I am a pretty lucky 14 year old. As my Middle School graduation present I had lunch with my mom at the French Laundry. Pretty typical present for a 8th grader!
About a month ago when I knew about our trip to San Francisco, I began calling the French Laundry about the possibility of a reservation. Of course I had not followed the procedure of calling 2 months to the date therefore I had little hope. However I kept calling, checking open table, and had my mom’s name on the wait list. Then the day before we left for San Francisco I called and was told they had an 11:15 reservation. I couldn’t say yes fast enough!
The Restaurant’s Gardens
Me at the sign
Mom and I at the famous blue door
We drove up to Napa this morning and made it to Yountville about 30 minutes prior to the reservation. We walked around the restaurant’s gardens and then entered the restaurant about 10 minutes before our reservation and we were immediately seated and thus the food marathon began…
We began with two canapes. The first were gruyere filled brioche and salmon tartare cones. The brioche had just come out of the oven and the gruyere was warm and melted, It was a delicious start to an incredible meal. This was followed by the salmon tartare cones. These are filled with a chive creme fraishe. The sweetness of the tuile cone with the savory tartare was great!
Our next course was what may be Chef Keller’s most famous dish “Oysters and Pearls”: “Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar. I may make people mad but I have to be honest this was my least favorite dish. While I loved the sabayon. I found the oysters to be fishy. Just my opinion.
Next we had another signature dish Hen Egg Custard with a Ragout of Perigord Truffles. After the last course things turned around dramatically, as this was actually my favorite dish however that is a veryyy close first. The custard is one of the most rich things I have ever eaten though at the same time it was light and airy. The chive crisp is a perfect vessel for the custard as well.
Another interesting thing about The French Laundry is that they bring bread mid meal. I had a brioche roll and I can’t remember what the other was. The bread was served with two butters, one from vermont that was salted and an unsalted from California. These butters were so good my mom and I felt bad about not finishing it but we had to restrain a little 🙂
This was a Salad of Heirloom Beets Royal Blenheim Apricot, Marcona Almond, “Ficoide Glaciale” and Dijon Mustard. I will admit that I have never liked beets however the beets in this salad did change my mind. The flavors of the salad all went well together and I truly liked it, but it didn’t blow my mind.
The next course was a Sauteed Fillet of Atlantic Striped Bass Baby Bok Choy, AKita Komachi Rice, Bonito Marinated Grapefruit, Cashews, and Caramelized Garlic Jus. I honestly am not a bass fan but this dish was truly delicious. I loved the crispy crust and the savory jus. Overall far better than expected!
Sorry about the size. This was Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster “Fricasse” Marble Potatoes, Nantes Carrots, Arrowleaf Spinach and “bordelaise d’ Homard” The lobster was so delicious and the potatoes were crispy and awesome.
This course of Four Story Hill Farm ” Poularde” Hobbs’ Bacon, Morel Mushrooms, Bing Cherries and Watercress was definitely my favorite meat course. The chicken was highly flavored and then wrapped in bacon…how bad could it be! Though all the meat courses were great!
Our next course was Elysian Field Farm Lamb Summer Pole Beans, Eggplant, Toybox Tomatoes and Frisee. The lamb was surrounded by a supple layer of fat which clearly imparted richness. The bean salad beneath complemented the meat beautifully.
The cheese course was “Landaff” Brentwood Cornbread, Silverado Trail Strawberries and Young Fennel. The cheese course was surprisingly one of my favorite course. The cheese went well with the sweet crispy cornbread. I also had white strawberries… who knew there was such a thing? By this point in the meal we are already stuffed and dessert hasn’t even started!
After our cheese course we were offered coffee. Even the coffee was amazing. It could just be a mental think but I am pretty sure it was that good.
This was our palate cleansing course. It was Persian Lime Sorbet Chilled Summer Sangria, Lychee and Opal Basil. This was a very nice light sorbet to transition from savory to sweet. It was also fun since they came to the table and poured the sangria over the sorbet.
Now we are stuffed but know we still have to dessert to go. When our waitress informs us the kitchen has sent another gift from the kitchen, White Chocolate Panna Cotta Strawberry Sorbet, Gingerbread Tuile, Fresh Berries. As much as I wanted to lick the bowl clean, I knew I still had more to go…
I had actually made it to dessert. For dessert we had two options. I chose “Marjolaine”Praline Mousse, “Dacquoise” and Banana Sherbet. This dessert was very good and I found it incredible how everything on the plate had an airy texture I didn’t expect. While I enjoyed this, I preferred the panna cotta and my mothers dessert.
This is my mom and her dessert, Cream Cheese “Bavarois” Tupelo Honey “Granite”, Yellow Peaches and Black Pepper “Aigre-Doux”. I loved this dessert! It was like a cheescake but very refreshing and fruity.
After our dessert began the Mignardises Service. This began with their signature coffee and doughnuts. This is doughnut holes with cinnamon sugar and a cappuccino semifreddo with foam on top. This was truly as good as they say. But unfortunately I was just too full to eat it all.
They next brought out chocolate covered macadamia nuts. I don’t know where I fit them but I did and they were incredible. They were one of those things that you didn’t expect to amaze you but did. We couldn’t finish them all, so they bagged them up for us.
A happy and full me!
Rather than eating our chocolates when the bill came we had them bagged up along with our macadamia nuts. We were also given shortbread cookies and our menus to go.
This is a picture I snapped on our kitchen tour. Chef Hollingsworth is in the background. The kitchen is far from the loud yelling and bustling noise you would expect. Evryone knows what to do and it is very meticulous.
As If this meal could get any better…I got a tour of the kitchen!
This is a photo of the monitor which shows per se, the New York version of The French Laundry. Also above the door is the definition of finesse which I thought was awesome.
This meal was simply perfect. The food could not have been better. The staff was like watching an orchestra. When I went to the bathroom I would come back to a freshly folded napkin and when saying our glasses were never half empty is an understatement. The small details really did make the difference.
I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to eat at such an amazing restaurant. It is truly an experience I will never forget.