Famous Feasts in History The Most Expensive Dinner

About the famous feast the most expensive dinner had by diner Craig Clairborne, menu, history, and description.


The Occasion: Craig Claiborne eats 1976's most expensive dinner at Chez Denis, Paris.

The Host: American Express picked up the $4,000 tab.

The Menu: Among the 31 dishes served were: caviar and champagne; three soups; lobster in cream sauce with chopped truffles; oysters broiled in the shell with butter sauce; chartreuse of pheasant; ortolans en brochette (small bitesized birds raised on nothing but berries); partridge nestled in cooked cabbage; three sherbets; filets of wild duck; artichoke puree; fresh foie gras; glazed charlotte with strawberries; and aged cognac. The nine wines included a 1929 Romanee-Conti, a 1928 Chateau Latour, and an 1835 Madeira.

Table Talk: The New York Times food critic bid a high of $300 at a local fund-raising auction on the American Express dinner for two. Finding his choice limited to restaurants that accept American Express cards, Claiborne selected Chez Denis, a Paris restaurant with no stars in the Guide Michelin rating book. Claiborne offered chef Claude Mornay "high praise" for "an unforgettable evening," but found the overall display "undistinguished, if not shabby," with some "regrettable lapses" in the generally exemplary food.

American Express was stunned by the cost (they had braced themselves for a $500 bill) but recovered gracefully. When asked to comment, a company official said, "Four thousand--was that francs or dollars?"

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