Voice of the Restaurant Industry
Introducing London's most expensive set menu:
At £1000-a-head, a seven-course culinary extravaganza - a snip for bonus-engorged bankers in the City of London - the Square Mile.
The menu was designed by Farringdon Street wine bar Vivat Bacchus after customers asked for a special tasting menu to celebrate the bonus season. Co-owner Neleen Strauss said: "Some of our regular customers are always up for fun. I asked them how much their bonus was and how much they were prepared to pay. They said 'make it a nice round number'."
She and head chef Robert Staegemann filled the menu with all their "non-vegetarian fantasies" and matched each course with one of the world's great wines.
To start: a glass of Billecart Salmon Rosé, one of the finest pink champagnes. Then course one, a bowl of Royal Sevruga caviar served with buckwheat blinis rated "light as air". The accompaniment was a more than generous slug of 2003 vintage Kauffman vodka.
Next, a Bahama rock lobster linguini - flavoured with 40-year-old Armagnac. The wine was a South African 1996 Forrester Meinert Chenin.
Followed by a plate of paper-thin slices of Spanish Joselito Gran Reserve ham from pigs living on a diet of acorns. Then a Dr Atkins dream or a heart specialist's worst nightmare: a slab of grilled Wagyu fillet steak from cows so pampered they get massages, topped with foie gras. Then a rare sight of vegetables, a small portion of green beans. The wine reached its pinnacle of extravagance, a glass from a £700 bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild.
A board of 15 cheeses ranged from a truff le-infused Brillat Savarin to a knock-your-head off blue called Fourme au Maury. The wine? Port of course. A dreamy 1963 Taylors.
Then the pudding, a chocolate soufflé with another of the bankers' favourites, a Chateau D'Yquem, a wine so rarefied that each bunch of grapes in it is tasted individually. Coffee followed accompanied by a large glass of Martell Cordon Bleu cognac. The bill for two? £2,250 including a 12.5 per cent service charge.
According to Ms Strauss, London is probably the only city in the world that could support such a menu.
OK New Yorkers, I'm sure you can go one better?