What's the most expensive meal you have ever eaten? Till a decade ago, the most expensive restaurant in India used to be the Zodiac Grill at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. Back then, the bill per person averaged R3,000, an eyebrow-raising amount for a meal in those days, and that was without any accompanying wine. Today, dinner at the same venue is closer to R8,000 and no one bats an eye, never mind raising a brow. If you order the beluga caviar, just that one dish is priced at R9,500. Taxes are one reason restaurant prices are reaching stratospheric levels but now we have a new marker: the celebrity tag, either a famous restaurant abroad or a famous chef, usually both.
The same Taj Hotel now has Wasabi, in Mumbai and Delhi, made famous in America by legendary chef Masaharu Morimito (the restaurant is called Wasabi by Morimito). The chef's tasting menu includes nine courses that feature oysters, foie gras, black cod miso and seared teriyaki Kobe steak imported from Japan and costs R16,500 plus taxes. The Wagyu steak here is worth the R6,000 price tag but all this is sans alcohol. You might need a stiff one after the bill arrives, though. The Taj also uses its celebrity chefs to up the dining ante. They have a Chef's Studio in their iconic Mumbai property overseen by Hemant Oberoi, one of India's reigning celebrity chefs. It offers a private dining area by appointment only and a table for eight where the food is served on Versace designed Rosenthal dinnerware surrounded by Ercuis cutlery, Riedel wine goblets and Limoges porcelain. You watch your food on giant plasma screens as itís being prepared and the nine course meal, which includes Wagyu steak as well as truffles and caviar and an experience of molecular gastronomy, will come to anything between R60,000 to R1 lakh depending on what you order by way of dishes or from the very exclusive, and expensive, wine list.
The Leela in Delhi has taken it to another level with their opening of Le Cirque, the legendary New York French restaurant, among the most expensive in Manhattan. The Delhi franchise has that in common along with some signature dishes from the original. A five course meal here with a glass of wine, will deplete your bank account by a cool R13,000 or so. Such extremes of food luxury and