Friday, October 24, 2008

Dinner at The French Laundry, Yountville, CA

Giao had been to the French Laundry a couple times before, and we've been to Per Se together, but Alexis had yet to experience the French Laundry, so this was her first time. Perhaps this wasn't the most economical restaurant choice for a recession, but if the economy gets any worse, perhaps all the nice restaurants will go out of business, so, we thought we'd better go now. Also, in 3 months our baby will be born, so we figured we don't really have a lot of time left to drive up to Napa without extensive childcare preparation. The tasting menu was $240 per person and Giao opted for the $30 supplement for the foie gras as well as a glass of Sauterne to go with it. Alexis was offered a selection of house made sodas and opted for the meyer lemon soda. The sodas were free of charge, when we got the bill.

While the French Laundry is certainly an experience worth having, we did find the menu to be rather tame. Per Se was much more interesting. Also, there are places of the same caliber in the city (like Coi and The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton) that are cheaper and have more dynamic menus. None of this is to say that the meal was not amazing, but having experienced it, I no longer hold the French Laundry on the pedastle that I once did.

Cheesy Gougere
A nice, tasty way to start the meal. Perfectly executed.

Salmon Tartare and Artichoke Coronettes with Creme Fraiche
This is a classic Keller dish and because I can't eat raw fish right now, due to the pregnancy, I was given an equally tasty artichoke version.

Oysters and Pearls
This is a signature dish at the French Laundry. Giao found it to be totally amazing. Oysters and caviar are very decadent.

Radish, Cauliflower and Radish Salad
A subtle, pleasant beginning to a meal. The super-thin slices of the veggies were also beautiful.

Foie Gras Terrine with Quince Relish, Frisee and Spice Bread Puree
The only time we had ever previously seen a bread puree was at Alinea in Chicago. In this preparation, it worked very well as a sauce.

Brioche (served with the foie gras)

3 Types of Salt (served with the foie gras)

Hearts of Peach Palm Salad with Cucumber, Radish and Yuzu-Apple Coulis

Tuna Tartare with Charred Persimmons and Chestnut Puree
A beautiful dish whose flavors melded together beautifully.

Kahala Filet, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Broccolini, Lily Bulbs and Ginger Emulsion
The fish was perfectly cooked and the simple flavors of each element created an oddly cohesive dish.

Lobster Tail with Melted Leeks and Beet Sauce
The butter poached lobster was perfectly cooked and very sweet. The sweetness of the beets really complemented the lobster in an unexpected pairing. The leeks provided a nice savory element. This was probably our favorite dish of the night.

Rabbit with Onions, Carrots, Artichoke Puree and Dijon Sauce
The rabbit was tender and not at all gamey. The artichoke puree was so amazingly smooth and really went well with the rabbit.

Lamb with Black Rice, Cauliflower, Golden Raisins, Cilantro Shoots and Curry Sauce
The curry was subtle and let the tender lamb shine. Usually I'm not a fan of fruit with meat, but this was not at all offensive. Black rice is always a nutty, earthy surprise.

Tomme de Berger Cheese with Beans, Chorizo, Piquillo Peppers and Arugula
This was a tasty dish, for sure, but the accompaniments did seem a bit superfluous.

French Toast with Buttermilk Sorbet and Huckleberry Sauce
The buttermilk sorbet was tangy and delicious and I wish it were served without the french toast and with more of the awesome huckleberry sauce.

Sesame Seed and Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Tahini Ganache and Shiso Sorbet
The shiso sorbet was unexpectedly delicious and really rounded out the strong chocolate flavors.

Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts
Decadent in every way.

A variety of petit-fours, above and below. Some hits, some misses, but lots of variety.

More petit-fours...

Food: 3
Decor: 2
Service: 3

The French Laundry

6640 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599

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