There are only 43 AAA Five-Diamond restaurants in the entire United States. We’ve been fortunate enough to dine in three of them: Picasso at the Bellagio, Las Vegas, NV; Salt at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island (before it lost its five diamond status), and, most recently, Chef Mavro in Oahu, Honolulu, HI. One common characteristic was present at all three restaurants: they were expensive. Diners to these select few restaurants should expect to pay more than $200 per person if they want to fully experience what the restaurant has to offer. For a full list of AAA Five-Diamond restaurants, click here.
I refer to these meals as an “experience” for a reason. We value the three five-diamond dinners we’ve had as something more substantial than a tangible good. For dedicated foodies like us at Jacksonville Fine Dining Examiner, these meals provided us with a valuable experience and an education on the art of fine dining. We still talk fondly about each one of our evenings at these three restaurants. To wax a bit poetical, memories are what is really important, everything else is just stuff.
Ahh yes, the musings of a foodie can get carried away at times. However, we feel obligated to explain why we value these experiences so greatly. But we digress, let’s talk more specifically about the food.
All three of the five-diamond restaurants offered prix fixe menus, which we chose rather than ordering a-la-carte. Chef Mavro in particular only provided prix fixe menus. We actually prefer this approach because it takes the decision-making process out of our hands and into the chef’s. Also, the dinners all came with wine pairings. Without the prix fixe and wine pairings, the experience just wouldn’t have been the same. For instance, at Chef Mavro, we chose the 6-course Hana Hou! prix fixe option. This particular meal was an encore performance from Chef Mavro including a visit to the table from the renowned chef and featuring some of his “greatest hits.” Total cost of the meal: $120 per person plus $63 for wine pairings.
So, were these meals worth it? We answer this question with a resounding YES! These types of meals aren’t for everyone. However, for foddies like us, such meals are justified and we consider them worth every penny. For instance, our recent meal at Chef Mavro was in celebration of a special event and it served as a fitting grand finale. Each one of our AAA fivd-diamond meals included some of the most fantastic and unique tastes we’ve ever tried. The dining experiences not only provided fantastic food, it also opened us up to new wine varieties. AAA never seems to let us down with its ability to provide accurate and timely evaluations of the best restaurants in the world. Our goal is to visit each and every one on the list.
For more on our most recent experience at Chef Mavro, check out this review.