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Robb Report Vices

Exclusive Indulgences: : America’s top private dining rooms

Troy Johnson

If it’s private, we want it; that is a basal note for human nature. And it certainly applies to fine dining. America’s top restaurants all share something in common—a private dining room. It’s a sovereign state restricted for those with the means or the patience—or sometimes both—to wrangle up a reservation.

Don’t get us wrong, general admission is nothing to scoff at, but there’s just something sweeter about slipping backstage, meeting the band, and living like a rock star (at least for a few hours). Whether you’re celebrating a business deal or looking to inject a little extra romance into your life, the following private dining rooms are certain to deliver.

Scientific Discoveries

Jose Andres trained under El Bulli’s legendary Ferran Adria—the founder of molecular gastronomy—which should tell you all you need to know about the gastronomic experience that he can deliver. Needless to say, Andres puts classics through the neo-modern ringer.

For the ultimate experience, we recommend the 20-course tasting menu ($195 per person) at É, Andres’ private steel dining bar inside Jaleo at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. But that is easier said than done. Securing a seat at the bar requires two things: foresight and speedy Wi-Fi. Reservations open 90 days in advance and are attainable only via email. Not surprisingly, they vanish quickly.

If you’re one of the lucky few to snag a seat, the restaurant will confirm it with a golden ticket. And if you want to really up the ante, tack on one of two wine pairing options. The standard runs $130 per person; the top shelf will set you back $300.

French Flair

We readily admit it; the Bellecour Room at Daniel in Manhattan isn’t for everyone. That being said, if you’re dying to introduce 90 of your closest friends to one of the greatest living French chefs, and you want to do it in the private hall of his three-star Michelin restaurant, then Bellecour is the place for you.

The room is named for the historic town square in Lyon, France, the hometown of chef-owner Daniel Boulud, and it was designed by Adam D. Tihany (an interior architect hailed as a god when it comes to ambiance). Whether you choose the three-course, eight-course or 10-course menu, nothing says “no one will love you like I do” quite like this room.

Southern Hospitality

James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock is one of the country’s next generation of culinary masters, and he’s busy taking low-country food to high-falutin’ levels. Brock may look more like the mechanic from The Dukes of Hazard but he cooks like a Culinary Institute of America valedictorian, creating Dixie wonders like pig’s ear lettuce wraps and chicken with lovage dumplings and lemon balm.

The now-35-year-old chef opened Husk in Nashville in May, 2013, and has since unveiled The Stables, a private dining room located in the restaurant’s historic carriage house. It doesn’t offer the type of palatial decor that some of the other rooms on this list can provide, but it is perfect for those who like it a little less formal or, rightly, down-home. So if the thought of a backroom game of hold ʼem paired with crispy pork collar and cornbread purée sounds appealing, bring your buddies and your appetite to Husk.

Jazzing It Up

In New Orleans, it seems that the only crime is being understated. The historical city is gilded, wrought and fleur de lis’d. When it comes to The Big Easy, one thing is clear: The city refuses to believe that less is more.

To that end, private dining at The Grill Room is the perfect blend of old-world ornate and French Quarter theater. The room, accented by mirrored ceilings, crystal chandeliers, cocktail carts and wall-size murals, has played host to presidents and pop stars. Chef Daniel Causgrove, who trained in New York City’s finest (Le Cirque, Café des Artistes), shells out stunners such as smoked lobster with house-grown basil and roasted chicken under black truffle and shallot cream. And the best part of all? No beads are required.

A Hollywood Romance

Melisse is proof that not everything in Los Angeles is trying terribly hard to be something other than itself. The only special effect here is the two-Michelin star food and a generous serving of restraint. With a roaring fireplace and white-on-white decor, the restaurant’s private Augustin Room is akin to eating inside a giant lily. With a minimum price of $1,500-$2,500, the room’s 16 seats are typically spoken for, though the room routinely accommodates parties of two. In those circumstances, even with a 13- to 15-course improvisational menu on the table, a diamond usually steals the spotlight.

Sensory Overload

Though Thomas Keller remains the god of wine country, Christopher Kostow has turned it into a polytheistic region. In 2010, Kostow—the head chef of The Restaurant at Meadowood—became the third youngest chef to be knighted with three Michelin stars. His new private dining room is the product of renowned Napa architect Howard Backen, whose portfolio includes such noteworthy destinations as the Harlan Estate Winery in Oakville, Calif., and the Esperanza Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico.

If you should find yourself seated at the private room’s hand-carved black walnut table, we recommend Kostow’s Counter Menu—a 20-course celebration of gluttony—with wine pairings, of course. You’re in California wine country, after all. The resulting surplus of endorphins, along with a sensible coat, should get you through the winter.

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