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Best Expensive Everything Phoenix 2002 - Mary Elaine's

Mary Elaine's rates tops in our foodie books partly because of the fact that its dishes are all printed with capital letters. Not just lobster, but Butter-Braised Maine Lobster With Grilled Apple and Heirloom Tomato Fondue, with a suggested wine pairing of Messmer Muskateller Kabinett Halbtrocken, Pfalz, Germany, 1996. Prices are spelled out, none of those tacky numerals (A Service of Caspian Beluga Caviar in the Traditional Fashion, 2 oz., One Hundred Seventy-five). No simple iceberg salad, but a toss of Romaine and Aged Parmesan Custard, White Anchovies, Violette-Mustard Vinaigrette (Nineteen).

The thing is, the food warrants the pretension, because it's all outstanding. Jackets are required for men, almost unheard of in this casual town, but the requirement is fitting for such European elegance in decor, table settings, ambiance and service. Who wouldn't dress in the company of a $3 million wine collection offering more than 44,000 bottles and 1,800 labels?

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