You know how I knew I was in Vegas when I arrived here a couple hours ago? It wasn’t the slot machines at the airport, or the neon riot of the celebrated Strip, or the powerful whiff of celebrity graveyard that pours down off the towering casino billboards (did you know Pamela Anderson now works as a magician’s assistant here?). No, I really knew I was in Vegas when I opened up the room-service menu in my hotel room and encountered a $6,000 hamburger.
Well, okay, a “$6,000 Combo Meal,” to be precise. This breathtaking item consists of a burger, of course — in fact, a burger of exactly the sort “found at Carl’s Jr. and Hardees,” as the menu candidly acknowledges. And if you stopped right there, this humble drive-thru item would set you back exactly six bucks. But along with pickles, cheese, onions and fries, the $6,000 burger comes accompanied by a bottle of 1982 Château Pétrus Pomerol.
All right, I know what you’re thinking: Hey, that’s a really great French wine — maybe six grand is a fair price for this little snack. Who really knows? Well, last month Sotheby’s in New York auctioned off a bottle of that very same 1982 Château Pétrus for $3,333. Now, a $3,333 burger-vino combo (or would it be $3,339?) I might understand — pocket change, no complaint. But $6,000 is a bit much, I’d say.
And even that nutty sum is really just a come-on. Because when you factor in the 18-percent gratuity that’s automatically tacked on, what you’re actually talking about is a $7,080 burger, which strikes me as extremely unreasonable. And as if that didn’t crack the camel’s back completely in two, there’s also a niggling little four-dollar room-delivery charge appended — which is where I suspect even the highest rollers might put their foot down, if only out of annoyance.
I realize this $6,000 burger is just a little joke on the hotel’s part — a bit of light-hearted menu humor to soften you up for the more serious money-hoovering that awaits you at the blackjack tables downstairs. Still, I think for the duration of the VMA weekend, I’ll be dealing with Carl’s Jr. direct. Do those places sell beer?
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