Tag Archives: thomas keller

Perfection Defined at The French Laundry

The French Laundry

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.

Sunday Brunch at Ad Hoc

Salad of Little Gem Lettuces

Our beautiful, unseasonably warm sunny Sunday morning in Yountville, Napa Valley, was spent eating brunch at Thomas Keller’s casual restaurant, Ad Hoc.

It’s open for dinner 5 nights a week (Thursday to Monday), and also for brunch on Sunday. We were quite lucky that our 4 nights in the Napa Valley coincided with us being there on a Sunday as we were quite interested in the Brunch 🙂

Brunch is a funny thing – we don’t typically go out for it as Ritsy’s stomach usually gets angry if it hasn’t been sated by 8am! To counteract this, we opted to make our booking quite late (11:30am), which allowed us to get one more “breakfast” in at Bouchon Bakery (also Thomas Keller’s, and just over the road from where we were staying). This ended up working out very well considering the size and richness of the three courses of the day, which cost us $34 pp plus tax.

A Table for Two at The French Laundry

The alarm goes off – it’s 4:56am in Melbourne, two calendar months to the date that we arrive in Napa. Sleepily, we reach for our phones – three of them in total – and do a quick check that all our speed dials are getting through to The French Laundry’s answering machine.

We had done a fair bit of research into getting a booking at The French Laundry – heralded by most people as the best restaurant in the United States, and currently ranked number 32 in the world. The size of their dining room (16 tables / 60 seats), coupled with their reputation, means that getting a reservation is inherently tricky. Various blogs echoed frustrated stories of people trying for months and months to secure a 3 to 4 hour experience at Thomas Keller’s eponymous restaurant, so we were always a bit worried that our 4 day window might not be enough.

Not So Ad Hoc At Home….

With the odd cooler day gracing Melbourne we felt it an appropriate time to get our soup on and what better way to start the soup season with a “simple, satisfying” chicken soup with dumplings from Tomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home.

A relatively new book to our collection we’d only made one other dish – the most delicious rubbed & braised pork spareribs. Aside from the long cooking time this was a very simple and straightforward meal to prepare so I thought to myself  ‘well… if Mr. Keller says that this chicken soup is simple then let’s do it’… how wrong I was!

Admittedly we had planned to make the soup over the weekend but like all good plans something came up & the soup got relegated to a Tuesday night dinner.  Knowing there was a fair bit of prep involved I got stuck in to cutting the carrots, leek, onions & celery the minute I walked in the door. Donny & I worked on separate areas – he looked after the choux pastry and chive dumplings & cooking the chicken while I looked after the vegetables & stock…