The Citiblog

The Best $150 I Ever Spent was at Caviar Kaspia at The Mark in NYC
November 18, 2023, 12:35.00 pm ET



A new survey finds “spenders” are happier than “savers.” The study found 56 percent admit to splurging for things they really want, while 34 percent only spend on necessities. I would put myself in the “spenders” camp, after all while not live a little while it seems like the world around you is running amok.

With that, I recently found myself in front of Caviar Kaspia, a Parisien restaurant established in 1927, that recently appeared inside The Mark on the Upper East Side alongside Jean Georges. This is not the type of restaurant I would normally visit, but peering through the window and seeing all of those upwardly mobile happy faces, after a bit of a debate with myself, I decided to walk in.

Being alone (I don’t think I could afford to take my family here), I scooched into a cushy seat at the corner of bar. It’s a small bar, maybe seating eight or nine people, walled off from the elegant main dining room. Here I was joined by a couple apparently madly in love and not afraid to show it at one end, and a more frugal couple in the center, spending their money wisely. Our bartender was a dashing gent in a formal blue suede suit jacket and black bowtie. But an earing and tattoo on his wrist showed a wilder side.

The drink of choice here is the martini of course, a drink I am all too familiar with. Prices are at the high end with cocktails starting at around 30 dollars each. But I must say it was also one of the best martinis I have ever tried in New York City. It was the Eliá, a masterful concoction of Kástra Elión Vodka, Blended Vermouth and Greek Olive Brine, with a pinkish olive set in the center. At this point, the woman seated closes to me asked if they had Grey Goose vodka, to which the reply was, “Madam, we don’t serve Grey Goose.”

I must say I’ve rarely ordered caviar except for maybe once at Petrossian, but I believe it was part of a meal and not a true caviar service. Here I settled on 30 ounces of Imperial Baeri, somewhat in the middle of the price range at $100. Other offerings include Royal White Sturgeon, Baeri, Royal Oscietra and the highest priced, Selection Oscietra. Combinations could take you into the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

As I waited for my caviar to arrive, I sipped my luscious martini and listened to the light music playing in the background which set the mood for the delightful experience that followed. A procession of servers began arriving, first was the caviar in a small tin atop a silver bucket of crushed ice. Then came a dozen perfect mini pancakes surrounding a small bowl of crème fraîche. Another plate arrived four pancakes topped with a dollop of briny salmon roe cream. Then the condiments - four small bowls of minced red onion, lemon zest, capers and freshy ground horseradish. It ended with a bowl of crunchy, ice-cold pickles sprinkled with coriander seeds set before me. All of the sudden I was peering down at a wonderful feast!

I was told by our well-dressed host there is no right or wrong way to proceed, just mix and match your favorite toppings, spoon on a small amount of the caviar, and take a bite of happiness. Such is the life of the rich and fabulous. And for a moment I was one of them. Money well spent!

By Thomas Rafael