Though I will absolutely admit to being that person who loves to read listicles about foods that cost more than a year of my rent, I can't imagine actually forking (pun 100 percent intended) over the cash to pay the dishes' exorbitant prices. But for those who've got money to burn and are looking to truly treat themselves, you're in luck: The world's most expensive grilled cheese costs $214, and it's just as over-the-top as you think it is.
This probably won't come as a shock: The grilled cheese, aka the Quintessential Grilled Cheese, is available from New York City restaurant Serendipity 3, the eatery already famous for its $1,000 ice cream sundae and its $295 Le Burger Extravagant. The Golden Opulence Sundae, the burger, and the Quintessential Grilled Cheese all hold Guinness World Records for being, respectively, the most expensive sundae, burger, and sandwich available anywhere.
As for what makes Serendipity 3's grilled cheese so Quintessential with a capital Q, "It has the best ingredients in the world," according to head chef Joe Calderone, who spoke with CNBC about the record-holding dish.
Just what are those best ingredients? Well, the bread is baked with Dom Perignon champagne (no word on what year Serendipity uses, but a 750 mL bottle of 2006 Dom will set you back $200), spread with white truffle butter ($38.80 for a 3 oz jar), and filled with the rare Caciocavallo Podolico cheese ($189 for 2.2 lbs). If that wasn't flashy enough for your taste, after being grilled on a panini press, the Quintessential is edged with 24 karat gold leaf, which is actually relatively cheap compared to the other ingredients; it's just $40.89 for 25 sheets of 24k.
Still, if $214 for a sandwich seems ridiculous, just keep in mind that the Quintessential Grilled Cheese also comes with African lobster tomato bisque... served in a crystal glass and topped with more 24k gold leaf.
In his interview with CNBC, Calderone said Serendipity 3 has so far sold "dozens" of the sandwich. When folks from Fox tried it, they found it was "pretty delicious," and that the expensive white truffles "definitely add something special."
The least-liked ingredient was the gold, which "doesn't taste as pretty as it looks." In fact, gold doesn't taste like anything, and the fact that many hugely expensive dishes are laced or topped with it is "a little bit of a gimmick," food expert and historian Dr. Heather Evans told Maclean's.
Adding gold to dishes, particularly with the purpose of elevating them to blingier, more impressive heights, is not a recent trend, Evans said. She explained, "It certainly was being used in large feasts in the Middle Ages. [...] Among the upper class, the small percent that had loads of money, this was a really glamorous, luxurious era. They wanted their fancy stuff."
She added that the relative commonality of restaurants using gold in dishes now could be because we're in "times of austerity," and people could be looking for a little more luxury in everyday items.
The luxurious everyday seems to be what Calderone was going for. "We came up with grilled cheese because that's the ultimate in comfort food," he told the Daily Mail. "What better way to celebrate that sandwich than with the quintessential version of that sandwich?"
Unfortunately, if you're planning on nipping out to the Upper East Side to snag one of these golden bad boys for Sandwich Day, you're going to have to postpone your celebration a bit. Like the Golden Opulence Sundae, the Quintessential must be ordered 48 hours in advance.
However, there are plenty of other same-day sandwich deals to be snagged, so long as you don't mind going without the gold leaf.