Why You Should Consider Skipping Caviar At A Restaurant

There is a memorable scene in Titanic when Jack is invited to attend a fancy first-class dinner as a reward for saving Rose. At the dining table, he is asked by the waiter "How do you take your caviar, sir?" and responds "No caviar for me, thanks. Never did like it much" (via IMDb). Of course, his response reads as humorous, because Jack, being poor, had presumably never actually eaten caviar before. It turns out, though, he might have been on to something.

According to Eater, traditionally, ordering caviar (think salty and briny, and maybe even fishy, if you've never tried it) at a restaurant would rarely lighten your wallet by less than $100, and the damage can even be more than $200 for a single serving (though prices plummeted in recent years, as reported by Fox Business). To add insult to injury, the restaurants aren't even doing much to improve the cured roe once it's out of the tin! Luxury food items, like caviar, have a high markup, and a smart way to avoid that markup, is by avoiding the restaurant scene and having some caviar at home, where you can enjoy entry-level sturgeon roe for $54 for 30 grams. If some pretentious snobs on a ship are footing the bill, however, order seconds.

Tips for buying caviar

In your quest for the perfect caviar, keep in mind, price doesn't necessarily correlate to enjoyment. According to Serious Eats, rarity determines price: larger, firmer beads that "pop" in your mouth are rarer and, therefore, more expensive. Trying out the least expensive caviars first might lead to less money wasted overall, and using the more affordable options to figure out the flavors (nutty, briny, fishy) and qualities (texture, pop) you like can help you determine what to look for in the more expensive varieties.

Like any expensive purchase, you'll want to deal with a reputable seller. Interestingly, New York, the city where the Titanic was headed in 1912, has a number of trustworthy stores offering high-quality roe. The most well-known for caviar is perhaps Petrossian, a French enterprise that has been around since 1920 and specializes in Russian caviar. Other good options are Russ & Daughters, a family-owned shop opened in 1914 that offers both wild and farmed caviar, and Zabar's, another family-run business opened in 1934 that sells both imported and American caviar (via Spruce Eats).