We were seated in the main dining room which only had about five tables.
Wine pairing is an additional $250. Yes, that's the same price as the food menu. Pricey, but the wine selections were stellar.
These two amuse bouches are signature TFL dishes. The cornets were made with tuile batter so they were brittle and buttery.
Bread selection included brioche, baguette, multi grain and pretzel roll, served with both salted and unsalted butter. Besides the pretzel roll which was my favorite, I was a bit underwhelmed by the bread. Considering that it's baked daily by famed sister establishment Bouchon Bakery, I was expecting soft, buttery bread. These weren't bad per se, they were just very ordinary. Definitely did not hold a candle to the exceptional breadcart at Joel Robuchon at The Mansion. I'm still drooling over that.
The quenelle of caviar was a rather sizable serving. I loved the saltiness of the caviar against the very mild flavoring of the panna cotta. In fact, I could barely taste a hint of cauliflower, but that wasn't an issue since the caviar was the star of the plate.
All four of us opted for the foie gras. We had to, the other choice for the second course was a salad of potatoes. I like this preparation of foie gras, it's simple. All you need is some salt and brioche. The presentation was lovely with the vibrant colors of the yam and cranberries. Coupled with the buttery gingerbread crust, this dish really reminded me of the holidays.
The foie gras was served with a selection of salt.
Lopez de Heredia, "Vina Gravonia", Blanco, Rioja 2000
I've heard good things about Keller's traditional boudin blanc at Bouchon so I was intrigued by this interpretation. The boudin was tender and smooth. It tasted like a lean, veal sausage.
Maison Leroy, Bourgogne Blanc, Burgundy 2002
The fish itself was a little bland but paired well with the fragrant and salty broth. The accoutrement really elevated the dish. The chorizo chunks were intensely flavored and the peppers added a smokiness to the broth.
Copain, Roussanne, "James Berry Vineyard", Paso Robles, 2008
I really enjoyed the caramelization of the scallop, although I thought mine was a slight bit overcooked. The mushroom duxelles was meaty and flavorful. My favorite part of the dish was the swiss chard subric. It's basically a fried cube of swiss chard that had a nice crust and very concentrated flavors in the cube.
The French Laundry also offered a supplemental Truffle menu with a few options.
This was the most amount of shaved truffles I've ever seen. The homemade pasta was coated with butter and cream, and completely overwhelmed by the woodsy truffle. The pasta was good, but was it worth an additional $150? Probably not.
Robert Chevillon, Nuits-Saint-Georges, "Les Roncieres", 1er Cru, Burgundy 2005
Marques de Murrieta, "Castillo Ygay", Gran Reserva Especial, Rioja 2001
I don't like cheese but surprisingly, this was one of my top dishes. I thought the choice of cheese was splendid. The Cheddar was sharp and worked well with all the other components on the plate. There were both chunks and shaved pieces of chestnut, coupled with flavorful braised cabbage.
Brooklyn Brewery, Blue Aprin Ale
The cheese was paired with an ale that is only available at TFL and sister restaurant, Per Se in New York.
The apple pie had a deep fried breading which was remniscient of the McDonald's fried apple pie that you can find at some outlets (unofrtunately not in Los Angeles). It was a sweet and tart flavor combination which was almost like a palate cleanser before the next dessert dishes.
This option was actually from the vegetarian menu but when I saw it, I asked to substitute the apple dessert for this. I'm a financier whore. Unfortunately, the financier was hard as a rock. It was not the soft, spongy buttery tea cake I was hoping for. I did like the peanuts which added a crunch and almost tasted like a brittle.
Alvear, Pedro Ximenez, "Solera 1927", Montilla-Moriles
The peanut butter and chocolate sphere was sweet, creamy ad rich. Unfortunately the banana sorbet had a very odd concentrated flavor.
I enjoyed the fresh, juicy sweet fig which was caramelized, and the tart lemon curd. The ice cream however was rather bitter. Overall, I didn't think any of the desserts were memorable.
This was served with our coffee. I couldn't stop popping this into my mouth so thankfully, there were many nuts in the bowl. These are offered for sale at Bouchon Bakery.
My favorite was the praline that tasted like a ferrera rocher.
Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed with any of the desserts in the Tasting Menu but I really enjoyed this mini cheesecake with buttery crust. It was simple but hit the spot.
So what was my verdict? I struggled with this post a little. I thought this was a once in a lifetime experience and felt really fortunate to have secured a reservation. I really enjoyed my meal, but if I closed my eyes, I wouldn't have been able to tell that I was eating at The French Laundry. I've heard amazing things about their service, but I wasn't blown away by it. One of the servers was curt and looked irritated, our main waitress skirted the issue on whether service is included in the alcohol pairing price of $250 (it's included in the food menu pricing). She just sounded vague, saying that it was and was not. After many glasses of wine, we just wanted a simple, direct answer. We also had to constantly ask for bread service. But I do have to note that water glasses were filled regularly, and a few of the servers were friendly. Although the food was mostly well executed and the wine pairing was exceptional, I didn't think the presentation lived up to the pictures on the website. Also, the website mentioned that they wanted us to feel a sense of surprise with every bite, as if we had tasted something we've never experienced before. Except for the swiss chard subric, I didn't find anything else to be unique and innovative. Perhaps I walked in with too high of expectations, which even TFL would have trouble delivering. Yes, I thought the food was solid and prepared well, but I guess wouldn't consider it the "best meal of my life". That title, I'd have to save for Joel Robuchon at The Mansion.
Hits: poularde, caviar, mignardises
Misses: desserts, pricey, tough to get a reservation
The French Laundry
6640 Washington St.,
Yountville, CA 94599