How Rich Must You Be To Dine At French Laundry Like Gavin Newsom?

Since 2007, the Michelin Guide has awarded The French Laundry their highest rating of three stars. Unless you're really rich or a politician, you will likely have to wait months to get a reservation at this Yountville, California restaurant in Napa Valley.

Deca-millionaire California Governor Gavin Newsom and his wife were spotted having an opulent dinner with California Medical Association officials in mid-November. The 12 of them were all sitting in close quarters indoors without masks, which is against what Newsom has been encouraging Californians to do.

How Rich Must You Be To Dine At French Laundry Like Gavin Newsom?
Source: Fox 11, Gavin Newsom with CMA officials

As a Financial Samurai, you know the rules are different for politicians and the rest of us. There are folks out there who learn how to befriend more politicians so they can do what they want. Therefore, none of us should be surprised or angry at the hypocrisy. After all, it is the people who give politicians power by voting.

Instead of getting upset, think about the bright side.

Perhaps Newsom and his rich and powerful friends know something we don't? Maybe COVID-19 isn't as deadly as they are making it out to be. Or maybe they secretly got vaccinated already since that's what politicians tend to do, take care of themselves first.

If these things weren't true, Gavin and his wife wouldn't have risked dining with the glass doors closed with multiple households, especially since they still have young children. Politicians also wouldn't sing the virtues of a public school education while sending their kids to private school.

But enough about Gavin's actions. Let's talk about the cost of The French Laundry and how rich one must be to dine at similar types of restaurants!

How Much Does It Cost To Eat At The French Laundry?

The French Laundry costs $350 per person to dine. There are two set menus to choose from, the Chef's Tasting (meat and seafood) and the Tasting of Vegetables. I don't know about you, but I'm not going to spend $350 to taste some cabbage!

Each menu is nine courses, not including the opening “appetizers,” aka Amuse Bouche, which are included. To have the full French Laundry experience, you should consider pairing your food with wine.

Wines by the glass are around $35 for whites and $45 for reds. Bottles cost hundreds of dollars. And if you bring your own, there is a $150 corkage fee. Once you order a couple glasses of wine with your meal and a desert wine, expect to pay an additional $150 more.

Budgeting $500 per person is, therefore, recommended by patrons and the Napa tourist guide. Unless you plan to dine alone, expect to pay $1,000 or so if you're taking someone on a date. At least they include a 20% tip in the price.

Sample French Laundry Menu

Would you pay $350 to eat everything on this meat and seafood menu? If someone else was paying using someone else's money, probably. However, I think I could happily spend $70 – $100 and find the same amount of delight elsewhere.

French Laundry menu

If You Want To Spend Even More Money

If you want to spend even more money at The French Laundry, here are more options:

  • $850 per person to eat inside the historic dining room
  • $1,200 per person for a white truffle and caviar dinner
  • And $800 per person for a New Years Eve Dinner

Bottom line: In order to eat at The French Laundry, you need to be rich or have rich friends who are willing to pay the bill.

On a related note, check out How Rich Must You Be To Attend The Met Gala?

How Rich Do You Have To Be To Dine At The French Laundry?

To comfortably afford paying $500 per person, my initial thought was that someone needs to earn at least a top one percent income of ~$470,000 or be worth at least $3 million.

Remember, you're not just paying for yourself. You're likely paying for between 1- 3 other people most of the time. This means your bill will usually be between $1,000 – $2,000.

Let's put $500 per meal into perspective.

A top quality dry-aged steak dinner with wine and desert costs at most $250 per person after tip. You could also eat 20 slices of the finest blue fin toro for $250 as well. To spend 2X more is simply outrageous.

French Laundry food
Food at The French Laundry. A slice of wagyu to leave you starving

Of course, how rich you need to be depends on the frequency of dining at such establishments. If you're going for your 10-year wedding anniversary or your honeymoon, maybe you can earn as little as $300,000 a year or be worth just $1 million. Even so, paying $500 per person still feels excessive.

But instead of going with my gut feeling, let's review what the typical American spends on food and extrapolate.

The Average Expenditure On Food In America

Below is the latest average income and expenditures for Americans from the BLS. The average American makes a healthy $82,852 a year and spends $8,169 on food, which equals 10% of income. The average expenditure on food away from home was $3,526, or 4.25% of average income. This line item is where eating out at restaurants fits in.

The Frugal Fine Diner

Let's say the average amount most frugal diners at The French Laundry spend on all restaurants a month is $1,000, or $12,000 a year. The $1,000 a month is spent on two dinners and two lunches a week on average.

Now let's add on another $1,000 for an annual French Laundry-type dinner. The total annual restaurant expenditure is now $13,000. If we then divide $13,000 by 4.25%, the percent of income the average American spends a year on dining out, we get $305,882.

Therefore, earning around $300,000 a year or more is the baseline amount I think is necessary to spend $500 a person on a meal. Using a 2%, 3%, and 4% divisor means a person would need a $7.5 – $15 million net worth.

Newsom has an annual salary of $210,000 as the Governor of California. However, I'm sure he earns way more than $100,000 a year in distributions from his PlumpJack Group business. Therefore, Newsom is good to go for dining at The French Laundry.

Food at The French Laundry. $1 per pea and kernel of corn

The Realistic Fine Diner

If you ask anybody who is willing to spend around $500 per person for a meal, they'll clearly tell you that budgeting just $13,000 a year for restaurants is way too low. These folks are “foodies” through and through. One of their hobbies is to try every Top 25-rated restaurants in Zagats each year, multiple times a year.

The realistic fine diner is likely spending at least $2,000 a month on restaurants. The $2,000 a month consists of two dinners for $400 and two lunches for $100 on average a week. If we take the annual expenditure of $24,000 and divide it by 4.25%, we get $564,705.

Let's also assume that a foodie is willing to spend 5% of his or her annual income a year on restaurants, not just 4.25% like the average American. If we take $24,000 and divide by 5%, we get $480,000.

Therefore, to eat at a place like The French Laundry, you really do need to be making a top 1% income. My intuition was correct!

Food at The French Laundry. Looks like a piece of $4 salmon sashimi to me

Fancy Restaurants Get Old And Take Too Long

Back in the good old days, when I didn't have to pay for fine dining since I had a corporate card, I'd go out at least twice a week for a meal with clients. The corporate card had a limit of $200 per person and that felt like more than enough.

After about a year of going out to nice restaurants, my taste buds got used to the rich food. Instead of trying to maximize my $200 per person limit, I started trying to eat less food and more healthy items on the menu.

If you don't have the most exciting guests or clients you want to get to know, then going out to an expensive restaurant can really be a chore.

I remember one time taking three hours to eat a 9-course meal with my wife at a restaurant called Michael Minna. It was our anniversary. I love my wife, but three hours was way too long.

We kept wondering where was the dang food after being served only portions large enough to feed a baby. We were used to eating in 45-minutes or less.

Food Delivery Is Our New Fine Dining

Nowadays, due to the pandemic, we enjoy ordering delivery. When we do, the average total cost per person for dinner is between $20-$30 per person. The most expensive items I usually order are sushi and prime rib.

We have every type of cuisine at our fingertips here in San Francisco. I'm talking Burmese food on Monday, Malaysian food on Tuesday, Japanese food on Wednesday, Italian food on Thursday, Vietnamese food on Friday, French food on Saturday, and American food on Sunday. But sadly, we are quite sick of almost everything.

Hedonic adaptation is real! Which is why finding joy in simpler things and basic foods may be the true secret to gastronomic happiness. Come to think of it, I could happily eat buttered corn and all types of fruit every day.

If you end up going to The French Laundry, make sure you get home by 10 pm. Newsom has issued strict curfew orders for California residents for the next month. But if you are able to eat with Newsom and his crew, feel free to party until the cows come home!

Unfortunately for Newsom, his political aspirations for ever-higher office are murky due to his French Laundry dining. We know he wants to run for president after Joe Biden. However, this do as I say not as I do attitude will likely come back to hurt him. Newsom managed to survive the recall election in California with 61.9% of votes to keep him in office through the end of 2022 and only 38.1% of ballots cast to remove him.

Related posts:

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AOC's Net Worth Is More Than You Think

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61 thoughts on “How Rich Must You Be To Dine At French Laundry Like Gavin Newsom?”

  1. This is one if the stupidest articles that I have ever read. I’ve eaten at The French Laundry. I don’t make anything close to that amount of money, and I’m not worth $3M. Spending money to eat at The French Laundry is just like any other entertainment expense. You eat there because you want to. A person making $30,000 or $40,000 a year can afford to eat there if they choose to do that instead of spend their discretionary income on some other form of entertainment. It’s $500 to eat there (with wine and gratuity) not $5000. Gratuity is included in the $350 dinner price.. I added some onto the base included gratuity and still walked away spending $1000 for two people. Do I eat there all the time? Nope. I can’t afford that and do some others things that I want to do. If you’re fretting about the money, then don’t go, but some arbitrary rule about how you “need to make”, or how “rich you have to be” is nothing short of ludicrous. I’m sure glad that I’m not so uptight that I wouldn’t allow myself the pleasure that it is to enjoy the dining EXPERIENCE that you can only get at a premiere restaurant like that.

  2. My husband and I went to The French Laundry on our 25th wedding anniversary AND paid the $150.00 corkage to take our own wine because it was a special bottle. I still marvel that we were even able to get the reservation on our actual wedding day. It was over-the-top expensive but I’m so glad we did it. I think you have to equate it to doing something else really over the top that takes about 3 hours, like going to the final game of the World Series or the final match of the U.S. Open. Each serving was incredible; one was a tiny ice cream cone delivered standing up. It was the famous salmon cornet! The presentation was so unique. The hospitality was superb. We sat in a very old cave-like room that was enchanting. The staff created a special menu just for us with our names on it as a keepsake. Sam, wouldn’t you say that $1000.00 of fun for a 25-year investment is a bargain? I would — and who knows what will happen when we hit the big 50! We might take 2 bottles of special wine! Here’s to love, laughter, good health and (hopefully) an enduring bank account. Cheers!

  3. Hmm, I was once working out of town every week as a consultant when I got official notice that, once I had finished my current client’s project in a couple of months, I was going to be laid off.

    I was on expenses, not per diem, too. Sadly, I was in a medium-sized mid-western town and the best I could find was going every night to an Outback Steakhouse, although I did find a really nice deli that could throw together a most excellent lunch for about three or four times more than I had ever paid for one before. To be fair, I’m not sure a French Laundry would have tempted me that much, even if it had been an option.

    It also developed that the only place I could get a room after that was at the hotel for the nice casino on the river. Not that I gamble, but they had some swell amenities.

  4. Christopher Kim

    I like how you try to legitimize the idea that the COVID-19 virus is not as bad as one might think. Drinking that anti-science juice, are we? While we’re at it, maybe you shouldn’t vaccinate your kids because it causes autism? And also maybe the world is flat? And maybe our flat world is the center of the universe? I mean, if we’re doubting the virus and whether it’s actually bad for you, might as well go down the entire rabbit hole.

    The virus is very real. And it is very deadly. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who are asymptomatic. By the way, there’s no vaccine at the moment so not sure what you even meant by secretly vaccinated. Nothing has been approved or released by the FDA.

    Maybe it’s more simple than you think (or just won’t admit to. The good old feigning ignorance to promote ignorance trick). The politician is eating indoors with others not because they think the virus isn’t that bad or that they got a vaccine that doesn’t exist.

    They just don’t care. It’s as simple as that. You see people who aren’t in a political position of power going out and being irresponsible all the time because of this selfish sense of individuality.

    I wish I could take your article seriously but you lost me as soon as you started off the article legitimizing fringe theories.

    And don’t even try to argue about “I was just trying to posit an alternative viewpoint”. No you weren’t. You truly think the virus is either fake or not as deadly so you posed a question to legitimize it while feigning ignorance.

    Anyone with a clue on logic will see right through your little game.

    But by all means continue to legitimize the false idea that this virus is a pushover. Oh . . . Sorry, I meant to say, please continue to just pose innocent questions without any built in assumptions on whether or not this virus is even that bad.

    1. Great feedback. I’m more focused on how rich you have to be to spend $500 per person going out.

      But I’ll humor you. If the virus is so deadly, why did Gavin, the medical association lobbyists, a CEO and others all gather for a celebration indoors for hours?

      Perhaps your anger should be at the politicians instead? I’m trying to get where you’re coming from. Maybe you can tell me more about your health and your job situation etc.

      1. Mke Girdano

        You should not be a food critic
        you might want to buy a used
        Chevy Caprice it will still get you to the Mickey D,s Then you won’t even have to spend
        $70 and not worry

  5. He locks down our economy and people are in food lines. That per person cost is feeding a family of 4 Sums up the problem with our politicians (red and blue). It’s all about them

  6. Do you count dinners for charities? If so, $250 per person but minimum two people so $500 per night. I can be suckered into good causes. Also, it is always nice to meet new and interesting people that attend these events. They are not normal for me to attend and since COVID I have not even heard of one, which is positive. However, using your governor as an example, I am sure there are many dinners still occurring.

  7. He’s dining with lobbyists so you know he didn’t pay a dime! Love politicians – the double standards and hypocrisy is mind boggling.

  8. Michelle in the NLD

    Hi Sam!

    Now that I live in Europe and college costs are so much lower than in the US maybe I’ll start spending more money on Michelin Star restaurants! So happy I over prepared for kids future that will now benefit my taste buds. :).

    1. That is why a big percentage of USA students & Also a very nice looking percentage come from out of the Country too use a USA collage

  9. Before kids we ate at French Laundry. My mother challenged us to “see if we could get in” as we borrowed her car to drive to Napa to stay at the “European style” Calistoga brewery boarding house. If you are wondering, that meant a private room with a sink inside but a hallway bathroom shared amongst the boarders (we were saving all our cash to buy wine). To our surprise our call netted success after which we had to run to the Napa outlets to get my husband a suit because dinner jackets were required. After hemming the suit with some safety pins we headed to the restaurant clearly as misfits. We were treated like royalty, the sommelier was sensitive to our position and suggested half bottles of wine to keep the night from getting away from us financially and we eventually found out that the Pastry Chef was from our midwestern city and made a special treat just for us to say hi. The next day we stopped buy to beg a couple of their trademark clothes pins and a copy of that nights menu to remember our visit and were treated just as warmly. My lesson from French Laundry – When you recognize your staff as artisans and elevate their craft be it hospitality or cooking to the level of respect and awe that usually is only handed to the wealthy (for no good reason) the best of humanity comes out. That is the experience and lesson that I feel I got for my $900 and I would gladly join the staff at FL to celebrate again. No comment on Newsom, I think he was absent during that lesson.

    1. A once in a lifetime expenditure experience to remember!

      You bring up an interesting point about the great feeling of getting treated with respect. I wonder, for those of us who have had more hardship, who have experienced racism or sexism or whatever type of bigotry, the experience of paying so much for a 3-hour+ meal is relatively more worth it? I have to say the answer is yes.

      And maybe, because I have a thick skin and feel like I am respected enough, I have little interest in going through such a production event any more. I did when I was in my 20s, no more.

  10. Back in Spain since 2017 I would probably have better quality here paying 10 times less so going to The French Laundry is not in my wishlist. :)

  11. This article reminds me of another “French” restaurant. My favorite 3 Michelin star restaurant is Joel roubuchon and it’s sister next door restaurant inside MGM in Vegas. Have been there quite a few times and have even brought my toddler. My toddler is super picky and only eats mainly carbs, and both restaurants would usually prepare something special for him like a plain butter pasta. The food is always top notch. though I don’t usually spend so much on a typical meal back home in the bay (I usually like to eat quick meals!) it’s totally worth it. Service is always excellent and the chef comes out to greet you and even take pics. I think it’s worth it to have nice dining experiences if you find a nice restaurant you truly like and people that you could enjoy the meals with.

    1. I’m surprised these 3 Michelin stars allow toddlers. Many 1 Michelin stars or restaurants that cost $200+ per person don’t. Or is that only babies?

      I can cook a mean plain butter pasta!

  12. Have you ever eaten at The Inn at Little Washington? First off it’s amazing. Second off the pricing makes the French Landry seem like a laundry mat snack bar.

    The Inn at Little Washington is a 3 Michelin star restaurant in middleburg VA a good drive outside of DC but doable for lunch or dinner. However, it is so famous and the seatings are set so far in advance that it can take months! To make a reservation (I will note it’s probably easier now with Covid) That is unless you also book a room at their 5 star hotel. And if you do you are reserved a seating but you still have to pay for dinner.

    The hotel rooms start around $1250 and can go into the multi thousands or so per night, but this varies with the seasons. They also have different levels of rooms, suites, and country homes that you can rent on property. I will say having stayed there (and numerous other 5 star hotels) the service is by far top notch. I’m not sure how they train their people but they are amazing from the valet to the service desk and all all the staff throughout it’s amazing.

    So I had decided to surprise my wife in our 4 year anniversary with a dinner there, and because of the wait list I talked myself into a hotel room. I got the discounted room which was like $1250 and of course I added on some other packages to it flowers, drinks etc something like that. So that $1250 went up in a hurry.

    The dinner has 3 menu options which are also 9 course meals. When you are seated you select one, we also elected for the wine pairing as well. I think the menu was like $265/person plus we did a wine pair that was like $180 might have been per person as well. Then we ended up buying two bottles of wine after at like $190-250 each.

    I don’t recall exact figures overall but I can say the dinner and the hotel which includes an afternoon tea and a breakfast by the way both were amazing.

    Paying north of $3k for a afternoon tea, dinner, breakfast and a night in a hotel room seems insane and it was. However I would do it again in a second. It was amazing and definitely worth the trip.

    To top it all off, since I called them and told them it was our anniversary- the head chef Patrick O’Connell made us our own custom menus and wrote us a personal card which he signed. Also for an extra $650 we could have eaten dinner in the kitchen but I decided not to.

    Anyway to your point paying that much for a meal seems insane. However seeing people that just seemed to pop in there for a quick meal and bolt out not staying for all the amenities or the breakfast the next day was shocking. Even while sitting at the table and staying in the hotel you feel like a visitor among those who belong there. So to newsom and others in the elite class I suppose a $500 dinner is like the value menu at McDonald’s.

    But after experiencing it… I get why they would eat in places like that and why they would do it as much as possible.

    1. Nope! Never been. Glad you enjoyed your meal and stay. I just can’t be bothered to drive a long distance to then pay a fortune to eat.

      I’ve got the same problem with flying first class or business class. I calculate the cost difference and divide it by the flight time to see how much I’m saving by just doing nothing!

  13. Crescent moon

    First of all, who wants to have fine dining at a laundry? Are you planning to wash and dry your clothes while you eat? Just puzzling. But I guess it’s a time-efficient way to kill two birds with one stone.

    Second of all, the food items on the sample menu posted above from this particular French laundry are vomit-inducing. I admit that I’m not a fan of French cuisine, wine, or steak. But seriously, there are people out there who actually consider these menu items “food”?

  14. Intelligent yet idiot

    Vanity of people has no bounds. Good that French Laundry knows how to exploit that. They should charge even more. I had a look at the menu you posted and and the main ingredient permeating throughout seems to be white truffle. That is certainly not French as any food enthusiast would tell you, it comes from Piedmont region in Italy and it almost exclusively used in their cooking in Piemond and Alba region. Also the traditional way of serving 8 to 12 courses menu is almost exclusively found in the Alba and Piedmont regions, certainly not French. So French laundry is a fraud in that it’s not French but it’s Italian in the way of exploiting the incult American.

    1. The menu posted is a special menu, typically they serve a different menu that changes based on seasonal availability.
      Truffles are used in many different types of cuisine, not just Italian, in fact France is very well known for their black truffles. You are correct however that white truffles are predominantly found in Italy.
      Multi course tasting menus are definitely not exclusively Italian, you can find tasting menus from just about every region of the world.
      This restaurants style most resembles French cuisine. and I’d recommend you try it sometime to experience the wonderful cooking of Thomas Keller.
      I’m sure he’d be happy to let you know the type of food he serves :)

  15. I would try a place like that at least once. Sometimes I try fine dining and am disappointed. But I would imagine a 3 star Michelin would likely be amazing. Is it worth 500 per person? That depends on how much disposable income you have. Good thing its a long wait to get in otherwise one might go too often!

    Is CA saying don’t eat inside restaurants? You have to have your mask down to eat, but I think the large group gathering is obnoxious.

  16. Frugal Bazooka

    We’ve reached the point of outrage overload….who can even keep track? These politicians know there is no consequence for bad policies and bad optics in deep blue Calif. so why pretend to be an average joe when being a rich overlord is much more fun. You left out the best part, before the picture came out Gavin swore they were outside following protocols I.e. masks and distance. Now it’s no comment. Hopefully theres a separate hell for politicians where they work 9-5 jobs and pay taxes instead of raising them!

    1. Go to your county sheriff’s website. 58 counties = 58 sheriffs! They are the top law enforcers in our state and nation!

  17. I got roped into a $300/head meal at L2O in Chicago during a bachelor party trip. It was the 3rd best meal I’d ever had. Totally not worth it.

    P.S. I am not surprised at the hubris of politicians’ hypocrisy, but the people do not put these people in power for them to lord it over us. So I will reserve my right to be angry.

  18. Best fancy meal I ever ate was a Japanese waygu steak with a lobster tail at the Metropolitan Grill in Seattle. I pair it with a cold Bud Light. It cost about $200. Best food I ever eat is fresh Parmesan halibut, that I catch, with garlic mash potatoes, and a garlic cream sauce and corn on the cob that I grow myself. Cost is about $5 for cheese, cream and spices. Fun article!

  19. For me fine dining is one of the great pleasures of life. I absolutely love food, consider myself an epicurean, and have traveled to destinations (and even driven 3.5 hours) just to eat at a particular place.

    These high end restaurants really cater to the experience of the food as well as the food being incredible earning those stars.

    The highest star restaurants I have eaten at are 2 stars so I can only imagine what a 3 star experience is like.

    My most expensive meal to date was in Washington DC during Fincon last year. I booked a sitting for my fiancee and me at Bar Mini (which I wanted to ever since I saw it featured in an food network show (think it was Bizarre Foods). We did the wine paring option and I believe the total for 2 came to $1300.

    Was a phenomenal experience. I love how they cooked and plated in front of you and discussed each creation. I would go back in a heartbeat without much thought on cost.

    1. Dang! You are living large with your $1,300 meal, Tesla Model S, and waterfall at your house!

      You’re giving me a lot of inspiration to spend more money. I’ve been spending more this year to make up for the downer pandemic. However, you are helping me think in a whole different level. Thx

  20. I think we spent about $250 per person 20 years ago. That’s food plus wine pairing for each dish. It was awesome. Thomas Keller came out and chat with us for a few minutes too. It was the best dining experience we ever had. We were visiting Napa with friends and a guy arranged it. Otherwise, I would never spend that much on a meal back then. I was young, cheap, and our net worth was under $100,000. I had a solid income, though.

    Now, I don’t mind spending on a special occasion. Although, we still haven’t spent as much as that time at the French Laundry yet. Anyway, you don’t have to be rich if you go to a really fancy place just once per year. It’s way better and memorable than 10 takeouts, right?

    Maybe Newsom and the party got tested before the gather. Like Trump did before the 2nd debate.

    1. Never suspected you to be the one that splurges at the French Laundry Joe!

      Maybe the splurges when you were younger is the reason why you are so frugal today. I would not Be happy living in a 1000 square-foot apartment with three people.

      Got to live larger as we get older and wealthier!

  21. The most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten was at La Folie in San Francisco. If you haven’t been Sam, it is excellent. Not only was it the most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten, but it was also the most delicious. With wine for my wife and I, it came out to about $500 total. It was also a 2.5 hr event.

    This meal was part of our 1-year anniversary and we decided to go big with a trip to SF and Napa. Even though we make about twice as much 7 years later, with 3 kids now we still have about the same disposable income. So this is still about the top of our budget for special dinners. But this is a meal my wife and I still talk about and will probably remember for the rest of our lives.

    For me, in addition to special occasions, I think dinner out is about something you can’t do at home. For example, my wife and I won’t go to steakhouses anymore unless someone else is buying. I’ve had enough forgettable $50 steaks. We’d much rather buy some ribeyes at Costco and cook them ourselves with a nice bottle of wine for 1/3 of the price. However, my sushi skills are pretty subpar, so going to a nice sushi restaurant is well worth the cost.

    1. I love La Folie on Polk St! It’s definitely a top three favorite restaurant of mine in San Francisco. Actually spilled my glass of wine all over the table one time I was there. Whoops. I think they poured me another.

  22. I’ve actually eaten there. It’s worth the money if you can afford it. Look up Anthony Bourdain eating there on YouTube to get an idea of what is like.

    Really bad optics for Newsom, but I would gladly catch corona to eat there again. Fyi I only make 60k but i saved up to go there for my 5 year wedding anniversary so all this speculation about needing to make insane amounts of money is a bit ridiculous.

    1. Christopher Kim

      Hopefully you don’t visit your parents (if they’re still alive) after you catch COVID or have any friends or relatives who have any sort of respiratory issues.

      Would suck to enjoy a nice dinner just to be the potential cause of death.

      Not to mention, you have a chance of losing your sense of taste/smell so there’s the chance that it might be the last good meal you ever have.

      Don’t know about you but I value my fine dining way too much to risk anything that would jeopardize it.

      These places aren’t going anywhere. I’ll be back whenever it’s safe for me and my family.

  23. I have been to the French Laundry a few years ago on a trip to Napa. The food is expensive but the experience was very good. The servings were meant to have you craving one more bite. All in all the dinner was about 3-4hrs long, just my wife and I. The dinner was capped off with a few off menu items for desert because we where there to support my cousin who was the pastry chef. I thought the experience was worthwhile for that time, to each their own.

    1. Sounds good. I just can’t do a three hour plus long dinner. Just think about not checking your phone for 3+ hours. Hard to do. And also, the body tends to get for within an hour. So the remaining two hours plus loses its luster because we’re not as hungry or no longer hungry anymore.

  24. The most I can remember spending on a meal: ~$75. And it was covered by my work. I am an engineer.

  25. I think it would be fun to try it once if I had the money
    When I spent 35.00 dollars at fast-food for family of 3 of us went through a drive through sat in the car with in the parking lot of the fast-food place 350 -500 dollars sounds really great indoors right now by the way the meatless Berger was really good we then went home for dessert because the place we uselessly go had 30 people in line

  26. Love that you blogged about this! We are in that income range, but I would NEVER SPEND THAT MUCH MONEY. I think if I did, I would feel so nauseous and vomit. I think that’s the difference of someone who actually earned their money or worked for it. $350 is what I make seeing about 10 patients. Not quite a shift. That’s a lot of work for a skimpy meal, when I always pay mortage and live in a nice house with a nice dining room. My daughter made home-made pizza yesterday and it was sooooooooo good. Costs was less than $5 for the entire pizza. She made the dough from scratch, sauce was organic canned tomatoes and we have mozarella cheese from Costco. I’m generally a Newson fan but this really makes me think about his fiscal responsibility!!!

  27. spaceassassin

    We don’t drink and we don’t like French food, so it’s hard to spend much more than $200/person. We have been to a few steakhouses where we have spent $300-$400 for the two of us and honestly, we did it more frequently when we were younger (and without kids) making a fraction of what we earn today.

    I grew up going to steakhouses and fancy restaurants a couple times a month, so we continued some of that lifestyle into our dating years and early married years. But eventually we realized there are some great mid-level restaurants ($75-$100 for two people) that we enjoyed significantly more and I don’t have to “dress up.”

    So now, when we want to go to a “nice” dinner we end up at one of those places and rarely spend more than $100 for two of us, which includes great food, eats up less time, and we fit in better so we are more comfortable.

    In general we eat out 2-3 times per week, spend $30-50 per trip, and average about $325/month. for our family of 4 (7 and 2 year old).

    To spend $500 on a meal (say a couple times a year?), I would hope that person is earning at least $300k. At $300k, there will be enough discretionary money in nearly all cases that a $500 meal could be justifiable and affordable.

  28. Alinea in Chicago is so far our most expensive meal at $1000/couple. It was also our most disappointing! We’ve enjoyed meals in other countries (also Michelin starred restaurants) / stuff you see on Netflix’s Chef’s Table for $150/pp. Our household is $330K annually, but we travel hack and enjoy culinary tourism.

    1. Why were you disappointed by Alinea? I’ve always wanted to try so I’m curious about your experience.

  29. Maybe they got themselves tested before getting together. There is still a chance of a test being false negative. Sounds like a stupid thing to do.

  30. I was shocked when that picture was released. I sure as heck wouldn’t feel comfortable not wearing a mask with that many people inches away.

    Hilarious and fascinating analysis on French Laundry and other super expensive restaurants. I start to feel uneasy spending $100 for a meal for 4. Can’t imagine paying $500 for just one person! I could do $250-300 for a very special occasion date night for two. But that’s pushing my comfort zone. I definitely can’t spare 3 hours to eat one meal of the day though!

    Thanks for the fun post! Lightened my day :)

  31. I have had the same experience of being disappointed by the food at fancy places, especially those attached to five star hotels. In India as an example I find you are much more likely to get sick as well. The help is just following orders – they are not eating there vice the roadside hole in the wall where they cook for themselves. I discovered the best salsa is at a roadside place just outside a small town in Guatemala – worlds better than any high end Mexican place.

  32. Sounds like his leadership style is right up there w/the fine dictators of the world we have eliminated over the years. Hmm, rise up California and send him home at next election. His next re-election title will be called “Do as I say, not as I do leadership style”. He just looks sleazy and sneaky with his Gordon Gekko style greased back 80’s hair! You picked him California, have fun!

  33. I’m with you. I wouldn’t spend the money because it’s seems like too much “the scene”. Wouldn’t want to deal with it. And let’s face it, even if you can afford it, you’re not famous. If you’re not Silicon Valley royalty up for the weekend, you’re no one. Therefore, the service you receive will not be the same as it is with famous folks. You are likely to be disappointed. These people won’t fawn over you like they do the famous folks.

    1. I’m not famous. I have eaten there. The service was mind boggling. People just don’t get it. Everyone is treated the same there.

  34. Steve Adams

    BOLD! Nicely done!!! Hope the first amendment police are still a few years away as I’m guessing King Newsom will not appreciate all the math. :)

  35. Eric Meyers

    I personally would love to FATFIRE. If the state of california doesn’t find a way to tax that opportunity away. However, I’ve never really been that excited by fancy restaurants. I want to travel, but I find that when I go somewhere fancy I feel like I got dinged. I can get better satisfaction from going to Shake Shack or Chick-fil-a. I’m also big on eating healthy and most of the time if I eat out I have no clue what they’re actually putting in my food.

  36. Politics aside, this was a fun post. But, as a mother, whose physician daughter got sick with covid while treating patients in NYC, my anger boils over when stupid people put lives in danger.

    1. You are right, Indianmama. I hope your daughter isn’t facing ongoing issues that can affect some people, and I also hope she has antibodies now for a while (jury’s out. Thank you to your daughter.

      1. Your calculations on how much money someone needs to make to eat at the French laundry are obnoxiously ridiculous. You don’t need to be a millionaire. You only need to save up $500-1000. Anyone can do that. It’s not a matter of how rich are you, it’s a matter of do you want to spend $500-1000 to dine at one of the world’s top restaurants by one of the world’s highest rated chefs. To some that isn’t worth it, to others there’s no better way to spend that money.

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