New York restaurant Serendipity 3 is an icon for the city. Since 1954, the place has called celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Beyoncé and Jackie O as its regulars, and was the site for two Hollywood movies — the aptly named Serendipity, and One Fine Day.
The restaurant is a Moulin Rouge of desserts. Every item on its intensive sweets menu is an exercise in decadence, especially its milkshakes and ice cream sundaes. Its Frrrozen Hot Chocolate (yes, with that many ‘r’s, and yes, it’s an oxymoron) was Jackie O’s favourite item on the menu, and she once attempted to buy the recipe from restaurant co-owner Stephen Bruce, only to be denied.
When the restaurant turned 50 in 2004, it took indulgence to a new, bizarre level by introducing the Golden Opulence Sundae, a US$1,000 (S$1,400) dessert that still owns the top spot for ridiculously expensive sweets in the Guinness Book of Records.
The Tahitian vanilla ice-cream sundae was dressed with 23k gold leaf, some of the finest chocolates money can buy, a bowl of caviar and more. Patrons who order it must eat the dessert with an 18k gold spoon, and use a smaller, mother-of-pearl spoon to scoop the caviar. This began the streak for Serendipity 3’s need to create dishes stuffed with ludicrous ingredients, all in the name of bagging more “world’s most expensive” titles. Its S$400 grilled cheese sandwich is the eatery’s latest achievement.
Everything that goes into The Quintessential Grilled Cheese Sandwich is a synonym for luxury. In an interview with CNBC, the sandwich’s creator, chef Joe Calderone, touts that the price and 48-hour advance ordering time is worth it because “it has the best ingredients in the world”.
Bread baked with Dom Pérignon and 23k gold form the fluffy foundation for this pricey snack. It is buttered and brushed with a mix of truffle oil, and more gold flakes, then melted in a panini press.
At the heart of the sandwich is caciocavallo podolico, an extremely rare, moreish cheese made in Southern Italy. Only 25,000 cows can produce the specific strain of milk required for this cheese, and these revered bovines can only lactate for two months a year.
Once the cheese bubbles in the press, the bread is glazed with more gold, because the concept of “enough” doesn’t exist for this precious, indigestible element.
The tomato soup that adds quintessence to the sandwich is renamed as a bisque, packed with lobster chunks and served in a martini glass.
Are the five bites that it takes to finish this worth the S$400? We might advise you to spend the money on a bottle of Dom Pérignon instead, but if the power of grilled cheese compels you, then make your way to Serendipity 3.