Perfection Defined at The French Laundry


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As Donny recounted here, we were extremely lucky to secure a table at the French Laundry during our short stay in Yountville CA.

When you google The French Laundry, perfection is a word that is synonymous with the numerous reviews that appear, and after our experience at this restaurant I cannot think of a better word to describe the few hours we were lucky enough to have at 6640 Washington Street.

Not only is the service polished and the quality & presentation of each dish impeccable, but each minute detail in the appearance of the restaurant has been thought about – from the wooden pegs that adorn your beautifully pressed napkin, to the prints on the softly glowing lights.

It was also no surprise, after reading through Thomas Keller’s book Ad Hoc At Home that we had three very different salts on our table at one stage! (For those who haven’t read a Keller cook book, he is incredibly particular about the type of salt that should be used for different dishes).

Selection of Salts

The restaurant serves a set menu so we only had a couple of very simple decisions to make – between the tasting of vegetables or the ‘regular’ chef’s tasting, and unlike some tasting menus we actually had a choice of two dishes for 4 of the 9 courses! Opting for the chef’s tasting menu, our next decision was quite simple as we decided to order one of everything and share the differing plates 🙂

Our wine choices were also quite simple as we left ourselves in the hands of our wonderful Sommelier, so after a glass of Champagne with our scrumptious appetiser, we started out with a French Chablis and moved onto a local red.

The perfect start to our evening

I’ll let our pictures do the talking for the most part in the following, only saying this… unlike many other of our restaurant experiences there was no low point, nothing that didn’t quite make the mark and as a result, I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite dish as everything was well, perfect!

Course 1: Oysters and Pearls

"Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Beau Soleil Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar

Course 2: Sorrel Veloute & Moulard Duck ‘foie gras au torchon’

Sorrel Veloute, French Laundry Garden Beets, Young Fennel and d'Avignon Radishes

Moulard Duck "Foie Gras Au Torchon" Pickled Asian Pear Relish, Celery, Piedmont Hazelnut, Parsnip Puree, Black Winter Truffle and Vanilla-Scented Sauternes Reduction

We took our time eating this decadently rich dish and were surprised when our waiter came and replaced the accompanying brioche to ensure what we were eating was still beautifully warm and fresh!

Course 3: Sauteed Fillet of Atlantic Black Bass & Grilled Florida Coast Pompano

Sauteed Fillet of Atlantic Black Bass, Manila Clams, Artichokes, Melted Green Garlic, Olives, and Preserved Meyer Lemon Butter

Grilled Florida Coast Pompano, Compressed Belgian Endive, Cilantro and Winter Citrus "Vierge"

Course 4: Georges Bank Sea Scallop “Poelee”

With Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Salsify, Brussels Sprouts and Brown Butter "Gastrique"

Course 5: Devil’s Gulch Ranch Rabbit Sirloin & “Tete De Cochon”

Devil's Gulch Ranch Rabbit Sirloin, Sunchokes, Scallion Salad, Pine Nuts and Fig-Chocolate Sauce

"Tete de Cochon", Onion Marmalade, English Walnuts, Dandelion Greens and Hen Egg Emulsion

Course 6: Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Rib-eye

With Quinoa, Cucumber, Sweet Peppers, Yogurt and Za'atar "Jus"

Course 7: “Comte Reserve”

With San Marzano Tomato Compote, Pole Beans, "Panisse" and "Fines Herbes Ravigote"

Course 8: Marshall Farm’s Wildflower Honey Sorbet

With Chilled Hibiscus-Pink Peppercorn "Consomme", Poached Rhubarb and Basil Seeds

It wasn’t long after this course that we experienced our next surprise of the night – a mini birthday cake for Donny, which must have been as a result of our more than wonderful waiter, who obviously gleaned the information from our conversation about what brought us to the USA, and The French Laundry. We haven’t experienced many restaurants in Australia that give you anything when you’re dining on your actual birthday, let alone nearly a month later!

Happy Birthday Donny!

Course 9: “Coeur de Guanaja Mousse au Chocolat” and “Delice aux Pistaches”

"Coeur de Guanaja Mousee au Chocolat" - Mascapone Cream, Chocolate Financier, Sour Michigan Cherries and Almond Milk "Sphere"

"Delice Aux Pistaches" with Shiso Gelee, Lemongrass "Cremeux" and Granny Smith Apple Sorbet

It was almost like this menu was tailored to Donny and myself as I typically prefer a lighter fruity dessert while Donny is a chocolate fiend!

Mignardises

How are we going to fit these in?!

It mustn’t be unusual for patrons to be feeling full to the brim by this stage as we were asked if we’d like to have our final tastes of the night packaged up to take with us, which we   gladly accepted. It wasn’t long before we were presented with a crisp white bag full of our chocolates in a beautiful box, and the other treats (including a bonus bag of shortbread!) packaged and tied with ribbons adorned with the peg insignia of the restaurant.

The French Laundy is indeed an amazing experience, one which we both hope to be able to enjoy again in the future.


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3 Responses to Perfection Defined at The French Laundry

  1. Helen Siddel says:

    These dishes look amazing – you got to eat art! Absolutely beautiful. I’m glad you were lucky enough to get a reservation – thanks so much for reporting on it. As a fellow Australian – I appreciate it. But I do have to say – the last restaurant I attended for my birthday did present me with flowers, and 3 extra courses!! But then – I do have a special and regular relationship…

  2. Em says:

    Great to see a review from a fellow Aussie. I am hoping to secure a reservation for hubby’s birthday in August (fingers crossed).

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