You will need to pledge your firstborn to get a reservation here (and then drain the college fund of your second child to pay for the meal), but there are many reasons why this restaurant is always at the top, or close to top, of the annual “50 Best Restaurants in the World” list. They start with drama. Few restaurants in New York, if not the country, have as magnificent a setting: a bar that glows, thanks to the actual gold-leaf on the ceiling, and a main dining room in a landmarked building, with cathedral-height ceilings and museum-quality wall-sized paintings. Then there’s theatricality in the food and the food service: Lots of dishes are finished tableside with great brio, and most guests are ushered into the kitchen to a special area for bites and views at some point during the meal (a fascinating tour). On our last visit, the sommelier decapitated our bottle of wine with a blowtorch, and then sealed the corked top in wax as a keepsake for us (it was an anniversary dinner). None of this would matter, or course, if the food didn’t hold up, but it does, and every course of the tasting menu-only meal will hold a surprise or a very rare ingredient like fine truffles. What the meal won't have is meat. Or chesse, or fish, or any other animal product. In 2021, to the surprise of many in the culinary world, the restaurant went fully vegan. But the talents of the chefs are so extraordinary that this remains a once-in-a-lifetime experience.