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May 24, 2012 at 6:00 AM

America’s Most Expensive Restaurants (Seattle’s on the List)

Carrie and pigs.jpg

The Daily Meal compiled a list of the 25 most expensive restaurants in the U.S., and a Seattle-area restaurant had the dubious honor of ranking #19.

The Herbfarm in Woodinville represented our region with an average check total of $411, a buck more than dinner would run you at Jean-Georges in Manhattan, according to the Meal site.

Could one meal really be worth 274 orders of Dick’s fries? I’ve always thought Nancy Leson articulated the answer to that the best:

“There are those who’d consider a $700 seat at a baseball game or a $500 fly-over in a B-17 not only outrageous, but obscene. Just as there are diners who who might say the same thing about the lengthy highly-orchestrated, eat-what-we-serve-you meal at the Herbfarm,” she wrote in 2001. “I can’t speak for baseball fans or for aviation buffs, but as a lover of great food and wine, my money’s on the Herbfarm.”

While I don’t doubt the dollar signs, I have one quibble with the Meal site’s fact-checks: They say the restaurant is in a “converted garage,” which is probably referring to the original Fall City Herbfarm, lost to a fire in 1997. I also wish they’d listed the check totals per person, which seems it would be a fairer comparison. (I’m guessing the Herbfarm total is for an “average party size” of 2.) But the story has more research behind it than your average opinion-driven online listicle. The work by the Meal folks included using data from Bundle.com, which “tracks average customer spending at restaurants,” using Zagat price listings, and surveying each restaurant on average party sizes and average bills.

Only in a context like this list could $411 for dinner sound cheap. The #1 most expensive restaurant in the country? Survey says… Masa in Manhattan, where the average check runs $1269.

Photo: Herbfarm co-owner Carrie Van Dyck with porcine pals Basil and Borage/Nancy Leson

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