French Laundry Restaurant (25 pics)
After almost 2 years of struggling to get a reservation at the French Laundry, my wife and I finally got a confirmed booking 2 weeks ago. We were there for the 5:30 pm dinner service. Ambiance was homey and cozy. My comment was, the lighting was a bit too dimmed to read the fine print on the Set Menus priced at $240. There were only 2 choices for the Set Menus, 9 dishes plus 3-4 desserts, from the 9, you still have to make a choice of only 6 dishes. I thought that in order to maximize the number of dishes we could taste, my wife would order the 1st Set menu, and I would order the other Set menu. Which in my haste, I failed to study each of the selections on the 2nd menu, I just told the waiter that we were having both menus. Sad to say that due to the dim lighting (1 candle lit vase per table & and 1 small dimmed lighting fixture for the whole room w/3 tables), I failed to see the small print on the 2nd menu saying "vegetarian", and when I just pointed to that menu to the waiter he never explained that I had chosen the vegetarian set menu. I only realized my stupid mistake when course after course, I was getting all veggies without any seafood nor meat on anything at all. To keep from going hungry, my wife shared her "heartier" food with me. The cornets were a great start to the meal. Unfortunately they served a marble size Parmesan Puff which was tasteless and surprisingly had no filling. This miniscule offering made no sense at all, in the scheme of great fine-dining food and cooking, this bitize creation was an affront to what Chef Keller stands for. Why serve a dish if it is not pleasing to the palate or does not excite the taste-buds. The poached lobster, the quail breast, the beef, the oyster in pearls, the grilled endive, were very good, but portions were so small that my stomach barely felt the food going in. The Uni (smoked eel) that was served was dry and not tender at all. All the desserts were excellent. After devouring the last dessert, I was still left hungry that I finished off all the after-dinner chocolates. Even if it were a vegetarian menu, I was expecting to see expensive ingredients to make the $240 price tag worthwhile. Sadly, aside from the beets, endive, lettuce and other greens, and minced Iberico Ham, there wasn't much that made this menu worth the same price as the other menu which included oysters, lobster, smoked eel, beef or rabbit, quail breast. Bottom line is, If you haven't eaten in the high-end New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, or Parisian restaurants, eating for the first time in the French Laundry will be a memorable experience. However, If you are a foodie or gourmet who has tried the best restaurants in these big-cities, after you receive your $600-$800 bill in the French Laundry, you will really wonder whether it was worth all that effort in landing a reservation at this prestigious place.