Saturday, March 15, 2008

The long-awaited dinner at The French Laundry

Commentary by Alex:

It has taken me 9 years to come back to the French Laundry, this time, with my wife. My first meal there was a lunch with a buddy of mine in October of 1999. With the weekend planned staying at Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma, we were in for a good start.

This was my belated birthday dinner from my wife. Our reservation was at 5:30pm on a Saturday–almost too early to eat…but what the hell, it’s the French Laundry!

We got all dolled up and just like anyone visiting the French Laundry, we took a picture before entering the dining room. We were seated on the main floor, by the window, over looking the garden that is also owned by Chef Thomas Keller.

Liz received her glass of bubbly and I got mine too…but sans the alcohol (organic apple cider), which was quite tasty! We both ordered the tasting menu, Liz informed the waiter of her allergies and dislikes. Right on the spot, our waiter was able to go through 9 courses to mix and match to her taste. The professionalism was noticed throughout the dining room. The food runner came with the famous amuse bouche (smoked salmon with crème fraiche in a sesame cone) and he was gleaming with pride. As expected, it was finished in 2 bites and our tastes buds were stimulated.

As the courses progressed, you see Chef Keller bombard his clients with the best of the best ingredients i.e. organic extra virgin olive oil, thousand-year-old sea salt, European butter etc. He also used his own line of china.

The whole meal experience was great, but I did find some flaws in some of the courses. Some courses needed a little bit more salt, a touch of acid etc. Compared to the meal I had back in 1999, it did not stand up to it. Maybe it is because I was young and naïve and now my palette has changed. I have been their public ambassador for the past 9 years until today. Is this meal in 2008 one of my top 5 meals? I don’t think so. We have dined at many 3-star establishments in France since then. But it was worth every penny for Liz as it was her first experience at the French Laundry.

French Laundry dining room

Thomas Keller's famous amuse bouche—
smoked salmon with crème fraiche in a sesame cone

Oysters and pearls


Anonymous said...

well....we keep waiting for the review from Alex....

Esther & Chris

Liz said...'s coming, Ester, it's coming...I promise!

To tide you over, I've added some photos!