Well, let me first thank everyone for responding to my previous French Laundry post. Must admit that I was pensive about touching THE FL (the earth started shaking as I was composing my post), but really, your responses were extremely helpful in orienting me to the idiosyncracies of the FL. I found some of the stories amusing and enjoyed reading about the 2003 chowdown there. Reservations sound very doable though and opentable seems like the way to go.
Well, after some consideration, we've decided against going there to celebrate our 5th anniversary. We will very likely make it there one day, but just not for this occasion. After realizing that $500 was a conservative estimate for everything, I also think our celebration would be richer if we didn't put all of our eggs in one basket, so to speak.
Which brings us to our next dilemma, a tug btwn. north and south. After all the recent glowing reports of the Ritz, I have an idea of what to expect and am fairly confident that would be a good choice. While I've heard great things about Manresa (Los Gatos--see link) elsewhere, not much gets said on CH about this little place that's just a short distance from our home in Santa Cruz. Anyone been lately or had their tasting menu?
Some other things to consider: while we enjoy wine w/ dinner, neither of us can handle too much alcohol. A lightweight, I can feel buzzed halfway into my first glass and my tastebuds become muted and altered. So wine is not much consideration and, in fact, we'd prefer a place that won't raise an eyebrow if we don't do wine pairings or order much wine. How have others handled this at upscale dining establishments? While this is certainly a special occasion, hubby and I are very down-to-earth people and actually feel uncomfortable when a place feels too formal or fawning. This is sort of our introduction to "fine dining" and the world of tasting menus, and I'll admit that it sort of intimidates me.
I'm thinking that the Ritz may be more formal than Manresa? Price points for the tasting menus and wine seem comparable, so mainly we just want exquisite food in a lovely, comfortable setting. We pretty much eat anything and would welcome the unusual. Would be ideal if someone who has first-hand experience of both could offer some input. Thank you!!