I am an experienced French foodie and I am heading to Berkeley for Thanksgiving. Love it there. I would like to do one exceptional party meal with my Californian friends and am hesitating between the French Laundry and Manresa. Could you tell me which one you would recommend and why?
Some background: I know many French 2&3*. My favourites are Roellinger for the subtlety and the way a meal there tells one or many stories; l'Ambroisie and Bernard Loiseau for the most intense food ever; Rostang (2* only) for the generosity. (more on my blog julotlespinceaux.blogspot.com)
Re Manresa and TFL, I've been doing quite a lot of research -- I'm aware of Keller's legendary status and of Kinch's garden. I found that I am not particularly attracted, in both cases, by the endless succession of small plates (I am very traditional in that way, like three courses meals). I also find that, on pictures, Manresa is considerably more exciting, but I know that there are things pictures can't convey, such as taste and smells.
All in all, I am more interested in delicious food and having a wonderful moment with people I love than being amazed or surprised. But I don't mind being surprised AND delighted.
I intend to go chez Panisse anyway, as a neighbour.
And I promise to report.