actually cost.