As we suspected, hot shot Chicago chef Grant Achatz will be coming to NYC for five days as part of an inventive restaurant swap with hoighty-toighty Manhattan restaurant Eleven Madison Park. For five days starting on September 26th, diners at EMP will enjoy a dinner that would usually be served at Achatz's acclaimed Chicago restaurant Alinea. (In October, EMP chef Daniel Humm will bring his crew to Alinea to return the favor.) Reservations for the Achatz dinner at EMP will no doubt disappear immediately after they're made available, despite the breathtaking $495 price tag.
Bloomberg News restaurant critic Ryan Sutton did the math on his blog The Price Hike and calculates that with tax and mandatory 20 percent tip, "you’re at $647, or $1,293 for two. That’s almost $300 more than what you might spend on dinner for two at Alinea proper. In Chicago, the tasting menu typically starts around $210 (it can range from $185-$265 depending on your reservation) and wine pairings generally start at $165 or thereabouts."
The dinner at EMP does include wine pairings, and if you consider that this is an opportunity to consume Achatz's cooking without paying for air fare and accommodations in Chicago, you're actually saving money! On the other hand, if you've got the kind of money that you can drop six bills on a single meal, you're probably not much of a bargain-hunter anyway.
“You can always think of a reason why you can’t do something,” Chef Humm tells the Times. “But that is not our nature.” We can think of six hundred and forty-seven reasons not to do something, but maybe we're just not ambitious enough.