April showers bring May flowers or if you’re really lucky, the month itself brings a big fat tax refund. Since experiences bring more happiness than possessions, a big splurge dinner on the town seems like the perfect way to spend it. Here are some top picks Tax Day 2016 dining splurges to live and eat large if only for one night. please note that the most exclusive wines are available in extremely limited quantities, so it’s best to inquire ahead of time if you have your heart set on a particularly splurge-y selection.
Daniel, New York, New York
Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant on the Upper East Side just off of Central Park is the epitome of contemporary French extravagance. The seven-course tasting menu clocks in at $234 or $459 with wine pairings and includes signature dishes like velvety Minted Pea Soup with chicken mousse and Louisiana crayfish and garlic pennycress and can include courses of langoustines, beef, and quail with foie gras. The wine list has selections such as Chateau D’Yquem 1918 for $10,000 or Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2009 for $15,000. Or if you’re celebrating with similarly flush-with-cash friends, how about a magnum? You can’t go wrong with the Domaine Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Cros Parantoux”1995 for $20,000. Make a reservation at Daniel.
Providence, Los Angeles, California
Chef Michael Cimarusti’s 2-Michelin star paean to fine dining in the heart of Los Angeles features the chef’s menu, a 12-course tasting menu with sustainable seafood from the U.S. and beyond, as well as other delicacies like prized A5 wagyu beef. Decadent touches include ossetra caviar and white truffle and black truffle fondue. It’s $220 or $325 with wine pairings. But if you’re really looking to splash out, begin your evening with a bottle of 1998 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay Champagne for $3,500 and then move on to a bottle of 2012 La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for $4,000. Finish the evening with a bottle to remember in the way of a 1959 Staatsweingut Kloster Eberbach Riesling Auslese for $3,500. Make a reservation at Providence.
Saison, San Francisco, California
Chef Joshua Skenes and sommelier Mark Bright have crafted one of the most unique high-end dining environments at Saison, with its open floor plan encompassing the dining room, bar, lounge, and kitchen — effectively removing all walls. The goal is to bring diners into the chef’s world, in this case, a minimalist redesign of the California Electric Light Company building. Dishes have vague and poetic names such as Fire in the Sky Beet, Bone Marrow Roasted over Coals and Sea Urchin, Liquid Toast. The prix-fixe Discovery menu is a luxe $398 for about 16 courses with an additional $298 for wine pairings. But if you want to really max out the credit cards (assuming you can pay it off with your return dough), you might consider ordering the Domaine Georges Roumier ‘Bonnes-Mares’ Grand Cru 2009 for $15,408 or ending the experience on a truly sweet note with Château D’Yquem Premiere Cru Supérieur, Sauternes 1942 for $6,888. Make a reservation at Saison.
StripSteak by Michael Mina, Miami, Florida
Located in the historic Fontainebleau hotel on Collins Avenue in Miami, StripSteak is swank and clubby with its wood tones and rich browns. Start your meal with rare golden osetra caviar service for $295, and then indulge in a beefy entrée like the 50-ounce Australian tomahawk for $150 or the Japanese Miyazaki prefecture A5 striploin for $32 per ounce. Then gild the lily with add-on extras like half a Maine lobster tail or seared foie gras. The restaurant prides itself on having one of the largest pre-embargo Cuban cigar collections in Miami, all dating back to 1962 and earlier with prices generally in the $100-200 range but topping out at $395 for a 6-inch Montecristo. To accompany your stogie, choose a tableside Japanese whisky ceremony or perhaps a glass of 25-year Macallan for $370. Make a reservation at StripSteak by Michael Mina.
Grace, Chicago, Illinois
This Michelin three-star restaurant is also one of the biggest splurges in Chicago. Elegant and understated, chef Curtis Duffy’s Windy City gem is upscale without being fussy. The menu offers an 8-12 course tasting menu format at $235. The dishes are described in classic minimalist style such as Alaskan King Crab, sudachi, cucumber, lemon mint or Pig Tail, endive, cauliflower, oxalis. Many dishes have Asian accents and the vegetarian “flora” menu is as captivating as the “fauna” menu, which showcases seafood and protein. The wine list features saves and splurges among 1,400 selections. Teetotalers can splurge on bespoke teas that cost upwards of $20 each. Make a reservation at Grace.
Menton, Boston, Massachusetts
Chef Barbara Lynch’s award-winning contemporary French-Italian restaurant in the Seaport District’s Fort Point is seriously posh with luxurious marble and gold touches for added elegance. The high-end tasting menu, “Into Evolution,” is seven courses for $175 plus $60 or $95 respectively for the caviar supplement. Indulgent dishes include ménage à foie gras and guinea hen with Jonah crab and sauce Américaine. Choose the wine pairing for an additional $125 or spring for the 2001 Domaine La Romanée Conti Grand Cru for a mere $3,995. Make a reservation at Menton.
Plume, Washington D.C.
An OpenTable Diners’ Choice Winner for Best Food, Best Service, and Best Overall makes Plume, located just blocks from the White House, a natural pick for a very special dining experience. The tasting menu is $115 and includes around seven courses, but it bumps up to $280 with premium wine pairings. You can also choose the prix-fixe menu with approximately the same number of course for just $98 but add an optional cheese course for an additional $25. On the prix-fixe menu, you’ll find one of the signature and most innovative dishes at Plume — the luscious Beeswax Poached King Salmon with bee pollen roe, rutabaga confit, and garden radish, black garlic vegetable gel, and double cream. Plume also has some of the oldest vintages of Madeiras dating back to the 1800’s, so taste history in a glass with the likes of an 1850 Malvasia from D’Oliveiras, which costs $240 for a 2-ounce pour. Other big-ticket wines include Krug “Clos d’Ambonnay,” Blanc de Noirs 1995 for $8500 and Chateau Haut Brion, 1st growth 1955 for $6,500. Make a reservation at Plume.
R’Evolution, New Orleans, Louisiana
This collaboration between executive super chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto offers imaginative reinterpretations of classic Creole and Cajun cuisine in a setting that highlights the distinctive style of the French Quarter with contemporary accents. For a splurge, the tasting menu is the way to go. For $120, it offers five courses and a seasonal dessert. Classic dishes with luxurious touches include Black Truffle Beef Tartare with pickled vegetables and grilled bread and Seared Sea Scallop and Foie Gras with truffle white bean purée, celery salad, and bacon vinaigrette. The wine cellar has a massive collection of 10,000 bottles including Domaine Coche-Dury Perrieres 1990 for a thrifty $6,750, or you can go all out with a magnum of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1982 for $21,000. Make a reservation at R’Evolution.
The Mansion Restaurant at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas, Texas
A true classic in Dallas for 35 years, the Mansion offers haute cuisine done in Texas style with a series of dining rooms some with views of the terrace or seating on the veranda. You can choose the five-course seasonal menu for $105 or the five-course Gourmand menu for $115 and then pile on the osetra caviar at $195 per ounce or go for broke and order the Carte Blanche menu at $151. Each menu is entirely unique and therefore special to the guest. A recent Carte Blanche menu offered 11 courses and dishes including foie gras, fried green tomato, balsamic, and buttermilk ice cream as well as Berkshire pork belly with rhubarb, black garlic, and turnip. For wine, go back in time with a Château Mouton Rothschild, 2nd Growth 1949 for $10,000? Or for less than half the price, but still a splurge, select the Domaine de la Romanée Conti, La Tâche, Grand Cru 2005 for just $4500? Make a reservation at The Mansion Restaurant at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek.
Amy Sherman is a San Francisco-based writer, editor, blogger, and cookbook author. She is the publisher of the food blog Cooking with Amy. She currently contributes to numerous online publications including Food Network, Fodor’s and Refinery 29 and never says no to a warm donut. Follow her @cookingwithamy.
Photo credits: Noah Fecks (Daniel); Noah Montes (Providence); Bonjwing Lee (Saison); Fontaine Bleu Miami Beach (StripSteak by Michael Mina); WEC Photography (Menton);