Just had a divine lunch here yesterday with a 1pm seating in the downstairs small sky-lit alcove (lunch and dinner are both 9 course tasting menus, Chef's Tasting Menu vs. Tasting of Vegetables, $240 prix fixe, service included). I must say my meal at The French Laundry ranks up there with my finest meals at Daniel and Jean-Georges.
Reservations, taken two months to the calender day in advance, were extremely difficult to get as their phone is always busy starting at 10am. I have read that it is possible to get a table through OpenTable.com though I was unsuccessful (for tips on this: http://www.thesandersens.com/res). Success finally occurred in the form of speed dialing from a Sacramento land-line (which seemed to get through much quicker than my cell phone from San Diego) the first day TFL re-opened after the winter closure.
Expect a 3 to 4 hour experience with top notch service. Dress code requires a coat for gentleman (tie optional) for lunch and dinner.
My meal went like this:
We were greeted in the back garden with a righteous amuse bouche--salmon tartar atop a minature cone filled with the most amazing cream cheese.
As we entered through the blue door we were brought to our table in the side alcove. The 9 course Chef's Tasting Menu for March 18, 2007 menu went as follows:
Cauliflower "Panna Cotta"
with Beau Soliel Oyster Glaze and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar
Salad of Young Red Beets
Compressed Hosui Pears, Snap Peas and Whole Grain Mustard "Vinaigrette"
Moulard Duck "Foie Gras Poele"
Green Grape Condiment, Marcona Almonds, Nicoisse Olive "Crumbs" and "Gateau de Fenouil" ($30.00 Supplement)
"Confit" of Nova Scotia Bluefin Tuna
Nameko Mushrooms, Sweet Carrots, "Perles de Tapioca," Watercress and Bonito "Nage"
"Fricassee" of Santa Barbara Coast Sea Urchin "Tongues"
Marble Potatoes and Grey Morel Mushrooms with Garden Tarragon "Pudding"
Maine Lobster Tail "Cuite Sous Vide"
Spring Garlic "Subric," Globe Artichokes and "Bouillabaisse" Emulsion
Four Story Hills Farm Milk-Fed "Cuisse de Poulard"
French Laundry "Pancetta," Hearts of Romaine Lettuce, San Marzano Tomato Compote and Rosemary "Jus"
Herb-Roasted Saddle of Elysian Fields Farm Lamb
Braised "Cavalo Nero," Pickeled Red Pearl Onion "Petals" and "Gnocchi a la Parisienne Parfume au Citron"
"Steak and Eggs"
Grilled Medallion of David Blackmore's Australian "Wagyu" with White Asparagus, Poached Jidori Hen Egg Yolk, Caramelized Cipollini Onion Rings and Black Winter Truffle "Coulis" ($75.00 Supplement)
Twig Hill Farm's "Goat Tomme"
"Piperade," Italian Eggplant Puree, Crispy Capers and Field Arugula
Field Rhubarb Sherbert
Cardamom-Scented "Frangipan," Ginger "Tuile" and Whole Milk Yogurt
"Pave De Chocolat Blanc Au The Vert"
Pistachio "Pain de Genes," Passion Fruit Jelly and Bitter Chocolate Sauce
Swiss "Meringue," Coconut Ice Cream, Persian Lime, Pound Cake and Compressed Golden Pineapple
Check out pics of the courses:
I asked how Chef Keller splits his time between Per Se, Bouchon, etc. I was told he was in Yountville the day before we got there, but had in the next morning for Bouchon in Vegas. He is full time at The French Laundry during Per Se's winter shut down and vice versa. I was told he often walks down the street to Bouchon or Ad Hoc to check on things. He house backs up to The French Laundry and the running joke with the staff is that he never uses his front door. His office is also located in the kitchen of TFL.
The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville CA 94599