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Rosie

The French Laundry 2001 - 2005

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After I sold my  first born to get a reservation we dined at The French Laundry last spring. It was certainly worth it as our 4 hour 13 plus course dinner was memorable and consisted of many tastes, textures and smells. Oysters and pearls, baby rabbit and the ice cream cone filled with creme fraiche and smoked salmon come to mind. Have you eaten there? Would you go back?


Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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Thomas Keller and The french Laundary were the subject of a recent article cover feature in the UK trade magazine Caterer and Hotelkeeper which you can read online here The'>http://www.caterer.com/archive.....

The

basic premis was that six UK chefs went to check out The French Laundary on the basis that it is considered by some to be the best restaurant in the world. It's an interesting article and the response is generally very enthusiastic from the chefs.  

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Rosie, My experiences at the French Laundry have been very positive. The food is carefully prepared and intelligently constructed. I also like the underlying humour.

I would rank it the equal of Tetsuyas in Sydney and only slightly behind Ducasse in Paris and Monte Carlo. (I haven't eaten at Ducasse in New York so can't comment.)


Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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If you liked the oysters/tapioca concoction, then it's probably great for you (as it is for most of the world).  I found the textures to similar from dish to dish, and on the food somewhat bland.  I started adding black pepper around the 4th course.

Only been there once, and want to go back to try it.  I've found Fleur de Lys in SF to be consitstently superb.  They offer a vegetarian tasting menu that sends vegetarians into orbit, and will serve a different tasting menu to others at the table.  In fact, I get a seafood menu, my wife goes veggie, and there are often two carnivores with us, and we're all in ecstasy.


beachfan

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Here are my comments on a meal at French Laundry, in 1999, shortly after I had dined at Charlie Trotter's. I'll actually include my comments on both places, for comparison.

+++

CHARLIE TROTTER'S

To enjoy a meal at Charlie Trotter's you need to give yourself over

completely to the dining experience. Anything less and you'll just find the

restaurant annoying.

It helps to know a few things before you dine at Charlie Trotter's: First,

dinner (the only meal served) is exactly 贄 per person (exclusive of wine,

tax, tip, parking etc.). This entitles you to one of three printed tasting

menus (even the vegetarian menu is 贄). Second, what you read on the

tasting menu is only a loose approximation of what you'll be served. By that

I don't mean that the descriptions of the dishes are vague, but, rather,

that the kitchen does a lot of improvising--"Cooking in the moment," as they

call it in new-age Charlie-Trotter's-speak. So where you thought you might

be getting venison, you might get Wagyu beef instead--or in addition. Third,

a team of experts is constantly (and unobtrusively, for the most part)

monitoring your actions (including your returned plates) in order to

optimize your dining experience. If you're eating well, food will keep

coming. If you express likes and dislikes (implicitly or explicitly) the

kitchen will try to work within those parameters. Instead of asking, "Is

everything okay?" the waiters at Charlie Trotter's serenely ask, "Are you

comfortable?" "How are those flavors for you?" and "How are you feeling?"

The more information you offer-up in response to these queries, the more

excited they get. It's really quite an odd way to eat (I think this accounts

for the mixed reviews I've heard and read regarding Charlie Trotter's),

albeit a tremendously satisfying one.

You may feel the need for deprogramming after your meal, but your meal will

be a great one. The food is fabulous, and there's plenty of it. The two most

memorable dishes (each a collection of dishes, actually) from our dinner

were the "amuse bouche" and the dessert platter (both pictured above). The

amuse was four separate exquisite little dishes served on a checkerboard of

square white plates, the best of which was a "Napoleon" of marinated hamachi

with shallot creme fraiche and Osetra caviar (yes, there are many Asian

influences at Charlie Trotter's). A platter of nine small desserts (served

on a remarkably hideous multi-colored plate)--every one of them

excellent--was the great last-chapter that every world-class restaurant

should write. Particularly noteworthy were the Fuji apple crisp with white

pepper ice cream, the rice pudding and the yuzu pudding cake with

citrus--not to mention the pre-dessert of creme-fraiche and chocolate sorbet

with red-wine-marinated berries . . . and the pre-pre-dessert of Alsatian

Muenster cheese almost-melted over fruits, nuts and fingerling potatoes. Of

the intermediate courses, the fish were the most impressive, both because

they take well to the Asian seasonings and because they are cooked

flawlessly, and I'd love to return (after a sufficient period of

psychological recovery) to try the vegetarian menu because the kitchen has a

magic touch with asparagus, mushrooms and the like.

Ask for a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar. If it's late enough (i.e.,

not in the middle of the dinner rush), you'll likely be accommodated. It's a

small but beautiful kitchen, complete with custom-designed Bonnet stoves and

transparent-door cabinetry, and the wine cellar (three cellars, actually)

contains some incredible old bottles--including a vertical of Mouton (with

all the artists' labels). There's also a demonstration kitchen (where

Charlie Trotter films his PBS shows) with an attached a private dining room

(it looks to seat about 20), and you can dine at the chef's table (in the

kitchen) with a group of four to six people (this table books six months in

advance, to the day).

+++

FRENCH LAUNDRY

The drive from Cave Junction, Oregon to Yountville, California took all of

eight hours (we could have done it in seven and a half, but we were taking

the scenic route). It was a beautiful drive along the coast, but, having

already seen about a million miles of jagged coastline on our previous day's

drive, I yearned for a straight, boring interstate highway. We arrived at

our destination, the world-renowned French Laundry in California's Napa

region, at the stroke of 8:30pm (that's the time our reservation was for--we

would have been early had our plans not been foiled by the very slow Napa

wine train crossing the road at the worst possible moment), unbathed (as

you'll recall we had camped at a fairly primitive campground the night

before) and looking almost as disheveled as the wealthy Californians already

dining there (we had changed clothes half in and half out of the car in the

parking-lot of a nearby semi-abandoned gas-station, which gave us an

authentic version of the grimy/rumpled look that many of the other French

Laundry customers had tried to achieve through artificial means).

I'm trying to think of one word to describe our meal at French Laundry.

"Perfect," that much-overused restaurant-reviewing adjective, comes to mind

because the food was flawless in every regard. "Sublime," also from the

official restaurant-reviewer's not-so-secret thesaurus, is another contender

primarily on account of the restaurant's physical setting (which is the

closest approximation of a Michelin three-star restaurant in the French

countryside that I've seen in America--I recommend sitting in the magical

outdoor garden, even though it is considered by most to be the "B" seating

area). Or perhaps "superlative," because in terms of the technical aspects

of food preparation (execution, ingredients, presentation, etc.) the French

Laundry is probably one of the best--if not the best--restaurants I've

visited.

But I guess if I had to choose just one word to sum up my impressions of the

French Laundry I'd choose "boring." Other than the ambience and my

admiration for the precision of the line-cooks there was little there to

hold my interest. If that's enough for you, by all means proceed to the

French Laundry--you'll love it (no other restaurant has received more rave

write-ins than this one). But if you believe that good execution and a nice

garden aren't enough to justify a 跌 (with the cheapest wine) tab, you can

probably do better elsewhere. Certainly, if you've dined in a bunch of other

top restaurants, you've seen all these tricks before: The tidy little stack

of ingredients (every dish looks like a "Napoleon") in the center of the big

white plate. Lightly seared or roasted this-or-that on a bed of

brightly-colored vegetables with something-or-other emulsion. The baby

chocolate soufflé/cake for dessert.

Service is good enough. The maitre d' and sommelier are serious pros, and

any restaurant would be lucky to have them, but they're backed-up by a very

young waitstaff. I'm sure some people would characterize our waiter as

pretentious, although I'm willing to be a bit more charitable and just say

that he didn't know as much as he thought he did. The wine list is strong

(unusually deep in French wines for a California wine-country

restaurant--I'm surprised the local wine producers haven't put out a hit on

the sommelier) and priced at the appropriate luxury-restaurant level.

Many of the good things about French Laundry (great ingredients, clear

flavors, simple presentations) reminded me of New York's Gramercy Tavern, so

it was no surprise to learn that Gramercy's Tom Colicchio and French

Laundry's Thomas Keller worked together sometime during restaurant

pre-history. But there's more to Colicchio's cooking that just that--there's

a spark that I felt was notably absent from every one of Keller's dishes.

And so, even though the Gramercy kitchen is not without its flaws

(inevitable in a restaurant doing so many covers per night), I'd much rather

run through a Gramercy tasting menu (priced at ๛, including Manhattan

rent--ฤ less than a menu at French Laundry that includes far less food but

perhaps a few more luxury ingredients) any day. And, without a doubt, given

the choice between returning to French Laundry or Charlie Trotter's (see

previous entry dated June 9, 1999) I'd choose Charlie Trotter's because,

despite some imperfections, I found it far more stimulating.

+++


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Hi everybody, new here.

   Just a note Thomas Keller just won the World Master of Culinary Arts 2002  in Paris on May 17.

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A long discussion re Thomas Keller is on the UK board under "Oysters and Pearls."

I have weighed in so many times on the French Laundry that I won't go into a lengthy discussion again and bore everyone. For me, I think it is one of the finest restaurants in the States. We are having dinner there next Thursday and Friday night. Thomas will serve over 20 different dishes each night (He will often do two different preparations, using the same ingredient). That is a total of 40 different presentations.

I will keep notes and report back.

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And I'll add these tasting notes from my meal there in 1999

---------------------------------------------------------

We had a 7:15 dinner reservation at The French Laundry. I had eaten there in December 1997 and although I had a good meal, I didn't think it was the best restaurant in the U.S. as many believe. I was looking forward to try it again. The wife of the other couple we were with is an attorney who does work for a few wineries in Napa, hence the VIP tour at Opus. She also represents a 3 star restaurant in NY so when we walked into the Laundry, the Maitre d' told us that the chef of this 3 star restaurant just called and told them to take good care of us. a We were off to good start.

This was supposed to be a birthday dinner. We were celebrating their 40th birthday with this trip, and they were celebrating my 45th birthday by treating me to this dinner. Pretty festive eh?. In the springtime in anticipation of this dinner, I had purchased 2 bottles of 1959 Latour at auction from Morrell & Co. I had also split a case of 1983 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet (the year I got married) with a friend which I had bought at Christie's in London last June. In order to give the wines some time to get over bottle shock, I had shipped them out to Napa the week before along with a bottle of 1900 Malavazia Madeira. All three bottles were so perfect, they looked as if they just came from the winery. Perfect labels, everything. I was psyched.

When they seated us the maitre d' told us that the chef would like to prepare a selection of canapes before serving us a tasting menu. The men were to get a selection of dishes, the women another. Who were we to argue. In anticipation of a foie gras course and wine for dessert, we ordered a bottle of 1983 Doisy Daenes Barsac. As this was sheer gluttony at its best, I'm going to just list the courses and I will have a bit about them afterwards:

Salmon Tartar Cornets which were ice cream like cones

filled with herbed creme fraiche and topped with

salmon tartar.

Sunchoke soup with sage and thyme oils

Tomato sorbet, yellow and red

Cornmeal pancakes/ Tomato Tartar

Tapioca pudding and oysters topped with caviar/ Panna Cotta of Cauliflower topped with caviar

Rissotto with White Truffles

Crispy Dorade on a bed of juliened veggies and olives

Lobster on soft polenta in a grape juice reduction

Terrine of Foie Gras with Pumpkin Tart Tartin

Veal Filet with minced summer truffles

Latour cheese with pears that were poached in white

wine and candied walnuts

Grape sorbet

Dark Chocolate brownie served atop a sliced pear with

pear sorbet atop.

I have one thing to say. By the end of the meal we were exploding. We kept saying that they must have a joke in the kitchen. "Let's feed them until they beg us to stop."

In particular I can rave about the following dishes. The tomato sorbet was just fantastic. The most intense flavor of tomato I've ever had. It came out in a scoop like ice cream. My wife raved about the Oysters & Pearls (tapioca and oysters) and my Panna Cotta of Cauliflower w caviar was oh so memorable. SFJoe, the lobster and polenta w grape juice made me think of you. It was such an odd combo :~), yet so delicious.

Those 3 were the most unusual. The risotto and foie gras while delicious were a bit more traditional and not as earth shattering. Now the wines.

I don't think I've been at a meal where the wines delivered what they were expectd to. Usually you get an off bottle, poor storage, corked, etc. Too many variables for perfection but I guess if you ever were to have them be perfect, this was the night.

The '83 Leflaive was slightly golden. It was thick and mature tasting. Refined would be an understatment, as would long. It was as distinguished a white wine that I've ever had. At the peak of its drinking plateau, maybe a tiny hair past. One of the best examples of chardonnay that I've ever had. 95 pts. This wine went like water. I was smart and saved a 1/4 glass for the lobster course. The others had less self control and we had to order a half bottle of 1996 Francis Jobard Meursault en la Barre. It tasted like orange juice after the Leflaive.

Tha Latour was from another dimension. It had absolutely zero brick at the edge. The wine looked as good as the bottle, brand new. Even the sommelier after he decanted the wine came over to me and asked me where I got the bottle. He'd never seen 40 year old wine that looked this young. The wine tasted young as well. '59 is more acidic than the '61 Latour and this wine was true to form. Just so overwhelmingly powerful. I can still taste the finish. 99 pts.

We didn't fare as well with the '83 Doisy Daene. I found it a bit dry for my palate. Could it be tannic? Is the wine closed? It was good but not the moderate blockbuster I was hoping for. 90 pts but might improve.

All in all, a great meal and a great birthday for all.

I know there are many people who call this the greatest French restaurant in the U.S. Well I didn't find the place to be very French at all. I thought it quite American, especially his use of grape juice in a number of dishes. Whatever, it's a great place. A+ for The French Laundry.

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Steven S, I've not been to the French Laundry (though I've often been taken to the cleaners), but I read your write-up with a spontaneous empathy which I couldn't possibly defend. Did the gents' have solid gold urinals?  :biggrin:


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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John, by Relais Gourmand standards, it's not particularly a posh place. I don't remember the men's room however. We were there in the fall of 98. I too remember the intensity of the tomato sorbet and my wife remembers the oysters and pearls. I don't remember if they were served at the same time, but she and I got separate dishes from the kitchen.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Shaw, aside from nailing the native privileged Napa style when you described yourself as having "an authentic version of the grimy/rumpled look," I think for me, the most telling comment was "Certainly, if you've dined in a bunch of other top restaurants, you've seen all these tricks before: The tidy little stack of ingredients (every dish looks like a "Napoleon") in the center of the big white plate. Lightly seared or roasted this-or-that on a bed of brightly-colored vegetables with something-or-other emulsion. The baby chocolate soufflé/cake for dessert."

I'd add everything circular or square.

My wife staged in the French Laundry kitchen last Summer (2001) when I had to be in Napa on other business.  She was blown away by the consummate level of respect, calm yet efficient manner and supreme professionalism which pervaded every aspect of the back of the house--and which manifested itself on every plating and presentation. (She has also worked in Michel Richard's Citronelle (DC) kitchen, Roland Mesnier's White House kitchen and Jacque Torres's Le Cirque 2000 kitchen.)

The group of "fairly significant" chefs I was with took several meals at The French Laundry--several had dined previously at the restaurant prior to this trip.  Their collective assessment--it was a superb meal but there's no reason to go back.  The level elsewhere around the country had been raised to such a degree that the Laundry wasn't so special anymore.  For them, there was little to "rave about," merely good dishes.

Shaw and Steve P--when you were there, you guys also had a different pastry chef.  To Thomas Keller's credit, when he brought in a new pastry chef (French this time, not home-grown) he allowed Sebastien (from New York's Lutece) to develop his own desserts and petits fours and use his own recipes--only requiring that Sebastian retain a few signature items--like the coffee and donuts, which Sebastian proceeded to tweak and improve anyway.

And Lizziee--I'm excited to hear your even more recent report.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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My wife staged in the French Laundry kitchen last Summer (2001) when I had to be in Napa on other business.  She was blown away by the consummate level of respect, calm yet efficient manner and supreme professionalism which pervaded every aspect of the back of the house--and which manifested itself on every plating and presentation.

This is the thing I always think of about The French Laundry. I think I'd prefer to stage there than eat there. :wink:


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Steve Klc - What makes the French Laundry unique (at least at my visit) was that Keller did alot of work with an American palate of flavors that he applied 3 star technique to. The three dishes I raised, tomato tartar and cornmeal cake, oysters and pearls, and lobster, polenta and grape juice are completely unique flavor combinations for haute cuisine. And then creations like the salmon tartar ice cream cones and the coffee and donuts desert while maybe less creative flavorwise are certainly unque presentation wise. I can't think of another  chef in America who cooks that way either as a function of intended flavor or texture. To me the biggest disappointment about the place was that too many of the dishes are the same ingredients as what you get in any top place and the application of technique isn't unique enough to distinguish them. But to go to a place and have 5 unique dishes out of a 12 course tasting menu is pretty good, and not something I can think of happening anywhere else in this country other than Jean-Georges on a day when he's in the kitchen.

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My recent lunch at the FL was mildly disappointing. I doubt if I would go back. A few details. The now infamous butter poached lobster dish was served with a "bordelaise sauce" or a "new presentation for us", noted the waiter. The lobster was under-poached and the sauce completely overpowered the taste of the lobster. I should have sent it back [maybe I was intimidated :) ], but I kept trying to taste the lobster over the sauce, and with the portions being small, well, it was gone (we shared) before I could say something. Had the hearts of palm salad with a medjool date vinaigrette. Interesting combo. The date vinaigrette was delish, but the dish didnt sparkle. The rabbit loin, and mini rack were on top of a pile of diced meyer lemon and veggies, but cried out for a

sauce. Other dishes were superb though. A veal that melted in your mouth. I can still taste the dessert. Our service was not exactly four star either. An obviously unchilled half-bottle of sancerre. Our waiter disappeared for a couple courses. It was not, what I would call 4-star service. I think part of my disappointment is due to the fact that, having read Keller's book, his columns in the LA Times, and all of the press written about the FL in various food mags and newspapers, that unless you have the perfect experience, you are bound to be disappointed. I think restaurants like the FL get so mythologized in the press, that diners expectations are sometimes unrealisticly huge. Then again, I had lunch on a Sunday, and I bet Keller was not in the kitchen. But at those prices, perfection is what you deserve...

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I may be in the extreme minority group, but I found that TFL was not all that it was hyped up to be. That said, I'm glad that I tried the restaurant at least once. I think the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia far surpasses TFL as far as being the best restaurant in the world. I found TFL to be on par with Gary Danko, an excellent meal inarguably, but I wasn't as impressed as I hoped I would be.

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Why hops--what were the critical differences or deficiencies in terms of food, creativity, service, ambience, wine? Have you dined at each place once or several times? and how recently, if you recall?


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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The ambiance/decor at The French Laundry is stark minimalist.  All of the excitement comes from your plate - it is a food-focused restaurant. However, it is not a temple - the feeling is casual, friendly and warm. The service team is exceptional. A good part of the staff has been here from day one and each and every one will tell you that they love working there.

Dining at The French Laundry is an all-evening affair. We got there at 7:30 PM and ended up in our Taxi Cabernet (that's the name of the best cab company in the valley) around 1:00 am.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE MENU:

The menu is composed of a chef's tasting menu, a vegetarian menu and an a la carte menu.  Since we have been there so often we don't look at the menu or even order; we just let Thomas and the staff cook.  For us, this involves a series of about 15 courses with my husband getting one preparation and I another. We each eat half of a dish and then pass so we are actually tasting over 25 different dishes. (We call this over/under - he passes under and I go over.)

Menu Meal # 1

1. Cornets of Atlantic Salmon Tartar with red onion creme fraiche (this is a signature dish and always begins the meal.)

2. Broth served in a demitasse cup perched on a stack of 4 plates - each a bit smaller than the next.

Curry infused Broth

Langoustine Broth

3. Sorbet

Fennel sorbet with nicoise olive tapenade

Red pepper sorbet with picholine olive tapenade

What I found interesting was the placement of a sorbet dish, normally a palate cleanser, at the beginning of a meal.

4. Potato Blini

Potato blini topped with eggplant caviar, underneath roasted red pepper confit dotted with a balsamic reduction

Potato blini topped with grated botarga, underneath tomato confit

5. Caviar

Signature Dish of Oysters and Pearls - "Sabayon" of pearl tapioca with malpeque oysters and osetra caviar

Another signature dish of cauliflower panna cotta topped with osetra caviar

6. Fish

We both had what Thomas labeled "Jelly Belly" - grilled cod belly, with piquillo peppers and seaweed jelly.

7. Fish

Atlantic Salmon chop with russet potato gnocchi (in looks the salmon resembles a lamb chop and the gnocchi white beans)

Gougouettes of spotted Skate Wing with orange infused water and cilantro oil - very aromatic

8. Egg

White truffle custard with ragout of Perigord truffles with veal stock presented in a hallowed out egg

Coddled hen egg with perigord truffle beurre noisette

9. Foie Gras

We both had a terrine of Moulard Duck Foie Gras with frisee salad and grilled pain de campagia

10. Fish

Crispy skin Black Bass with Grey Morel mushrooms and red wine essence

Turbot collar with fennel and Meyer lemon beurre blanc (had a flashback taste to the turbot with Hollandaise from La Caravelle in the 1960's)

11. Lobster

Maine Lobster tail with "Ham of the Woods " mushrooms and braised fennel

"Peas and Carrots" - Butter-poached Maine Lobster with Carrot-Ginger sauce and Pea Shoot salad (each carrot in the dish was about 1/8" of an inch and "turned")

12. First Meat

Pan-roasted rabbit sirloin with Tellicherry pepper shortbread and cherry and fennel bulb relish

Duck breast with peas and glazed turnips

13. Second Meat

We both had Prime Kentucky Beef Ribeye with summer vegetables, crispy bone marrow and sauce Bordelaise

14. Cheese

Valencay with Penne Compote and Argula Salad

Fourme d'Ambert with Cherries

15. Dessert

Thomas does an entire flight of desserts, but there is no way that I can handle 4 or 5 desserts plus petit fours after this type of meal. My husband's favorite is another signature dish - Doughnuts with cappuccino semifreddo with cinnamon sugar and we usually end with this.

The wines for the evening  were

M.V. Laurent Perrier, "Grand Siecle" Champagne

'97 F. Raveneau, Chablis, "Blanchots"

2000 Knoll Gruner Veltliner Beerenauslese (with the foie gras)

'97 Querciabella "Batar" Tuscany

'99 Vernay "Challets de L'Enter" Condrieu

'99 Roumier "Bonnes Mares" Burgundy

'67 Chateau D'Yquem, Sauternes

Bobby Stuckey and Kevin Fergel, the two sommeliers are wonderful. Not only are they knowledgeable, but they are eager to steer you to those hidden gems/exceptional values. The entire staff from the food runners to Laura Cunningham, the GM are tremendous. They sincerely try to make a perfect evening.

What is also amazing about the French Laundry is that given the amount of food, each dish is not only unique, but also works as part of the whole, perfectly orchestrated meal. There is rarely a wrong note.

Now, believe it or not, the next day, we were ready at 7:30   for Meal #2. There were some repeats, but most of the dishes were new and one was created on the spot.

Menu #2

1. Cornets of Atlantic Salmon Tartar with red onion creme fraiche  (This is always the first taste)

2. Soup

cold beet and apple soup with sliced beets

cold carrot soup with a caraway mousse

3. Sorbet (this was a repeat)

Fennel sorbet with nicoise olive tapenade

Red pepper sorbet with picholine olive tapenade

4. Caviar

Oysters and Pearls (another repeat)

Pickled Point Reyes Oyster on a cappelini of English cucumber with caviar

5. Fish

We both had citrus cured whitefish with caramelized onion gelee. This was served in a reversed triangle 10" inch bowl.

6. Fish

Seafood bouillabaisse over a puree of potatoes with olive oil. This was made up on the spot. In a covered little bowl were the pureed potatoes. Our waiter then arrived with a cast iron casserole filled with the bouillabaisse. It was spooned table side over the potatoes. The fish in the bouillabaisse were Atlantic monkfish, littleneck clams and squid. An absolutely spectacular dish.

7. Egg

White truffle custard with ragout of Perigord truffles with veal stock presented in a hallowed out egg

Coddled hen egg with perigord truffle beurre noisette

8. Fish

Crispy skin bass with meyer lemon sauce and fennel bulb hash

Monkfish palard with diced serrano ham, braised Swiss chard and a whole grain mustard sauce

9. Salad

Leek salad with green almonds and summer truffles

"Waldorf Salad" with braised endive, granny smith apples, walnut vinaigrette.

10. Lobster

Boudain of lobster in a tarragon-infused brown butter sauce with caramelized fennel

"Beets and Leeks" - sweet butter poached Maine lobster with melted green leeks, "pomme maxim" and red beet essence

11. We were suppose to have a hot foie gras dish now, but we deep-sixed it for a walk around the garden and a second wind reprieve.

12. First Meat

"Pithivier of Cloverdale Farms rabbit (confit of rabbit)with wilted Arrowleaf spinach and Brooks cherries and a cherry sauce reduction

Pork breast with Savoy Cabbage and a whole grain mustard sauce

13. Second Meat

Braised shank of Elysian Fields Farm Lamb with a fricassee of sweet white corn and Morel mushrooms

Bellwether baby farm Lamb- one piece saddle-roasted , the other braised shank with saffron-infused risotto and California green almonds

14. Cheese

"Montbriac" with garden savory poached dried pears and pear glaze

Whipped Brie de Meaux with Tellicherry pepper and baby Mache

15. Dessert

Again, we called a halt to dessert. They did bring something anyway, but my note-taking skill was quickly dissipating and I don't remember what was brought.

Wines for the evening were:

M.V. Krug "Grand Cuvee" Champagne

'99 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne

'83 Gentaz-Devieux - Cote Rotie

The price for the Chef's tasting menu is $120.00 with an 18% service charge added.

The one question I often get asked about the French Laundry is "Is it worth it?"

There is only one answer - YES!

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You forgot to mention how they bring the bill handwritten on a laundry tag!

Were those 1/2 bottles of wine?


Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

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Rosie,

They were full bottles! However, do notice the difference between the first night and the second.

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Liz - You are my hero. I forgot all about the white truffle mousse that is ethereal. How was the 1999 Roumier Bonnes Mares. A wine I own a good chunk of, but one I haven't yet. Is it drinking or has it shut down. Did you buy it off their list or did you BYO? I won't even ask you about the '67 d'Yqueem because I know that must have been fantastic. And the '83 Gentaz? I had some but it was somewhat over the hill so I sold mine. But the '88 Gentaz is one of the best Cote Rotie going.

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lizzie, I found this staggering. Amidst it all, this stands out to me:

8. Egg

White truffle custard with ragout of Perigord truffles with veal stock presented in a hallowed out egg

Coddled hen egg with perigord truffle beurre noisette

Sigh.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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lizziee -- The meals sound wonderful. When you have a chance, could you please discuss the Meyer lemon beurre blanc in the Turbot collar with fennel and Meyer lemon beurre blanc, and also the utilization of the same lemon with the bass?  For example, what might the collar of turbot have referred to (did it, for example, include portions of the head region)?  :wink:

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Steve,

The Bonnes Mares was superb - Bonnes Mares par excellence. The '83 Gentaz was "tired" and disappointing for the price. I'm not sure if we have had the '88, but when we are in France in September we will definitely look for it. Have you ever tried the 1996 La Barbarine, Cote Rotie from Mathilde et Yves Gangloff? We had it at Auberge et Clos des Cimes and it was wonderful.

The '67 d'Yquem was unbelievable - we had just glasses from an open bottle (left-overs from the night before!). It has 50 years left.

We never bring our own wine; this is one of the few places that we don't. As there are so many winemakers, collectors etc who dine at The French Laundry, they really discourage it. (There is a hefty corkage of $50.00) I honestly don't blame them as given the clientele, no one would buy their wine and they truly have worked hard on their list.

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Cabrales,

The turbot collar did not include the head. I think you might be refering to the use of yellow tail collar as it is served in Japanese restaurants - sometimes even with the eyeballs in tack. This was not the presentation.

The Meyer lemon sauce for the turbot had a hollandaise-quality to it, therefore my reference to La Caravelle. I am guessing here but I think Thomas used buerre monte for the basis of this sauce. The Meyer lemon sauce for the bass was lighter in texture.

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Has anyone seen kids in the FL? Do you know if they wellcome kids ?


"Eat every meal as if it's your first and last on earth" (Conrad Rosenblatt 1935)

http://foodha.blogli.co.il/

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