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Barbara Moss

The French Laundry 2006 -

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We arrived early last summer so we could meander through the gardens and take photos.

During the meal I took one photo - but it was after we had finished eating.

On the way out I got to see the kitchen and snapped a photo there.

So long as your flash and camera audio is off I say snap away... but just remember to focus on living the experience rather than recording it.  :wink:

The low light levels in most restaurants will require a no flash setting with ISO 1600 or even 3200.

Most point and shoots will not perform well, but SLR's can breeze through easily.

Unfortunately they are larger, and have a pro stigma that attracts attention when you don't want it.

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You can actually see the photos I took on the previous page. Most point and shoots have manually adjustable exposure settings (which I used for the indoor shots) - I thought they came out great for snap shots. They are also almost totally silent and have got to the point where ours is smaller than a deck of cards.

I'd agree with you on the SLR's though - I wouldn't want to be subjected to bursts of shutter clicks while trying to immerse myself in the moment.


"Egg whites are good for a lot of things; lemon meringue pie, angel food cake, and clogging up radiators."

- MacGyver

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... they offer a wine pairing menu, which I a wondering was it worth it?  It would be a no-brainer, then going through a 100 page wine list, which is usually overwhelming.  Second question, what is the policy of taking photos of the courses?  Obviously, I would not use a flash...

First, please enjoy this special dinner and have a great birthday!

Comment on wine: I think I mentioned this earlier but FYI, the Laundry has been distinguished by what I call a "full-service" sommelier dept. (by analogy to the once-common "full service" US gas stations where employees filled your tank, cleaned windows, checked tire pressure, etc. etc. and you didn't even have to know how to do any of those tasks). So that someone who liked wine but knew little about it could describe tastes and budget, and the sommeliers would come up with something very satisfying. (The sort of service the Master Sommeliers program aims for.) I haven't been to the Laundry lately, but that was a tradition.

In many high-end restaurants I've seen food photography, even made into a spectacle by self-absorbed people. One online food poster and former eG participant stubbornly insists that unless other tables raise an issue to his face, he presumes their approval for any photography he wants to do. It's a wonder he doesn't bring in floodlights. (His unusual views ignore diners I've witnessed, muttering their annoyance or offence but unwilling to exacerbate the situation by risking a scene.) Other people, more discreet, can still turn a meal into a studio session, everything subordinated to their photo shots. But still other diners manage to snapshot their plates without making it the point of the whole dinner and without other tables noticing. Who could object? Answer: the restaurant. It pays to phone or ask, because a few high-end places class photography with cell phone calls and prohibit both.

Thank you for your feedback. I am very much looking forward to a great meal. I figured that I would inquire before snapping away. I was at a place here in my local town that is the equivalent of TFL in Sacramento, called The Kitchen (not quite as exclusive, but for the local area, a place to go) the other night. Many people started taking pictures, left and right using flash, etc. I asked the chef if it is annoying to do something like that and he said absolutely not, they don't mind at all. I was able to take a few pics using my iphone, as their lighting was pretty good.

I understand there is a new restaurant opening in Sac on the river called "Pearl on the River". Heard anything of this? I'll be there next week and would like to try it.


"I drink to make other people interesting".

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... they offer a wine pairing menu, which I a wondering was it worth it?  It would be a no-brainer, then going through a 100 page wine list, which is usually overwhelming.  Second question, what is the policy of taking photos of the courses?  Obviously, I would not use a flash...

First, please enjoy this special dinner and have a great birthday!

Comment on wine: I think I mentioned this earlier but FYI, the Laundry has been distinguished by what I call a "full-service" sommelier dept. (by analogy to the once-common "full service" US gas stations where employees filled your tank, cleaned windows, checked tire pressure, etc. etc. and you didn't even have to know how to do any of those tasks). So that someone who liked wine but knew little about it could describe tastes and budget, and the sommeliers would come up with something very satisfying. (The sort of service the Master Sommeliers program aims for.) I haven't been to the Laundry lately, but that was a tradition.

In many high-end restaurants I've seen food photography, even made into a spectacle by self-absorbed people. One online food poster and former eG participant stubbornly insists that unless other tables raise an issue to his face, he presumes their approval for any photography he wants to do. It's a wonder he doesn't bring in floodlights. (His unusual views ignore diners I've witnessed, muttering their annoyance or offence but unwilling to exacerbate the situation by risking a scene.) Other people, more discreet, can still turn a meal into a studio session, everything subordinated to their photo shots. But still other diners manage to snapshot their plates without making it the point of the whole dinner and without other tables noticing. Who could object? Answer: the restaurant. It pays to phone or ask, because a few high-end places class photography with cell phone calls and prohibit both.

Thank you for your feedback. I am very much looking forward to a great meal. I figured that I would inquire before snapping away. I was at a place here in my local town that is the equivalent of TFL in Sacramento, called The Kitchen (not quite as exclusive, but for the local area, a place to go) the other night. Many people started taking pictures, left and right using flash, etc. I asked the chef if it is annoying to do something like that and he said absolutely not, they don't mind at all. I was able to take a few pics using my iphone, as their lighting was pretty good.

I understand there is a new restaurant opening in Sac on the river called "Pearl on the River". Heard anything of this? I'll be there next week and would like to try it.

I checked out the website. It's located by Chevy's on the river. The space used to be occupied by Woodys (a chain) and Blue Grecko, a failed attempt. Let me know how it goes, I'd be interested to see how they do, the menu online looks limited right now.

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I think with the ones I got, the menu, a picture of my man and I, I may have a collage frame put together to always remember the event.

A little bakery/cafe in Tokyo had this on the wall:

gallery_11355_5877_6232.jpg

I always thought it was a great idea, but am much too lazy to actually do it.

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I think with the ones I got, the menu, a picture of my man and I, I may have a collage frame put together to always remember the event.

A little bakery/cafe in Tokyo had this on the wall:

gallery_11355_5877_6232.jpg

I always thought it was a great idea, but am much too lazy to actually do it.

My plan is to take my stuff to Michaels and have a 3D type of thing built up, kind of a shadow box thing. If I do it, I'll post it on here.

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I started reading this thread, and plan on finishing it, but had a couple of etiquette questions for dining at the French Laundry.  Luckily, I had no problem getting a reservation on the day I wanted, April 17th, my 40th birthday, this coming Friday!  I can't wait.  I was able to secure a 9pm seating while on line from Michigan on a slow internet connection.  So my questions are, I obviously saw from the great review a few posts up, they offer a wine pairing menu, which I a wondering was it worth it?  It would be a no-brainer, then going through a 100 page wine list, which is usually overwhelming.  Second question, what is the policy of taking photos of the courses?  Obviously, I would not use a flash, but I would like to document this meal since it will most likely be the only time I can justify a great meal like this.  Would that just be too "touristy" or cheesy?  Any feedback would be appreciated, I don't want to look like a moron.  Thanks!

This has already been commented on, but I'll throw my 2 cents in...

TFL's wine program is stellar. They don't have a set pairing, per se (no pun intended), but their sommelier's will work with you to pair course by course. I've heard that a full pairing (8-9 glasses of wine) can be around the same cost of the food. When I went last year, we had 1 full bottles, a half bottle, a couple glasses of champagne and a few glasses of wine. The cost for all of this was less than half the cost for food. I would recommend going this route. Just keep in mind that TFL will work with you no matter what (budget, preferences) and just relax and have a great time!

As far as the photography, I took photos of each course with no flash and didn't have any issues. As others have said, as long as it's not a disturbance to other diners you should be good.

Anyone have any more info on Corey Lee's new restaurant?

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So, hubby and I have reservations for our anniversary in June. It's our first time there.

Here are some questions I have:

1) Is it possible to substitute items on the tasting menu? I can eat oysters but I just don't enjoy them and hubby just won't touch them.

2) I notice the price is supposed to include service charge. Do we still leave a tip? If so, would it be the standard 20%?

3) I know jacket is required for men, what about for women? Would what I wear to the Dining Room be fine or would I have to be even more dressy, like a cocktail dress?

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So, hubby and I have reservations for our anniversary in June. It's our first time there.

Here are some questions I have:

1) Is it possible to substitute items on the tasting menu? I can eat oysters but I just don't enjoy them and hubby just won't touch them.

2) I notice the price is supposed to include service charge. Do we still leave a tip? If so, would it be the standard 20%?

3) I know jacket is required for men, what about for women? Would what I wear to the Dining Room be fine or would I have to be even more dressy, like a cocktail dress?

1) Absolutely.

2) You don't have to, but certainly you can if you want to.

3) Don't worry. It's California. You'll be fine.

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My boyfriend doesn't eat oysters, and I typically don't...but it was an amazing dish. They did offer a truffle mushroom substitute for him that was equally amazing. There was one course that I didn't like, it was a scallop made into a weird sausage thing, with what I would say was a very rubbery texture. I only ate half, and the waiter came up to ask if I would like them to make something different, which I said I was fine, since we had several more courses to go. We did leave an additional tip, they were very attentive. My boyfriend wore a tie and jacket, the tie could have been left off, people were quite casual surprisingly, one woman had some sort of dolled up flip flops on.

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A couple of weeks ago, me and my wife visited the French Laundry for the first time, and with the assistance of the folks of Per Se, were able to arrange for an extended tasting menu. After being connected to TFL's private dining director, we settled in on a $500/pp menu that pretty much satisfied what we were after, which was to taste as much as we could (in a single seating) of Chef Lee's food in the same manner that we've been fortunate enough to do with Chef Benno's food at Per Se. At first I was a little worried about the value within the suggested $500 price tag given that it was past truffle season, but these fears proved to be unfounded.

A few technical notes: 1) I am not a photographer (perhaps the exact opposite), a point which will become painfully clear in the photos to follow 2) Due to the somewhat spontaneous process and custom menu, we were not given a menu. We were told we'd receive one later, but it doesn't look like that's gonna happen, so forgive me for the lack of complete information on some of these dishes. 3) We were definitely understood by the staff to be the "Per Se" folks, whatever impact this may or may not have had.

I'll summarize general thoughts, differences & conclusions in a separate post later on, what follows is a photo essay of our meal.

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At the right place

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Amuses involved a glass of bubbly, gougeres and salmon cornets. The gougeres had a cheesier crust, while the cornets had a stronger salmon flavor than what we were used to. This would become somewhat of a theme.

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Green/Young Garlic Veloute

Delicious, I love starting my meal with these veloutes, the size of the veloute bowl is perfect for a wake up.

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Oysters & Pearls

The oysters here were again quite strong in flavor, the sabayon a little less cohesive. Hard to be disapointed with this dish, even if we've had it a number of times.

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Fluke Sashimi, Compressed Apples, Radishes, Orange Slice

This was our first canape, and the first dish to deliver on the promise of trying Chef Lee's food. Although the photo isn't great, you may be able to notice that it looks like there are 4 slices of fluke stacked on top of each other, which is the case. What was surprising was the thickness of the slices, and also the fact that they had been glued together, I couldn't separate one piece from another. Very interesting dish to eat.

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Bacon wrapped Shad Roe, Avocado Puree, Marzano Tomato

In a word: Sensational. In several more words, one of the better dishes I've been served, every item worked. The bacon fat diffused any sort of fishiness, and alternating between the savory tomatoes and the cool avocado carried me through beautifully.

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White Truffle Oil Custard, Black Truffle Ragout

A classic and delicious, but one we've tried a number of times before.

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“Rouelle de Tête de Cochon”, Asparagus, Sauce Gribiche

The most refined take on this dish I've eaten, surpassing most recently versions sampled at Ssam Bar & Benoit. The perfectly crunchy golden shell was stuffed with head fat and cheek meat.

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Salad of Hawaiian Hearts of Palm, Compressed Asian Pear

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Hand Cut Tagliatelle, Black Truffle Sauce, Microplaned Black Winter Truffle

Sorry for the awful photo. We were very surprised to see this dish, my wife's favorite, since black truffles were out of season. Once I sampled the truffles, I understood they had been frozen (were still quite cold until stirred), probably why they were microplaned and not sliced. Still, this was awesome, the truffles still very fragrant. For an out of season black truffle experience, this absolutely hit the spot.

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Olive Oil poached Cod, Squid, Chorizo, Peppers, Fava Beans, Saffron Broth

This fish was insanely perfectly cooked, each flake just yielded under gentle pressure and peeled off and into the broth. But this dish was an enigma, cause despite knowing that chorizo, squid & saffron work beautifully together, and despite the perfectly cooked fish... I just didn't like it. The squid and saffron were overpowering, the chorizo failing to yield and blend. I don't get why I didn't love this dish.

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Louisiana Gulf Prawns, Scallop "Spaetzle", Garden Beets

A second sensational dish. Not sure if you can notice, but the prawns weren't 100% cleanly peeled, some form of connective tissue or shell remained and imparted an amazing flavor. This was like shell on salt & pepper shrimp with all the flavor of, but none of the unpleasantness of consuming, shrimp shells. The spaetzle was a scallop mouse that had been ... "spaetelized".

At this point we took a break to go into the garden across the street for 10-15 minutes.

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Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Silverado Trail Strawberries, Pistachio Powder/Crumble, Balsamic Jelly

The story here were the strawberries, man were they good. Great great compliments to the foie, the strawberries were not too sweet, they pair perfectly with the balsamic jelly on their own (also not too sweet) and the pistachio kept things savory and added texture to the mix. Wonderful conception.

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Caul wrapped & Stuffed Quail Leg

I had read a review that compared this to the sweet Chinese Buffet style steam tray chicken dishes that we all dread, and while I do see that angle, the craftsmanship and ultimately flavor/temperature of this dish warrant higher regards. This is an immaculate roll up, the caul fat really adding a lot of moisture and flavor to the quail breast meat stuffing.

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Norman Rockwell moment for our Kuroge Beef from Shiba Prefecture

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Kuroge Beef, Morels, Garden Peas & Carrots, Pommes Maxim, Potato Puree

A $100 supplement off the tasting menu, this was a monster piece of wagyu, just enormous. It was fatty, perfectly cooked and just loaded with flavor. I was probably just as excited to be served pommes maxim, which I've read about in "Under Pressure", but which I don't believe they make at Per Se. Given how good the regular calottes dish is, I don't think the $100 price tag is worth the difference, but man.. I'm happy I've eaten this at least once in my life.

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Vermont Cheddar, Sour Cherries, Black Truffle Sauce

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Grapefruit Sorbet & Jelly

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Coffee & Donuts

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"Gateau Au Chocolat Avec Bavarois Praline"

17 courses in all, with mignardises to follow.

Before closing, I did mention a note on value at the start that I would like to wrap up here. The regular menu is $240, and if you add in $30 for Foie, at least $50 for Black Truffle (likely should be even more due to out of season status), $100 for beef you already get to $420. Add in the bubbly, the 4 canapes and the C&D, and I left feeling that this was excellent value for the money, that I had been treated like a regular even if I wasn't one at this particular restaurant. Our reservation was for 12:30, and we left close to 5:00pm.

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As a regular customer at Per Se, I am not all surprised that you had a superb experience at the French Laundry and was treated like a regular at that establishment.

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We were told we'd receive one later, but it doesn't look like that's gonna happen, so forgive me for the lack of complete information on some of these dishes.

Your photos are really nice. It's not an easy space to photograph. Thanks for sharing.

As for not having a menu, I would shoot them an e-mail or call. I've been able to retroactively request menus in the past for extended tastings. I believe they keep them on file. Sooner is better than later.

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As a regular customer at Per Se, I am not all surprised that you had a superb experience at the French Laundry and was treated like a regular at that establishment.

Just hearing this makes me die a little inside.

I live in California, so obviously Per Se wouldn't be on my list of "regular" restaurants, but I have a dream to be able to one day be able to eat at the French Laundry. sigh.

Maybe being a chef wasn't the route I should've gone. I should become an investment banker or something.


I've never eaten a Hot Pocket and thought "I'm glad I ate that."

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Anyone know how FL gets the amazing golden, crunchy sear on so many of their amazing dishes? Is a blowtorch used? Is it just an extremely hot pan with tons of butter? I cannot, for the life of me, get a sear like that!

Sorry if this is in the wrong forum; I figured it belonged a little over here and a little there...


Edited by wagreich (log)

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Anyone know how FL gets the amazing golden, crunchy sear on so many of their amazing dishes?  Is a blowtorch used?  Is it just an extremely hot pan with tons of butter?  I cannot, for the life of me, get a sear like that!

Sorry if this is in the wrong forum; I figured it belonged a little over here and a little there...

Extremely hot pans with gas burners that have a significantly higher BTU than most homes can get...

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Has anybody out there got any idea of how to get a reservation at the FL for the end of July. Given up trying to call!

Visted the FL five years ago for honeymoon, travelling from UK. Its my wifes big 4.0 coming up and so would love to suprise her again, by coming back.

IDEAS Please!!!!!

P.S Im a chef who runs and owns a small restaurant in UK, not a hot shot lawyer etc!

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Has anybody out there got any idea of how to get a reservation at the FL for the end of July. Given up trying to call!

Visted the FL five years ago for honeymoon, travelling from UK. Its my wifes big 4.0 coming up and so would love to suprise her again, by coming back.

IDEAS Please!!!!!

P.S Im a chef who runs and owns a small restaurant in UK, not a hot shot lawyer etc!

Well, if you're coming in July, you've missed the 2 months in advance reservations. If you can't get a hold of someone on the phone, then contact them from their website. There is an online form you can fill out to contact them. If your schedule is flexible, you may be able to snap up an opening. If not, maybe you can get on the waiting list.

If you can't get into FL at this time, another option is to go to one of his other restaurants.

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Has anybody out there got any idea of how to get a reservation at the FL for the end of July. Given up trying to call!

Visted the FL five years ago for honeymoon, travelling from UK. Its my wifes big 4.0 coming up and so would love to suprise her again, by coming back.

IDEAS Please!!!!!

P.S Im a chef who runs and owns a small restaurant in UK, not a hot shot lawyer etc!

You are not going to believe this, but haunt Open Table. Because of the economy, there have been a number of last-minute reservations which have been showing up. I've tried a number of times for others with great success.

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