Paul and I recently had the good fortune to eat at The French Laundry! For those of you who know me — you know I LOVE to eat. Almost as much as I love to sleep.
Getting the last minute reservation was total dumb luck. I called two days before we were heading to Napa and got the rezzie 30 hours before we showed up to eat. The meal was so many things — intimidating, exhilarating, scrumptious, tiring, spendy, inspiring — in sum, a foodie and chef whore’s wet dream. I was in hog heaven!
Never one to disappoint my readers, I took a million pictures — just like a proper tourist should. I didn’t care that I looked like a fool — this is a meal that should be fawned over. You should revel in the art that Thomas Keller has created. Allow me to take you on a photo journey of our evening:
This post is entitled “Beyond the blue door” because the French Laundry’s front door is blue. I’m super clever, right? Little known fact (well, not so little) is that the restaurant used to be an actual french laundry — hence the name.
In a nod to it’s old laundering days, every napkin has a cute clothespin on it. Yes, we stole ours. Please, do you think we’re rookies at this game?
There were two tasting menus offered, one veggie, one not. Normally I don’t eat a ton of meat (read: no rabbit, duck, lamb or red meat) — but I made an exception for this meal. I’ve included pics of both menus for you. Check out the second line from the top — our menus were personalized and said “Andrea kicked cancer’s ass”. I mean, come on. Attention to detail anyone?
Don’t worry if you can’t read the menu — I’ll write everything out for you below. Here we go……..
OK, I’ve already lied to you — I don’t quite remember all the details of our amuse bouche. The first was a salmon ice cream come with caviar. The second was some sort of delectable cheese puff. Honestly, the ice cream cone thingie was one of the highlights of the meal for me. AH-maze.
Oysters and Pearls: “Sabayon” of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters and white sturgeon caviar. Perfect way to begin the meal — this was the perfect balance of rich and light — if that’s even possible!
Slow-Roasted Garden Beets: Silverado trail strawberries, celery branch, pearson farms pecans, miner’s lettuce and black winter truffle “coulis”. Another fan favorite over here. I love me a salad — and that this one was all locally sourced, made my heart sing.
Our waiter told us this next one was chef’s attempt to to take us all back to childhood.
Peas and Carrots: Sauted fillet of pacific yellowtail, english peas, nantes carrots, pea tendrils and sweet carrot emulsion.
Clearly, I hated this one:
Herb Roasted Pacific Abalone: Sacramento delta asparagus, arrowleaf spinach “panade,” satsuma mandarins, garden turnips and applewood-smoked bacon. (Neither of us really cared for the abalone — too chewy for me — but everything else was awesome).
Next up — Thanksgiving on a plate. By far, one of the best dishes I’ve ever consumed in my life.
Four Story Hills Farm Poularde: Black mission fig jam, Garden cauliflower, cipollini onions and sicilian pistachio vinaigrette.
This next course is where Paul and I diverge. I went with the tasting menu lamb — but Paul upgraded to the Wagyu. I read somewhere that the wagyu served at the french laundry is grown and slaughtered specifically for this restaurant only. Who knows if that’s actually true or not. Paul said it melted like butter. I didn’t love the lamb — since I don’t really eat lamb. So Paul got a double course on this one!
Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Rib-Eye: Garden broccoli, caramelized green garlic, polenta “croutons” and “creme de morilles”.
Charcoal-Grilled Japanese Wagyu: Yukon gold potate “rosti,” black trumpet mushrooms, garden radishes, hearts of romaine lettuce, lava bean and “sauce bordelaise”.
“Soumaintrain”: Garden sunchokes, brown butter “beignet,” royal blenheim apricots, sunflower seeds and red russian kale. Yumm-o
Finally, we’re at course No. 8 — the dessert course (if you include the amuse, it’s really course No. 10). They give up on writing all this stuff out on the menu at this point b/c dessert is about 5 courses in and of itself. Died!
“Assortment of Desserts” Fruit, ice cream, chocolate and candies.
Oh, I forgot to mention the bread! I didn’t take any pictures of it — but we were given two small plates of fancy butter to go with our bread. One was from Vermont and the other was local (I think). One was saltier than the other — and both were divine.
Alrighty, so 3 hours later, we finished eating. It was after midnight and we were the last patrons in the restaurant. By now, we’ve befriended our waiter, and we’re having a good ‘ole time. So I pull yet another touristy/foodie move and ask for a tour of the kitchen. I read that you can totally do this. Our waiter was happy to oblige. We didn’t get to see any action as service was over and the kitchen was gleaming. We did see chef (not Thomas Keller though) prepping his team for the next day. They were all gathered round the expediting table (died!). Also our waiter confirmed that it is indeed true that there is CCTV to Per Se in the kitchen. How F’ing cool is that?
I asked our waiter if a ton of people try to stage at FL — he said yes, but that they don’t really take anybody — some sort of liability issue. I was sort of drunk by this point — so I don’t fully recall what he said. But wanted to include the tidbit for the other foodies out there. I tried to ask all the questions we wonder about!
Woosh. I am absolutely beat after writing this post. Hope you enjoyed it and hope each of you get the opportunity to eat at French Laundry once in your life!