#10- The French Laundry

French Laundry

Wine Menu on an iPad

The question everyone debates when The French Laundry is the topic at hand is, is it worth the price?  I think really that’s a question only a person willing to find out can honestly answer. I was willing to find out.

On the way there, Blake & I started talking about what food meant for us; something we’ve discussed many times…. typically after experiencing some God awful meal. I recalled the first time in my life I had the epiphany that food could be interesting: when I was 12 or so, my dad made a Baked Apple Chicken dish. Apple & chicken together? Foreign language!  Then, while in Japan I had a steak tare tare. I had no idea what it was, as the translation wasn’t all that clear either. Actually, I don’t really even know if that’s what it was.  All I remember was thin slices of raw beef that was to be dipped in a sweet cream sauce before consuming- and having it melt in my mouth. A few years later, it was a visit to Julia Child’s Kitchen that did me in.

French Laundry


Having these moments didn’t turn me into a “Foodie” by any means, but it sent a very clear message that food could be mouthwatering AMAZING entertainment. I wish I could cook (cook consistently good anyway) but just as I find fauxtographers to be insulting to Photographers, I would find me claiming to know how to cook to be insulting to …. Thomas Keller.

With that said, I won’t be ‘reviewing’ his meal.  Contrary to 1,200 plus Yelpers who felt the need to give their two cents and reduce his work down to a 5 star rating scale on a social website, I will simply say it was very humbling to be present in a beautiful town, a beautiful restaurant and with beautiful food.

One thing is for sure, from our seats it was obvious this restaurant employs a small group of very hard working people.  No one is hanging out. No one is slacking. No one has a hang over from the night before.  Everyone is on their A Game, knowing the meal origins and wine pairings inside and out. At times I felt like our server should be awarded an honorary degree in Wine knowledge. We felt welcomed and comfortable.  This is important to note, because I think some of the intimidation is wondering if you’ll be sniffed out as a millionaire-fraud.

French Laundry

First Course: Oysters and Caviar

Also important to note is that even though the menu is 9 course prix fixe, there are about 6 or so ‘in between’ dishes, starting with two amuse bouches, fresh baked rolls, ice creams, cookies, etc. etc.  I left definitely feeling very full, and with a gift bag of “to go” pastries from them as well.

So, some suggestions to you, if you happen to decide on a visit yourself:  First, I would suggest getting a reservation during the Summer months.  Our reservation was at 5:30, but it was already pitch black and raining.  This only meant we couldn’t enjoy the outdoor landscape and garden where they grow many of their own ingredients.

French Laundry


Second, take a pen and ask for your own copy of the menu to write down tasting notes.  Sounds cheesy, sure, but for this experience it might be a good idea to write down the english translation of what you were served along with how it was cooked/presented. I didn’t have a pen, but I did ask for a copy of the menu.  After so many servings I started loosing track of where we were at and what I had ordered. In the end, it makes for a great personalized souvenir.

I do have a tip for how to get past the phone games to get reservations, so ask and I’ll let you know.  It worked flawlessly for me, but it was a result of trial and error.  I spent half the year trying to get reservations before figuring the system out.

In summary,  the entire dinner was about 4 hours of perfection. Was it worth it? Yes.

French Laundry

Dessert round 1

French Laundry

The “half bottles” cellar was our view from the table

One thought on “#10- The French Laundry

  1. Pingback: #23- Chez Panisse | A Year of Living to the Fullest

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