Wealthy Portions

By David Nelson / Photos by Kate and Michael Auda (unless noted)

Got a fistful of C-notes burning a hole in your pocket? Put that money where your mouth is. Chow down on costly combos like caviar and champagne, shellfish and Chardonnay, charcuterie and Chassagne Montrachet. None of these will make you fat, although the 40-dollar grilled cheese sandwich served at Pamplemousse Grille might.

It's easy to eat like a millionaire around San Diego County, especially if you are one. But while the edible splurges offered by the area's flashiest fooderies may pry your wallet open wider than usual, they won't empty it. Bite-by-bite and sip-by-sip, deluxe dinners make memories.

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$40

Pamplemousse Grille
Jeffrey Strauss' fan club - and it's a big one - gladly pays premium prices for the luxury specialties concocted by the celebrated chef/caterer, who learned more than a little about luxe when he apprenticed under such European masters as Guy Savoie and Albert Roux. Two fancy fantasies Strauss says fly out of the kitchen are his $40 grilled cheese sandwich, which mounds Italian truffled cheese, lobster and truffle shavings on brioche spread with truffle mayo; and a $39 platter of delicate, smoked-in-house seafood.

Pamplemousse Grille
514 Via de la Valle, Solana Beach
858.792.9090, pgrille.com

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$100

JSIX
It's "designed for people who want to break some bread together any night of the week," says chef Christian Graves of his $100 presentation of charcuterie (cured meats), "an opulent meat-and-cheese board meant for four to six people to enjoy through the night with cocktails, and then a great bottle of wine." Lavished with fennel salami, bresaola (deluxe smoked beef), other toothsome meats and a galaxy of garnishes, the board is hauled to the table by a pair of cooks.

JSIX
Inside Hotel Solamar
616 J. St., Downtown
619.531.8744, jsixrestaurant.com

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$100

The Steakhouse at Azul La Jolla
Possessed of a Pacific-coast view that rivals any in La Jolla, Azul takes care to put extremely eye-catching food on the plates. Chef Justin Braly takes advantage of Azul's insistence on top-quality raw materials to present kingly extravagances like a 36-ounce USDA Prime Porterhouse, a $100 feast for two that includes sides. It's a most popular item, rivaled by exceptional (and similarly costly) Wagyu beef from Australia's Greg Norman Ranch.

The Steakhouse at Azul La Jolla
1250 Prospect St., La Jolla
858.454.9616, brigantine.com/azul

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$285

Encore Champagne Bar & Dining Room
"We've got our feet on the ground about how we're going to shake it up," says chef Ryan Studebaker of his kitchen's intent to up the culinary ante in the Gaslamp. Encore specializes in champagne, and Studebaker's menu sparkles as brightly as the lush bottles stored in the snazzy new venue's four-person wine room. To nibble alongside the bubbles, the $285 platter of California white sturgeon caviar and Russian Imperial Osetra caviar is garnished with yeasty buckwheat blinis.

Encore Champagne Bar & Dining Room
531 F St., Gaslamp
619.255.5152, encoregaslamp.com

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$235

Addison Del Mar
Thoughtful chef William Bradley is inclined to coddle farm eggs - and pair the pampered ovoids with snails, green garlic and bacon. This cute little plate might be course Number 5 on the unparalleled "Le Menu Gourmand," a $235-per-person feast that can run to 11 perfect courses, plus house-made chocolates. About 70 percent of guests order one of several multicourse menus, which Bradley calls "gourmet journeys that guests can take with us."

Addison Del Mar
5200 Grand Del Mar Way, Del Mar
858.314.1900, addisondelmar.com

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$135

Donovan's Steak & Chop House
Nothing could be more emblematic of extravagant dining than the monumental Seafood Tower served by these clubby restaurants in Golden Triangle and the Gaslamp. Priced at $135 (half towers are available), these pinnacles of the good life pile luxury upon luxury: silky Australian rock lobster medallions, a pound of Alaskan Red King Crab legs, six Blue Point oysters and four premium Mexican white Gulf shrimp. Complementary sauces hoist flavors to the peak of perfection.

Donovan's Steak & Chop House
4340 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla
858.450.6666, donovanssteakhouse.com
570 K St., Gaslamp 619.237.9700

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$75


Searsucker
Brian Malarkey describes his "Tomahawk" as a steak-eater's steak. The starring entree on his New American menu at Searsucker in the Gaslamp, this specially cut, double-sized ribeye gets its name from the "Frenched" (cleared of all meat) bone that extends from the thick blade of meat like a handle. Buttery to the bite and priced at $75, the steak has flavors that are soothed by Cognac and brightened by horseradish.

Searsucker
611 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp
619.233.7327, searsucker.com

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