No 1. New York: Masa
British pound: 210
This tiny restaurant, which seats 26, is the most expensive in the country, with the prix fixe menu ranging from $350 to $500 per person--not including alcohol. Thinking of saving by bringing your own bottle of wine or sake? You can try, but expect to pay a corkage fee of $75. The menu changes frequently, but always includes five appetizers, a sushi entrée with up to 20 types of seafood flown directly from Japan and a dessert course served with tea.
No 2. Chicago: Alinea
British pound: 110
Alinea's opening last spring generated major buzz, thanks to Executive Chef Grant Achatz, former sous-chef to Thomas Keller at French Laundry in Napa, California. Achatz left French Laundry for Trio, the Illinois restaurant where he continued making his name with an entrée called Black Truffle Explosion, which actually featured bursts of truffle broth while diners chewed. At Alinea, guests choose from a menu of as many as 24 mini-courses, which can take as long as five hours to finish. Since opening, Alinea has not disappointed Achatz fans, and reservations must be made several months in advance.
No 3. Seattle: The Herbfarm
British pound: 87
Live guitar music, herbs and vegetables grown on the grounds and a large selection of Pacific Northwest wines are just a few of the reasons why The Herbfarm is a unique dining experience. Paying over $150 per person outside of New York or Los Angeles is a bit uncommon, but at The Herbfarm--where a nine-course meal (at $159 to $189, including wine but excluding tip and tax) can take over four hours to consume--we promise you it's worth it.
No 4. San Francisco: French Laundry
British pound: 77
The restaurant takes reservations two months to the calendar date in advance, so get booking now--it's universally acknowledged as one of the must-dine destinations in California, and even in the entire U.S. Thomas Keller, the renowned chef behind the restaurant, made waves lately with the opening of Per Se in the Time Warner Center in New York, but French Laundry remains his landmark property, and one well worth checking out. The prix fixe menu consists of between five and nine whimsically named dishes, such as Oysters and Pearls, which is pearl tapioca custard served with caviar and oyster. Tasting menus are priced at $175 per person.
No 5. Washington, D.C: Inn at Little Washington
British pound: 74
This country inn and restaurant opened in 1978 in a converted garage in Rappahannock County. The self-taught chef and owner, Patrick O'Connell, has since catapulted his inn and restaurant--now a Relais & Chateaux property--to national attention with innovative, hearty appetizers and entrées like lobster napoleon or a "salmon five ways" starter. The homemade bread basket brought to the table, which includes chewy poppy seed rolls and rye bread with currants and nuts, is refilled every few minutes. Prix fixe menus start at $138 per person during the week.
No 6. Philadelphia: Le Bec-Fin
British pound: 69
Le Bec-Fin celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. To commemorate the event, the restaurant launched a new, three-course prix fixe dinner as an alternate to the much heaver, seven-course prix fixe ($138 per person) that had traditionally been the only option. To toast your date, order La Bicyclette, a champagne cocktail with raspberry spirits and Chambord raspberry liquor introduced in honor of this year's anniversary. When it opened in 1970, Chef Georges Perrier couldn't have known the formal restaurant would become a hallmark of a town famous for its cheese steaks. Luckily for us, it did.
No 7. Los Angeles: Bastide
British pound: 58
Classic French cuisine wouldn't set Bastide apart in and of itself. But the impeccable quality of the ingredients helps explain why this restaurant has made our list for the second year in a row--and helps justify the price tag. Indeed, the restaurant's owner, Joe Pytka, once paid $35,000 for a one-kilogram white truffle, which he incorporated into the menu. Entrées start at $50.
No 8. Las Vegas: Picasso
British pound: 52
Although The Bellagio isn't short of dining options, the Picasso is a venerable favorite for hotel guests or anyone who comes through Las Vegas. Original works of art by Pablo Picasso, including oil paintings and ceramic sculptures, decorate the dramatic space. But don't come for the art: Come for the French-Mediterranean menu, the real reason for the restaurant's popularity. And plan to come early to fortify yourself before a night of gambling, as the kitchen closes at 9:30 P.M. The four-course menu is $90 and the five-course meal is $100.
No 9. Atlanta: Seeger's
British pound: 49
Currently closed to undergo renovations on everything from the dining room to the menu, Seeger's will reopen on Oct. 14. The eclectic menu, which changes daily according to the whims of Head Chef Guenter Seeger, will feature four-course ($105 without wine) and eight-course ($125 without wine) tasting menus, instead of the five- and eight-course menus previously on offer. The dining room, which once accommodated 65, will be whittled down to only 32, and the wine list will be thoroughly expanded. If this sounds up your alley, Seeger's is currently accepting reservations for the week of their reopening.
No 10. Orlando, Fla.: Victoria & Albert's
British pound: 49
Frette linens and Christofle silver may not sound very Disney, but it's all part of the dining experience at Victoria & Albert's, the restaurant located in the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, a part of Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Fla. Not only that, but the seven-course seasonal menu ($95 without wine; $145 with wine), which is customized daily and may include such delicacies as Hudson Valley foie gras, Fuji apples or dayboat diver scallops, is very adult-friendly--as is the 4,200-bottle wine cellar.