An Experience Of A Lifetime


The French Laundry had been at the top of my bucket list for many years. So when I recently had the opportunity to dine there with my twin daughters, I jumped on it. Owned by Chef Thomas Keller for the past 18 years, the restaurant is located in Yountville in Napa County, California and is housed in a century-old stone building that was once a French steam laundry. For both lunch and dinner, The French Laundry offers only a fixed price tasting menu (with a vegetarian option), which changes daily. The restaurant and Keller have won basically every major culinary award in the country so, needless to say, reservations are incredibly difficult to obtain.

Having heard about The French Laundry for so many years, I wondered whether it would ultimately disappoint. But it more than lived up to the hype. It was magical and extraordinary; the best dining experience I have ever had in this country and one of the two best I’ve had ever had in the world. Our lunch lasted four and a half hours and consisted of 14 small courses, each a beautiful work of art and a complex, creative and incredibly delicious dish. Everything was simply the best. The “Foie Gras Au Torchon” was served with a trio of exotic salts including a 40 million year old pink Jurassic salt from a copper mine in Montana. The beef course featured a special cut and blend of Wagyu and Black Angus sold only to The French Laundry. One of the butter options for our bread had been flown in from a farm in Vermont where it was made specially for the restaurant. The meal was full of surprises not listed on the menu such an incredible risotto, upon which our waiter shaved an insane amount of black truffles.

The service was equally excellent; the best I have ever experienced and not pretentious or overly formal. Each course was served with plate covers that were removed simultaneously for the whole table, followed by a presentation by the table captain of such course in wonderful detail. After our lunch, we were treated to a tour of the restaurant’s kitchen and took a walk through The French Laundry’s beautiful garden, where many of the restaurant’s vegetables and herbs are grown.

Such greatness does not come cheap. Both lunch and dinner at The French Laundry cost $270 per person including tip, but excluding tax, wine, supplements like foie gras and caviar, and additional tip (which you no doubt will want to leave for such incredible service). Yes, it’s one expensive meal, but you really shouldn’t think of it as just a meal. What you’re paying for is an experience of a lifetime. The one drawback of our lunch: by exposing my daughters to The French Laundry at such a young age, I think I have ruined them for all other fine dining experiences. Nothing can compare.

The French Laundry is located at 6640 Washington St., Yountville, California. If you enjoy Consuming LA, please subscribe, like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter at the top right of this page. And please forward to your friends!

Amuse Bouche: Greyere Cheese Puffs

Amuse Bouche: Greyere Cheese Puffs


Scottish Salmon Tartar with Red Onion Creme Fraiche and Chive Chip in a Black Sesame Tuile Cone

Scottish Salmon Tartar with Red Onion Creme Fraiche and Chive Chip in a Black Sesame Tuile Cone


"Oysters and Pearls"  ("Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Cavier)

“Oysters and Pearls” (“Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Cavier)


"Bouchon Roll" (Pan au Lait) with unsalted butter from Petaluma and salted butter from Vermont

“Bouchon Roll” (Pan au Lait) with unsalted butter from Petaluma and salted butter from Vermont


White Truffle-Infused Egg Custard in Egg Shell with Veal Reduction, Chopped Black Truffles and Chive Potato Chip

White Truffle-Infused Egg Custard in Egg Shell with Veal Reduction, Chopped Black Truffles and Chive Potato Chip


Trio of gourmet salts to accompany brioche and Moulard Duck "Foie Gras Au Torchon" with Gros Michel Banana, Sicilian Pistachios, Oxalis, Black Truffle and Bourbon Maple Syrup (pictured on top)

Trio of gourmet salts to accompany brioche and Moulard Duck “Foie Gras Au Torchon” with Gros Michel Banana, Sicilian Pistachios, Oxalis, Black Truffle and Bourbon Maple Syrup (pictured on top)


Salde of Roasted Hawaiian Hearts of Palm with Celery Branch, Piedmont Hazelnuts and Cranberry Relish

Salde of Roasted Hawaiian Hearts of Palm with Celery Branch, Piedmont Hazelnuts and Cranberry Relish


Nantucket Bay Scallops with Medjool Dates, Nantes Carrots, Crosnes, Cilantro Shoots and Madras Curry

Nantucket Bay Scallops with Medjool Dates, Nantes Carrots, Crosnes, Cilantro Shoots and Madras Curry


Sauteed Filet of Black Bass with Petite Onions, Piquillo Peppers, Sunchokes Arugula and Meyer Lemon

Sauteed Filet of Black Bass with Petite Onions, Piquillo Peppers, Sunchokes Arugula and Meyer Lemon


"Caesar Salad" with Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster, Caramelized Romaine Lettuce, Garlic "Pain Perdu," Parmesan Crisp and "Bottarga di Muggine"

“Caesar Salad” with Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster, Caramelized Romaine Lettuce, Garlic “Pain Perdu,” Parmesan Crisp and “Bottarga di Muggine”


Risotto with Shaved Black Truffles

Risotto with Shaved Black Truffles


Devil's Gulch Ranch Rabbit Sirloin with Hobb's Bacon, Butternut Squash, Watercress, Black Truffle and Mission Fig Jus

Devil’s Gulch Ranch Rabbit Sirloin with Hobb’s Bacon, Butternut Squash, Watercress, Black Truffle and Mission Fig Jus


Snake River Farms "Calotte de Boeuf Grillee" with "Ris de Veau," King Trumpet Mushroom, Baby Artichoke and Belgian Endive

Snake River Farms “Calotte de Boeuf Grillee” with “Ris de Veau,” King Trumpet Mushroom, Baby Artichoke and Belgian Endive


"Tomme Corse" (cheese) with San Marzano Tomato Compote, Young Fennel and Nicoise Olives

“Tomme Corse” (cheese) with San Marzano Tomato Compote, Young Fennel and Nicoise Olives


Sour Cherry Sorbet with Coconut "Petit Beurre" and Vanilla "Soda"

Sour Cherry Sorbet with Coconut “Petit Beurre” and Vanilla “Soda”


Alpaco "Mousse au Chocolat" with Spice Pudding, "Panna Cotta," Fuyu Persimmon and Marcona Almond "Glacee"

Alpaco “Mousse au Chocolat” with Spice Pudding, “Panna Cotta,” Fuyu Persimmon and Marcona Almond “Glacee”


"Pommes Anna" with Funnel Cake, "Pruneaux d'Agen," Rum "Anglaise" and Salted Caramel Ice Cream

“Pommes Anna” with Funnel Cake, “Pruneaux d’Agen,” Rum “Anglaise” and Salted Caramel Ice Cream


Housemade Truffles:  Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Meyer Lemon, Ginger, Hazelnut and Pumpkin Pie

Housemade Truffles: Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Meyer Lemon, Ginger, Hazelnut and Pumpkin Pie


A gift of Shortbread Cookies to take home

A gift of Shortbread Cookies to take home


The dining room: understated elegance

The dining room: understated elegance


I got a tour of the kitchen!

I got a tour of the kitchen!


insert

insert


The French Laundry Garden

The French Laundry Garden


The French Laundry on Urbanspoon

4 Comments

Filed under Outside Los Angeles

4 Responses to An Experience Of A Lifetime

  1. So jealous. Thanks for the full report. It looks incredible. I will make a pilgrimage there some day — it is on my bucket list too!

  2. Very happy for you, Howard. Lovely pics, you make your fans drool! And yes, I think you may have screwed yourself with respect to impressing the kiddoes. But lucky them!!

  3. Guest

    “…the best dining experience I have ever had in this country and one of the two best I’ve had ever had in the world”

    As someone who stumbled upon this via Google and isn’t a regular reader of your blog, pray tell: what’s the other amazing restaurant you’ve been to that rivals this, and where is it?

    Thank you! Great, thorough, mouth-watering review :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>