Conspicuous Consumption

At the top-rated restaurants across the country, prices have gone right over the top

Mark Peterson / Redux

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, a gourmet restaurant created by the famous french chef, located in the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, August 2006.

Clarification Appended: November 2, 2007

If you want to understand how quickly the very rich are becoming very richer, don't read about hedge funds, alternative-minimum-tax revenues or acquisitions by private capital. Those things are boring. Look at the difference between the change in the average price of a restaurant meal in the Zagat restaurant surveys and the change in those singled out in its America's Top Restaurants 2008 guide. The price of the average restaurant meal went up 2.3% last year, while the average price at the places that make Zagat's top list went up 3.8%. But if...

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