A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
By Nina Pajak
Good news, unrepentant hedonists! Serendipity 3, the famous Manhattan landmark restaurant, has just debuted Le Burger Extravagant (that’s French for “The Burger Extravagant”), the world’s official Most Expensive Burger. It can be ordered 48 hours in advance and costs $295 + your dignity + a dismayed phone call from your father to discuss just what you think you’re doing with your life.
What might such a ludicrously-priced beef patty comprise to justify the cost? According to them, via Zagat.com:
“Japanese Wagyu beef infused with 10-herb white truffle butter, seasoned with Salish Alderwood smoked Pacific sea salt [writer's note: I'm not convinced this isn't totally made up], topped with cheddar cheese – hand-formed by the famous cheesemaker James Montgomery in Somerset, England, and cave-aged for 18 months – shaved black truffles, a fried quail egg and served on a white truffle-buttered Campagna Roll, which is topped with a blini, creme fraiche, and Paramout Caviar’s exclusive Kaluga caviar – a beautiful golden caviar with a buttery, nutty taste and large pearls from the Huso Dauricus farm raised in Quzhou, China.”
Then you can wash it all down with a nice, big glass of Diet Coke. Imported from Dubai, filled with gold ice cubes and polar bear extract, served through an ivory straw which has been dipped in gold and bald eagle poop.
In case you feel 47 different incarnations of truffle and the blood and sweat of a genuwine Englishman isn’t enough, the whole thing comes adorned with a gold and diamond-encrusted designer toothpick, which I sincerely hope the diner is allowed to pocket as part of the price of admission. The proceeds of the burger go to benefit the Bowery Mission, though I’d be very curious to know the profit margin on a meal like this. Here, poor people. You may have several cents on the dollar for every pound of artisanal whale blubber coated in truffle oil we needlessly consume. Off with you now! Jeeves, bring ’round the motorcar, I’d like to visit my menagerie.
Serendipity apparently is also the restaurant behind the most expensive hot dog (at $69, hardly an extravagance) and the $1,000 “Golden Opulence Sundae,” which is made of Tahitian and Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream, covered in gold leaf and “the world’s most expensive chocolate” (obvi), and dotted with Venezuelan chocolate chunks, Parisian candies and all sorts of other terrific crap. Of course, it wouldn’t be opulent without the obligatory caviar inclusion, and the whole mess is served in a baccarat crystal goblet with an 18K gold spoon, which I would totally steal. Sorry.
None of this jives with my own personal memory of Serendipity 3, which is seared into my brain and which no ludicrously decadent menu item could ever erase, no matter how faaaaaaancy. I was only ten, but I still see quite vividly the absurdly large sundae which loomed before me, an enormous slice of chocolate birthday cake sticking up out of the scoops of ice cream like the Titanic amid a sea of icebergs. I had taken one bite when my mother and father, seated across from me, went “eek!” and then “eep” and maybe “oh!” Their faces said it all.
I demanded to know what it was. They insisted it was nothing, told me to eat my absurdly large sundae. I refused. My grossness radar was beeping like crazy. Finally, after much back and forth, my mother said, “oh it was just a roach that ran over my foot. Okay? Eat your sundae.”
A roach! Ew! Repulsed and terrified, I set down my spoon and told them I’d lost my appetite. Again, much cajoling. Nothing doing.
“Well,” said my mother, resigned, “if you really won’t eat anymore, I may as well tell you the truth. It was a mouse.”
“Actually, it was more than one mouse.”
It was then that we became aware of just how many mice were freely crisscrossing the floor, unperturbed by the forest of feet and ankles the spread across the restaurant. We and the other patrons were told it was due to construction next door. When my friends dragged me back there in high school with a hankering for some of their famous frozen hot chocolate, I kept my feet up on my chair. I get itchy just thinking about that place.
Now I see that despite their A rating from the Department of Health, as of last June they were found to have:
1) Evidence of rats or live rats present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
2) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
Perhaps I’ll take my caviar elsewhere.
Would you pay nearly $300 for the world’s most expensive burger? Sound off below…
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
The Nina In New York Archives: