Click here to see recipe listing or travel by country

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The French Laundry.  Thomas Keller.  The man, the myth, the legend!

After first hearing about the man, his philosophy, and his amazing restaurant while I was in culinary school, it immediately went onto the 'must eat here before I die' list that I keep in my head.  When I found out we were going to be living in Monterey, CA for six months, I knew that if ever I was going to eat there, the time was NOW!

dressed and ready to go :)
After months of trying to get a reservation, one of my husbands classmates offered us one of his reservations (somehow both he and his wife managed to get a reservation at the exact same time on open table, which is about as likely as getting struck by lightning twice at the same time.  Seriously, they should have played the lottery that day)!!!

 We drove up to Napa, got all dressed up and made our way to The French Laundry. Our reservation was for 9pm so I couldn't get any cute pics of the famous blue door :(

But I did sneak a photo of the amazing kitchen crew, hard at work!

The restaurant is beautiful! The staff was everything you would expect- friendly, professional, courteous, etc. I thought about taking pictures of the inside of restaurant but decided to spare my husband since I was going to photograph all the dishes.  But let's get to the food!!!!

There were two nine course tastings available - the classic chefs tasting and a vegetable chefs tasting.  I thought about getting one of each so we could try more dishes but knew that I wouldn't want to share a single bite of mine, so we got the same tasting - the classic tasting.

Besides the scheduled nine courses, we were also presented with some delicious bread from Bouchon Bakery (another Thomas Keller property, just down the street) which was served with two different butters.  Next came a  couple of amuse bouches - a salmon cornet served in a cone, made to resemble an ice cream cone and a gruyere cheese gougeres.  Both of these were amazing and a perfect start to our dinner.

Here were our courses -

gruyere cheese gougeres

Salmon Tartare Cornet
It looks like an ice cream cone and tastes like heaven

Oysters and Pearls

I had read about this dish, seen the recipe and imagined it but nothing could really prepare me for how delicious this dish actually tastes! The flavors and textures are simply amazing.  This first course really prepares your heart and mind and tongue for all the fabulousness to come.

Mushroom a la Grecque

Seared Hawaiian Big Island Tuna
with mango-pineapple salsa

Butter Poached Lobster
The lobster was so sweet, buttery and delicious!

Quail Breast
Tender, moist and delicious
Lamb Saddle
Medjool Dates, Nantes Carrot, Sicilian Pistachios, Salsify and Cilantro

The cheese course
If I had to pick a least favorite course, it would be this one.  It wasn't bad it just wasn't as great as the others.

Blood orange mimosa

As a palate cleanser before desert we were served this lovely little dish - Champagne "Granité," Brown Sugar Streusel and Fresh Cream sherbet.
Happy, happy lady!

Chocolate torte

Served with cinnamon whip and banana ice cream.  

 "Coffee and Donuts"

French Laundry version of coffee and donuts is actually Cappuccino Semifredo with Cinnamon Sugar Donuts. and cocoa dusted hazel nuts.  Perfection!


The truffles came after desert.  They were presented on the beautiful tray and you could choose as many as you wanted.  Of course I wanted them ALL but restrained myself and picked these two lovely bits of goodness! Not only were they delicious, they were beautiful.  They are hand painted.  Hand. Painted.   
At the very end, we were presented with some delicious shortbread cookies to take home in a nice little tin (which, of course, I kept). And the French Laundry clothes pin that was on the napkin when we were first seated.  Lovely little reminders of our wonderful dinner!

This meal was absolutely perfect!  While I will probably never have the pleasure to eat at French Laundry again, I will never, ever forget the experience.  This is by far the best meal I have ever eaten.  It was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so happy and blessed that I was able to do it.  Did I mention how very much I love my husband for this?


  1. Wow, I am in awe that you got to eat there! A while ago one of our Kitchen Reader books featured Keller and I was really impressed by his humility.



All recipes are on Petitchef