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10 of the Most Pretentious Restaurants on Earth
By Gerri,
Business Pundit, 18 October 2013.

Ever want to go out for a nice dinner, but instead find yourself choking down bite-sized portions of strangely shaped concoctions delivered by your gourmet chef? Ever simply want a burger and end up in what looks like a high chair, eating raw meat slivers from some unknown country? Stiff dress codes and valet parking aren’t the only things you’ll have to worry about at these ten most pretentious restaurants in the world.

10. Ray & Stark Bar

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Los Angeles’ Ray & Stark Bar capitalizes on the relatively new fear that tap water is far from drinkable with their small, 20-option water tasting menu. From the new and pretentious-sounding Beverly Hills 90H20 to classics like Perrier to totally exotic and unheard of brands like Spanish Vichy Catalan, you can drink it all.

Some of the bottles of water cost upwards of US$45, and all are handpicked by “water sommelier” Martin Riese. Claiming to have been certified by the German Mineral Water Association, Riese has discovered some of the springs from which water is taken and then delivered to the overzealous customers at Ray & Stark. But only after Riese has added “his own mixture of vitamins and minerals” to it, which sounds a little X-rated.

9. Masa

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Everyone knows New York City is expensive, but some of its restaurants take pretentious dining experiences, overpriced seltzer and unnecessary displays of wealth to a whole new level.

Masa is a famous Japanese restaurant located near Columbus Circle in the heart of New York City. Their Japanese chef is insistent that each patron gets a fully authentic - or as close as you can get to it - sushi experience. An eight-piece tuna roll runs about US$240.

All sushi at Masa New York City is flown in directly from Tokyo, sending prices of each dinner entree soaring over US$400 each. Although we would never recommend pulling your raw delectables straight out of the East River, sometimes, a fish is just a fish.

8. Daniel

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Located in the world capital of pretentious restaurants, New York City, Daniel is an uptight and extremely expensive restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Their tasting menu is priced at a whopping US$567 per two, and that’s before ordering drinks. At Daniel, owned by famous French chef Daniel Boulud, multiple waiters will grovel at your feet in tuxedos and rush numerous complimentary pre-appetizers, pre-pre-appetizers, post-desserts, and post-post dessert chocolates the size of a penny to you on silver platters as you sip US$30 cocktails whose ice cubes are tiny globes containing frozen pink flowers. Daniel Boulud also owns restaurants in Palm Beach, Toronto, Montreal, Miami, London, Beijing, and Singapore. Besides the uptight atmosphere, astronomical prices, and coddling service, it is pretty pretentious and self-important to name your restaurant after yourself. And to have a ten foot tall stencil of your face right outside the bathrooms, which it totally does.

7. Barclay Prime

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Barclay Prime is a Philadelphia steakhouse that has been serving a very popular - and very modified - cheesesteak since 2004. It sounds normal enough until you get to the price tag, which is US$100 for this traditional and abundantly available sandwich. Barclay Prime uses kobe steak as their meat, adds some tortured foie gras, truffles, Taleggio cheese, and heirloom tomatoes. While owner Stephen Starr says that the creation of the sandwich was mostly a marketing ploy, he admits that it turned out to be quite a popular item. Starr says that this triple digit sandwich is ordered multiple times a week, mostly by groups who wish to share it, meaning that everyone gets a US$20 bite of this couture cheesesteak. In a taste test, would anyone notice the difference between this and a regular cheesesteak? Probably, but which would they prefer more? It’s already been scientifically proven that most people can’t tell the difference between pate and dog food, and form their preferences around what they’ve been told about the food (i.e. simply stating that something is ‘gourmet’ makes a person more likely to enjoy it). Many people who review Barclay Prime on MenuPages call it “overpriced” and “pretentious.”

6. Bloomsbury’s Cupcakes

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Located in filthy rich Dubai, Bloomsbury’s Cupcakes weren’t satisfied with charging over US$15 USD for what is essentially tiny lumps of dough coated in sugar and cream. Their ‘Boutique Cupcakes’ and ‘Luxury Cupcakes’, including ‘Diabetic Dream’ and ‘Choco Vegan’ fall flat behind what went on to become the world’s most expensive cupcake, the Golden Phoenix.

The Golden Phoenix is an insane US$27,000 and is coated in sheets of edible 23 carat gold. For the super-rich, gluttonous and novelty-loving diner, this is the perfect treat to indulge in. Created by CEO Shafeena Yusuff Ali, the Golden Phoenix can be bought in the Dubai Mall and makes use of Ugandan vanilla beans and cocoa, Italian organic flour, and of course, the gold.

But don’t lose all your faith in humanity just yet: no one has bought this golden treat just yet, which takes 48 hours to prepare and will melt and lose its taste if it isn’t eaten within 15 minutes after it’s created.

5. Norma’s

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Another gem from New York City, Norma’s is the place to go if you absolutely need to try the world’s most expensive omelette. There are two versions of the Zillion Dollar Lobster Fritatta: a cheaper one which contains one ounce of caviar and clocks in at US$100, and a super-salty version topped with a 10 oz lump for US$1000. There’s so much caviar on this thing that it looks a little repulsive instead of appetizing; even caviar tasting menus come with things with which to pair the fish eggs, but this dish is completely overwhelmed with them. This is the kind of thing one orders to show off. After all, it’s only lobster meat, some eggs, and fried potatoes beneath the topping. Norma’s sells about a dozen of the more expensive version per year, and about a dozen of the US$100 version per month.

4. Fleur

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Fleur is probably the most pretentious contender on this list. Chef Hubert Keller was green with envy when he noticed that the aforementioned pretentious restaurant Daniel was serving a US$100 burger and engaged in a battle of pretentiousness just to outdo him. The result was a ridiculous US$5000 Fleur Burger 5000. Created in 2005, this stupidly priced lump of meat is made from Kobe beef, foie gras, truffles, and cradled in the womb of a warm brioche truffle bun. The real secret to it’s hefty price lies not within the burger, but in the bottle of 1995 Chateau Petrus wine that accompanies it. Did we mention that you also get to keep the fancy wine glasses it’s served in (once they are delivered straight to your home by the restaurant itself)? Sadly, over 25 of these have been sold. WSJ notes that you can purchase the wine separately for about US$2500, the glasses for US$75 a pair, and the burger at about US$375.

3. Brooklyn Fare

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Yet another New York City ‘gem’, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare doesn’t even let you choose your own food. It’s Brooklyn’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, and reservations at this place usually have to be made an insane six weeks in advance. People are just dying to get into this small restaurant, which seats under 20 people at a time.

Each patron is treated to a meticulously planned 25-course tasting menu. It sounds like a lot, but dishes are extremely small and extremely pretentious. Dishes include everything from a mild and popular mushroom soup to exotic and strange sea urchins and imported Waygu beef.

The chefs here are famous for their rigidity and no-nonsense policy. Patrons have actually been sent to nearby stores to purchase more ‘appropriate and formal’ attire before they were allowed to sit and eat at Brooklyn Fare. Patrons are expected to keep their phones off and put away, and the chef grows upset if this rule is disobeyed. One patron was even accused of trying to steal recipes just because he was taking notes for a food review site, and many patrons have called him a “world class asshole” and “off-putting.”

2. Joel Robuchon

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Have US$1115 to throw away? If so, the tasting menu for two at Las Vegas’ Joel Robuchon is perfect for you. Another restaurant named after the chef who owns it, this place is designed like a rich debutante’s mansion and is frequented by celebrities such as Chuck Norris. It’s located in the MGM Grand and chef Joel Robuchon is the star of the show, having won a three star rating from Michelin, five stars from Forbes, five diamonds from AAA, and the Wine Spectator’s Grand Award. His site describes him as catering to a ‘sophisticated palate’ with dishes of caviar and foie gras, the two most boringly repetitive dishes for rich people everywhere.

1. Algonquin Hotel

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Luxury hotel Algonquin Hotel in New York City offers more than just posh rooms and free Wi-Fi; their restaurant, a glowing blue hallway of overpriced food and utter pretension, is home to the most expensive martini in the world.

For only ten grand and three days notice, you can sip on the Martini on the Rock - but you better be careful not to choke on the custom-made diamond that’s dropped inside it before serving. The hotel says it’s the perfect way to propose marriage or mark a special occasion, but it sounds more like a shallow marketing ploy and not nearly worth the price, especially since one of the diamonds served was later appraised for only US$7000.

[Source: Business Pundit. Edited. Some links added.]

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