The Last Supper at Aurora was Almost My Last Supper

Avner Samuel tops his sea urchin parfait with a pinch of gold leaf. Photo by Christina Barany.

Unfortunately, Uncle Nancy wasn’t feeling well yesterday, so she sent me along with People Newspapers photographer Christina Barany to cover The Last Supper at Aurora. Chef/owner Avner Samuel said he was going to pull out all of the stops on this dinner, and he most certainly did. It was an elaborate 11-course meal that consisted of some of the most exquisite ingredients around. Think black summer truffles, prime osetra caviar, and gold-leaf garnishes. And the service was superb – the waiters were polite and attentive. It was my first time to dine at Aurora, and I’m heartbroken that I won’t be able to return like so many of Avner’s loyal customers have over the years. I can easily say it was the best meal that I have ever had. But my post-meal happiness quickly turned to panic when I received the bill. I thought this was literally going to be my last supper. I was either going to die of a heart attack right then and there, or Uncle Nancy was going to kill me with her bare hands for somehow managing to rack up a $560 ticket. I tossed and turned all night trying to figure out the best way to break the news to Nancy, none of which really sounded like great options. I thought up story after story, but I decided the truth was the way to go. Jump for Nancy’s reaction and the recap.

This is what went down when I got to the office this morning.

Nancy: How was dinner last night?

Me: Well, it turned out to be a little more expensive than I would have thought. I’m really sorry. I’ll help pay my part.

Nancy: No worries! I was expecting it to be about $300.

Me: (Now shaking and about to pass out.) Um, it was a little more than that.

I handed her the receipt. She looked at it without her glasses.

Nancy: Oh, that’s not that bad!

Me: Are you sure?!

Nancy put on her glasses and took another look.

Nancy: WHAT!!! It cost $560?! I’m going to have a heart attack.

Me: That makes two of us.

She then grabbed her letter opener and wound up as if she was about to put it right through my eye. Luckily, Tim jumped up and restrained her. Okay, that part didn’t really happen, but you get the point. After she calmed down, I explained the situation.

The meal itself accounted for about half of the check ($125 a person with the SideDish discount), which is practically a steal considering what we got. The dinner was seriously fit for a king.

But I wasn’t expecting the cost of our drinks to double our meal. Let’s just say that I’m not exactly used to attending meals of this caliber. When Christina arrived, the waiter brought her a glass of champagne that she didn’t order. I went ahead and ordered one, figuring a glass or two wouldn’t hurt.  After my second glass, I politely declined a third because I wasn’t sure of the price – there were no drink menus – and I felt that it would be awkward to ask. The waiter sounded surprised that I was going to stop after just two glasses, so I went ahead and agreed to a third. (I’m obviously a sucker to peer pressure.) After the third, it wasn’t difficult for him to twist my arm into a fourth. So, I ended up with a total of four glasses, and Christina ended up with three, which isn’t unreasonable for a four-hour dinner. I knew the two types offered were pricey – Veuve and Moet Rose – but I completely underestimated just how expensive they were. Our waiter also offered us a glass of Sauterne to go along with the foie gras, which I thought must be a part of the deal. Turns out one of the couples at our table ordered it – there was no wine pairing – so we were charged for that too. It was also more expensive than I would’ve thought.

Looking back, I should’ve just asked about the pricing. I might have looked stupid, but at least I would’ve gotten a decent night’s sleep and saved Uncle Nancy from having a heart attack. I guess I learned my lesson the hard way. Luckily, Nancy has forgiven me and it looks like I’ll live to see another supper. But had things turned out differently, last night’s dinner would have been a good one to end on. Take a look at the photos below and you’ll see why.

Fellow diners Kristina and Phil Whitcomb. Photo by Christina Barnay.
Fellow diners Kristina and Phil Whitcomb. Photo by Christina Barany.
Farm Egg Custard with House Cured Salmon in Red Beet and Honey. Photo by Christina Barany.
Prime Osetra Caviar on Chiboust of Yukon Potato with Green Apple Sorbet.
Prime Osetra Caviar on Chiboust of Yukon Potato with Green Apple Sorbet. Photo by Christina Barnay.
Sea Urchin Parfait with American Sturgeon Caviar Topped with Gold Leaf. Photo by Christina Barany.
Parmesan Potato Gnocchi with Black Summer Truffles from Umbria and White Truffle Sauce. Photo by Christina Barany.
Vervain Infused Line Bass Carpaccio with Syrup de Piment d'Espelette and Meyer Lemon. Photo by Christina Barany.
Cappuccino of Foie Gras, Maine Lobster and Girolles Mushrooms au Moscato D'Asti topped with White Foam. Photo by Christina Barany.
Eau de Tomate on Gelee and Poached Lobster Knuckles. Photo by Christina Barany.
Pave of Foie Gras with Cypress Salt Flakes and Candied Butternut Squash with Duck Fig Sauce. Photo by Christina Barany.
Ruby Red Grapefruit Sorbet. Photo by Christina Barany.
Lamb Rib on Petit Poie Rattes, White Fairy Tail Aubergine and Tomato Acidule with Chlorophyll and Black Nicoise Olive Oil. Photo by Christina Barany.
Degustation of Sweets. Photo by Christina Barany.

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