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Rosie

The French Laundry 2001 - 2005

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Lunch at the French Laundry on May 27

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Started with Gougres and Tuna Coronetes, Vueve Cliquot 1996 in the glass

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Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Beau Soleil Oyster Glaze & Sevruga Caviar (is that the most beautiful spoon you've ever seen? :wub:)

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We each had the Foie Gras but had it different ways:

Seared Foie Gras with Carmelized Banana & pickled Ramps

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and Terrine of poached Foie Gras, Pickled Grapes, Clear Almonds with Warm Brioche

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after a few minutes of enjoying my foie gras with the brioche a server came and took my brioche away, replacing it with another one which was warmer. Gotta love little displays like that! I have to say that this was a lot of foie gras! Much more than I've ever had on other tasting menus.

Sauteed Fillet of Pacific Kahala Amandine, Melted Belgian Endive, Toasted Almonds and Brown Butter. (no picture because we dove into it before we remembered! :laugh:

"Beets & Leeks" Lobster with melted leeks, Pommes Maxim and Beet Essence (half eaten as again we dove in before remembering to shoot!)

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Pave of Cuisse de Poularde, Fricasse of Mushrooms, Lardons and English Peas (my favorite dish of the day!) The next shots are blurry, my apologies!

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Calotte de Boeuf Grillee, Asparagus, Heirloom Carrots, Black Truffle Pain Perdu and Sauce Perigourdine

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Camembert, Carmelized Fennel Bulb, Cherry Relish

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Mango Sorbet, Yuzu Scented Genoise, Goma Nougatine & Black Sesame Coulis

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Tentation Au Chocolate Noisette et Lait, Milk Chocolate Cremeux, Hazelnut Streusel with Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream and Sweetened Salty Hazelnuts ( I loved the salt on the chocolate cremeux on this!)

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Mignardises

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Not shown, assorted chocolates.

After our 3.5 hour lunch we were treated to a view of the kitchen.

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Chef Keller was not in yet the restaurant was privately booked that night for a party and he was overseeing that. He did come in and out and are waiter was kind enough to ask him some advice on making agnoliotti for us (we have been trying) and also present us with this at the end of our dinner:

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The food and service were fantastic. Has anyone else ever noticed the lack of anything on the walls in the restaurant though? all attention on the food!


Edited by little ms foodie (log)

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Sweet! Thanks for the report and the pics, Wendy. Maybe this will draw some attention away from the other French Laundry thread. :smile:


Nothing to see here.

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Great photos Wendy. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.


Robert R

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I forgot to mention my little "Pretty Woman" incident! While eating the Pave I went to spear a pea and it shot onto the floor! When our waiter came back to check on us I saw him spy it on the floor. I said "There might be one of my peas over there" :blush: To which he replied "I noticed that" and swooped down with his hankerchief to retrieve it. Then he said "I should have been here to catch it!" :laugh: Very funny! Very non stuffy and we received no 'attitude'.

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Last weekend my wife and I went on a whirlwind eating adventure in the Napa Valley,that included everything from a In-and-Out Burger to the French Laundry. Needless to say I have a few reports to write over the next few days,but thought I would start with the pinnacle experience of our trip.

Last year my wife and I visited Per Se and had a amazing dinner that we believed could never be topped. Well it looks like Thomas exceeded himself with our French Laundry meal. Part of this may have to do with the whole Yountville setting. One of the most beautiful small towns I have ever seen full of flowers and smiles,and street sweepers who drive up and down the road with nothing to sweep.

As we entered the restaurant we were greeted by Jen and Larry who treated us like long loss friends. We were escorted to our table in the downstairs dining room and I was kind of surprised by how small and cozy it was. It does not have the grandeur of Per Se,but yet I felt that it suited my style more. I have no doubt that Thomas wishes nothing to distract one from the cuisine.

I also fell in love with the china,as each course was presented on a different style plate. Also, all the truffles were grated table side,and had an amazing flavor and aroma for this time of the year.

Let me start with the menu and comments below:

Warm Gruyere Gougeres

Cornet of Marinate Salmon with Red Onion Creme Fraiche

Wonderful way of starting. What can I say!!

SOUP

Puree of Avocado with Sweet Peppers (wife)

Puree of Carrot with Medjool Date (me)

Cool, Refreshing, and the pure strained essence of what they are.

CAVIAR

Oysters and Pearls (me)

Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Beau Soleil Oysters

and Russian Sevruga Caviar

Cauliflower Panna Cotta

With Beau Soleil Oyster glaze and Russian Sevruga caviar(wife)

Oysters and Pearls is a classic dish that is brilliant. This was the first time tasting the Cauliflower Panna Cotta,and it was delicious.

TRUFFLES

White Truffle Oil-Infused Custard

with a Ragout of Black Perigord Truffles (wife)

Eggs Perigourdine

Poached Arcuna Hen Egg with Thomas English Muffin,

sauce Hollandaise and Black Perigord Truffles (me)

SALAD

Salad of Hawiian Hearts of Palm,

Pearl Onions and Mint Oil (wife)

Warm Salad of Roasted Cepe and Chanterelle Mushrooms(me)

My wife loved the Hearts of Palm Salad,and I was in mushroom heaven.

PASTA

Hand-Cut Tagliantelle with Black Perigord Truffles (wife)

Carnaroli Risotto Biologico

with Grated Black Truffles and Truffle Cream(me)

Two wonderful courses,and hard to pick which one I enjoyed more. Batali should take lessons from Keller as far as I am concerned.

The Tagliantelle was presented in a flying-nun hat type bowl.

The Risotto was creamy with a slight bite to the rice;executed perfectly.

FISH

Salt Encrusted Bronzino,

with Spanish Capers,Fennel and San Marzano Tomato(for two)

Presented to the table whole in a salt crust and taken to the kitchen to be plated. One of our favorites of the night

LOBSTER

Maine Lobster Tail Pochee Sous Vide (me)

Caramelized Fennel Bulb, Crystallized Fennel Chip,Sweet Peppers,

and Sauce Noilly Prat

Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster,

Silver Queen Corn Pudding and Summer Truffles(wife)

My god just the thought of this lobster gives me a tingle. Both surpassed my lobster at Per Se by being more flavorful and tender. The Fennel chip can replace the potato chip,and the sauce Noilly Prat was to die for.

Saute of Moulard Duck Foie Gras,

Cream of Arrowleaf Spinach, Oeuf De Caille Poche Au Vinaigre De Champagne

Frisee Lettuce and Applewood Smoked Bacon Gastrique (wife)

FOIE GRAS

Peach Melba

Moulard Duck Foie Gras En Terrine, Masomoto Family Farm Peach Jelly,

Pickled Peaches, Marinated Red Onion, Melba Toast

and Crisped Carolina Rice(me)

I had the Peach Melba at Per Se, and I'm curious if this dish may have been invented by Cory Lee as he is now at the French Laundry.

MEAT

Rillete of Rabbit,

Ginger Glazed Santa Rosa Plums and Melted Endive (wife)

Pork and Beans

All Day Braised Hobb's Shore Pork Belly,

Cassoulet of Early Summer Pole Beans and Whole Grain Mustard(me)

The rabbit was moist and succulent, and just wonderfully accented with the plums.

I bet the beans were supplied by our own Rancho_ Gordo that came with the pork belly. I made a mental note to order some in the future.

MEAT

Snake River Farm Calotte De Boeuf Grillee,

Roasted Cepe Mushrooms, Braised Cipollini Onions, Crispy Bone Marrow

Scallion Salad an Sauce Bordelaise(for two)

My god,being in the restaurant business I must have thrown away hundreds if not thousands of these caps. Surely I will pay for it one day as I meet my keeper. This dish was also presented whole,and plated in the kitchen.

CHEESE

Abbaye De Belloc

Roasted Heirloom Beets,Beet Vinaigrette

and Frisee Lettuce (ME)

Adante Dairy Acapella with figs

and Fifty Year Old Balsamic Vinegar(wife)

Thomas has been criticized over his cheese course by some in the past but I have no complaints as they were both delicious.

ICE CREAM

Thyme Ice Cream with Warm Olive Oil (me)

Olive Oil Ice Cream with Valhrona Chocolate(wife)

The Thyme Ice Cream was presented with a thin chocolate shell covering the bowl, in which the warm olive oil was poured over to melt. Both were smooth and satisfying!!

SORBET

Hayden Mango Sorbet,

Yuzu Scented Genoise,Goma Nougatine and Black Sesame Coulis (me)

Napa Valley Red Verjus Sorbet,

Szechaun Pepper Gelee, Raisin Puree, White Verjus Emulsion

and Vanilla Marinated Muscat Grape (wife)

By this time we were really full,and had been at the table over five hours. But these sorbet's were wonderfully refreshing,and added a much needed wake up call for our palate. I especially enjoyed the Verjus Sorbet.

DESSERT

Coffee and Donuts (both)

Cappucino semi-fredo with cinamon-sugared donuts(for two)

I have been reading about this signature dessert for years,and it exceeded my expectations in every way. As full as I was I could of ate a half a dozen.

CHOCOLATE

Valrhona Bitter Chocolate Souffle

Dry Apricot Marmelade and Mascarpone Sorbet (me)

Tentation Au Chocolat Noisette Et Lait,

Milk Chocolate Cremeux,Hazelnut Streusel

with Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream and Sweetened Salty Hazelnuts(wife)

At this point Larry said to us,"its chocolate" and not a living thing. You dont have to finish it if you dont want to. We struggled but did,as it was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal.

Mignardises to Go

For the wine lovers reading this I apologize as I did not receive a print out of the wines served. We had a pairing which had to be eight to ten different wines,which started with champagne.

A few comments on the service:

What can I say about Larry the maitre d'. He is a man at the top of his game and just as much part of the French Laundry experience as the cuisine itself.

Our main server's name escapes me as I believe it may have been Joe but he could not have been more professional,and had a personality so warm that one would think we known each other for years. Another young server named Jeremy I believe, was fantastic. After spending years in the restaurant business I would have paid this young man half my own salary to keep him in any restaurant I managed. He is that much of a asset to any front of the house. I can understand that I may be a minority,but I enjoy engaging in conversation with staff, and they were very open and friendly to the point where I would of loved to pull up a chair and have them join us.

Before leaving I had the oppurtunity to have my second kitchen tour of the night and meet Thomas as he and the staff were discussing the next days menu. He could not have been more gracious as we talked for fifteen to twenty minutes,and also was kind enough to take a photo with us. Keep in mind it had to be at least 1:00 a.m. at this time. A unheard of time for most chefs of this caliber to be in the kitchen.

This truly was a meal of a lifetime that will never be forgotten.


Robert R

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Wow! :biggrin: My meal was about half as long! Good for you!


"To invite a person to your house is to take charge of his (her) happiness for as long as he is under your roof."

Brillat Savarin

You don't have to like everything I make, but you still have to eat it.

A Co-Worker from Work

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The service at FL is what blew me away (not that the food and wine wasn't superb as well) on my one visit there. My water and wine glasses were filled as if by magic. There was always a warm roll or slice or bread on my plate and never a hovering waiter/busperson that placed it there. It was utterly seamless - an experience that I will hold up as the standard to which I will strive daily for the rest of my career. Truly awe inspiring.

After indulging in the 10 course tasting menu my dining partner and I literally ate one bite of our desserts and pushed them away, lest we explode like Mr. & Mrs. Creosote. Without so much as a word the plates were whisked away and two compltely new desserts were in their place. "No, no! We're just full - really!", we insisted. The waiter insisted we couldn't leave if there was something we didn't enjoy. :wub:

THAT is service of the highest order, and an experience I shall never forget.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Jared Heber from Seattle is the new sommelier at The French Laundry.

Jared Heber has accepted the sommelier position at The French Laundry. He worked at Seattle Cellars for 5 years and has been Assistant Sommelier at Canlis Restaurant (also in Seattle) for the past 2 years. He recently passed his

Advanced Sommelier Certification and will be spending the next 2 years preparing

for the Master Sommelier Certification test. Jared will be the sommelier as well as assistant buyer at the restaurant.

:cool:


Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Stoping by on the 26th of the month. Looking forward to it.


Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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Mrs. B and I dined at the Laundry last week. It was a truly memorable experience. Each course was flawlessly executed. The service was as good as, or better than, anything I have experienced.

The French Laundry -- particularly the service -- is now the standard against which all others are judged. Enough said.

Menu on request if anyone is interested.

MB

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Mrs. B and I dined at the Laundry last week.  It was a truly memorable experience.  Each course was flawlessly executed.  The service was as good as, or better than, anything I have experienced.

How did you get your reservation? I've been trying to get one through OpenTable, but it's been gone every time I try, even when I hit the page at 3 seconds past midnight (according to the timestamp)!


Gastronomic Fight Club - Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

Foodies of Omaha - Discover the Best of Omaha

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How did you get your reservation?  I've been trying to get one through OpenTable, but it's been gone every time I try, even when I hit the page at 3 seconds past midnight (according to the timestamp)!

My situation proves one of Fat Guy's main points in his book -- loyalty pays. I have been a loyal guest of Relais & Chateaux hotel properties for 20 years and, as a result, have relationships with several general managers. I simply asked one of those people to make a call for me. He did.

Interesting side note. We met a couple at the inn at which we were staying who visit Napa Valley once a year and eat at the Laundry three nights in a row

each visit! I did not get to ask how the restaurant arranges menus etc for such a guest. Of course, a guest like that probably gets to make the next years' reservations during this visit.

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OK, by popular request (actually 2 PMs), here is the 9 course tasting menu from Wednesday November 9:

1. Gougeres

2. Salmon cone

3. Oysters and Pearls

4. Salad of Jacobsen’s Farm “Musquee de Provence,” Swiss Chard Leaves and Ribs, Spiced Green Pumpkin Seeds and Picked Pomegranate “Vinaigrette” OR

“Carnaroli Risotto Biologico,” Castelmango Cheese and Shaved White Truffle from Alba ($45 supplement)

(One of each at our table)

5. Grilled Fillet of Mediterranean Sea Bream, “Confit” of Navel Orange, Caramelized Fennel Bulb and Nicoise Olive “Puree”

6. Maine Lobster Tail “Cuite” Sous Vide,” Glazed Baby Onions, King Trumpet Mushrooms, Crispy Bone Marrow Flan and “Sauce d’Homard a Facon Bordelaise”

7. “Crepinette” of Wolfe Ranch Quail, Brussel Sprouts, Sierra Beauty Apples and Applewood Smoked Bacon Emulsion

8. Ribeye of Elysian Fields Farm Lamb “en Persillade,” “Cassoulet” of Autumn Pole Beans and Thyme Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil OR

Herb Roasted Sirloin of Australian “Wagyu,” Princess la Ratte Potato “Puree,” Glazed Sweet Carrots, Wilted Pea Tendrils and “Sauce Perigourdine” (Serves Two - $80 supplement)

(Lamb at our table)

9. “Saint Nectaire,” French Laundry Granola, Parsley Shoots and Red Currants

And a different composed cheese course for my wife that I didn’t taste but was prepared because she is allergic to the sunflower seeds in the granola

10. California Boulevard “Feijoa” Sorbet, “aux Agrumes d’Automne et Feuille de Bric Croquante”

11. Valrhona Chocolate “Dome,” Wildflower Honey-Sicilian Pistachio “Nougat Blanc,” Cocoa Nib “Coulis” and “Cerceaux de Sucre”

12. Two custards, Crème Brulee and Lemon Custard

13. Cookie

14. Chocolates

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I think the $45 supplement on the truffle dish is pretty reasonable compared to the $109 supplement I noticed on Per Se's menu a few weeks ago.

Having had a risotto dish back in July that was extraordinary I can only imagine one with white truffle's shaved on top.

Thank you for posting the menu! Looks fantastic.


Robert R

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I think the $45 supplement on the truffle dish is pretty reasonable compared to the $109 supplement I noticed on Per Se's menu a few weeks ago.

Having had a risotto dish back in July that was extraordinary I can only imagine one with white truffle's shaved on top.

Thank you for posting the menu! Looks fantastic.

The $45 supplement was quite a bargain, actually. The risotto arrived unadorned. Then a server presented a wooden humidor that when opened revealed a pound or so of truffles inside. You could smell them any time the box got cracked anywhere in the dining room. Then another server shaved, and shaved and shaved some more truffle onto the risotto.

Mrs. B's dish contained at least 1/3 an ounce of truffle -- so at $1600 a pound, or $100 an ounce, there was $35 in cost of truffle on the plate.

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How did you get your reservation?  I've been trying to get one through OpenTable, but it's been gone every time I try, even when I hit the page at 3 seconds past midnight (according to the timestamp)!

My situation proves one of Fat Guy's main points in his book -- loyalty pays. I have been a loyal guest of Relais & Chateaux hotel properties for 20 years and, as a result, have relationships with several general managers. I simply asked one of those people to make a call for me. He did.

Interesting side note. We met a couple at the inn at which we were staying who visit Napa Valley once a year and eat at the Laundry three nights in a row

each visit! I did not get to ask how the restaurant arranges menus etc for such a guest. Of course, a guest like that probably gets to make the next years' reservations during this visit.

The easiest way to get reservation is the old fashioned way. Keller wants everyone to have a fair chance so...you can call in two months to the date at ten in the morning pst. You have to treat it like a radio call in contest. Call at ten and when you don't get through hit redial, redail, redail. I got a reservation the first time I tried and have gotten a reservation the same way for the next consecuative four years. Persistance pays but play it like a game. Don't be set on the date if you do not make it in the fifteen minutes the phones are open, try agin for the next day. The first time I went I sat next to a couple that had tried for two years to get a reservation but had only called once a day. Yes, I know I am lucky but persistance pays off.

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How did you get your reservation?  I've been trying to get one through OpenTable, but it's been gone every time I try, even when I hit the page at 3 seconds past midnight (according to the timestamp)!

My situation proves one of Fat Guy's main points in his book -- loyalty pays. I have been a loyal guest of Relais & Chateaux hotel properties for 20 years and, as a result, have relationships with several general managers. I simply asked one of those people to make a call for me. He did.

Interesting side note. We met a couple at the inn at which we were staying who visit Napa Valley once a year and eat at the Laundry three nights in a row

each visit! I did not get to ask how the restaurant arranges menus etc for such a guest. Of course, a guest like that probably gets to make the next years' reservations during this visit.

The easiest way to get reservation is the old fashioned way. Keller wants everyone to have a fair chance so...you can call in two months to the date at ten in the morning pst. You have to treat it like a radio call in contest. Call at ten and when you don't get through hit redial, redail, redail. I got a reservation the first time I tried and have gotten a reservation the same way for the next consecuative four years. Persistance pays but play it like a game. Don't be set on the date if you do not make it in the fifteen minutes the phones are open, try agin for the next day. The first time I went I sat next to a couple that had tried for two years to get a reservation but had only called once a day. Yes, I know I am lucky but persistance pays off.

The phone route can be so difficult at times, but my wife actually got through and we got almost the exact reservation we were hoping for.

A side note about the open table reservation. I didn't realize TFL was close the first 2 weeks of January, so that's why I was unable to make a reservation. Since that time I've been able to make a reservation once or twice a week. So now I have several reservations available for the forth week in January if anyone wants them :-)


Gastronomic Fight Club - Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

Foodies of Omaha - Discover the Best of Omaha

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I think the $45 supplement on the truffle dish is pretty reasonable compared to the $109 supplement I noticed on Per Se's menu a few weeks ago.

Having had a risotto dish back in July that was extraordinary I can only imagine one with white truffle's shaved on top.

Thank you for posting the menu! Looks fantastic.

it is the same supplement at per se 54 for the tasting menu and 108 on the five course... remember that per se has 20% built in to all its cost 45 + 20% = 54 and 90 (which is what tfl charges on the other menu) + 20% = 108 its the same with the menu prices...

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I was just wondering as I am not very familiar with california other than 2 days in LA and a couple visits to San Fran when I was a little kid, but what is the most efficient way to plan a trip to TFL?

I'm in missouri, so would I fly out of STL or KC into San Fran or where? Then do I rent a car, etc. how long is the drive to TFL and where do you recommend I stay that's close by? Thanks. I gotta start planning my destination dining. :laugh:

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I was just wondering as I am not very familiar with california other than 2 days in LA and a couple visits to San Fran when I was a little kid, but what is the most efficient way to plan a trip to TFL?

I'm in missouri, so would I fly out of STL or KC into San Fran or where?  Then do I rent a car, etc.  how long is the drive to TFL and where do you recommend I stay that's close by?  Thanks.  I gotta start planning my destination dining. :laugh:

I'm probably not the best person to be answering this since I haven't lived in CA for a while, but from what I recall......

Fly into one of the following:

San Francisco (SFO), Oakland (OAK), San Jose (SJC), Sacramento (SMF)

You'll need to rent a car if you're not staying in the Napa area, and even if you are, a car is still a good idea.

Drive times will vary. According to Google maps, this is the minimum amount of time it will take:

SFO - 72 mins

OAK - 63 mins

SJC - 105 mins

SMF - 78 mins

I'd plan on allotting for an additional 30-60 mins if not more. If you're traveling during rush hour, tack on another 30-60 mins. If you're traveling in a goup you might be able to use the car pool lanes, but unless you're coming up from San Jose, it's not going to help you a whole lot.

The further you stay from both San Francisco and Napa, the cheaper it will be, but the less you'll be able to enjoy the attractions. I usually recommend anywhere that is not in San Francisco that is located near a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station.

And of course make sure you have a reservation before you fly out. You might be able to grab a cancellation, but I wouldn't want to count on it.

Good luck!


Gastronomic Fight Club - Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

Foodies of Omaha - Discover the Best of Omaha

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I was just wondering as I am not very familiar with california other than 2 days in LA and a couple visits to San Fran when I was a little kid, but what is the most efficient way to plan a trip to TFL?

I'm in missouri, so would I fly out of STL or KC into San Fran or where?  Then do I rent a car, etc.  how long is the drive to TFL and where do you recommend I stay that's close by?  Thanks.  I gotta start planning my destination dining. :laugh:

Fly into Sacramento if at all possible, rent a car, allow a minimum of 2 hours to get to the Napa valley. There are many places to stay ranging from chain motels to 5 star resorts. San Francisco and Oakland are an extra burden you don't need, however allow 2+ hours from either, depending on traffic and weather. Make sure you have a reservation. http://www.napavalley.com/
Edited by winesonoma (log)

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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I was just wondering as I am not very familiar with california other than 2 days in LA and a couple visits to San Fran when I was a little kid, but what is the most efficient way to plan a trip to TFL?

I'm in missouri, so would I fly out of STL or KC into San Fran or where?  Then do I rent a car, etc.  how long is the drive to TFL and where do you recommend I stay that's close by?  Thanks.  I gotta start planning my destination dining. :laugh:

Fly into Sacramento if at all possible, rent a car, allow a minimum of 2 hours to get to the Napa valley. There are many places to stay ranging from chain motels to 5 star resorts. San Francisco and Oakland are an extra burden you don't need, however allow 2+ hours from either, depending on traffic and weather. Make sure you have a reservation. http://www.napavalley.com/

I disagree, Bruce. Technically, Oakland is the closer airport although traffic time usually makes it about the same travel time as Sacramento. I ask all my guests to come into Oakland either very early in the morning or very late in the evening, making the travel time just over an hour from my house in Napa to the airport (Suzanne Fass will attest to that from her latest visit).

When traffic is moving well, Sacramento is still upwards of an hour-and-a-half. But I drive fast.

San Francisco, regardless, is the haul at well over two hours.

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I'll back up Carolyn. Oakland Airport, for sure. It's a nice small airport. And if you land during day time you get beautiful views of the Bay and the SF skyline as you drive north to Napa. If you are renting a car, your best bet is to time it so you land late morning. You'll beat rush hour.

 

 

 

 

[Host's note:  To minimise the load on our servers, this topic has been split.  The discussion continues here.]


Edited by lesliec Added host's note (log)

Lobster.

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