Went yesterday to the French Laundry. Like many who have reported, the experience was very impressive: precision food, service and presentation. My favorite courses were the foie gras (on artichoke hearts) and the "mac and cheese" (lump of lobster on risotto-like mac topped by a lacy cheese crisp). The wine list was extensive and very expensive. We had a wonderful white burgundy followed by a Spanish tempranillo. The atmosphere was not stuffy. Rather, it was intimate and attentive.
Though the experience was wonderful, a day's reflection gives me a few cautionary notes on the French Laundry:
* the California/French cuisine has no hint of the flavors and spices of more international flavors, eg. Chinese, Thai, Indian, North African, etc. The palate at the FL seems a bit less adventuresome and current.
* the geometric precision of the presentation can be a bit relentless. I found myself wanting one or two of the 10 courses to be a bit "messy" rather than Japanese-like. Could there be a cassoulet, boulabaisse, stew, curry or other slow cooked food as an interlude to the precision?
* the lack of a walk-in crowd or a bar of any type deprives the atmosphere of some liveliness, noise and unpredictability. Instead, the atmoshere is quiet, intimate, hushed, almost reverent. It lacks a certain spontaneity or unpredictability.
In short, the experience is rarified controlled perfection rather than adventure mixed with spontaneous fun.
I'd love to hear the comments of others who have gone to the FL. Thanks.