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Hal Jespersen’s Miscellaneous Food Outings

This page is the repository for food/travel commentary of interest.

The French Laundry, March 2009

We have wanted to go to Thomas Keller's The French Laundry in Yountville for quite a while, but getting reservations has proved elusive. (It has been named by some the best restaurant in the United States and it's rather small, in a historic stone building that used be a ... guess what?) By way of a tip from the NY Times, I happened to check on OpenTable.COM and found a table at 9pm the next Monday! So I grabbed it. There were no other openings for any time in the next two months.

Nancy and I got a good deal on the Napa Valley Marriott from Priceline.COM and when we got there, they had run out of cheapie king beds, so upgraded us to the Concierge Wing. Nice room.

The restaurant was quite a treat: wonderful food, service, and wines. It is not a place for a casual, inexpensive meal. We had the regular (meatish) tasting menu and 4 glasses of wine between us and the tab (service included) was $635. (Considering inflation over the years, this was not the most expensive place in which we've dined, but it's certainly in the top five.) Jackets are required for men. We ate upstairs in a small room with three tables, so it was pretty intimate. I have been to places where tables are spread out more generously.

meat menu
Regular Tasting Menu, March 9, 2009 (click the menu to view more closely)
vege menu
Veggie Menu

The veggie menu looked very interesting, but Nancy (the only possible one who might have ordered it) has been disappointed at some high-end vegetarian offerings, so passed. Here are some quick comments on the courses. All were very manageable in portion size.

The wine list was very extensive and expensive. There were no formal wine pairings offered, but the captain had a "conversation" with me about picking wines by the glass. Nancy had a nice Mosel Riesling (a Von Hövel "Oberemmeler Hütte - Kabinett), I had a Grüner Veltliner, a Puligny-Montrachet, and a Paul Lato Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir (superb). About my only complaint of the evening is that these guys can't pronounce German too well. :-)

It seemed like the courses came quickly—service was impeccable—but when we were done it was midnight, a wonderful evening and a world-class meal. I probably won't go again unless someone else is picking up the tab, but it was a night to remember.