THE FRENCH LAUNDRY, Napa Valley – A Tasting Menu Worth Three Michelin Stars

Dining Date: May 26, 2013

Dining Occasion: Dinner: chef’s tasting menu at $270 USD per person, service included (tax excluded)

See the Eater’s Highlights: Despite the difficulty in making reservations, I recommend the French Laundry for its carefully crafted courses and detailed service. The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood (read it here) are the only two restaurants with three Michelin stars ratings, but the French Laundry appealed to my tastes more. Having also dined at Per Se, also by Thomas Keller, I must say that the French Laundry provides a better experience in both food and service.  The three hour dinner (though my friends have experience five hours) is a relaxing experience that is also full of pleasant surprises. Dining in the two story restaurant (which was once used for French steam laundry) provides an intimate feeling along with the impeccable service. The menu changes according to that day’s freshest ingredients. Its daily menu is posted on its official website.

The Details:

For my first restaurant post, i decided to share my experience on the renowned French Laundry. Having been to numerous award winning restaurants and Michelin starred restaurants across the world, I would say the French Laundry very well deserves its high ratings. Chef/owner, Thomas Keller does an impeccable job in bringing out detailed dishes in a warming environment. (Per Se on the other hand, also by the same chef owner, Thomas Keller, does not live up to the praise it has received, in my opinion. That will be in another post for me to discuss.)

The French Laundry is a very meaningful restaurant to me because it was my dream restaurant to dine at ever since I was in high school. It is an iconic restaurant for all gourmet foodies. Furthermore, dining at The French Laundry is a journey, starting from making the reservation at the restaurant to planning your trip to Napa Valley. Most guests have travelled from other states, cities, or countries and come together to enter the gourmet paradise. There is a story behind every dining guest.

With the long anticipation, I had extremely high expectations. Although Per Se, also by Thomas Keller, did not meet my standards, I still gave the French Laundry a try because it was a dream restaurant. I am glad I did.

Outdoor entrance area

Outdoor entrance area

Outdoor entrance area

Outdoor entrance area

Table setting

Table setting

Table setting

Table setting

Table setting, napkin

Table setting, napkin

iPad wine list

iPad wine list

iPad wine list

iPad wine list

Chef’s Tasting Menu for May 26, 2013

Chef’s Tasting Menu for May 26, 2013

Amuse bouche: gougeres

Amuse bouche: gougeres

Amuse bouche

Amuse bouche

The amuse bouche were great starters. The gougeres were like warm cheese puffs that were full of flavor. The second one was a sort of tartare with cream cheese filling on the bottom (I forgot exactly what), but it was memorable and melted in my mouth. Both of these amuse bouche were also served at Per Se when I dined there.

“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

The “Oysters and Pearls” is a Thomas Keller classic. Delicious balance for the sauce and caviar. Like the amuse bouche, this dish is also a signature at Per Se in New York.

Salted and unsalted butter

Salted and unsalted butter

Garden Beet Salad Preserved Green Strawberries, Nasturtium Leaves, Toasted Oats and Pink Peppercorn-Infused Greek Yogurt

Garden Beet Salad
Preserved Green Strawberries, Nasturtium Leaves, Toasted Oats and Pink Peppercorn-Infused Greek Yogurt

Breads

Breads

Black Winter Truffle and Hen Egg Ravioli “Sacramento Delta Green Asparagus, Cherry Belle Radishes, Garden Mache and Parmesan Mousse ($75 supplement)

Black Winter Truffle and Hen Egg Ravioli
“Sacramento Delta Green Asparagus, Cherry Belle Radishes, Garden Mache and Parmesan Mousse ($75 supplement)

Black Winter Truffle and Hen Egg Ravioli “Sacramento Delta Green Asparagus, Cherry Belle Radishes, Garden Mache and Parmesan Mousse ($75 supplement)

Black Winter Truffle and Hen Egg Ravioli
“Sacramento Delta Green Asparagus, Cherry Belle Radishes, Garden Mache and Parmesan Mousse ($75 supplement)

Columbia River Wild King Salmon Garden Cucumbers, Brokaw Avocado Puree, FIno Verde Basil and Green Tomato Gazpacho

Columbia River Wild King Salmon
Garden Cucumbers, Brokaw Avocado Puree, FIno Verde Basil and Green Tomato Gazpacho

The salmon melted in my mouth. Beautiful dish.

Sweet Butter-Poached Alaskan King Crab Russet Potato Gnocchi, Caramelized Young Corn, English Peas, Oregon Cepe and Cope’s Corn Pudding

Sweet Butter-Poached Alaskan King Crab
Russet Potato Gnocchi, Caramelized Young Corn, English Peas, Oregon Cepe and Cope’s Corn Pudding

One of the best Alaskan King Crab I have eaten. The combination with the sweet corn made me cry for more!

Four Story Hill Farm Poularde “Saucisson a L’ail,” Garden Turnips, Brooks Cherries and Whole Grain Mustard

Four Story Hill Farm Poularde
“Saucisson a L’ail,” Garden Turnips, Brooks Cherries and Whole Grain Mustard

Very juicy and tender chicken. Delicious, but I would not say that this was the most outstanding course.

“Steak Frites” Charcoal-Grilled “Calotte de Boeuf,” Crispy LaRatte Potatoes, Pickled Garden Onions, Watercress Salad and Bearnaise Mousseline

“Steak Frites”
Charcoal-Grilled “Calotte de Boeuf,” Crispy LaRatte Potatoes, Pickled Garden Onions, Watercress Salad and Bearnaise Mousseline

This was one of my favorites besides the crab. The soft tender beef paired very well with the sauce.

“Brie Fermier” Royal Blenheim Apricots, Black Walnut and Cutting Celery

“Brie Fermier”
Royal Blenheim Apricots, Black Walnut and Cutting Celery

The brie and celery created a light refreshing balance.

Refreshing ice cream for a nice palate cleanse after the wonderful courses.

Refreshing ice cream for a nice palate cleanse after the wonderful courses.

Refreshing ice cream for a nice palate cleanse after the wonderful courses.

“Dark Treacle” Devil’s Food, Valrhona Chocolate “Marquise” Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Marshall Farms Burnt Honey Ice Cream

“Dark Treacle”
Devil’s Food, Valrhona Chocolate “Marquise” Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Marshall Farms Burnt Honey Ice Cream

Delta Blueberry Cheesecake Compressed Blueberry Muffin, Lemon Ice Cream and Puff Pastry “Arlette”

Delta Blueberry Cheesecake
Compressed Blueberry Muffin, Lemon Ice Cream and Puff Pastry “Arlette”

I love cheesecake and I loved this cheesecake! It was not too sweet, but the flavors were rich.

Box of assorted chocolates

Box of assorted chocolates

Box of assorted chocolates

Box of assorted chocolates

Mignardises Donut holes, caramels, and chocolate covered macadamia nuts

Mignardises
Donut holes, caramels, and chocolate covered macadamia nuts

The donut holes and caramels were good, but were nothing particularly phenomenal to me. The chocolate macadamia nuts were addicting, although I was stuffed. (I secretly wanted to take the macadamia nuts to-go…)

Mignardises Cappuccino/chocolate ice cream

Mignardises
Cappuccino/chocolate ice cream

Mignardises Cappuccino/chocolate ice cream

Mignardises
Cappuccino/chocolate ice cream

The cappuccino/chocolate ice cream was a pleasant surprise and one of my favorite desserts. At first, I thought it was nice they served some coffee to counter my food coma until I dipped my spoon all the way down to realize it was not liquid. It was ice cream! Even better! This was absolutely delicious, and again not overly sweet.

Tin of sugar cookies for you to take home

Tin of sugar cookies for you to take home

Tin of sugar cookies for you to take home

Tin of sugar cookies for you to take home

I ate these a few days later and were still delicious. The quality tin boxes are a cute souvenir for this gourmet experience.

Dining at the French Laundry was a dream come true and it met my expectations. I look forward to dining there again in the future to try Thomas Keller’s innovations on various seasonal ingredients.

The French Laundry www.frenchlaundry.com

Rated three Michelin stars and the San Pellegrino list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants

Address: 6640 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599 Phone: (707) 944-2380