Last year, B&B Butchers unveiled an item that was sure to get a lot of press—and it did. The wagyu katsu sando, made in honor of the famous sandwich concocted by the Tokyo Wagyumafia and later served at New York's Don Wagyu, is a $120 overindulgence of A5 Japanese wagyu from Miyazaki, plus Japanese milk bread and homemade tonkatsu sauce, served with a side of zucchini fries. As we live in a town that drools over beef, and especially buttery, marbled wagyu, there was no doubt we'd clamor for this sandwich.
The trend of expensive specialty sandwiches isn't new. Barclay Prime in Philadelphia offers, naturally, a $120 cheesesteak made of wagyu ribeye, foie gras, and truffled cheese, served with a half-bottle of champagne. Serendipity3 in New York has a couple pricey specials on offer, including a $295 burger and $214 grilled cheese sandwich. The latter is made with Dom Perignon, white truffle butter, and Caciocavallo Podolico cheese, then finished with 24k gold leaf and served with lobster tomato bisque. So while B&B Butchers captured our attention, they didn't invent the absurdly-high-priced sandwich phenomenon.
I write this because we're now at a point where said phenomenon is well past the invention and shock phase and well into the "oh boy, another one?" phase, where any overpriced sandwich will be greeted with eye rolls. The question is what comes with those eye rolls.
For example, just two weeks ago, H Bar at the Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston announced the addition of the Black Gold Burger. Made with 16 ounces of A5 wagyu, foie gras, black truffles, and truffle aioli, then topped with a caviar-infused 24k black and gold brioche bun, and served with 24k gold fries and a bottle of Dom, it will set you back $1,600. Or, a mortgage payment for most single families in Houston.
I give H Bar credit for really upping the ante here. The burger is so ostentatious that you can't help but simultaneously laugh (and roll those eyes) and be impressed. Does it make sense for a regular joe to try this thing? No. But if I have money to spare, and I want to fill in a box on my foodie bingo card, why the hell not? Kudos to H Bar for going real big.
That brings me to the latest menu item to be announced. BCK, which recently changed its menu and opted for a more burger-friendly approach, unveiled this week a $100 peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Considering BCK's long-standing penchant for giving us nostalgic flashbacks, this seems right up the restaurant's alley.
Per a release, it's Smuckers grape jelly and Jif peanut butter sandwiched between battered and deep fried slices of pain de mie bread from Bread Man Baking Co. It's garnished with powdered sugar and berries. But that's it—no ultra-expensive ingredients, and no 24k gold. It's pretty underwhelming—my eye rolls are coming with a dose of "Really? Nothing else?"
“We were throwing around ideas involving outrageously priced menu items and this one just stuck,” said BCK co-owner John Reed, in a release. “The idea is solely to do something good for the community, create strong synergy amongst businesses in the Heights area, and have a little fun doing it.”
The "strong synergy" part is important here. By ordering the $100 PB&J sandwich, you'll also get a $100 gift card to a partnering Heights business of your choice. Those businesses include Dance House Fitness, Forth & Nomad, Kind Collective, Mastrantos, and SWEAT 1000. You're basically paying $100 for a $100 gift card plus a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that's slightly more elevated than one you could make yourself.
Of course, the sandwich should be good, as BCK and chef Peter Petro have solid reputations. And, yes, it's great that the restaurant wants to help other businesses in the neighborhood.
But if there's anything to learn from this overpriced sandwich craze, it's that you have to go big. Really big. Make me want to get the sandwich, because that'll drive people to pay the money. Or else why not just make a date night for Mastrantos and aim to spend around $100?