A Meal at the The French Laundry was just $29 back in 1987, per Zagat

These days, a meal at The French Laundry restaurant up in the Napa County town of Yountville can set you back $240 or so, before adding such extras as a nice tip for the waitstaff [see UPDATE below], or a $100 “steak supplement,” or wine, or whatever. And that assumes you can even get into the fifth best restaurant in the world, as reservations can be hard to come by.

But check out this entry from a pristine 1987 copy of the Zagat San Francisco Restaraunt Survey (the Yelp of its day). Click to expand:


That’s right, Tim and Nina had an “estimated price of dinner” pegged at $29. (Compare that with Nob Hill’s Fournou’s Ovens, listed at $31 in the same 1987 guide.)

So you see, you had your chance back in the 1980’s, back before Pixar’s Ratatouille, and back before Thomas Keller ate an ortolan bunting songbird at a secret chef’s dinner in Bourdeax, France.

Oh well, c‘est la vie. Is there a relatively inexpensive place you can go to now in the bay area that will be internationally famous in the year 2029? Think about it.

Happy hunting.

[UPDATE: Commenter Chester has two valid points that explain some of the price inflation. Well played, Chester.]  

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One Response to “A Meal at the The French Laundry was just $29 back in 1987, per Zagat”

  1. Chester says:

    Thomas Keller didn’t buy and start running The French Laundry until the mid-1990s or thereabouts. It had a rep, before him, but was hardly the world-famous temple of haute cuisine that it became under Keller.

    Also: the price of dinner includes gratuity.