The 2011 Fancy Pants Menu Price Index

Prices at many of America’s most expensive restaurants went up by $20 or more in 2011. Says who? Says our first annual Fancy Pants Menu Price Index. You’re welcome. 

Of the 46 prix-fixe menus tracked by The Price Hike over the past 12.5 months, the median price increase was 10.55%. The highest increase came from the three Michelin-starred Brooklyn Fare, where diners might pay a 107% premium over last January’s price of $135 per person. The 30-course menu is now $225, with a $70 charge for bringing your own wine. Previously there was no corkage fee.  

Excluding wine, the year’s biggest price increase came from Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, which hiked its tasting menu to $160, a 68% increase from last year’s starting price of $95. 

Eleven restaurants, including Torrisi, boasted price hikes of 20% or more. Fifteen venues kept their increases below 10%, including Per Se, Daniel, Craft, Stone Barns, Le Bernardin, Alinea and L2O. Prices stayed EVEN STEVEN at a number of venues, including Adour, Momofuku Ko, WD-50, Jean Georges, Eleven Madison Park, Shaboo, Masa and the Top Chef Tasting at Bartolotta. Restaurants instituting price drops included Colicchio & Sons and Jonathan Benno’s Lincoln. 

Please keep in mind that many restaurants added courses and luxury items as they hiked their menus; Brooklyn Fare and Atelier Crenn are chief among that list. So many of these hikes weren’t necessarily “more money for the same amount of food” propositions. Refer to our individual postings for more details on each hike. NOTE: This post was updated on 18 January 2012 to reflect the inclusion of Atelier Crenn. 

Caveats: We use a “real cost” metric for e by Jose Andres because the opening menu last January was $250 per person, inclusive of tip, beverage and gratuity. The menu is now $160 per person, with optional $105 wine pairings and 20% gratuity. After tax and tip that works out to $334 per person. We defined Moto’s $160 menu as a $25 hike from its previous shorter menu (no longer available) at $135 per person. Others will call it a $35 price drop from the restaurant’s longer menu of $195, which was also nixed. The Inn at Little Washington charges different prices based on the day of the week; all prices went up by $10 last year. If you catch an error in our math, please email ryanpsutton at gmail dot com and we’ll fix it immediately. 

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