The food, of course, was wonderful. I was served a one-by-one-by-three inch piece of steak that was so good that I would like to eat it every day for the rest of my life. We also had some phenomenal squab, cauliflower custard, Dover sole, and a pea puree so smooth it was probably forced through the toe of a nylon stocking. I sent back a glass of Chardonnay that was one of the suggested pairings (he substituted a nice Rousanne), but otherwise the wines were also first-rate.
But during the meat courses, I waited and waited, and waited some more, for a piece of bread, for crying out loud! Our regular guy spaced out after saying he was going to get some, then I asked the server and he said yes but didn't, and we couldn't catch our guy's eye or anyone else's for waaay too long. Long enough for us to say all right already, at these prices and with 19% included for service this is unforgivable. Then for me to say whoa, I hate to be a person who gets all bent out of shape over a piece of bread. But the whole point of a place like this is perfection, and if there's anyplace to be that way, it's here. It's the only excuse THEY have for acting the way THEY do, after all. And what really rankled us was that when our regular guy finally showed up and we told him we'd wanted bread for twenty minutes, he didn't apologize! He said "oh, well, let me get you some now, and I'll give you an extra dessert, all right?" But he didn't act as if he recognized I'd been put out. He was too breezy about it.
It got chaotic during dessert, too. A fellow came and filled my husband's coffee, and before he'd left the table our regular guy came with his own coffeepot. Also, I had to send back my tea twice because they kept straining out the leaves before it was strong enough. There was a subtle tone in the guy's voice when he said "Okay then, I'll just leave the leaves in the pot this time" that made it sound as if he was the one getting put out.
At the very end of the meal our main guy apologized for the bread thing. And I have to reiterate, I am not usually a fussy sort, I know these things weren't a big deal, and I didn't let it spoil my experience. But I'm much more inclined to overlook this kind of thing when I get a $6.50 burger and fries than at the French Laundry, where we paid $650 for lunch for two. And I'm even more surprised that they weren't better able to be humble and gracious when I insisted, graciously, on better service.