Where do I begin? For as long as I could remember, I have always wanted to go to The French Laundry. I have heard so many people rave about it, and I wanted to check it out for myself! Chef Thomas Keller’s pride and joy, The French Laundry, was the first restaurant to get three Michelin Stars when Michelin came to the US. When I found out I was going to Yountville for a wedding, I called right away. I knew two months in advance about my quick little weekend trip, so my first priority was getting a table. They told me that I had to call a month prior (at 10 AM I might add) the get a reservation, not a couple of days or weeks, a whole month! The waiting killed me, I just want great food!
The French Laundry has been named the Best Restaurant in the World in 2003 and 2004, and some of the major foodies in the world state that it is just the best, period! After 120 calls on June 17th at 10 AM placed by my friend, we got in, a 5:45 seating on July 17th for four people!
It took me almost a month to figure out what I was going to wear to the world-famous restaurant. After a ton of shopping, Pinteresting, and Instagraming I came up with nothing. I was so upset. I wanted my outfit to be perfect for the perfect meal! After searching far and wide, I finally found a dress on the day of that was suitable for the occasion at Sisters Boutique in Yountville. An elegant, classy orange dress that flowed in the wind as I walked in to the restaurant. I felt like a goddess!
As I got to Yountiville, the first questions I asked the locals was if they had ever ate at The French Laundry. Most of them have and was telling me their best stories and times at the world renowned restaurant. I was too impatient to just see it the day of, so I rode by on my bike because it was just down the road from the hotel I was staying at. The small sign threw me off. I rode by at least 5 times before I realized it was the restaurant that I so longed for. Across the road, The French Laundry Gardens, supplies the restaurant with fresh veggies daily. I walked around the gardens taking in the freshness & finally walked around the outside of the restaurant. I looked crazy walking up to the door asking if I could look in and get a feel of the restaurant. It was such a surreal moment. I was finally at The French Laundry!
The restaurant building itself dates back to the 1900s and is in the National Register of Historic Places. The building was originally built as a saloon in 1900 then later became a residence and a French steam laundry (hence the name The French Laundry). In 1978 the building became a restaurant. Chef Thomas Keller purchased it in 1994 and turned it into the world famous restaurant it is today.
Sitting down to the table, I noticed a clothes pin with “The French Laundry” engraved in it, and a hand full of very well dressed, happy people enjoying the delicious food.
You are offered a chef’s tasting menu and a vegetable tasting menu, all of which includes 10 courses and both never use the same ingredient more than once. I chose the chef’s tasting menu which supplements the first couple of courses.
FYI: The service at TFL is not having just one server, you have a team! They are all very knowledgable about every course that is on your table. It helps you appreciate the entire experience. It isn’t just a meal, it is a show and the team was the choreography.
My waiter gave me the wine list in iPad form. It was comparable to a college A&P style book but packed into this tiny little tablet. They had a large selection of champagne, white and red wine, and sparkling wine. They offer half bottles or whole bottles. I’m more of a champagne to start & red to finish kind of girl. I totally forgot to take a picture of the champagne before we drank it all.
The two amuse bouches are staples on The French Laundry’s menu. If you don’t know, an amuse bouche is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre that is served pre-meal. The first was a French cheese puff, and the second was a salmon tartarte coronet, a cracker tuile cone filled with creme fraiche and chives, and topped with smoked salmon. The two amuse bouche paired with the champagne was heaven on earth!
Then I chose to supplement the first course from “Oysters and Pearls”, which is what the chef’s tasting menu is known for, to the Royal Kaluga Caviar. This was perhaps the best caviar I have ever had! It was the best way to start this meal off. The creaminess and saltiness mixed together made this decadent course a showstopper for the evening.
Before the next course was served, the team of servers brought out the best bread and butter I have ever had in my life. One of the servers tells us the story behind the making of the butter, which is a culinary fairytale. They use butter that comes from Diane St. Claire’s dairy farm, called Animal Farm in Orwell, Vermont. She only had just 10 Jersey cows to start off with. Diane sent Chef Thomas Keller samples of her butter who loved it so much he now purchases all of the butter she produces. When Chef Thomas Keller opened TFL’s sister restaurant in New York, Per Se, Diane purchased additional cows to fulfill his higher demand. What a friendship! The butter you ask, it has the best calorific, creamy taste that makes your tastebuds want to dance. And the breads? They were absolutely delectable.
My next course was the Garden Cucumber Salad, which, you guessed it, came from the garden that is located in the front of the restaurant. The earthiness of the salad set my taste buds up for the remaining mouthwatering plates I had coming.
It was now time for the fish course and the Mediterranean John Dory set the bar high. The slow cooked fillet was eloquently placed on a heavenly infused pool of flavor. I finished that within two bites and was wanting more!
The Wild Scottish Langoustine “Boudin” blew me away. I’m from Louisiana, and I know what boudin is. But, this was superb! The taste of the Brentwood corn and turnips was enticing.
It was so hard for me to wait for the waitress/waiter to finish talking about the dishes before I nosed dived into them. The richness of the rabbit blended well with the crispness of the vegetables.
For a supplemented price of $100, I chose the Charcoal Grilled Japanese Wagyu. I have to say, the flavor of the beats, onions, walnuts and “Sauce Choucroute” made this dish so scrumptious!
I was almost to my culinary breaking point. After the tantalizing courses I just ate, I didn’t know how I could even think about desert. The ice cream, or gelato they called it, hit the table first, and the only thing that is importantly funny about that is because July 17th is National Ice Cream day. Coincidence? I think not! It was then followed by the “Alice and Wonderland” inspired tart and the chocolate log. I can still taste the perfectly mixed infusion of flavors! Just when you think they are going to let you pay and leave, they bring MORE! “Coffee and donuts” is a TFL signature. The cappuccino semifreddo was amazing along with the soft, warm doughnuts. Rounding off this incredible meal was French macarons and macadamia nuts. I ended up taking home a lot of the deserts and the shortbread cookies they give you as you leave.
So, The French Laundry is every bit of AWESOME as I expected it to be. I am so thankful to have checked this restaurant off my bucket list and enjoy this amazing experience.