A restaurant owner who tied the price of lunch to that of a barrel of oil as a gimmick several years ago is sticking with the offering despite the increasing cost of oil.

Steve Zimmerman, owner of the posh European-style hotel/restaurant La Colombe d'Or, began serving the Oil Barrel Lunch in 1985 when crude prices were cheap, and falling."It was $9 and a little change then," said restaurant spokeswoman Gina Stansbury.

In the five years the special has been on the menu, the restaurant's chefs have had to keep adding items as the price of a barrel of oil has grown.

With crude selling for as much as $38.18 a barrel, the once inexpensive lunch is approaching the cost of the exclusive restaurant's regular fare.

But thanks to the Persian Gulf conflict, Texas oilmen are on the rebound and can afford the special lunch. Business is brisk, Stansbury said.

"Hell, nobody's complaining about the price," said a restaurant spokesman who declined to be identified. "They upgraded it."

Tuesday's Oil Barrel Lunch was vegetable soup, roasted Texas goat cheese on a bed of mixed green leaves and sauteed salmon scaloppine with a fricassee of chanterelle mushrooms in a chive cream sauce. Dessert was Chocolate Maruise.