The French Laundry.
In the restaurant world, this is THE restaurant (at least, in the US)
You’re pretty much done after this, except maybe for Per Se or Le Bernardin in NYC.
Now, I am in no position to come in and blow TFL’s (as it’s referred to by locals) reputation out of the water.
I’m not going to be an idiot and say this was a crappy meal. It wasn’t, by all means.
But when you’re spending almost $400 per person for lunch, you’re going to expect something more than mindblowing. Sexual favors at the very least.
I’m not a person that flinches at a high-priced meal. I’m used to it. $100 a person for a dinner has become commonplace.
However, after those meals, I often leave somewhat full.
I maybe DON’T run to McDonald’s for quick burger afterwards.
Now onto the absolute joke that is getting a reservation here.
Exactly two months prior, I called the reservation line at exactly 10 a.m. (the second they opened) and redialed over 200 times over the next 30 minutes. When I finally got through, the slots for the whole day had filled up. I was put on a wait list.
Just for fun, about 45 days later, I looked online on Open Table for a reservation. Expecting no results, as I had seen every other time I had gone on there to look.
Suddenly, I saw something. An opening on a Saturday afternoon the weekend I was to be in the bay area!! It was fate. I had to enter my credit card info to reserve it.
I was in!
Finally, the day arrived. We pulled up to this simple, cute, French country house and waited in their “back yard” for our reservation.
Since I don’t eat shellfish, I thought I would choose the vegetable tasting menu and my dining companion would get the Chef’s tasting (and I would sneak bites).
The basic charge for each tasting was $270 per person. I find it a bit ridiculous they charged $270 for the smallest portion of veggies I’ve ever seen.
Almost not large enough portions to even make for a good photograph.
One heirloom pea. A leaf from an extinct Fijian tree. One drip of some sauce. All of which are always described on the menu in flowery French terms. God knows what you’re eating. But Lord knows, it’s gonna be fancy.
In my opinion, if you don’t eat shellfish or are a vegetarian, just don’t bother coming to The French Laundry.
The veggie course is simply a waste of time and money.
The Chef’s menu food and portions were creative, tasty and satisfying, however.
Of course, you’re not just paying for the 9 course meal here. You’re paying for the excellent service.
Service almost TOO good.
The Downton Abbey-esque waiters were almost like Stepford robots. It was surreal to watch them float up and down the staircase, never bobbing their heads. Never falling out of line.
We had about 6 different servers come to our table, I don’t think a single one broke their Mona Lisa smile.
It was like being served by the Buckingham Palace guards, where you try to get them to laugh.
Except with more of a funeral home vibe.
The atmosphere was the opposite of fun. It was all business here. The mood was so stifled and somber, it was hard to enjoy my wine (which they charged a $75 corkage fee for!)
Like drying to drink in the Principal’s office, it felt wrong. Like we were in a museum and we needed to behave ourselves.
They kept offering supplemental courses which, of course, we couldn’t afford.
$100 extra for a small slab of Wagyu beef. $75 extra for a tortollini with some shaved truffles.
The first waiter offered these to us as if “Well, anyone who’s anyone orders these as well. Oh…you can’t afford it? Pity…”
At the end of the day, you’re spending a crapload of money for a meal. Definitely worth trying once in ones life, if one can afford it. But a good time? Not exactly.
Unless trying to get a Buckingham palace guard to laugh at a funeral in a museum is your thing.
6640 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599