The French Laundry is a French restaurant located in Yountville, California, in the Napa Valley.  The name originated from the building once used as a French steam laundry back in the 1920’s.  In 1994, chef and current owner Thomas Keller bought the location  (he also owns Bouchon, Ad Hoc and Per Se).  Raved as one of the best restaurants in the world by Anthony Bourdain, it is no wonder there is much hype for this restaurant.

A few things you should know:

  • 9-course prix fixe (vegetarian menu also available)
  • Cost: $270 (service included).  Wine ~$50 extra/person.
  • Be prepared to dine for 4 hours!
  • Jackets required
  • 2 months to the date reservation required.  If you call on Jan 5th, you are reserving for March 5th.
  • Reservations are extremely difficult.  You may need to redial for 1.5+ hours before being connected.
  • Today’s menu: http://www.tkrg.org/upload/fl_menu.pdf
  • A lot of the ingredients come from its own 3-acre organic garden across the road….you can taste its freshness!

Having said all that, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to dine at the French Laundry!  It was an unforgettable experience.  I was very impressed with the quality of the dishes especially its simplicity, both in presentation and in taste.  Flavoring/salt use was perfect, bringing out all the flavors in its fullest and freshest form.  While the taste can’t be captured in the photos below, it should give you a sense of what to expect from the French Laundry!  Bon appetit!

French Laundry clip

French Laundry clip!

Salmon tartare cornet

Salmon tartare cornet!

Oysters and pearls: Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with ISland Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar

Oysters and pearls:
Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar

“Moulard Duck Foie Gras En Terrine”,
“Confit de Canard, Hydromel Croquette, Cranberry Relish, Frisee and Dijon Mustard”

Butter!

Butter!

French Laundry

Three kinds of salt to choose with the 2nd course butter and rolls

Three kinds of salt to choose with the 2nd course butter and rolls

French Laundry clip

Yukon Gold Potato "Mille-Feuille" Broccoli Ecrasee, Quail Egg and Malt Vinegar Emulsion

Yukon Gold Potato “Mille-Feuille” Broccoli Ecrasee,
Quail Egg and Malt Vinegar Emulsion

“Confit Fillet of Portuguese Rouget”,
“Sunchokes, Nicoise Olive, Mizuna and Navel Orange Coulis”.

Sweet Butter-poached maine lobster tail, truffle "Pain Perdu" Hobbs' bacon and petite onions

Sweet Butter-poached maine lobster tail,
truffle “Pain Perdu” Hobbs’ bacon and petite onions

French Laundry

French Laundry

“Wolfe Ranch White Quail”,
“Cauliflower, Cavalo Nero, Pine Nuts and Sauce Romesco”.

“Snake River Farms Calotte de Boeuf Grillee”,
“Bone Marrow, Matsutake Mushrooms, Nantes Carrots, Crosnes, Oyster Lettuce, and Sauce Bordelaise”

Broken Arrow ranch venison, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, Oregon Huckleberries and juniper

Broken Arrow Ranch Venison,
Butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, Oregon Huckleberries and juniper

“Txiki”
“San Marzano Tomato Compote, Globe Artichokes, Arugula, and Spanish Caper”.

“Pineapple Guava Sorbet”,
“Muscato d’Asti and Young Ginger”.

“Carmelized White Chocolate Namelaka”,
“Piedmont Hazelnuts, Toasted Oats, and Black Mission Fig Sorbet”.

Pommes Anna, Funnel Cake, Pruneaux d'Agen, Rum Angalise and Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Pommes Anna, Funnel Cake, Pruneaux d'Agen, Rum Angalise and Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Pommes Anna, Funnel Cake,
Pruneaux d’Agen, Rum Angalise and Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Mignardises (bite-sized desserts sometimes served at the end of a meal)

Mignardises
(bite-sized desserts sometimes served at the end of a meal)

Coffee and Donuts

Coffee and Donuts

The laundry bill!

The laundry bill!  Get it? =)

French Laundry lamp with laundry icons

French Laundry lamp with laundry icons

A peek into the kitchen…relatively small.  Very clean.

Kitchen

Kitchen

The main chef making the final touches to the dishes:

Main chef

Main chef in the kitchen

Kitchen

Wonderful memories

Wonderful memories.
Left to right: me, Bob, Laura, Chef Matt, Judy, Dan, Erik

~ ~ ~

Hungry Cactus’ verdict: A

French Laundry is an example to other restaurants to use fresh and quality ingredients and prepare them with perfect execution.  There’s no need for molecular gastronomic tricks, just proven and straight forward French cooking techniques.  The only two downsides was the cost (~$300/person) and the time it took to get from appetizer to desserts (4 hours!).  Otherwise, I will always remember the Calotte de Boeuf as the most flavorful, tender and fatty beef I’ve ever had.  Other memorable dishes include the intriguing Pommes Anna with its many layers and the intense flavors of the pineapple guava sorbet.  Also to note, Dan says the potato “Mille-Feuille” was the best piece of potato he’s ever had!

Bottom line, if you’re curious what the best of the best French cuisine has to offer, and have the time, money and friends to experience the French Laundry together with, then by all means make your reservation!  Otherwise, getting the $30 French Laundry cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/French-Laundry-Cookbook-Thomas-Keller/dp/1579651267) is a great alternative!

Categories: food