Last Friday was the start to what continues to be an epic adventure of friends, food, and adventure. Our primary destination for this past weekend – The French Laundry. Some of you requested me to share my experience, so let me put on my food blogger hat and away we go…
The French Laundry – A Bucket List Experience
If you happen to love food as much as we do, you may have already heard of the French Laundry, a famous dining destination by restaurateur and celebrity chef, Thomas Keller.
The French Laundry has been consistently rated as one of the top restaurants in the world and earned a rare 3-stars in 2007 by the renowned Michelin guide.
How rare is it to earn 3-stars? Well, there have only been 14 restaurants in the entire U.S. to earn this laurel in the past 11 years!
Reservations – A Little Luck Required!
As you may imagine, reservations are rather hard to come by. In fact, they are near impossible. To further put things into perspective, consider that I first promised my wife a trip here nearly a decade ago! You see, they only have a select number of spots in the restaurant each day and securing a reservation is like trying to win the lottery.
In order to get through, you would have to call exactly at the right time and be super persistent. After 300+ calls, one of my friends finally got through and booked our reservations on the spot… exactly one month from that date.
If you don’t have time to call repeatedly, try to use your credit card concierge program (eg. Amex Platinum, or Chase Sapphire Reserve, etc.). You’ll need to check with your individual card to see if that’s a perk available to you.
The good news, however, is that this time-tested system has just been updated this week! It’s now an online system that you can find on their website. Apparently, they are changing it up and will be allowing you to pre-purchase “tickets” for your meal. Perhaps with this change, it will make things a bit easier to snag a spot. I guess time will tell!
Okay, so let’s get to the meal. Dining is a set pre-fix menu. This means that dishes are decided by the chef ahead of time for you.
There are only 2 seatings per day – a lunch and dinner service. The cost for either service is the same, so we chose lunch (or rather, lunch chose us!).
How Much Does it Cost?
Okay, brace yourself…
The cost is $310/person (including service). However, there are additional supplements you can choose (eg. wagyu beef), as well as an extensive wine menu which most partake in.
Yes, I know. $310 for a single meal is a bit over the top for most. And, you’ll need to view this dining as an experience other than just a time to consume food. It’s also 3-hours, so it’s kind of like a rock concert, but for food!
Here is a copy of the menu describing each course.
Okay, so I won’t go through every menu item since you can read, but I’ll highlight some my favorites (photographed with my iPhone 7.)
The amuse bouche was a smoked salmon cone with a soft cheese inside.
This was the wine that my friends had – a 2014 Paul Hobbs Pinot – $250
Recall that I don’t drink, so I can’t really comment on the wine. However, my friends seemed to enjoy it a lot! 🙂
This dish, called Oysters & Pearls was delicious!! I may need to come back just for this one.
A very unique and buttery croissant.
Lobster with a truffle emulsion – to die for! This was one of my favorites for sure.
My wife got the wagyu beef supplement which was an additional $100. (FYI, they did provide a generous portion.)
As much as I love beef, I’ve decided that wagyu is just too fatty for me. I’d prefer a hearty grass-fed steak from the midwest.
There were probably upwards of 7 desserts! But check out this rhubarb dessert plate. I love that is was so unique and it wasn’t overly sweet.
Handcrafted chocolate domes!
I selected the Toasted Coconut & the PB&J. Both were fabulous.
Before we left, I asked for a quick tour of the restaurant.
This is the kitchen where all the magic happens!
Okay, let’s not sugar coat this. Our meal cost us a small fortune… about $400/per person after all supplements, etc.
But, was it worth it?
The service and food were impeccable. And, my wife and I were able to share a bucket list experience with 4 of our really good friends from college.
Having said that, I’m not planning another one of these in a really long time… whatever that means. 😉
Readers, would you ever dine somewhere like the French Laundry? If not, do you have some guilty pleasures that you splurge disproportionately on?