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Restaurants & Bars 32

Pardon if this is played out here: Spring 2012 update on French Laundry?

unclefishbits | May 20, 201205:08 AM

I haven't seen any current conversation about French Laundry, and was wondering if any of you hounders had been back recently, and any thoughts? I went in 2007 or so. I didn't see any recent threads on this. Pardon me if I am missing them....... I wouldn't mind seeing a *VERY* up to date thread return in Google, where most seem 2008 or 2009. This is dense with questions, but I would love others who search google, but don't add content like us, to be able to see something "fresh".

Having just returned from France, where we ate at approx 5 or 6 spots that were comparable, I think we are shifting some of the budget from the trip (we did very well planning for years! yay!) and treating ourselves to Keller's spot. I really think my wife needs to eat there, to compare and understand what's going on here (I am amazed how much our little Marin up through Sonoma/Napa is like a Provence, Cote D'azur.... the topography not as mesmerizing or grand, but the culture and cuisine is more akin to anywhere else in the US??). I also think my wife needs to eat there because I doubt we will be able to do anything like this ever again... or at least for a long time. We saved for years for this trip. =)

SO.... I would love your opinions and thoughts. My questions:

1) Budget: $500 for two, approx, save wine pairing (is there a pairing?), but I assume apres-tif, two half bottles, digestif... coffee, etc... Is budgeting $1000 a fair assessment?

2) I know they stopped automatically doing the doughnuts... but can you still ask at the beginning of the meal?

3) Grat is included, but what % is that added gratuity at? What is the expectation at the end of the meal... is it 5 - 10 % as in France, as a true commentary on service? Or is it an added 2% if the autograt is at 18%??

4) Reservations: tables released 60 days out? I note Open Table doesn't ever have any tables listed... is there a day of the week of month that is better? Or just call? At Frenchie in Paris (wonderful but I am not comparing the two, only the difficulty in getting a rez) - we walked up and got sat because they book 3 months out, and therefore have cancellations because it's untenable to hold that many for so long. Does FL have last minute cancellations (unlikely.... I know)? We live about an hour south, and assume a weekend drive to make reservations in person is the best bet? Any advice in this department would help.

Thanks so much for suffering my curiosity.... it's a once in a lifetime thing, so I wanted to do a little research... we are beside ourselves in this day and age to be able to consider it, and sort of feel weird being able to do it. But your comments are welcome.

Pic is not relevant. Sort of. It's my wife in a Provencal plateau, in the tiny village of Buoux. Yay. The food there was devastating, as we don't know if we can ever "go back"...

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